CADnotes CAD Tutorials and Best Practices for professionals and students Fri, 03 Jul 2015 01:22:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to create custom AutoCAD dimension arrow Wed, 01 Jul 2015 08:13:00 +0000 The great thing about AutoCAD is we can customize almost everything in AutoCAD. It is a CAD software for all industry, so we are likely need to customize it. We can create custom linetype, hatch pattern and fonts for your annotations.

In this article, we will learn to create our own dimension arrow.


Creating the block

Creating custom dimension arrow is easy. You only need to create a block. Below are the blocks that I use for example.

Note the arrow direction. You only need to create arrow pointing to the right. The red circles show the insertion point of the blocks.

The size of the block is 1:1 to the dimension arrow.


If you want to use the sample blocks in this article, you can download it here.

Modifying Dimension Style

To use the custom arrow, you need to modify the dimension style. Click the dimension style icon or type DIMSTYLE then enter.


In Dimension Style Manager, click New. Give the new dimension style name then click Continue.


In the next dialog box, go to Symbols and Arrows tab. In Arrowheads category, click the first arrow to change it. Choose User Arrow…


Next you can select the block that you want then click OK.

Notice that the second arrowhead is also changed. If it doesn’t, repeat the steps above. Change the leader arrowhead as well.

Now you are finished. Make dimension style that you want current. Use the dimension command and now you have your fancy dimension!

Share your fancy blocks!

Sometimes we need to make our drawings look good for presentation. There are many ways to do that. Custom dimension arrow can give big impact for your drawing.

We shared 4 blocks for you here. Do you have your custom arrow to share to us here?

You might also like

]]> 3
Do you remember your first time using AutoCAD? Fri, 26 Jun 2015 07:57:40 +0000 Remembering the old days is always fun. I asked about your experience first time using AutoCAD on Twitter and Google+ and got nice replies. So I thought I would ask here too.

It turns out that we have many AutoCAD veterans in the community. Far before I even know AutoCAD!

old computer

My Experience

I started using AutoCAD since R14. AutoCAD is relatively new in my country when I started learning it. It was 1997. Most of us were still using drafting board, and not everyone knows how to use computer. The training was expensive, and sadly the instructor didn’t teach me well. Plotting is a nightmare for us. Setting the right scale was confusing. And oh… he didn’t teach me to use command line! Can you imagine that?

I’m fortunate to work in an architecture firm in 2002. That was my first professional experience using AutoCAD. The draftsman there were very good and they taught me very well.

AutoCAD skill was rare in late 90’s here. I’m proud that I’m an early adopter. I didn’t know AutoCAD well, but my friends still think I’m an AutoCAD guru :)

What about your experience using AutoCAD?

I know that many of you have interesting stories.

Shaan Hurley has very interesting story about his AutoCAD history on his blog.

On twitter we have Kimberly shared AutoCAD was futuristic back then.

Melanie shared a picture from newspaper, showing she was in high school drafting competition.

How about you? Do you have interesting stories to share? Are you one of the proud early adopter? Are you the first among your friends? Were you struggling with AutoCAD when you switched from other CAD program?

Share your story in the comment form here.

You might also like

]]> 15
6 External Tools that came with AutoCAD installation Thu, 25 Jun 2015 06:42:12 +0000 Most AutoCAD users just start AutoCAD by clicking the icon on Windows desktop. Maybe from pinned shortcut on Windows taskbar. We rarely use Windows start menu anymore.

Do you notice that there are tools come with AutoCAD installation?

If you click the Windows start menu> All Programs> Autodesk> AutoCAD 201x you will see this:


There are other tools that you can use outside of AutoCAD. But certainly related to your work in AutoCAD. Have you tried using them?

Let’s see what are those tools for.

Attach Digital Signature

Are you familiar with Digital Signature? You can sign current drawing digitally with DIGITALSIGN command from within AutoCAD. Like signing a paper, you can sign the drawing that you currently open. Similar to printed drawing, people will know that you have approved the drawing. If the drawing is modified and saved, then it will give warning that the signature is not valid anymore.

