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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.
The first part of the interface I would like to talk about is this large area in the middle of the screen. This is called model space and it represents our virtual drafting board. As you can see, I have a drawing opened currently. I don't expect that you open the same drawing. The only reason that I have opened the file is so that we're not looking at the completely blank interface. Now the best part about Model Space is that it's infinite in size. That means we can draw anything we want, whether it's a contact lens or a complete city block, and we can draw it at true size, or one to one.
This is a complete departure from the way we did things when we drafted with paper and pencil. When we were creating our drawings on paper, we had to construct our geometry to a scale such that it would fit within the confines of the sheet. Now that we're creating our geometry in model space, we are no longer restricted to the boundaries of our page. We can construct our geometry at true scale. Model space is more than just a flat plane; it's also a 3D environment. Take a look at this tool in the upper-right corner. This is called the ViewCube, and as I pass my cursor around over this block, we can see several hot spots.
I'm gonna click the hot spot in the lower-right corner. When I do, AutoCAD adjusts my view such that I'm looking at model space from a southeast isometric view. I can further change my view by selecting additional hot spots on this cube. At this point I'm going to come over to the navigation bar and click the Zoom Extents tool to maximize my geometry onscreen. Another model space tool that's commonly used in 3D is this series of menus in the upper-left corner. If I open the menu in the center, I can select additional views much like we can with the ViewCube.
If I select the menu on the right, I can adjust my visual style, altering the way my 3D geometry looks onscreen. As an example, I'm going to select Conceptual, and you can see the difference. Let me stress that we are going to be working in 2D in this title. The reason why I'm showing you these additional 3D tools is, in the event you accidentally change one of them, you can always set your screen back to the way it was. That being said, I'm going to change my visual style back to 2D Wireframe, and then I'm going to go back to a top view, the same view where we started.
I'll do that by clicking the top hot spot on the ViewCube. And fortunately, the orientation of my part is correct. In the event your geometry gets rotated, you can always use these arrows in the upper-right corner to rotate your view in 90-degree increments. Once again I'll maximize my geometry onscreen. If we look towards the bottom of the interface, we can see that model space is actually a tab. I am going to select the Layout1, and we'll see what that tab looks like. This looks very similar to a sheet of paper; that's because it is a sheet of paper.
AutoCAD allows us to set up these layouts such that we can print our finished drawings. Now, if you are not seeing tabs in your interface, they may be hidden. I am going to hide mine momentarily so I can show you how to restore them. To hide the tabs, I will right-click on one of them and choose Hide Layout and Model Tabs. This converts the tabs down to a couple of icons down here in my status bar. And these icons work just fine. I like the functionality of the tabs a little bit better.
To restore the tabs, I will right-click on either of these icons and choose Display Layout and Model Tabs. When I'm finished, I'll return to model space by clicking the Model tab. After seeing model space for the first time, I'm sure you'll agree that AutoCAD has taken the concept of a traditional drafting board to a completely new level.
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