In this video, author Shaun Bryant shows you how to create tool palettes from drawing content in AutoCAD DesignCenter.
- [Instructor] Welcome, once again, to another tip and trick in AutoCAD. We're going to have a little look now at basically taking our block data from a drawing and converting it into a tool palette. Now, some of you may or may not have used tool palettes before. They're a very useful tool because they allow you to drag and drop data in and out of drawings. Now, I've got a drawing open here. It's all in inches, I hasten to add. Now I know that goes against the grain because I'm a Brit and I use metric millimeters most of the time, but it just made my life easier because all of these blocks that I've inserted into this drawing are all originally in inches.
Now you'll notice we've got some lovely things in there, like a piano, for example. Now all of these are just on layer zero. This is just a bog standard inches template drawing, and it's all on layer zero. It's actually using the ACAD, A-C-A-D dot DWT file to create the drawing. It's just a blank drawing I've dropped these blocks into on layer zero. Now before we start working with any blocks or tool pallettes, I want you to make sure that your insertion scales are set correctly.
Now this is a really neat tool, and it's quite often overlooked in AutoCAD. If you just right-click anywhere in the drawing and go to options on the shortcut menu, that'll bring up your nice big options dialog box. I'd like you to go to this tab here: User Preferences. Not System, but User Preferences. And you'll see here insertion scale. Now it says default settings when units are set to unitless. So if you've got a block that is unitless and it hasn't got any units, but you know that the source content drawing is inches, which in my case, it is, the tool pallettes drawing behind this dialog box, and you want your target drawing also to be in inches as well, you set your target drawing to the same unit.
Now it may be that I want a load of imperial blocks to go into a millimeters drawing, because I'm a Brit and I use millimeters, right? So I can go there and set that to millimeters. AutoCAD will then automatically scale up the inches blocks and put them into the target drawing in millimeters. Bet you didn't know it could do that. So there you go. It's just one of those little things that you might not've known before. Now I'm going to stick with inches all the way this time, just for ease of use and speed. So there we go, inches and inches. So my source content drawing, which is my tool pallettes drawing behind the dialog box, is going to be inches, and any target drawings I use are also going to be in inches, like so.
So I'll just apply that now, and OK that. Now as I've said, I've got this tool pallettes drawing here, easy to find, download it off the website, use it to follow along with the video. You know the drill by now. If you've been following the tips and tricks, you know that all the exercise files are available on the website. So let's have a look at working with these tool pallettes. What I'm going to do is go to the view tab on the ribbon, and all of my pallettes are right here in the Pallettes panel, and there's tool pallettes right there, like so. So there's my tool pallettes. Now your tool pallettes come up in a pallette, surprise, surprise, and you've got each tool pallette as a separate tab, like that.
So you see I've got things like structural beams, civil stuff, electrical stuff. This all comes with AutoCAD. Now the one that I'd been interested in is the architectural, so I've got things like doors, windows, toilets, trees, door elevations, et cetera. You'll notice they're all broken down into imperial samples and metric samples. Make sure, because we're doing target and source as inches in the options dialog box, that if you're going to use anything, use the imperial ones. Now the benefit I have is I can drag and drop anything from the tool pallettes into this drawing.
My tool pallettes drawing is imperial, so I'm going to go for a tree. Click and drag, and there's my tree. Release the mouse button, and there it is there. Now that's a dynamic block. So if I select it and click on the little pointy down arrow, I can pick what type of view I want of that block. So I can have elevations or plans. So let's go for a deciduous type two in plan, and it changes. If I go back to a palm in the plan, it goes back to the palm tree, like so.
I'll just hit escape to deselect. Now make sure, if you're going to convert anything into tool pallettes, that you save your drawing. So if you've added any blocks, make sure that you save like that. It updates the database behind the drawing. Just make sure that you do that. Now let's start thinking about creating a tool pallette from this drawing. How do I do that really quickly? Well there's two ways: there's a manual way, and there's also a quick way. I'm going to show you the manual way first. So in my tool pallettes pallette, I right-click on the title bar, and I select new pallette, like so.
Now bear in mind, everything is in inches right now. So I'm just going to call this blocks, like so, and press enter, and give it a name. And then up here, what I can do is I can right-click in the blank pallette, and I can add some text, and I'm going to call it imperial blocks, because I know that they are in inches. Done everything in inches for you this time. So there's imperial blocks. If I right-click just under the text, I can add a little separator as well. Just makes it look nice and neat and tidy.
