Any discussion of Autocad 3D basics will include the program's ability to create and modify 3D objects precisely, as well as the adding of accurate dimensions and text annotations, and the ability to view the built geometry at varying scales. The discussion would also include organizing the 3D model information using layers, line types and colours. Blocks, or symbols for multiple objects, can be created and imported, and a variety of layouts can be set up for printing purposes. Other drawings and models can be referenced through the Autocad Design Centre and the External References feature.
There are three main steps in the process of creating a 3D Autocad model. We first create the geometry, then add realistic materials and lighting. Text and dimensions are then added and elevations of the whole model can be scaled and annotated in Paper Space. The user can also output either still images or animated movies for presentation.
A Help feature is included in most computer software applications. Some perform better than others, but Autocad's online Help is concise and easy to follow, with both procedural and conceptual information. There are also many resources on the web, but the first place to start is the Autodesk website. The home page also directs you to many user forums.
All actions are performed via commands in Autocad, whether in the 2D drafting workspace or the 3D interface. Go to the Workspace Shifter pop-up menu on the bottom right of the screen to enter the 3D workspace. The 3D Modeling space has more tools than 3D Basics, upon which the navigation, creation and modify tools appear as tabs on the top Ribbon, which is an array of tabs containing many related tools stacked as groups.
To create a new 3D document go to the top left Application button, choose New, then the AcadISO 3D.dwt template file. ISO stands for International Standards Organization, basically a Metric template. We are now in the 3D workspace, which consists of three planes set at right angles to each other: x, y and z.
Commands can be entered in several ways in Autocad 3D, the most obvious being the tools in the top Ribbon tabs. For example, to create a box simply click on the Box tool and follow the prompts on the bottom Command line. Here we may add further information, in the case of the box we first specify the corners of the box base, then the height. Autocad's precision and accuracy, allow us to enter the precise dimensions of the box. And the command is completed by typing the Enter key on the keyboard (Mac: Return).
Alternatively we can enter commands using keyboard shortcuts, for example L > Enter will create a line, and C > Enter will create a circle. A full list of shortcuts can be found at AutoDesk's website. The crucial thing is to read the instructions on the bottom Command line, or at the cursor if Dynamic Input is active, to see what information is required.
Autocad 3D is very procedural and simply will not work if you miss out important information. Context-sensitive commands are also available by right-clicking on the screen at various points. But the program is very simply and logical, and the basics of working in Autocad 3D are easy to pick up.
Tom Gillan has been training autocad 3D to corporate clients in Sydney for seven years. If you like to know more about autocad 3D, visit Design Workshop Sydney for more information.