AutoCAD 2011 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Selecting a pen table


AutoCAD 2011 Essential Training

with Jeff Bartels

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Video: Selecting a pen table

You may be wondering why it's necessary to select a Plot Style table when printing your AuoCAD drawings. We certainly don't need a plot style when we print from Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop. Remember that AutoCAD is a vector-based program, which means that the information that we see on screen is mathematically-based lines and curves and not pixels. Each color choice that we have represents a virtual pen that can be configured to plot our line-work however we like. Let's talk about Plot Styles.
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  1. 2m 8s
    1. Welcome
      1m 29s
    2. Using the exercise files
  2. 23m 33s
    1. Understanding model space
      3m 44s
    2. Accessing AutoCAD's tools
      3m 2s
    3. Leveraging dockable palettes
      3m 1s
    4. Monitoring the Status bar
      1m 28s
    5. Understanding the anatomy of a command
      2m 14s
    6. Customizing AutoCAD's preferences
      3m 13s
    7. Accessing help
      3m 38s
    8. Saving a workspace
      3m 13s
  3. 19m 42s
    1. Opening an AutoCAD drawing
      3m 2s
    2. Understanding mouse functions
      2m 44s
    3. Zooming, panning, and regenning
      4m 24s
    4. Working in a multiple-document environment
      2m 39s
    5. Saving your work
      2m 29s
    6. Saving time with templates
      4m 24s
  4. 14m 35s
    1. Constructing lines
      2m 20s
    2. Locking angles with the Ortho and Polar modes
      4m 49s
    3. Drawing circles
      4m 10s
    4. Activating the Heads-Up Display
      3m 16s
  5. 14m 48s
    1. Defining a unit of measure
      6m 28s
    2. Constructing geometry using architectural measurements
      4m 6s
    3. Working with metric units
      4m 14s
  6. 23m 45s
    1. Understanding the Cartesian coordinate system
      4m 53s
    2. Locking to geometry using object snaps
      7m 42s
    3. Automating object snap selection
      7m 26s
    4. Using temporary tracking to find points in space
      3m 44s
  7. 19m 30s
    1. Drawing rectangles
      4m 56s
    2. Drawing polygons
      3m 4s
    3. Creating an ellipse
      5m 9s
    4. Organizing with hatch patterns
      6m 21s
  8. 29m 46s
    1. Making geometric changes using the property changer
      3m 38s
    2. Moving and copying elements
      4m 28s
    3. Rotating elements
      3m 48s
    4. Trimming and extending geometry
      5m 10s
    5. Creating offsets
      6m 16s
    6. Erasing elements
      2m 46s
    7. Undoing and redoing actions
      3m 40s
  9. 11m 52s
    1. Selecting objects using windows
      3m 46s
    2. Adding and removing from selections
      3m 43s
    3. Using keyboard shortcuts
      4m 23s
  10. 51m 12s
    1. Creating fillets
      3m 52s
    2. Creating chamfers
      3m 51s
    3. Copying objects into a rotated pattern
      4m 20s
    4. Copying objects into a rectangular pattern
      4m 58s
    5. Stretching elements
      4m 4s
    6. Creating mirrored copies
      2m 12s
    7. Scaling elements
      5m 0s
    8. Leveraging grips
      7m 20s
    9. Exploding elements
      5m 47s
    10. Joining elements together
      3m 44s
    11. Editing hatch patterns
      6m 4s
  11. 32m 19s
    1. Understanding layers
      2m 43s
    2. Creating and adjusting layers
      7m 20s
    3. Using layers to organize a drawing
      9m 17s
    4. Changing popular settings using the layer control
      3m 30s
    5. Understanding the BYLAYER property
      3m 37s
    6. Restoring previous layer states
