AUTOCAD BASIC OVERVIEW FOR CREATING WORKING DRAWINGS USING LAYERS
Firstly we will go through the steps of setting up a template file which will include all of your
settings. Once this is saved your entire CAD standards will load with the template upon starting a
Open AutoCAD and select file, new.
Once the Select template dialogue box opens choose the ‘acadiso.dwt’ file, and select open.
This ‘ acadiso.dwt ’ template file creates an associated ctb (plot-style table) file, using the metric
*ISO - For International Standards Organization. The organization that sets international
standards in all fields except electrical and electronics.
Plot style table
A plot style is a collection of property settings defined in a plot style table and applied when the
drawing is plotted. Changing the default plot style setting by using the Options dialog box does
not affect the current drawing; it affects only new drawings or drawings created in an earlier
release of AutoCAD that have never been saved in AutoCAD 2000 or later format.
The default plot style setting is Use Color Dependent Plot Styles. The Plot Style Control on the
Properties toolbar is unavailable by default. The Plot Style Control is available when you select
the Use Named Plot Styles option and open a new drawing.
Use Color Dependent Plot Styles
Uses color-dependent plot styles in both new drawings and drawings created in AutoCAD
Release 14 or earlier. Color-dependent plot styles use the numbers from the AutoCAD color
index to create a plot style table with a .ctb file extension. Each color is defined by a name or
number ranging from 1 to 255. You can assign each color number to a different pen on a pen
plotter to achieve different property settings in the plotted drawing. If this option is selected, a plot
style is created for each color setting. You can also select this option by setting the
PSTYLEPOLICY system variable to 1.
This setting is saved with the drawing. Once a drawing is saved with Use Color Dependent Plot
Styles as the default, you can convert it to Use Named Plot Styles using the CONVERTCTB and
This is the first standard that you need to understand about AutoCAD is the
technique of using layers to divide up the drawing and display
Layers are the equivalent of the overlays used
in paper-based drafting. Layers are the
primary organizational tool in AutoCAD®: you
use them to group information by function and
to enforce linetype, color, and other
By creating layers, you can associate similar types of objects by assigning them
to the same layer. For example, you can put construction lines, text, dimensions,
and title blocks on separate layers. You can then control
• Whether objects on a layer are visible in any viewports
• Whether and how objects are plotted
• What color is assigned to all objects on a layer
• What default linetype and lineweight are assigned to all objects on a layer
• Whether objects on a layer can be modified
Every drawing includes a layer named 0. Layer 0 cannot be deleted or renamed.
It has two purposes:
• Ensure that every drawing includes at least one layer
• Provide a special layer that relates to controlling colors in blocks
Note It is recommended that you create several new layers with which to
organize your drawing rather than create your entire drawing on layer 0.
Saving your template
We need to set-up a default location for our template file we have just opened
and are about to modify.
Select file, save as.
Choose a suitable location and file name, in my example I have named the file
Acad_new, and saved my file as *.dwt format file in the cad standards folder that
I have created.
This ‘Template description’ dialogue box,
is simply that a description of the
associated template. You can use the
default description or add you own custom
This is where all our consequent template saves will be stored as we modify the
Now the template has a location and is saved we need to point the ‘qnew’ toolbar
to open in our revised default template location.
To do this you will need to do the following
Open the ‘tools, options’ dialogue box.
Select the ‘Files’ tab,
expand the ‘Template Settings’ ,
select the ‘None’ tag under the ‘Default
Template File name for QNEW.
Select ‘Browse’ on the top right side of
Browse to the template saved earlier in the exercise and select open
You will notice that the path to your template file now appears where the ‘none’ tag used to
Select ‘Apply’, then ‘OK’.
Now every time you select ‘QNew’ your template will the default file to open.
Note, if you select ‘File, New” as
shown this will open the default
AutoCAD directory with all the
original install templates.
This is the reason why you save
your template in a different location;
if you need to start again from
scratch there is always a unmodified
template stored in the default install
Now to start building the default template file
Ensure that you have opened the default template file, in my case it is the file
named ‘Acad_new.dwt’ in my Cad standards folder.
Select ‘File, Plot Style Manager…’
In the ‘plot styles’ dialogue box
select the ‘Add-A-Plot Style Table
Wizard’ and open
In the ‘Add Plot StyleTable’ dialogue box select the ‘next’ tab.
Select the ‘Start from scratch’
option and select the ‘next’ tab.
Select the ‘Color-Dependent Plot
Style Table’ and select the ‘next’
Choose a file name.
For this project I have chosen the
Select the ‘Plot Style Table editor’
The ‘Plot Style Table Editor –
Acad_new.ctb’ dialogue box
shown is where we start building
the color dependent plot styles
and layer associations.
Essentially we are building a set of
layers that contain different
portions of the building elements
within each layer.
These layers are displayed with a
text definition and a colour.
The drawing information in a layer
will be displayed on the screen in
the layers color and will print in
black ink in the pen size associated
to that color.
