Get started with your CAD software Your first steps with Autocad LT 2017 evaluation copy or check out our training rates click here The old perhaps familiar Classic mode has been dropped from current versions of Autocad software However one aspect remains constant - the ability to use keyboard short cut keys which we have found to be easy for initial learning and 20% faster in operation. The author (with 14 years CAD training experience) makes no apology for this text based start up guide. – Learn at your own pace instead of trying to follow another’s mouse movements. To learn Autocad you have to correctly choose a command and then follow it's command line instructions Typically followed by the enter key. So at the start screen click in Autocad click on “Start drawing” An easy way to start using Autocad is to use short cut keys. These are simple to learn such as “L” for line, “C” for circle etc. When you type a letter you will see a list of possible commands for you to select on screen. Type the letter L into the keyboard and push the enter key. Note that all keyboard entries are completed with the enter key. This is especially important when entering a value of for example 5000. The software won't know what you intend until you push enter key and ask the software to accept your entry. Note what happens at the bottom of your screen. It's your command line. This is the key to learning and operating Autocad. You choose a command and follow the command line instructions. So type “L” for line command. Note the word “Specify” on the command line. This means a left mouse click on screen. (In the drawing area ie. away from all the command icons) Note the command line now says specify point - respond with another left click on another point of the screen. Keep following the command line instructions to specify points and draw a zig-zag line Push enter key to finish the line command. Note that the white bottom part of the command line is clear, so the command line is not telling you to do anything else, which completes the line command. Summary : You typed L for line, followed the command line instructions and then pushed the enter key to finish. Note that you had to push enter because of repeated instructions to specify a point. Now try the circle command Type C into the keyboard followed by the enter key Note the word "Specify" on the command line which you now know means a left mouse click is required The command line is asking you to specify a centre point for your circle So left click a point for the centre of your circle Once done the command line asks you to specify the radius. Whilst you could type in a value, “specify” means that you can specify a radius with another left mouse click . Autocad will take distance between the 2 points as the circle radius. There's no need to push enter to finish the circle command because the command line is clear. Now push the space bar. You will see the circle instructions repeated on the command line. As a simple test yourself exercise, you should draw several circles of different sizes. A common mistake here is to draw circles of the same size. If this happens you are pushing the right mouse key instead of the left mouse key for the specify instruction. Because right mouse key accepts a previously used radius value. Now will we try the erase command Self taught users often click and object and then push the delete or E keyboard short cut key to erase. This is poor practice. Later when you get to Zoom and pan with your mouse, you will note that the grips mentioned above won't go when you mouse movements. So it's easily possible to have objects clicked which are not visible on screen. Then these invisible objects will also be deleted if you are using grips to erase objects. So here is the safe way to erase Type the keyboard short cut for the erase command which is E and enter Now the cursor changes to a small box. Which highlights an object when part of it passes through the box. Note the command line says "Select object" Click on several objects to be erased and watch the command line at each click Now the important bit, push the enter key or right mouse to finish and execute the erase command Many commands which include the “select objects” instruction such as move, copy, mirror, trim, extend, offset to name just a few. Now try simple window selection with the erase command The “E” for erase keyboard shortcut key followed by enter This time click a point in a blank space around the middle of your screen Move the cursor left and right to see 2 types of selection boxes A move to the left produces a green box which will select any objects crossed or enclosed when you specify or left click the other corner of the box. A move to the right produces a blue box which will only select objects which are enclosed. A point to remember is that all selection boxes are defined by 2 clicks. From version 2016 you can hold down the left mouse key to produce an irregular shaped box selection if desired. Now a point that not many existing users CAD operators are not aware of If you have made a mistake and selected an object which you did not wish to erase, hold the shift key and then left click a selected object. This take it out of the selection set and won't be erased when you push the enter key to finish your object selection. That's a great time saver if for example you have selected objects to be refurbished, then realise that the job specification requires only 26 of them. If you were to push the U keyboard shortcut to undo your erase command you would have to re-pick the 26 items again. At this stage you might be wondering why Autocad software has dropped the old perhaps familiar classic mode interface. Well we don't know the reason either. However once you start using commands such as Hatch, Multiline text editor or Array, the Ribbon interface really shines as all of their complicated options are nicely spread out across the screen. Try typing the keyboard shortcut H for hatch to see the ribbon change to the hatch command options. You can select a hatch pattern, use the pick points box to place the hatch in an enclosed area such as a circle, then adjust the hatch scale, just under the angle box, to display the hatch as you wish. In these few steps you have just covered Autocad's basic command line rules: Specify means a left mouse click Select objects means push enter to finish a selection Sometimes it will say "Specify distance" - if so type in a value if or pick 2 points on screen to represent a distance. Now you need to know about Zoom and pan. You should operate Autocad with a wheel mouse. Touch pad operation will be too slow. Roll the mouse wheel forwards and backwards and you will see the screen view grow or reduce in size. This is zoom. You are magnifying the view, not changing the size of objects. Now push the mouse wheel down and hold it down whilst moving the mouse. This is pan. Shuffling the paper around behind the screen. Now double click the mouse wheel. You should see everything you have drawn on screen. This is zoom extents. If the mouse appears to freeze and stop, type the letters RE to force a regen and free the mouse Now try Autocad's software zoom functions. Type Z keyboard short cut. Left click 2 points on screen such that the small area enclosed will become the full screen. This is zoom window. Now type Z keyboard short cut, followed by enter as normal then E followed by enter key. This is Autocad's extents option of the zoom command. In fact what you have just done is to take a command line option by typing it's capitalised letter or letters. Command line options frequently appear. They can be taken by typing their capitalised letter as above, by clicking the option on the command line or by pushing right mouse to see these options appear on a pop up menu. Drawing in the real world. In the old days of pencil, rubber and drawing board you used a "T" square tool to ensure that you drew straight lines. In Autocad this is named ortho mode which when on, will keep lines drawn parallel to the X and Y axes. Which at start up are horizontal or vertical. You can turn Ortho mode on by pushing the F8 function key. To draw a horizontal line of 500 units, access the line command by typing "L", pick a point on the left of the screen and move the cursor to the right. Now just type 500 followed by the enter key. You have just drawn a horizontal line of 500 units. Why units? Autocad is used in many different areas of the globe and not everyone designs in mm's. Roads and motorways for example are designed in mtrs. Feet and inches are used to this day in America. So what does that 500 unit line represent? Whatever units you wish. In Autocad the value of units won't become an issue until you come to plotting your work. Where the paper will be measured by in mm's . So if you have used 1 unit = 1 mm throughout, scaling will be straight forward. If your drawing unit represents something else then you will have to apply a scaling correction value. For example if you have used 1 unit = 1 mtr then to achieve a scale of 1:50, first convert this to decimal. So 1:50 = 0.02 then multiply by 1000 to get 20:1. As with all scaling calculations you must make check measurements to ensure that this is correct before you send the completed scaled drawing. These are just the first simple basic steps there’s a whole lot more to learn.
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