Tips for someone just getting started with AutoCad?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Tips for someone just getting started with AutoCad?

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    Sara Malmqvist

    I am new to the site and hoping to find some tips and advice here. I am currently a landscape designer and am planning on going back to school to get my MLA at some point within the next few years. I am now wanting to get a headstart on learning AutoCad so that it’s one less new overwhelming thing when I go back to school. I have considered taking a class, but most of them seem pretty pricey and I question if it is worth the money? So I am thinking of just buying a book and getting started myself.

    Any tips on books? Good tutorials? Learning tips? Any and all input is GREATLY appreciated!

    Thanks so much!

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I went back to school in ’94 because of CAD (dropped out in ’83 because I could not draw well enough), so I know where you are coming from. I had not even used a computer when I went back.

    Fortunately they had a great Autocad class where they taught from a “process oriented” perspective rather than a “product oriented”. The book that we used was called “Mastering Autocad”. Some books and classes show you a direct route to draw a particular item (product” while others teach you the commands that you need to know so that you can figure out how to do whatever you want to do (process).” Mastering Autocad” followed that latter method which worked well for me.

    David J. Chirico

    I learned thru reading a Mastering AutoCAD book as well. However, the problems and guides that come in the attached CD require AutoCAD to work thru. And, even the most watered down versions of CAD (AutoCAD LT) is about $1000 dollars.

    The bargain basement way to do it, would be to buy a used book and download the free trial of AutoCAD and do as much as you can.

    However, if you take a class, you get to use a full version of CAD, you get to rack up way more hours of screen time and get some professional help in the process.

    A basic knowledge of CAD will go a long way because the 2010 overlays like Civil 3D and BIM software have a huge amount of information and a much steeper learning curve.

    Learning CAD is a great investment no matter how you look at it. The more you can get into modifying it and making it work for your business and co-workers the more valuable you become.

    Best of Luck,

    Ryan A. Waggoner
    Participant good site for tutorials, forums, and general knowledge…

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Look for the various “Intellicad” programs that are out there. They are Autocad clones which are licensed by a consortium and customized by the individual companies such as Progecad, Briscnet, and several others. You should be able to get a fairly complete clone for about $400.

    Lynn Wilhelm

    I used AutoCad 2000 at the last company I worked. I learned by the seat of my pants. Now I’m using 2010. There are lots of great tutorials on line. Here’s a good one: –donate a bit to help them out.
    On the program, help is much better and the tool tips for each function are really great.

    Anyway, I’m also taking a class at my local communtiy college. Only $125 and $50 for the text. Pretty basic so far, but it’s amazing what tools I didn’t know how to use. The text is “AutoCad 2010 Tutorial First Level: 2D Fundamentals” by Randy Shih.

    There are other cad programs out there. I was lucky to get this Autocad. But I was looking at Vectorworks and Dynascape and also willing to try Google SketchUp Pro to see what I could do there. Land 8 and Chris Heiler had a great 3 night webinar about cad programs–it was very helpful.
    There is also some free-ware stuff from Blender. Don’t know much about it, though.

    Sara Malmqvist

    Thanks so much for all the input! I will definitly check out “Mastering Autocad” for sure. Are there any resources out there specifically for LA in Auntocad? I have heard that it is quite an extensive program and one concern I have with working through a book is that it will focus on tools or functions that I won’t really need to be familiar with. I suppose I am just wondering if there are resources specifically for LA’s? Any thoughts?

    Thanks again guys!

    Bob Luther

    check local community coleges, they often offer AutoCAD in a continuing education program during after hours time periods, generally very affordable and flexible, if not there are a ton of books and videos on the web… is a great source for videos but there is a subscription fee.

    Wes Arola, RLA

    layer management. block creation and editing.external referencing. Those are 3 very important “must knows” which I use everyday in the office as an entry level LA draftsperson.

    Brice Bradley

    Quite the undertaking; but a good one none-the-less. I like the book idea. Whatever approach you take, I recommend you identify a sample project – possibly one you’re currently working on by hand (?) – and go from there. By doing this, you will be able to plan and work through much of the process – from sheet set-up to model space/paper space issues, external file referencing, scaling the dwg to fit the sheet including matchlines, sheet tabs, dim styles, details, etc.

    Wes is correct with regard to layer management; this is a huge component and once you become familiar and comfortable with it, you will find that no two landscape architects will manage their layers the same way. Additionally, you’ll find that there are many times 3 ways to do the same thing – i.e. drawing a line, zoom, etc.

    I’m a fan of AutoDesk (AutoCAD) as it’s the Microsoft of the CAD world – i.e. the predominant drafting program. I currenlty use AutoCAD Lt 2009 and am relatively please with it other than a few lisp routines and commands I liked to use in the past for counting blocks, northings/eastings, etc. Being self-employed now, stomaching the purchase price for a full-version just isn’t an option for me at this time.

    Good luck.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Don’t think of it as a landscape design tool. First think of it as a drafting tool and keep in mind the same drafting principles that you would use while using your hand. Figuring out how to use lineweight is one of the most significant things you can learn with your hands or with your mouse. Initially the difference is just in the input. Later on it becomes about managing drawings which is where CAD excels.

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