So I can now drag and drag any of these blocks into my pallette. So let's go for the nice double bed here. Click on it like so. Don't use the grip. There's the grip there. Don't use that, click on the edge of the block and drag. When you see the little black line with the arrow heads, release, and there's your queen bed ready to be used. Now the lovely thing is, because this is all in inches, I can click on the bed there, and there it is, I can drop it into my drawing like so. Now I know it's the same as that block, but look at how quick and easy that is, dragging and dropping instead of insert block, you've got insertion points, scale, rotation, and so on.
Now all of that information just gets dropped into the drawing instead, much quicker. So there's my blocks tool pallette that I've created from my queen bed block in the tool pallettes drawing. So that's one way of doing it. Now the lovely thing about AutoCAD is you've got a shedload of blocks that are already preinstalled that you can use. Now I know that they're all in inches, which is why I've deliberately set my tool pallettes drawing to inches as well. So if you go back to the pallettes panel on the ribbon, there's that little icon here, it's a lovely little thing called design center.
So I'll click on it, and as you can see, it opens up, and you'll notice, oh, look, loads of blocks, and they look remarkably similar to the blocks in the tool pallettes drawing. That's because I dragged and dropped them in to create the tool pallettes drawing. Now there are three tabs in design center: you've got folders, open drawings, there's our tool pallettes drawing, and you've got a history if you need to go find drawings as well that you may have used in the past. Go back to your folders tab for the moment. Now I'm in the home space planner drawing here, not the tool pallettes drawing which is the current drawing.
The home space planner drawing is provided with AutoCAD, you've just got to know where it is. But you'll notice I can look at blocks, dim styles, layers, it's a bit like a Windows explorer for AutoCAD stuff, right? So I can drag anything from any of these sections into this tool pallettes drawing, and it'll come through. So for example, if I wanted to bring in, say, a wet bar, I click on it there, click and drag just like the pallettes, release, and it comes into the drawing, like so.
Now that's taken it from one drawing to another this time, not from a pallette to a drawing. So there's some really cool information that you can just drag and drop. Now I know that all of these drawings that are provided with AutoCAD are in inches, so my insertion scales are all correct in this case, based on the options settings that we set at the beginning of the video. Now if I just scroll up a bit, you'll see that what you've got to find is, all the way here, your AutoCAD 2018 folder, come down a bit, and you want to look for your sample subfolder, then your ENUS folder, and then you go into design center there.
Expand that out, and there's all your drawings with all the blocks in it. Home space planner, expand it, click on blocks, and there they all are. Now all of these are part of your AutoCAD install. So what you got to do is find that sample folder, look at the bottom of design center there. There's the path: C, program files, Autodesk, AutoCAD 2018, sample, ENUS design center, homespaceplanner.dwg, blocks. That's the folder where that particular drawing is. So you can see it's in that design center folder, homespaceplanner.dwg.
You don't need the blocks bit because you're already in that in design center. Now this is really cool, because that's one of the sample drawings. But if I go to open drawings, there's my tool pallettes drawing. If I go to blocks, it updates, and there's all my blocks. There's my treesimperial. That's the one that I worked with earlier, and you can see that I've got all these lovely tools available to me. How great is that? So I can drag and drop blocks from my tool pallettes drawing into my tool pallettes drawing, if I want to. You don't have to. But what I can do here, is if I want to quickly create a tool pallette of all of these blocks, if I've got the tool pallettes open, I select the drawing like this, I right-click on it, and I go create tool pallette.
Soon as I do that, you'll see the little circle goes a bit crazy, the Windows aero icon thing, it spins around. There's my tool pallette of tool pallettes, and there's every single block listed from my tool pallettes drawing. How wicked cool is that? If I've got 200 blocks in a drawing, I don't have to drag and drop every single one onto my tool pallette, I can just literally go, hey, create tool pallette, hit the button, thank you very much. Now that's how quick and easy it is. Now, what I need to do here now, is get a bit of screen real estate sorted, so I'm going to close my tool pallettes.
You can dock them. I don't have much screen real estate, so these can all be docked if you need them to be. So I close the tool pallettes, close design center, and I'm back in my drawing again. So that's the toolpallettes.dwg file. Remember that, you can download it from the website. And it's that quick and easy to create a tool pallette from all the blocks in your current drawing.
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Take your CAD skills up a notch. Work smarter, not harder, with AutoCAD. AutoCAD Tips & Tricks provides weekly tips, techniques, and workarounds to make designers like you more effective and more productive. Learn how to use AutoCAD features in exciting new ways, customize the workspace and shortcuts to save time, create more accurate drawings with the measurement and organization tools, and more. Shaun Bryant's insights give you that competitive edge you can't get from a regular training manual. Tune in every Wednesday for a new tip!Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.
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