Join Jim LaPier for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating blocks, part of Up and Running with AutoCAD for Mac.
- View Offline
Oftentimes, we create shapes that we want to use over and over again, like sinks for floor plans, or hardware like nuts and bolts. Instead of drawing these over and over again or even trying to copy the geometry, we can create a library of objects called blocks. Blocks are a grouping of objects that can be recalled, inserted, and shared among drawings. A block is a little more advanced, however, than a simple group of geometry. Each instance of the block references the same base geometry. This gives us the benefit of both a smaller drawing, as AutoCAD only calculates the main geometry once, and then only the location of all the references of the block.
But also means we can update the geometry of the block later, and all instances of the block will update as well. Let's start with drawing a simple desk. I'll draw a rectangle here, and another one here, to create an L shaped desk. Now I'll find the block tool here, I'll name the block L desk, and then select the objects using the tool here. After hitting Return, I can tell AutoCAD what to do with the source geometry. Converting the objects to a block, leaving them as they are, or deleting them.
The base point is the insertion point and will be the default point when we insert the block. I'll use the outside corner of the desk here, as it'll be the most common point of reference for placing the block. I'll leave the other options as default. And here, I can add a description for future reference. Maybe the size of the desk, or a manufacturer, or part number if I'm drawing a desk representing one we purchase regularly. I'll hit Create Block, and I'm done. Now I can go to the Insert tool and select my block.
And then I can expand the options here. So I can decide if I want to insert the block at a certain location automatically, rotate it automatically, scale it, or specify these on screen when I insert the block. I'll click Insert and start placing my blocks. I can hit Return twice to jump back and hit Insert command. And again, to use the same block and place a few of these. Each of these blocks is locked for editing, so I cannot trim or stretch them as they're referencing a set of geometry located elsewhere.
Now, let's say after placing all of these in the floor plan, the customer decides they want a different sized desk, or the manufacturer changes the desk size itself. I'll right-click on the block and choose Block Editor. This will open a new window where you can edit the block definition. I'll stretch the leg of the desk here to make this part a little narrow, and maybe fill up the corners using the Fill It tool. I'll click Save and Close, and now we can see all of the instances of the block have been updated. I mentioned in an earlier video that layer zero has some special properties, and one of them is how blocks are controlled with layers.
If I create my block using geometry on layer zero and I changed the layer of a block after inserting it, the geometry will, on layer zero, will display the layer that the block is on. I can put this instance on a hidden layer, and all of the geometry is shown as if it were on the hidden layer. However, if I go back into the block editor, and if I were to change this leg to the center layer. Click Save and Close, that leg will show as center; no matter what layer the block itself is on.
So if you create your blocks on layer zero, it'll be easier to display your blocks on whatever layer you need later on, without being locked in to the layer of the geometry itself. Now that we have our block, we can share it with others by creating a new file called writing the block. I'll go to the tool here in the expanded block panel and select Write Block. I can use an existing block, or create a new one as we did when we created the original block. I'll specify where I want to save the block and hit Write Block. This creates a separate dwg file of the geometry of the block.
I can now share this on a server, or email it to a colleague. To insert a block from a file like this, I'll go back to the Insert command and click Browse. Locate my block file, and now I can insert it into another file easily. By creating a block library, users can have consistency across their drawings, and save time by not creating the same geometry over and over again.
This course was created and produced by Jim LaPier. We're honored to host this content in our library.
- Accessing the palettes
- Adjusting user preferences
- Working with different file types
- Editing polylines
- Modifying objects
- Controlling layers
- Creating blocks
- Building layouts
- Adding annotations
- Working with 3D geometry