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Understanding layers

From: AutoCAD 2013 Essentials: 03 Editing and Organizing Drawings

Video: Understanding layers

As drawings grow in complexity, it becomes important to organize them using logical layers. Layers allow us to control the visual properties of our objects, colors, linetypes, and lineweights, for example, can easily be applied using layers. Layers also give us control over display, allowing us to turn objects on and off when we are working or creating plots. In this lesson we are going to introduce the concept of layers. On my screen I have a drawing that represents several single-family lots, just for a second, let's assume I created this drawing using a traditional pencil and paper.

Understanding layers

As drawings grow in complexity, it becomes important to organize them using logical layers. Layers allow us to control the visual properties of our objects, colors, linetypes, and lineweights, for example, can easily be applied using layers. Layers also give us control over display, allowing us to turn objects on and off when we are working or creating plots. In this lesson we are going to introduce the concept of layers. On my screen I have a drawing that represents several single-family lots, just for a second, let's assume I created this drawing using a traditional pencil and paper.

Let's also say after I finished the drawing, I gave it to you and you looked at it and said, you know what, this drawing looks great, except I'd like to get a copy without all of these dimensions. Well since everything was drawn on the paper, there is really no easy way I can do this for you without using an eraser or some whiteout. Now let's imagine that I created the drawing a different way. What if I drew all of my base geometry on a sheet of paper and then I laid a clear sheet of plastic over the drawing and I created all the dimensions on the plastic? Now if you wanted to see the drawing without the dimensions, we could simply peel back the plastic and the dimensions are gone.

That sheet of plastic acts just like a layer in AutoCAD. Layers allow us to organize and control the display of our geometry, the drawing that I have on screen has been created using logical layers, if I come up to the Layers panel and open layer control, we can see all the layer names right here. Since this menu is sitting on top of my drawing, I am going to click on screen to close the menu. I will then pan my drawing over to the right. Then I'm going to click and hold on the name portion of the Layers panel and I'll drag this out into model space.

We can do the same thing with any panel in the ribbon by the way. Now let's say I'd like to see this drawing without the dimensions. Fortunately, the dimensions are on their own layer. If I open the Layer control, I'm going to come down to the lot-dims layer and then I'll come over and click the light bulb icon to turn that layer off. I will then click on screen to close the menu. And you can see the dimensions no longer display. To put things back the way they were, I could open Layer control again and I could click the light bulb to turn the layer back on, or I am going to click on screen to close this, I could also come up and click the Layer Previous button; this will restore the previous Layer State.

Let's try something else. Maybe I'd like to change the display of this drawing so I can create a traditional plan of survey plot. To do that I'll need to turn several things off. Fortunately, since everything is on a logical layer I have complete control over this file. I am going to open the Layer control again and I'm going to turn off the road curb and gutter geometry, I'll turn off the edge of pavement geometry, I'll drag the slider down and I'm going to turn off the buildings, the driveways, the sidewalk and the vegetation, and I'll click on screen to close the menu.

Not only do layers give us control one we are setting up a drawing to plot, I'm sure you'll agree that reducing the number of layers that we see also makes it easier to work in the file. I'm going to zoom back out. To put the layers back the way they were, I could open Layer control and I could run down the line clicking these light bulbs, turning them back on, or if I expand the Layers panel, I can click this icon; this will allow me to turn all the layers back on in a single click. Now that I'm finished to working with the Layers panel, I'd like to restore it to the Ribbon.

To do that I will hover over the panel and then I'll click the icon in the upper right corner. Whenever you're working on a drawing, ask yourself if it would be helpful to hide certain objects on a plot. If so, it would be a good idea to put those objects on their own layer. Likewise, are there any entities that need to have your lineweight or a specific linetype? If so, you'll want to create layers for those objects. When it comes down to it, the more layers you use, the more control you have over a drawing.

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