      3m 42s
    7. Using existing geometry to set the current layer
      2m 10s
  12. 37m 43s
    1. Creating single-line text
      3m 11s
    2. Justifying text
      5m 18s
    3. Controlling appearance using text styles
      6m 10s
    4. Annotating with multi-line text
      5m 10s
    5. Editing text
      4m 32s
    6. Creating bulleted and numbered lists
      3m 29s
    7. Incorporating symbols
      5m 28s
    8. Correcting spelling errors
      4m 25s
  13. 28m 37s
    1. Creating general dimensions
      4m 13s
    2. Creating continuous and baseline dimensions
      2m 13s
    3. Controlling appearance using dimension styles
      4m 57s
    4. Modifying dimensions
      6m 6s
    5. Creating multileaders
      2m 53s
    6. Controlling appearance using multileader styles
      3m 23s
    7. Modifying multileaders
      4m 52s
  14. 25m 19s
    1. Inserting blocks
      4m 34s
    2. Creating blocks
      6m 41s
    3. Leveraging blocks
      5m 39s
    4. Redefining blocks
      3m 1s
    5. Building a block library
      5m 24s
  15. 13m 50s
    1. Querying a drawing using rollover tooltips
      2m 9s
    2. Taking measurements using the Distance command
      3m 2s
    3. Modifying properties using the Quick Properties tool
      4m 25s
    4. Automating calculations using the Quick Calculator feature
      4m 14s
  16. 36m 6s
    1. Creating quick plots
      6m 4s
    2. Selecting a pen table
      5m 48s
    3. Choosing line weights
      4m 32s
    4. Creating a layout, pt. 1: Choosing a paper size
      2m 42s
    5. Creating a layout, pt. 2: Inserting a title block
      2m 29s
    6. Creating a layout, pt. 3: Cutting viewports
      6m 9s
    7. Reusing layouts
      4m 3s
    8. Organizing layouts
      4m 19s
  17. 16m 49s
    1. Using the Annotative property to automatically size text
      4m 13s
    2. Using the Annotative property to automatically size dimensions
      4m 34s
    3. Using the Annotative property to automatically size multileaders
      3m 58s
    4. Changing the scale assigned to annotations
      4m 4s
  18. 6m 56s
    1. Saving drawings to other formats
      2m 27s
    2. Plotting to the Design Web format
      2m 15s
    3. Plotting to PDF
      1m 20s
    4. Sending drawings via email
  19. 22s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course AutoCAD 2011 Essential Training
6h 48m Beginner Jul 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join Jeff Bartels as he covers the most important features of this industry-standard drafting and design application in AutoCAD 2011 Essential Training. This course begins with a tour of AutoCAD's interface and the tools used to create basic shapes. It then focuses on the methods used to modify and refine geometry while emphasizing accuracy and good habits to build a solid design foundation. The course covers using layers, line types, and colors to organize a drawing file and explains how to efficiently annotate a design and prepare it for final output. Throughout the title, Jeff shares industry techniques used in production and reinforces concepts using practical examples. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Understanding model space
  • Working in a multiple-document environment
  • Organizing drawings using layers
  • Creating basic geometry
  • Configuring units for architectural, civil, or metric work
  • Incorporating blocks (symbols) into a working file
  • Maintaining accuracy with coordinates and snaps
  • Creating annotations that automatically size themselves
  • Moving and copying elements
  • Transferring data between drawings
  • Preparing standardized layouts with title blocks
  • Sharing drawings
Jeff Bartels