Select the red ‘Color 1’ and adjust
the ‘Lineweight’ to suit
Repeat this process of selecting
colors and associating lineweights
Consideration should be taken at
this step to analyze how you want
your drawings to be represented; as
your next step is to build a layering
system to associate colors (pen
widths) to your drawing contents.
Grey – Number 8 = <0.18
Magenta =6 = <0.18
White =7 = 0.25
Yellow =2 = 0.35
Red =1 = 0.5
Cyan =4 = 0.70
Blue =5 = 0.70
Green =3 = 1.00
Levels and Layers
Drafting in all disciplines will begin on a layer called BASE or for example in
AutoCAD the following layers could be used ‘bn-PLAN_GLAZING, bn-
PLAN_FRAME_TIMBER…’ (not layer 0).
Normally companies will allow any sensible naming convention but insist on
For example the following layers could make up part of a layer naming systems.
‘E’ Describing existing, ‘N’ = New
Existing work drawn over the base plan but on a different layer and a
hence a different lineweight.
New work on a different layer and different line weight…
This is how you start developing your own preference on how your CAD
drawings are printed, how you want different building elements to be represented
(pen widths) and hence your own CAD standard.
Other layers to include could be text, titleblock and viewport layers.
The T_DWG_SUPPORT layer is where all the text is entered on a specific
The T_TITLE_BLOCK, TXT_TITLE_BLOCK and VIEWPORTS layers are for
paperspace and printed which is described later.
Once you have sufficient layers to contain and represent your drawing it is time
to set up your plot preferences.
Select ‘File, Plot…’
Ensure that our plot style that we
created and saved earlier is selected
under the ‘Plot style table (pen
This will print all our layers and there
associated colors (pen weights) as
Select the appropriate plot device
under the ‘Plotter configuration’ and
select the ‘OK’ tab. This will send a
print but for the sakes of your
template it is worth printing an ‘empty’
print or take advantage of this to test
your layer/lineweight settings.
Now that we have the basics set up we should save the template.
You can save over and update your
previous template file, or create a new
template at this stage.
As you open and update your template
it would be prudent to regularly save
back to your template directory as
Now that we have basic layers and Layer Assignments (pen weights) setup we need to setup
a presentation space to print our 1:1 AutoCAD model using different paper sizes and scales.
To start setting this up you need to select one of
the layout tabs or the model/paper button at the
bottom of the screen.
Once you have selected either method to open the ‘Layout 1’ tab you are prompted with the
‘Page Setup – Layout 1’ dialogue box.
Select an appropriate plotter and ‘Plot style table’ as we did in the plot setup.
Select the ‘Layout Settings’ tab and rename the ‘Layout name’.
This will change the name of Layout1 to (whatever
you choose) I chose ‘gnd_flr_plan’ for ground floor
Note: This changes once you select ‘OK” and exit
the ‘Page Setup’ dialogue box.
Choose a paper size, for this example I used ISO a3
Ensure ‘Plot area, Layout’ and ‘Plot scale, 1:1’ is selected.
Select ‘OK’, hence exiting the ‘page Setup’ dialogue box.
Select the ‘Layer Properties Manager’ and select the ‘VIEWPORT’ layer we created earlier
Ensure that the ‘VIEWPORT’ layer is selected and that this layer is set to no-plotting.
Select ‘Current’ to make the selected layer the place
where new geometry is created until a new layer is
Select ‘OK’ to exit the ‘Layer Properties Manager’
Select ‘View, Viewports,
You will then select (click
and hold left mouse
button) and drag a
rectangle shape within
the dashed lines (the
dashed lines represent
the printable area) to
create a shape which
you will see your model
1:1 space through.
You should have something like this.
Select (left mouse button) the original black rectangle and push the delete button on the
Select the ‘MODEL’ button so that it changes to ‘PAPER”.
Type ‘zoom’ in the command prompt
Press ‘enter’ on the keyboard
Type ‘extents’ press ‘enter’ on the keyboard.
Your paperspace viewport should show whatever is drawn in your modelspace at 1:1 on your
screen in a zoom extents (zoom to fit – not to scale) fashion. In my case I had drawn a few
simple shapes as shown below.
What about scale? To print of a scaled drawing of our model we need to zoom to a scale so
that the paperspace displays a scaled representation of the 1:1 model on an a3 page.
NOTE: The paperspace size – sheet size was decided in the previous ‘Page setup’ stage.
To scale the modelspace view on the paperspace type in ‘zoom’ while the ‘model’ button is
Press ‘enter’ on your keyboard
Type ‘1/ (whatever scale you want) xp’
For example: a scale of 1:10
Type ‘1/10xp’ and press enter on your keyboard
Select the ‘model’ tab so it changes back to ‘paper’
My geometry only moved slightly as it was already close to 1:10 scale when I zoomed
extents earlier. Now that I have scaled and gone back to paperspace I know have a scaled
1:10 image of my modelspace geometry on an a3 sheet ready for print.
You could at this stage print this image.
Alternatively delete all the geometry and save this as a template file as discussed earlier to
have predetermined sheets in your template when it loads.
You could set up many paperspace layouts and multiple viewports on each layer and save
back to your generic template so that you do not have to repeat this process in future