Attach Digital Signature tool allows you to digitally sign multiple drawing at once. You can add individual files or add a folder that contains the drawings.


Note: You need to get Digital ID before you can sign a document electronically.

Batch Standard Checker

This tool also for batch process your drawings. This one is for standard checker.

You can compare your drawings with a standard drawing (.dws file) with CAD standard tool. CAD standard is available from within AutoCAD.

Batch Standard Checker can do it to multiple files at once. You don’t have to open each file to check the standards.

Unfortunately, unlike CAD standard tool within AutoCAD it only provides report. You can’t fix the standard violation directly from this tool.


License Transfer Utility

License Transfer Utility (LTU) is a utility to transfer your license from current computer to other computer. This tool is only for standalone license.

You can use this to transfer your license to your new computer. Or move the license temporarily to a laptop and bring it to fields. After you finish, you can transfer it back to your desktop computer.


Note: You need to have Autodesk account to do this. If you don’t have it yet, you can create it for free.

Reference Manager

Reference Manager is a very handy tool to resolve your XREF path. When you need to move your files to other location, you might find many XREF path are broken. Especially if you set it to absolute path.

You don’t have to open each drawing to fix the path. Reference Manager will help you to resolve this issue on multiple files at once!

If you ever need to use it, try find and replace tool. You can change path to new location easily!


Reset Settings to Default

Reset Settings to Default will reset your AutoCAD to default, just like the first time you installed it.

This is very helpful for troubleshooting. If you feel AutoCAD started to act strange, for example you see interface elements missing, you could try this to fix it. I suggest you to try this first before you tried to uninstall and reinstall the software.

It will offer you to create backup of your settings before you continue. If you haven’t created a backup, I suggest you to create it. Better safe than sorry!


Warning: You will lose all customization after using this tool.

Migrate Custom Settings

Migrate Custom Settings is a tool to copy your settings to other computer. When you purchase a new computer, you will want your old settings in your new computer.

This is the tool that can export the settings for you.

You can find more details about using this tool here: Transfer AutoCAD settings to different computer.

Have you used those tools before?

AutoCAD has several tools to batch some process from outside of AutoCAD. You don’t have to open each file, resolve the XREF path then save it. You can use Reference Manager to do that. Simple and quick.

There are also some tools to migrate AutoCAD: move the license and copy the settings.

Have you used any of those tools before? Did it work well?

Any experience that you want to share with us?

You might also like

]]> 0
Where can I download Revit Extensions 2016? Mon, 22 Jun 2015 07:38:20 +0000 Do you have Revit license? And are you on subscription?

In first week of June, you probably receive an email from Autodesk. The email says that Revit Extensions for Autodesk Revit 2016 is now available.

But when you try to find it in Autodesk Accounts (formerly known as Subscription Center) and in Autodesk Exchange, you can’t find it.

So where can we download this Revit Extensions for Autodesk Revit 2016?

You can download it from Autodesk Application Manager. Open Application Manager from Windows Start menu.

You can find it in Windows Start Menu> All Programs> Autodesk> Autodesk Application Manager> Autodesk Application Manager.

Check in the UPDATES tab to see available updates. Find the update as you see below.


Does it mean I have to download this extensions in each workstation?

No, you don’t. You only need to download it once. After you download it on 1st workstation, find the installation file and distribute it to your users.

Application Manager will download the installer and extract it on local drive. You can find the folder REX_2016_Win_64bit_dlm in the extraction folder. By default it’s in C:\Autodesk.

You might also like

]]> 0
Working with Revit Project Units and Annotation Units Tue, 09 Jun 2015 06:25:11 +0000 Revit comes with 2 different units by default: metric and imperial units. But it doesn’t mean that you have to use mm or Inch for your project.

I know some people don’t want to use millimeter and prefer to use meter. And sometimes we want to use millimeter in our project, but we want to show meter in dimension. A very large building maybe better shown in meters. There will be too many zeros if we show the dimension in millimeters.

Let’s see how you can change these settings for your project.

Changing Project Units

If you want to change the units globally, you need to change it in Project Units. All annotation settings by default are set to “use project settings”.

