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									TOPIC NUMBER: 149

 Colors in CAD Drafting
By: Ralph Grabowski
TOPIC DATE: 2002 & 2005
Presented By: Arch. Amr Yahia Ahmed Kandil
            CAD for AEC Principals Susan Smith
   Whereas CAD systems of yesteryear limited you to 255 or
even just fifteen colors, today's CAD systems support the
16.7 million colors. That leaves new CAD users in a
quandary: What color coding system? Why use colors at all?
   Color was rarely used in manual drafting, so you may
question the thought of using color in an electronic drawing.
 The Case for Color
CAD programs use color for two purposes: (1) operator cues,
and (2) controlling the plotter.
   When a drawing contains colored elements, the
colors provide cues to the operator, making him or her
more efficient. While a structural engineering firm may         Consumer-oriented CAD
decide against a color display, they still need to use          systems, such as Floor plan
color in drawings — even if the colors are not                  3D, pre assign colors and
displayed or plotted. That's because all CAD systems            texturesto pre drawn objects.
use color to control the plotter's pens.                        Other CAD systems use color
                                                                numbers to assign textures to
                                                                Image: Ralph Grabowski
             CAD for AEC Principals Susan Smith
     When it comes time to plot the drawing, the CAD
program asks you to map color numbers to the plotter's
pen numbers. Drafting software match color numbers
with pens of different thickness. For example, the
operator matches color numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 with the
plotter's 000 pen, color number 5 with the 00 pen and
color number 6 with the 0 pen. Everything drawn with
color 1, 2, 3 or 4 is plotted with thin lines.
 When color output is needed, the CAD operator
                                                            TurboCAD allows the user to
matches the color number with the plotter's pen number.
                                                            select colors from a palette of
For example, color number 1 is matched with the red
                                                            16.7 million via the RGB and
pen. Everything drawn with color 1 is plotted in red.
                                                            HSL color specification systems.
 The WYSIWYG approach to line weight and color in          Image: IMSI
most Macintosh-based drafting software often leads to a
different approach, where each value retains its own
independent meaning. Following this approach, line
weights are represented directly by line weight, and line
colors are simply and directly colors.
 Naturally, you can map all colors to pen #1 for draft
plots or for output to a monochrome laser printer
             CAD for AEC Principals Susan Smith
The Case for Monochrome
 When it came time to upgrade their CAD hardware,
the firm's principals got the CAD operators involved. The
operators decided on a very high-resolution
monochrome display system for two reasons: (1) the
final output would always be monochrome, and (2) they
would be more productive since the extra-high
resolution meant less time-consuming zooms and pans.
The money saved on losing color allowed the firm to         ArchiCAD preassigns a pen
spend that money on higher resolution and bigger            number and width to every one
screens.                                                    its 99 colors.
 Some plotting software allows users to apply a            Image: Graphisoft
"screen" to objects based on layer or level. Screened
objects are plotted in a light gray shade, which makes
them less conspicuous. Typically, existing features such
as contour lines are screened, while new features are

                                                            AutoCAD's Plot Style Table Editor
                                                            allows detailed user control of plotted
                                                            output including dithering, screening,
                                                            linetype, and lineweight.
                                                            Image: Autodesk, Inc.
             CAD for AEC Principals
                                                                     by Susan Smith
Color Numbering Systems — What They Mean
RGB: Red-green-blue is the system used by Windows. Each
of the three primary colors ranges in intensity from 0 (black)
to 255 (full color).
HSL: Hue-saturation-luminance is an alternative color
specification system. Saturation ranges from 0 (gray) to 255
(full color).                                                    Image: Ralph Grabowski
EGA: Named after IBM's enhanced graphics adapter, used
by many CAD systems.
HTML: Hypertext markup language includes a color
specification system used by Web sites.
 DGN: The color numbering system (and file format) used by
Bentley Systems' MicroStation.
ACI: Autodesk's AutoCAD color index, also used by
AutoSketch.                                                        A pistonhead hand-
CYMK: A color system of cyan, yellow, magenta, and black,          drafted by the author's
used by color printers.                                            father, demonstrating a
                                                                   disappearing skill.
                                                                   Image: Herbert
             CAD for AEC Principals Susan Smith
How CAD Works with Colors:
    CAD software doesn't work with color names but with color numbers. The software
matches the number to a color. (Sometimes, the CAD software lets you specify a color
name as a pseudonym for the number.)
    There are different ways of matching the number with the color displayed on the
screen. The following table shows the color names for the first fifteen color numbers
for several color systems:
Color Numbering Systems:
    AutoCAD matches a number to each of 255 colors. The first fifteen are listed
under ACI above. MicroStation is similar, but uses a different set of numbers, as listed
under DGN. In addition, MicroStation allows you to change the color associated with
each number. TurboCAD specifies colors via the RGB and HSL systems
Where to Assign Colors
   The correct method is to assign color by layer. AutoCAD uses a special color
name: color Bylayer means the object takes on the color assigned by the layer. Colors
are assigned to layers in AutoCAD's Layer Properties dialog box.
            CAD for AEC Principals Susan Smith
    The incorrect method is to override the layer color and specify the color of
individual objects in the drawing. Matching Colors to Pens
In the early days of CAD, you would match color numbers to pen numbers at plot time.
For example, when CAD color number 1 was assigned (which might be red) to plotter
pen #1, the plotter used whatever pen was in holder #1, whether red or black, thin or
    Some systems allow you to assign one CAD color to multiple plotter pens. For
example, you could match CAD color 1 to physical pens 1 and 2. ArchiCAD, for
example, assigns each color to a pen number and a pen width via the Options/Pens &
Colors command. Some of today's CAD systems go far beyond simple matching of
CAD colors to pen colors. A new Revit drawing preassigns named (not numbered)
colors; the user can add additional named colors.
    Dithering: Allows the plotter to approximate colors with dot patterns. Useful when
the plotter supports fewer colors than does the CAD system. Grayscale: Converts
colors to gray equivalents. Virtual Pen Number: Useful for specifying a virtual pen
number between 1 and 255 for those nonpen plotters that simulate pen plotters.
Linetype: Overrides the object's line type at plot time.
    Adaptive Adjustment: Adjusts the scale of the line type to complete the line type
pattern. Lineweight: Overrides the object's line weight at plot time.
    Line End Style: Specifies how the end of wide line should be drawn: butt, square,
round, and diamond; overrides the object's line end style at plot time.
    Line Join Style: Specifies how two lines are joined: miter, bevel, round, and
diamond; overrides the object's line join style at plot time.
             CAD for AEC Principals Susan Smith

