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AutoCAD Essentials with Jeff Bartels is a multi-part series that takes a more modular approach to this massive program, used for everything from 2D and 3D CAD design, drafting, and modeling to architectural drawing and engineering projects. This first installment includes a lengthy tour of the interface, from understanding the concept of model space to customizing the AutoCAD preferences and working with dockable palettes. The second half of the course show how to manage your drawings, including getting the most from the mouse and many shortcuts, creating time-saving templates, and plotting from either model space or in a layout.
At first glance, AutoCAD's tool set may seem a little intimidating. Fortunately, no matter which tool you select, they all work the same way. In this lesson, we're going to look at the anatomy of a command. For this example, I'm going to launch the Line Command. To do that I'll move up to the draw panel and I'll click the Line icon. Now, take a look at the command line. This is where AutoCAD speaks to us and tells us what it needs to complete the selected command. I'm going to left-click to pick a point onscreen, and then I'm going to pick a few more points here, and then we'll come down and look at the command line again.
Notice that in addition to AutoCAD's request for another point, we also have some suboptions here between the brackets. Suboptions are additional functions available inside an active command. There are three ways to access a suboption. You can pick your favorite. One way is by typing the capitalized letter of the option. For example, if I wanted to undo one segment, I could type U and hit Enter. Another way to access these options is by right-clicking, and you'll find the options right here in the menu.
Let's click Undo to back up one more segment. Probably the easiest way to access the options--and this is the brand new AutoCAD 2013--just come down here to the command line and click them. These guys will now act like hyperlinks. I am going to pick few more points from my line segment. When I am finished, I will come over and click Close to close my shape. Now let's say I'd like to like to draw another line. If I press spacebar or tap the Enter key, AutoCAD will relaunch the previous command. This can be a little quicker than moving back and clicking the icon.
Let me work on another line segment here. To exit an active command, press your Escape key and AutoCAD will halt that command in its tracks. Every AutoCAD command is going to work in a similar fashion. The best advice that I can give you is to keep an eye down here at the command line. Remember, AutoCAD will always tell you what it needs. Most students who struggle at first do so because they try to give AutoCAD one thing when it's asking for something else. Once you get comfortable with the software, you'll be able to anticipate AutoCAD's requests, and soon your interaction with the program will become second nature.
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