Autocad 2011 – Where do I start?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums TECHNOLOGY Autocad 2011 – Where do I start?

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    ALEX P

    its worth how ever much it cost



    Gregory Leichty
    Participant is legit

    April Prey

    Claudia: I’m curious as to how you are faring with AutoCAD. I will be a second year this fall (BLA).  We got a whirlwind tour of Adobe, AutoCAD, ArcGIS and SketchUp in one 10 week quarter.  I’m spending the summer slogging through Ellen Finkelstein’s AutoCAD Bible.  A couple of my classmates and I egg each other on once a week or so to keep us going.


    Some suggestions I have gotten: draw your house starting with your bedroom and working out.  Also, do a Google search for AutoCAD class websites – our prof maintained a site with beginner exercises.  I still use them.


    Good luck and I admire you for doing this while holding down a job!




    I think you have received more than enough tips on where to learn CAD but I am going to tell you a few of my personal tips. I learned CAD 4 years back and I learned every aspect of it. 2D modeling, 3D modeling, intercapabilites, etc. But really the work that I am assuming you will be doing, as are a lot of us on here, is 2D modeling. i.e. site plans, elevations, sections… For this work, simple line work, you should be able to learn what you need to in less than a week, SERIOUSLY. It is getting to know the UI and all the shortcuts that takes time. If you look in any book or step-by-step online resource, the first few chapters where you learn the “BASICS” is really what you will need to MODEL. Setting up VP, Layers, Title Blocks, and Plotting is a whole nother area which is not as bad as it seems. The biggest thing, when learning 2D CAD is to stay organized. It is easy to get caught up in experiementing and doing whatever, but when your projects become more detailed and larger in size it is easy to forget to organize layers. SO in summary, lean the basics, practice those basics, get used to the UI, and stay organized!

    Claudia Chalfa

    The website I referred to has been incredibly helpful, that link again is


    I have a residential design project right now, and I measured the yard the other day, came home and drew it in autocad.  It’s nothing fancy, I still have to change the line widths and figure out how to create a title block and scale and all that, but I am still really proud of myself for getting this far basically on my own. 




    Steve Mercer

    I sure miss those bezier curves in Adobe Illustrator!  Arcs give me absolute fits!  I suspect by the time you get really good at AutoCAD all the employers are going to be more interested in your Civil 3D or Revit experiance.  At least that is my luck…spend 10 man years to master a program only to find that the market wants something else.  I recently looked into night classes at  a vocational school and they weren’t any cheaper than enrolling in college and getting college credit for the class!  What is wrong with that picture?  I even looked into auditing a college class… these days the price is the same whether you audit or take it for credit.  Something is definately wrong in the Higher Ed department!  I know someone that learned AutoCAD by keyboard as a mater of fact where he learned they didn’t even have a mouse attached to the computer.  He very seldom even looks at the screen. 

    Steve Mercer

    U must be single….LOL!


    Steve Mercer

    I am glad you are working on this David!  Right now I have my nose deeply buried in learning how to use my Carlson Robotic Total Station, and SurvCE.  Carlson also has CAD Routines that run on top of either AutoCAD or their Flavor of Intellicad. (to bad they don’t run on BricsCAD I would just need one CAD program to learn and pay to keep maintained)  I haven’t even had time to really wade into my copy of LandFX yet.  I have used SketchUP Pro for a couple of construction projects and I am continually amazed at how easy it is to learn.  If Google keeps feeding that program with cash and they improve their 2D side of the program and it is even 1/10 as easy to learn as the 3D stuff they are going to clean every CAD programs clock!  And it is about time some company did that.  There is absolutely no reason as far as software programing has come that engineers are forced into learning something that has a kludgy interface such as AutoCAD!  It seems as if it only gets worse with each and every new version!

    Jen Terry

    I stroooongly recommend  finding a class at a local CC or Tech school. You may spend a bit more money than teaching yourself, but you will save yourself from enormous amounts of anxiety. AutoCad, for most, truly does require hands on instruction…..good luck!

    Ed Siribohdi
    ernie garcia

    I had similar problems transitioning to CAD 2011 from 2006 or 2007, whichever release altered the print menus.


    We had a CAD class at A&M (many moons ago) that was not very useful.  At the time, it was an elective and not a requirement.  If you work in anything that is not residential, it is essential.  Residential design/build appears to be the last refuge of hand drawn plans. Most of what I learned came from monkeying around with the program whenever I had the opportunity.  I used it at TXDoT, then I had to switch to Microstation and ClarisCAD for my first job.  After that, it’s been all CAD.  Nowadays it’s expected.  Many companies are now asking for experience in sketchup, illustrator, and pool studio if the company has rented the program.  If you can, get a copy that you can mess with at home on your own time.  Find another person who knows the program and have them show you the basics. 


    Books help.  I learned sketchup easily by reading Daniel Tal’s “Sketchup for Site Design.”  It’s easier to learn than CAD, but if you use the two at the same time you will see the limitations of sketchup for all it’s ability to quickly draw in 3D.


    Creating a title block depend on how you organize your work.  I personally draw everything in model space and then create my title block in paper space. Then i create an mview through the title block and scale the drawing according to multiples of 12.  so 1/8 scale would be MS, ZOOM, 1/96xp, Enter.  Then the drawing (assuming that your title block is drawn at 1:1 where a 24×36 sheet is 24 inches by 36 inches in paperspace) should scale to 8th scale in the mview you opened.  so 1/10 scale would be 1/120xp, 1/4 scale would be 1/48xp, and so on. 


    if your title block lies in model space with your drawing, you have to scale it up to fit the paper size you’re going to print.

    Confused?  That’s why I suggest messing with it at home and finding a friend who knows more than you about it. It’s the best way to learn.


    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    The program is so deep that the more you use it, the more that you know how little you know about it. I’ve used it professionally for 12 years and have a great deal of interaction with other people using it longer than me and newly trained people up to date on some of the newer commands and methods.

    When I got out of school in ’97 I thought I was right on top of it. We had a great process oriented ACAD class (as opposed to product oriented which is more the norm). The fact that we had a lot of students, including upper classmen, that would be right there in the computer studio to get help from. It is amazing how eager a young computer geek can be to help – there is obviously a lot of satisfaction in that. The point is that it really takes that support to move you along faster and more completely.

    I learned pretty quickly that I knew very little when I started working in an engineering office. I easily doubled my knowledge of it in a month (from those old farts who hire guys out of school because they are so up to date? think again, if you believe that). Again, the support and instruction from those around me was the key to moving forward. Change of job and once again an introduction to a whole lot of stuff that I had no idea about …. learn more and combine it with the earlier stuff.  … then you get files from others (archs. LAs, structurals, lighting,….) and you are introduced to many other things you had no idea about.

    The point is that no matter what you do to self train, there are so many commands, so many variables, so many methods,… that you will only scratch the surface. There really is no line in the sand that you cross where you are fluent in ACAD. It is even difficult to determine where “functional” is.

    I think that the most progress is made when you have a support group such as a class, if you are not working in an office with others. As Henry said, you at least need a mentor who you can lean on. The hard part of using a mentor is that you seek answers one at a time by phone or meeting while in a class or office situation it can be multiple answers and interaction in real time.

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