May 22, 2014 at 3:47 pm #152675Isabel SchankParticipant
I am a landscape architect with 12 years working experience on and off the landscape profession. Actually I have been 5 years OUT of office, and I need to get back IN. So I have the basis of AutoCAD and 3D but since technologies move faster than the moon, I need to update on this. What is most used in CAD drawing nowadays, and any tips on where to make a quick re-immersion study for 1-2 months, other than homework.
any recommendation will be highly appreciated. courses, classes, self-teaching, programs…software.
Thanks in advance!May 28, 2014 at 8:18 am #152676Jonathan CorbettParticipant
Leading design software companies like Autodesk have increasingly focused most of their development efforts these days around modern “BIM” ready software like Revit and so the dinosaur that is AutoCAD seems to have been pushed to the side to pick up the occasional leftover feature “scraps” previously developed and used by the BIM flagship programs.
That being said, we landscape architects still heavily use AutoCAD since our way forward in the BIM world is just starting and not as “clearly” laid out as the Architects and Engineers currently have it. In many offices these days, 3D programs like sketchup and sometimes Rhino are the workhorses of almost all 3D modeling while AutoCAD still handles the plan and detail drafting and construction drawing sheet production. Here is information about where AutoCAD is these days.
The majority of the improvements to AutoCAD itself over the last ~5 years have been mostly cosmetic user interfaces changes like the “Ribbon” (v2009) and improvements to its 3D functions which Landscape Architects usually don’t use very deeply. Anyways, when you left the office environment 5 years ago there were new features out then that you maybe didn’t use that are now much more commonly used and useful to know.
- Sheet Set Manager: First introduced in v2005, I think many medium and large offices have since made this a part of their standard drawing package workflow. It is very useful at keeping all your sheets organized (of course) and makes working in teams much easier as everyone can clearly see the whole drawing sheet structure and open or batch publish any project file. It can control things like sheet tiles and numbers so you don’t have to open every file whenever you need add a new sheet. And finally, it also lets you easily insert details into sheets (it manages the xref process) and then lets you add dynamic callout blocks to reference those details that will automatically update the name or number whenever the detail’s name and number changes.
A google search will give to many guides on how to initially set up a Sheet Set system so the title block and callout blocks all work. If the office you are going to already uses the Sheet Set Manager, you won’t have to worry about the set up process so much, but here is a Prezi guide I made for the AECOM Shanghai studio I work at to help the general users understand and use the different sheet set manager features which you might want to also check out: http://prezi.com/f8nnabd27aoa/autocads-sheet-set-manager/
- Dynamic Blocks: First introduced in v2006, these are really easy to make at almost any skill level and they really add a lot of convenience to everyday drafting. These dynamic features you can add to bocks can be as simple as a move function on text so that the text on a lighting symbol block can be moved out of the way of something on your drawing without having to explode the block. Slightly more complex features like text fields allow your blocks to have text that can automatically update to something like displaying the XY coordinate information of where the block is located or even reading the sheet set manager information so that your title block sheet title can automatically update to match what the sheet set manager tells it to say. You can even easily add visibility or lookup pull down bars on your blocks so that they can change appearance based on what you select like a car parking stall block that has the option of showing 90, 60, 45, or parallel arrangements. Adding on to that you can give it an array feature that allows you to just click pull a button to add more stalls.
- Annotative text and objects: First introduced in v2008, this allows AutoCAD to automatically scale things like text, dimensions, hatches, linetypes, and blocks so that they display at the correct scale in both the model space and on the final sheet. When drafting, you just have to set the drawing scale at the bottom right corner of your screen and all your annotative objects will be created at that scale. This is generally much easier to use then the old way where you either had to manually scale each object (and remember the correct scale calculation) or the office had to maintain like 5-10 different text and dimension styles that are set to all the different scale. Now with annotative scales there is only one style that will automatically scale to meet your needs.
Apart from new AutoCAD features, here are a few simple things to always keep in mind when working in any office environment that will get you respect from your peers and what really separates the beginners from the advanced CAD users.
- Always try and use the correct office standards like layers, text, and dimension styles and keep your drawing files organized. Your coworkers will love you if they can easily find your work and pick up where you left off without having to waste time cleaning it up or redrawing it.
- Likewise, always use object snaps so lines always touch and pay attention to the sizes you make things so that you can easily dimension and detail them later.
- Clear and clean looking details that are easy to read are key. Be very consistent with how you arrange your text, dimensions and leader callouts. Try to keep all your dimensions on one side and your text on the other. Make all your leaders all the same consistent direction (90, 60 or 45) and line up your text so it is not jumbled all over the place.
When learning complex programs like AutoCAD, Google is your king at answering any specific question. Everything you want to know has already been asked and answered 10 times before and can be found very quickly. I have ended up in the role of unofficial CAD manager in my studio of over 65+ landscape designers where everyone comes to me with their CAD problems and I can say that almost every random problem or question can be solved with a 5 min Google search.
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