Unless you changed this before, then all annotations will use the new project units.

You can change project units from Revit ribbon> Manage tab> Settings panel> Project Units.


By default, the setting for length in metric template is mm. Area is m2, volume is m3. Try to change the discipline to see all unit settings available. You can change units for Structural, HVAC and other disciplines as well.


Remember, project units are stored in Revit file. If you want to use it for all your future project, you need to change it in your template as well.

Changing unit in dimension

Revit annotations is set to use project units by default. You can change dimension units without changing project units. This allows you to work with millimeters, but show the dimension in meters.

Each annotation may store this setting in different location. For dimensions, you can change it in dimension type. It may be a good idea to create a duplicate and leave the default type unchanged.

Select a dimension, then click Edit Type in Properties Palette.


Create a dimension type duplicate before you make any changes.

In dimension type properties, below Text category, find Unit Format. Click the Units Format button.

Uncheck “use project settings” then change the unit to your preferred unit. If you show different units in your final drawings, it would be a good idea to show unit symbol.

For example, for floor plans you use meters, but in detailed drawings you use millimeters. Showing unit symbol will avoid confusion.


As you can see, now dimensions that use this type will show measurement in meters. Regardless what you set in the project units.


Changing unit in Schedules

Schedules are views. It means that you can override the appearance for each view. There is no global setting if you want to use different unit in schedule. Except by changing the project settings, obviously.

You can change unit in Revit schedule in Formatting tab. Select the fields that you need to change the unit. Click Field Format.


Alternatively, you can change units in existing schedule using Format Unit button in contextual ribbon. Select the row that you want to change the unit, then click Format Unit.


The option for unit format is similar to the one in dimension unit format. Uncheck “Use project settings” and change it as necessary.

Changing unit in Labels

Many annotations are stored in external families. The example that we will use here is level symbol.


This level symbol use “Level Head Circle” family. You need to open that family to modify it. By default that family location is in: C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\RVT 2016\Libraries\US Metric\Annotations\M_Level Head – Circle.rfa.

If you use other symbol, open that family.

In Family Editor, select the Elevation label.


Click edit label button in Revit ribbon. Or you can do that by clicking Edit… button in Properties Palette, next to Label button.


Click the Elevation label in Label Parameters category.

Then click “Edit Parameter’s unit format” button as shown below.


Like we did for dimension type and schedules, the unit format dialog is the same. Uncheck “Use project settings” and change the units as necessary.

Click OK to close all dialog box. And save this family. It is recommended to save it with other name, so you can still use the original family.

Now you can load the family to your project and override the existing family.

If you set this right, you should see the symbol is now showing the elevation in meters.


To sum up

Revit works with real world measurement. You can change the default units at any time during working at your project.

In fact, you can still use millimeter as default unit and type the distance in meter.



Typing 12000 or 12m in temporary dimension will give the same result.

So set the project units to the unit that you use most in your work. You can easily use other unit by typing the unit in temporary dimension.

For annotations, you have the freedom to use same unit with the project, or use a specific unit for that particular annotation. You can use meter in site plan, mm in detailed drawings or any other settings.

How about you? What is your preferred unit to use when you work? Do you show annotations with the same units?

You might also like

]]> 0
What’s new in AutoCAD 2016: New features roundup Fri, 29 May 2015 01:28:53 +0000 Autodesk has released AutoCAD 2016 in March 2015. We have covered the new features in the last few weeks. In this article, we summarize the new features.

In case you missed the older article, we provide links to the detailed review of each topic.

Interface Enhancements

There’s no significant changes or new feature in AutoCAD 2016 interface. Autodesk has improved some features, but they are definitely not new. Personally I like it. There’s no benefit for us if they change the icon, the background color or dark/light color scheme. Unless it would be useful, no need to change the interface just to make it different with previous release.

The New Tab in AutoCAD 2015 is now called Start Tab. It’s become persistent and stay open after you create a new file. Clicking the plus sign in files tab will immediately create a new file. In AutoCAD 2015, it will open New Tab first, then you can create a new file.

