CAD Tip 1029: Invest time in creating your CAD drawing to make editing easier
It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. –Isaac Asimov
Let’s face it: a lot of our time in CAD is spent editing stuff that’s already been created.
Sure, we spend some time creating drawings from scratch, but more and more of our tasks involve changing or “updating” existing drawings.
It makes sense, then, to create the drawing you’re working on with future editing in mind. Maybe the updating will be done by you, maybe by others. In either case, that editing will go quicker with a clean, well-organized drawing.
How do you create a CAD drawing to make editing easier? Here are some suggestions.
- Use blocks instead of individual lines for repeating objects, no matter how simple. It’s much easier to select a block and edit it than a group of lines.
- Create a dynamic block when you need a block to be changeable. Learning to make dynamic blocks takes some time and study if you’ve never done it, but it is definitely within your reach, and it opens up lots of possibilities.
- Organize your drawing using a reasonable number of layers, and keep the right objects living on the right layers. In this way a large number of objects can be isolated, selected, moved, frozen, or have their properties changed with just one click.
- Use polylines whenever possible, rather than groups of individual lines. They are easier to select and edit.
- Keep your model space well-organized, uncluttered, and clean. It should be free of junk such as old studies and rejected leftovers. One CAD designer I worked with calls these leftovers “bones.” I like that.
- Use navigation aids such as layout grids, frames, clouds, circles, bold titles, and other organizing devices to make your model space easy to work in. Ask yourself: Could another CAD user open this drawing and easily find whatever they are looking for? If the answer is no, then there is an opportunity for improvement.
- Create and maintain a good custom template file with a well-stocked “invisible filing cabinet” full of your best text styles, dimension styles, leader styles, layers, blocks, tags, etc. Use this template to start your next drawing.
Look at the following screen shot of a well-organized model space. How long does it take you to figure out:
- What city is the project in?
- Where are the drawings that make up sheet 3-20.A? Sheet 3-20.B?
- Where are the 3/4″ scale drawings that will appear on sheet 3-20.B?
- Where would I find the layout grid to use for creating some new 3/4″ scale sections for sheet 3-20.A?
It’s easy to answer these questions because care has been taken to make the drawing orderly.
Consider adopting this self-discipline rule: If another CAD user could not open up this file and navigate the drawing quickly and efficiently, then it is not organized well enough, and it is almost certainly slowing me down now as I work with it.
I believe that the time spent taking these steps is worth it, both in improving one’s CAD skills, and in time saved in the long run. The more you do it, the quicker it gets.
By following these principles, your work will go faster, your editing will be quicker, and your co-workers will definitely appreciate the extra care used to make the drawing when they open it and start using it.
Keep on CADDing! 🙂