    MicroStation is Bentley's flagship product for the design, construction and operation
of the world's infrastructure. MicroStation and ProjectWise, Bentley's server line for
AEC collaboration, form a robust foundation for Bentley's comprehensive portfolio of
software solutions.
    Market researcher Daratech, Inc. ranked Bentley the leading AEC software vendor
to plant owner-operators, as well as the leading provider of plant-specific platforms and
conceptual plant creation solutions to EPC firms.
    Most of Engineering News-Record’s Top 150 Global Design Firms rely primarily on
Bentley software for their AEC projects.
    MicroStation Extensions are specialized tools available to all users that integrate
with and expand MicroStation's core technologies. Discipline-specific Extensions, like
MicroStation GeoGraphics, enable easy adoption of Bentley's vertical application
Brochure (PDF)
Core Technologies
Technical Requirements
             CAD for AEC Principals
                                                                      by Susan Smith
   ArchiCAD gives users the ability to create great architecture
and increase productivity. From day one, ArchiCAD has been
designed by architects for architects, and over the years it has
gradually become more and more refined to allow its users to
Focus on design,
Manage change,
Evaluate design alternatives,                                    General Value Proposition
Collaborate,                                                     for ArchiCAD
ArchiCAD testimony
ArchiCAD 9 transforms the workflow process and delivers
massive benefits to the architect - both financial and personal.
Claris Keong-Tan from T3M Architects and Urban Designers in
Singapore explains how she has secured new business with her
ArchiCAD 9 modeling tool, and in the process discovered new
motivation and enthusiasm for her work
             CAD for AEC Principals Susan Smith
    ArchiCAD® offers a different approach to your workflow process, which gives you
more control over your design, while maintaining accuracy and efficiency in
documentation. While you raise walls, lay floors, add doors and windows, build stairs
and construct roofs this Building Information Authoring Tool creates a central database
of 3D model data. From this you can extract all the information needed to completely
describe your design - complete plans, sections and elevations, architectural and
construction details, bills of material, window/door/finish schedules, renderings,
animations and virtual reality scenes. That means while you're designing, ArchiCAD is
creating all the project documentation so there's little repetitive and tedious drafting
The most comprehensive architectural tool available:
    The Virtual BuildingTM approach gives you the competitive edge today while
integrating your work into the Building Information Solution. Builders can plan tasks,
create time-based animations and document any phase of a building's construction or
Highlights of ArchiCAD
The Virtual BuildingTM: ArchiCAD stores all the information about the building in a
central database; changes made in one view are updated in all others, including floor
plans, sections/elevations, 3D models and bills of material
             CAD for AEC Principals Susan Smith
    Intelligent Objects: ArchiCAD's intelligent building elements like doors, windows,
and columns understand and react to their environment. Even working from drafted
lines, arcs and splines, the Magic Wand can create intelligent building elements.
The ability to think and work 'live' in 3D: You can design and edit the model in 3D view,
navigate in real time to check the design, and hold interactive design sessions with

   Efficient documentation: Construction documents and files can be derived
automatically from the Virtual BuildingTM model. Automatic labeling and enhanced
Detail Tools ease tedious drafting work.

   Automatic page numbering and master pages save you time and the direct
connection ensures document integrity - all changes to the Virtual BuildingTM are
automatically updated on the layout.

   Clear communication: ArchiCAD's TeamWork makes sharing your project with
colleagues easy. Changes can be easily merged back into the project.

Product Information
   Work better, have more fun, and improve your business with Autodesk Revit 7
software, the building design and documentation system that works the way you think

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