Autodesk fixes the layout when you drag layout tab. Now it scrolls automatically when the target location is hidden. The status bar now can be displayed in two rows, if your screen resolution is low.

AutoCAD 2016 status bar

Now you can add Lock UI and Isolate Objects to status bar.

Gallery view that was introduced in AutoCAD 2015, now can be turned off. You can turn it off by switching GALLERYVIEW system variable to 0.

Read the complete article about AutoCAD 2016 interface here.

System Enhancements

The most interesting new feature in this category is the System Variable Monitor. AutoCAD saves the configurations in system variables. There are many options available and many are not available in option dialog box. When a system variable change, it often cause confusion to AutoCAD users. Especially for novice and occasional users.

System Variable Monitor will notify you when a system variable has changed.

AutoCAD 2016 system variable monitor

Unfortunately, it only can notify changes if system variable is in the list. There are some common system variable already and you can add your own.

I wish there’ll be a log all system variable that has changed for troubleshooting purpose. Also having ability to export and import the list would be helpful.

AutoCAD 2016 has higher geometry display setting. You can use it when the hardware acceleration is turned on. The interesting thing is, AutoCAD 2016 looks much faster than the previous version.

The REGENAUTO behavior also improved. You can zoom out very far without having to regenerate the drawing. In the past, you will be stuck and need to regenerate the drawing before you can zoom out further.

The security option is simplified to match the Windows User Access Control UI.

Autodesk improve the PDF plotter driver. Now you can change the PDF quality to get better quality or smaller file size. The PDF file now can have hyperlink and capture AutoCAD fonts.

Read the complete AutoCAD 2016 system enhancements here.

Drafting and Annotations

My favorite in this area is the new DIM command. DIM command is now smarter. You only need to use this command to create different types of dimension. It can be linear dimension, angular dimension or diameter/radius dimension.

You can also set default layer for dimension. It will ignore active layer and use the dimension layer instead.

If you click and place new dimension above existing dimension, AutoCAD now can offer a solution for overlapping dimension.

AutoCAD 2016 on overlapped dimension

The revision cloud tool is improved. Now you can create rectangular, polygonal or freehand Revision Cloud. Editing Revision Cloud is also easier. You can use Revision Cloud grips.

Another highlight in this area is the geometric center snap. Now you can snap to a center of rectangle or polygon easily.

Read the complete AutoCAD 2016 drafting and annotation enhancements here.

New rendering engine

The new Rapid RT rendering engine is very good. It’s great for engineers who need to render occasionally. You can create good quality rendering in short time with very simple setup.

The IBL environment will help you to setup lighting easily. It also has 3D background for environment setup.

AutoCAD 2016 rendering result

Read the complete article about AutoCAD 2016 rendering here.

What do you think?

Have you tried or installed AutoCAD 2016? Do you like it?

What is your favorite enhancement and which one that you don’t like? Share with us!

You might also like

]]> 1
Why I Don’t See Arc Grid in Elevation/Section Views? Tue, 19 May 2015 09:06:08 +0000 We published about Revit column gridlines are not showing in certain level. When you open some floor plan view, you don’t see the grid lines.

This issue is typically because you added more levels after you created the gridlines. The gridlines won’t show if the new levels are higher or lower than existing level.

To solve it, you need to drag the gridlines control point in elevation or section view.


Now the other problem is when the gridline is arc. You don’t even see the gridline in elevation view or section view. So how can we fix the issue if we can’t see the grids?

In this example below, we have several arc gridlines.


When I open the South elevation view, I only can see Grid C.


I can’t see the other gridlines, so I can’t drag it above. How can I fix this?

How to see arc gridlines in elevation/section view

You can only see arc gridlines in elevation/section views under 2 conditions.

Perpendicular to view

First, when the section/view is perpendicular with the gridlines. This applies to linear and arc grids. That’s why linear Grid C is visible, but the others are not.

You need to create a section perpendicular to the grid. You can override snap to perpendicular by using SP shortcut.


The view line coincides with the grid center

Second, when section line through the grid center. Check this image below. Make sure you use snap to center (override it by pressing SC).