Selecting a pen table

You may be wondering why it's necessary to select a Plot Style table when printing your AuoCAD drawings. We certainly don't need a plot style when we print from Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop. Remember that AutoCAD is a vector-based program, which means that the information that we see on screen is mathematically-based lines and curves and not pixels. Each color choice that we have represents a virtual pen that can be configured to plot our line-work however we like. Let's talk about Plot Styles.

I am going to open up the Layer Properties Manager, and then I will move over to the Color column and I will select one of these swatches. This brings up AutoCAD's Color Selector and in reality, we are not really choosing a color here, we are actually choosing a virtual pen. Watch this, if I place my Cursor over the color Red, I can see just above it that it has a number. number 1. I am going to hover over the color Yellow, that's number 2, I will hover over the color Green, that's number 3.

You know only these first seven colors have real color names, the rest of the colors in this box are only referred to by number. These numbers represent the pen number that's assigned to each color. Here is the way to look at it. Any layer that's set to pen number one, will appear Red. any layer that's set to pen number 2, will appear Yellow. pen number 3 will appear Green and so on. There are 255 unique pens available in AutoCAD and each of these pens can be configured to plot different way.

I am going to close this box and then I will move up and launch the Plot command. We assign our Plot Style tables right here. Notice this even says pen assignments. I am going to open this up and I will select the monochrome pen table, and I will click Yes. This pen table is configured such that all pens plot as Black. I am going to click the Edit button, so we can take a closer look at this table. Now there are two ways to view our table data.

There is Table View, this is very similar to Microsoft Excel and there is Form View. This is the method that I prefer to use. On the left side, I can see a listing of all of the pens that are in this table. If I grab this Slider and drag down, we can see there are 255 pens. If I select a pen, I can then configure how this pen is going to print by adjusting these settings on the right. But right now, notice this pen is going to print as Black.

Pen number 2 will print as Black, pen number 9 will print as Black. They are all going to print as Black, because this is the monochrome pen table. Let's make a change. I am going to select pen number 2, then I will click this Color fly-out, and I'd like pen number 2 to plot as Red. This is the only change I am going to make. Let's save this pen table, I will do that by clicking Save As, because I don't want to overwrite my original. And I am going to call this, my custom pens, and I'll click Save, then I can close this.

I'll click the Pen Table fly-out and I will select my new pens, and now let's finish this plot. I am going to select my Printer first. Since I am not connected to a physical printer, I am going to select the DWG To PDF virtual printer. You can select any printer that's connected to your machine. I am going to go with the 8.50-11.00 ANSI A size paper, also known as Letter Size. For my plot area, I will click this fly-out and I will select Window, and I will define my plot boundary by clicking this corner and I will come down and click this one.

I'd like to center my plot on the sheet. Finally we will take care of Plot scale. I'd like to print this to a measurable scale. So I am going to turn off Fit To paper. Then I will click the Scale fly-out and let's see if this drawing will fit on the paper at a scale of 1:1. Based on the Preview, looks like it's not going to work, let's open up the Scale fly-out again, I will try half scale or 1:2. It looks like that will work, now at this point, I am ready to click Preview, but before I do that, I am going to pull this dialog box down.

And take a look at the drawing. Remember, that in our pen table, we said pen number 2 will plot as Red. Pen number 2 corresponds to Yellow. Notice the geometry in this drawing that appears Yellow. Let me pull this back up and I will click Preview and notice that we can see that change on screen. We will also see this change on the printed page. To finish this plot, I am going to show you a shortcut, rather than closing the Preview, and going back to the Plot Dialog Box, I am going to right-click and select Plot from this menu.

Now, if you have sent your drawing to a physical printer, it's probably already coming out. Since I am printing mine to a PDF, I am going to give mine a filename. I am going to save mine to the Desktop, and I will call this fuel pump bracket and I will click Save. On my screen is an example of the finished plot. One of the benefits of having a Pen Table is that you can customize AutoCAD to your own office standards. Most offices will configure a Pen Table to be used for all of their plotting needs.

For now, as a beginning student, it's probably best to stick with the Monochrome Pen Table, such that all of your line-work will plot using the color Black.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about AutoCAD 2011 Essential Training .

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Q: Despite following the tutorials, I am having trouble in AutoCAD Architecture 2011. I cannot copy basic line drawings of simple architecture from one file to another. I tile two AutoCAD documents open simultaneously and click on a geometry, let go, click again and hold and try to drag to the second document, but to no avail. What could be causing the problem?
A: There are a few possible solutions. At the command line, type "PICKFIRST" and press Enter. Make sure this variable is set to 1. If the value is set to 0 instead of 1, this would result in the problem described. Having PICKFIRST set to 1 (normally the default setting for "vanilla" AutoCAD) allows you to select an object first, and then launch an editing command (like Move or Rotate or Erase). Thus, you can work in both directions. Launch the Editing command first and then select objects, or visa versa. 
If PICKFIRST is not the issue, the problem might be something native to AutoCAD for Architecture, as there are some differences between that version and plain AutoCAD. Don't forget, you can also move geometry from one drawing to another by using Copy/Paste. Simply select your geometry and right-click, select copy, then click in your other drawing, right-click, and select Paste. Note that the Copy/Paste options are also available on the Home tab of the Ribbon. Copy/Paste should work regardless of your PICKFIRST setting.
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