How to get closer to becoming a CAD Ninja – A Few Great Tips for Architecture Students. Its all about templates, blocks and making your life easy for yourself. So, have a look at some of these ideas to help you cut your drawing time in half.
1. Build a block library
Where to start? Right here at First In Architecture we have started to build an extensive library of free blocks, layouts and templates for your use. If you have a block library, you can cut down so much time either trying to draw furniture/toilets etc, or scouring the net looking for furniture/toilets etc! Build your own library, so you have all you need when you need it (either on your pc or external hard drive) – this will become a huge time saver.
There are a lot of blocks on the net that can corrupt your drawings or are not on the correct layers, so make sure you choose your sources wisely. Check out our blocks here.
2. NEVER draw the same thing twice! NEVER.
This is a tricky one to start with, but get used to the fact that drawing the same thing over again is a total waste of time. Draw it well once, and use it again and again. For example, drawn a good kitchen layout? Turn it into a block and use it again. I’m not saying make everything look the same but use previous drawings for their attributes (i.e. layers, line types etc) and stretch, trim and adjust to fit to your latest drawings/project.
If you are going to be drawing something that has duplicated objects, make sure you take a bit of time when you start the drawing to enable you to draw it as quickly as possible. For example, if you are drawing a residential scheme layout with a couple of different house types – draw up the basic outline of the housetypes and turn them into blocks. You can then position them on site more easily, and later, add detail to the blocks which will update on each house type.
2. Create a template layout.
Another useful trick is to have a layout template ready to use – so that every time you need to print a drawing your layout it set up and ready to go. We have set up a layout template you can use here:
This ties in with the next tip….
3. Create a template model file
Along with your template layout sheet, its a good idea to have model space full of the layers, line types, text types, dimension style and standard doors and windows ready to use. This way, when you start a new drawing you don’t have to go searching for layers, or opening old drawings looking for standard doors etc.
3. Match Properties
Do you use ‘match properties’? Its time to start….When you have a good layer system set up, it can sometimes take a while scrolling through layers trying to find the one you are looking for. If you are using the model template (like the one above) all you need to do is ‘match properties’. Check out the video above to see how this is done. You can even choose which properties to match.
4. Use current layer
This is another useful option. Select the line that is on the layer you want to be using, and click “use current layer” or command (LAYMCUR). This is a quick way of changing layers without too much hassle.
5. Learn the commands
This may sound like an odd one, but it has stuck with me ever since I first learnt to use CAD. Learn the commands and shortcuts. If you can do most of your drawing without using icons, and completely using keyboard commands it will make your life a lot easier… Why? Well, cad is updated often, they move things around, change icons etc – but for me this has never been an issue as I don’t rely on the icons and always use the keyboard shortcuts. Also, you may find in the future you have to use different computers, at different offices, pcs, macs, and no cad work environment is ever the same, and you aren’t always able to import your own. By concentrating on using keyboard shortcuts you will never be caught out. Believe me.