Organizing and Editing Geometry in Autodesk AutoCAD
Creating and adjusting layers
In order to use layers to organize a drawing, we need to know how to create layers and manage their settings. In this lesson, we're going to explore the Layer Properties Manager, the one-stop shop for all your layer needs. As you can see I've just launched AutoCAD, and I'm sitting in the currently unsaved Drawing1.dwg file. Since this drawing is based on the default template, it's virtually empty. If I open the Layer control, you can see we only have one layer, layer 0. Now layer 0 is kind of a special layer, that's because all AutoCAD drawings start with layer 0 and all drawings have to have a layer 0.
You cannot delete or rename that layer. Since layer 0 is current, all geometry that I create will be drawn on layer 0. As an example, I'm going to launch the Circle command and I'll create a circle down here in the corner. If I hover over the circle, the tooltip shows us the circle was drawn on layer 0. To create a new layer, I am going to move up to the upper left corner of the Layers panel and click the Layer Properties icon. This brings up the Layer Properties Manager; within this palette we have access to all of our layer maintenance tools.
When the Manager first pops up, it's a little narrow. I am going to click and hold on the right side and I'll drag this out a little bit. In the upper left corner of the Manager we can see the name of the Current layer. Over here to the right we can see a listing of all of the layers that are in the drawing, right now we only have one. To the right of the layer name we can see all of the settings that are associated with that layer. Now these settings are organized into columns much like Microsoft Excel. If you click and hold between the columns, you can drag these out and make them as wide or as narrow as you like.
In fact, a nice shortcut to make these column headers easier to read, if you right-click on the column header, you can come down and choose Maximize all columns. To adjust any of the settings in the columns all you have to do is click on it. Now we are not going to be talking about all of the settings in this lesson, we'll be talking about the ones that are used most often. For information about any of the settings, one thing you can do is hover over the column header for a pop-up tooltip. For more information you can also press F1 and access AutoCAD's comprehensive help system.
This first setting represents Display. If I click this light-bulb I can turn the layer off. Since this layer is also the current layer I am getting a warning saying, hey, if you turn this layer off, you'll be drafting, and you won't be able to see what you are drawing. That's all right, I am going to choose Turn the current layer off anyway, and you can see that layer no longer displays in the drawing. I am going to move back up and turn that layer back on. If I come down a little further we can find a Color property. If I click this, it brings up AutoCAD's Color Selector, where I can choose a different color for this layer.
I am going to select green and I'll click OK, and you can see the change is instantly reflected in the drawing. The next column over control is Linetype, if I click this property, I can select any of the linetypes that are loaded in this drawing. Right now I only have Continuous and PHANTOM2. To load an additional linetype, I'll click the Load button and using this menu I can select from any of the Linetypes that come preinstalled with AutoCAD. As a side note, if you are doing imperial drafting, you'll want to avoid the Linetypes at the top of this list.
All of these ACAD_ISO linetypes are pre-scaled for metric usage. I am going to select the CENTERX2 linetype, and I'll click OK. This loads it into my drawing. If I would also like to assign this linetype to the layer, I will select it from this list and click OK. Once again, you can see the change reflected in the file. This next column controls the printed Lineweight of our geometry. If I click this setting, it brings up a menu where I can choose a different lineweight.
The farther down on this list I choose, the heavier this geometry is going to appear on the printed sheet. But right now I am going to click Cancel and close this dialog box. To create a new layer, I'll move up and click the New Layer icon, I can also use the keyboard shortcut Alt+N. Notice the new layer assumes the same properties as the previously selected layer. I am going to call this layer object and I'll press Enter. Maybe I'd like this layer to be yellow, I'll come down and click the Color property, I'll choose yellow and I'll click OK.
I would also like this layer to have a continuous linetype. So I'll click the Linetype property, change this to Continuous and I'll click OK. Finally, I'd like this layer to be current, to do that I'll move up and click the green check. We can see that change reflected up here. When I'm finished adjusting settings I'll click the X to close the Layer Properties Manager. As you can see the Layer control is now displaying the object layer as being the current layer in the file. I am going to launch the Rectangle command and I'll create a rectangle on layer object.
Let's say after creating this layer, we'd like to make some changes to its properties. To do that we'll return to the Layer Properties Manager, maybe it would be better if this layer had a different name. To change the name of the layer, I will click to select the layer, and then I will click again to get access to the text. I am going to call this layer part and I'll press Enter. I would also like to change the color of this layer, let's make this magenta, and I'll click OK. Using this same workflow we can create as many layers as we like and modify them such that they suit our design needs.
In the event you create a layer that goes unused, you can click this red X to delete it from the drawing. One final thing, since this Layer Properties Manager is a palette, we can anchor this to the interface, just like we anchor our Properties palette. If I right-click on this name bar and choose Anchor Left, I can convert this entire palette down to a single icon, Now if I need access to my Layer Maintenance tools, I can simply hover over the icon, take care of my layer business and when I am finished, I can move away and let the palette collapse.
I am going to leave my Layer Properties Manager in an anchored state throughout the rest of this series. As you can see the Layer Properties Manager makes quick work of creating and modifying layers. Using this tool we have complete control over the display and organization of our geometry.
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