And yes, certainly when the section line coincides with the grid center it also means it’s perpendicular with the grid.


Now you can see the arc grids in the section view. Because the grids are arc, you see the Grid 1 and 2 twice.


Basically, it doesn’t matter if the gridline is linear or arc, it will only show if it’s perpendicular with your view. The reason why I use arc grid as example is because most questions are asking about arc grids.

Now after you can see the gridlines in elevation/section, you can drag the control point. To let you can see the gridlines in other views.

You might also like

]]> 0
What’s New in AutoCAD 2016: Rendering Thu, 30 Apr 2015 02:20:50 +0000 This is the 4th article covering new features in AutoCAD 2016. If you missed them, previously we covered these topics:

  1. Interface enhancements.
  2. System enhancements.
  3. Drafting and annotations enhancements.

In this article, we cover about new AutoCAD rendering. This feature has changed significantly, so I decide to cover it in separate article.

The New rendering Engine

First, in AutoCAD 2016 it uses new rendering engine: Rapid RT. This new engine is physical based lighting rendering. Let’s not cover how it works in details. What we want to emphasize is: it can produce good result in a short time. The settings are simplified; every beginners in rendering can create great result after learning in few minutes.

However, it means that your older model might not render correctly in AutoCAD 2016. You may need to update your old lightings to current version.

Read about it in details here: About the Differences Between Rendering In the Current and An Earlier Release.

Render Presets

If you don’t want to change anything, you can choose any of available default presets. You can choose between low, medium or high quality. You can also choose presets defined by expected rendering time. For example, the coffee-break quality will render your model in 10 minutes. If you have 12 hours, you can choose Overnight Quality.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever use it though.

AutoCAD 2016 render presets

If you are an adventurous person, you can try to change the settings by clicking Manage Render Presets… You can save your own settings if necessary.

The settings are much simpler than the previous version. Every settings are basic and easy to understand.

See the comparison between the old render settings and in AutoCAD 2016 below.

autocad 2015v2016 render settings

I tried to render this model without setting any lights, and the result is good enough. You will not get this result easily in previous version. Not with default lighting.

First AutoCAD 2016 render attempt. No lighting defined.

New Environment Settings

The most interesting thing in Rapid RT rendering is the Image Based Lighting (IBL) environment. You can quickly setup lighting and background to get great result. If you are interested to know more about IBL, you can read the details here.

Some IBL environment presets have background image. And the others only affect the lightings. Setting up lightings probably is the most difficult task in rendering. With IBL, it’s very easy.

We’ve seen how the render result with default lighting. This is the result when I use Rim Highlights environment. Rim Highlights environment doesn’t have background image. We can use this lighting setup for consumer products, parts or assembly rendering.

Rendering with RIM highlights environment

This one uses Sharp Highlights.

AutoCAD 2016 Rendering with Sharp Highlights

It is very easy to use different lighting effects, and it doesn’t take too much time. Each image above only take about one minute to render. Certainly, if you look it close enough there are some geometries are not rendered smoothly.

But for a minute rendering it’s very nice, isn’t it? I only change the IBL environment and render preset to high. No other setting is necessary.

*The fuse holder model in this article uses model by Dyakoff from GRABCAD.

For exterior design, you can use predefined IBL image as background. Unfortunately there’s no support for custom IBL images. You can use static image like JPEG or BMP for background, but not IBL image.

This image below was rendered using Dry Lake Bed environment.


IBL environment is 360deg environment. If you rotate the environment, you will see the light source changed. And the background is also rotated.

This environment is rotated to 90deg, no change to the camera view.


The house model uses sample model from Revit Architecture, imported using FBX file as intermediate format.


AutoCAD 2016 rendering has changed dramatically. The old rendering was good. But it’s not easy to use. I’ve seen many people confused because they only get black image as result.

The 2016 rendering is very simple. You can learn in few minutes to create a compelling result. You don’t need to change many things. Actually, there are not much settings you can change in the rendering palette.

I think this feature is a major change. I believe you’ll like it. What do you think?

You might also like

]]> 1