How to Show Topography in your Plan Drawing in AutoCAD


A useful AutoCAD tutorial to help you with topography lines in AutoCAD. Computer aided design (CAD) software doesn’t come up with great concepts, as pointed out well by Barry Lupton. However in pretty much every project you reach a point where you want to digitalise sketches. Amongst others AutoCAD is probably the most used CAD program in landscape architecture and many other professions. As it is an extremely extensive program, only a few use it to it’s full potential. Even though you create drawings with it, it’s nothing like a box of pencils from which you pick the color you want just by looking at the box. You need to find your way. And it doesn’t stop there. AutoCAD can be customized and extended in virtually endless ways. So some pointers may come in handy! Lisa Tierney showed us 10 basic AutoCAD hacks, a useful overview for the absolute beginner. This article is the first of hopefully many about AutoCAD functionalities that, even when you are a pro, you may never have realized were possible. This first post from UrbanLISP is about topography in plan drawings.

Topography in your Plan Drawing in AutoCAD

Sections are very useful to show topography and slopes. Plan drawings still are the most important images you will produce during a project. Of course the topography should be shown in that plan drawing. In many countries it’s common to draw slope lines. It’s a pattern of lines that go from the top of the slope to the bottom. Every second line ends one half of that distance. Drawing such a pattern in AutoCAD on straight lines is not too much work. When the slopes in your plan are curvy the challenge is a bit bigger. The UrbanLISP ‘Slopelines’ command helps you to place such a pattern in an instant. Related Articles:

You only have to select two linear entities. Polylines, lines, arcs and splines are examples of linear entities. You have to select one for the top and one for the bottom and the pattern will be drawn in between. You can tweak the settings of the command to get an optimal result depending on the curves you use and the units your drawing is set to.

Photo credit: Northala Fields by Peter Fink and Igor Marko

Where topography lines would come in handy. Photo credit: Northala Fields by Peter Fink and Igor Marko

If you work in more mountainous areas you may work with topography lines. You can overlay them over your plan but that may be a bit boring. With the ‘Object Color Transition’ command you can create a gradient from the top to the bottom. You only have to prepare two colors, select them when starting the command and select the topography lines you want to apply them to. Most AutoCAD users are visually orientated. In the included video you can see a short demonstration of the commands described above. If you want to find out more about the command’s functionalities you can go to the UrbanLISP app store. The ‘Slopelines’ and ‘Object Color Transition’ commands can be found there along with videos with more in depth tutorials.
Pictometry for Autocad map 3D. Credit: @gletham GIS, Social, Mobile Tech Images; CC2.0

Image featured in our article “Computer Aided Software for Landscape Architects: The Essential Guide”. Image credit: @gletham GIS, Social, Mobile Tech Images; CC2.0

Social Download Stamp As long as they are marked with the ‘social download’ stamp you can download them after you tweeted the command page or liked it on Facebook, so you can try them for free. If you want to know how to install them you can check the installation guide. Feel free to share your feedback either in the UrbanLISP app store on below this article. Enjoy! WATCH: Ways to show topography in your plan drawing in AutoCAD Recommended Reading:

Article and video tutorial by Rob Koningen You can see more of Rob’s work at UrbanLISP Return to Homepage

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