Tips & Tricks for AutoCAD Architecture 2018

Start Tab

When you start the program, open a new tab (+), or close the last drawing, a Start Tab is displayed (see Figure 1). Each Start tab (formerly the New tab) contains the Create Page and the Learn Page. The Create Page is a quick launch pad to decide what to do, and contains the following sections.  

  • Get Started
  • Start New Drawing
  • Templates
  • Open Files
  • Open a Project
  • Open a Sheet Set
  • Explore Sample Drawings
  • Recent Documents
  • Connect

The Learn page provides access to learning resources such as videos, tips, and other relevant online content or services. For every new content update, a notification badge is displayed at the bottom of the page. Note that if there is no Internet connection, the Learn page is not displayed.

You can use Ctrl+Home or GOTOSTART to get to the Start tab quickly. If you don’t want the Start tab to display, set STARTMODE to 0.

Figure 1: Start tab

Smooth Line Display

AutoCAD® Architecture has a solution to the jagged diagonal lines that you sometimes see in 2D wireframe drawings. The command is LINESMOOTHING. This variable can also be found under the Options dialog box, System tab. Click on Graphics Performance and the Graphics Performance dialog box appears. Checking Smooth Line Display removes the jagged lines. If your hardware supports High Quality Geometry, you can select the new “High Quality Geometry” option in the Graphics Performance dialog on the Status bar. Hardware acceleration must be turned on for this to work. Set LINEFADING to 1 to automatically fade geometry as you zoom into super-dense drawings. You can control the amount of fading with LINEFADINGLEVEL.

Digital Signatures

AutoCAD Architecture offers extra security controls that help to protect your drawings. You will find a variety of Security Options on the System tab of Options. One option is Digital Signatures, now accessible via the new DIGITALSIGN command. A digital signature is a block of encrypted information that you can add to certain files to identify the originator and indicate whether a file has been altered since the digital signature was applied.

To attach a digital signature to a file, you must either have a digital certificate issued by a certificate authority or you can create a self-signed certificate using one of several utilities. You can examine a file's digital signature. This is important when you are working on collaborative projects or if you receive an executable file. For drawing files, an icon is displayed on the status bar if a drawing file is digitally signed. When you click the icon, you can verify information such as the validity of the signature, the name of the individual or organization that signed the file, and so on.

Status Bar

The status bar can automatically wrap onto two rows when there are more icons than can fit into a single row. At any given time, the Model tab and at least one layout tab is always displayed. You can populate the status bar with the tools you want by clicking on the three-stacked lines in the lower-right corner of the editor (see Figure 2). Isolate Objects and Lock UI have been added to the status bar customization menu. The Lock User Interface tool on the status bar enables you to check and uncheck multiple UI elements at one time instead of having to reopen the flyout each time. You can click the icon to enable or disable UI locking. Also, note that the previous text “Cut Plane:” has been replaced by an icon.

Figure 2: Status bar

ACA Revision Cloud

The Revision Cloud tool is enhanced to provide more flexibility. It is accessible from the Annotate ribbon panel and includes three methods of creation: Rectangular, Polygonal, and Freehand in addition to the Command line option to select an object. The last used creation method is remembered the next time the command is run. You can set your own default creation method using the REVCLOUDCREATEMODE system variable. Whether you create rectangular, polygonal, freehand, or object revision clouds, editing their size and shape with grips is intuitive and easy. The number of grips displayed for revision clouds has been significantly reduced. The location and behavior of grips is based on the shape of the revision cloud. If you prefer legacy display of grips you can set REVCLOUDGRIPS to Off. In addition to easier editing with grips, a new Modify option allows you to draw new revision cloud segments and erase selected portions of existing revision clouds (put several revision clouds together).

3D Printing

AutoCAD Architecture has made it easy to send your designs to a 3D printer. Publish, in the Application menu, gives you the option to Send to 3D Print Service. Print in the Application menu gives you the option to choose Print Studio. After choosing one of those options, the 3D Print Options dialog box will appear. This dialog box allows you to select objects and control output dimensions. Select OK and you will be asked to save the output file to STL format so it can be sent to a 3D Print Service. If you choose Print Studio, you will have access to additional tools to aid in prepping your model for printing when sending to your 3D printer. You may be prompted to install Print Studio as it is not installed by default.

Lasso Selection for Objects

Lasso Selection is an object selection feature that can be created by clicking, dragging, and releasing the mouse button (see Figure 3). You can drag from left to right to select all objects that are entirely enclosed in the lasso or drag from right to left to select all objects that are crossed by the lasso. Click Enter. You can deselect objects by pressing shift and then clicking the individual objects or dragging across multiple objects. Press Esc to deselect all objects. It is important to note that when using lasso selection, you can press the spacebar to cycle between the Window, Crossing, and Fence object selection modes.

Figure 3: Lasso selection

Share Design Views

You can publish design views to a secure, anonymous location within Autodesk A360. You can share views of your design by forwarding a generated link to the people you specify without releasing the DWG file itself. Access to these views is provided by any supported web browser and does not require recipients to have an Autodesk A360 account or install any additional software. Supported browsers include Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers that support WebGL 3D graphics. Once you have the design view established, you can share the link with other users. This link is valid for 30 days, but you can extend it for an additional 30 days at any time indefinitely.

Smart Dimensions

In AutoCAD Architecture, the DIM command is accessible from the ribbon and is smart enough to detect objects and provide various visual dimension options. The DIMLAYER command can be used to create a new layer for dimensioning. You are given horizontal, vertical, and aligned dimension previews when you select a linear object. From these previews, you can simply place the desired dimension. You can also select another non-parallel linear object to display and place an angular dimension. You can specify a type of dimension by using the various dimensioning options in the right-click menu. The default values are automatically assumed for the dimension text and angles, but you can still change them from the right-click menu or command line. The DIM command remains active until you exit the command, allowing you to knock out multiple dimensions at one time. You can use the width sizing control to wrap dimension text, which is a great addition!

PDF Enhancements

AutoCAD Architecture has continued improvements for importing geometry, TrueType text, and raster images from a PDF. You can use the PDF Import tool to import geometry from a PDF page into the current drawing as AutoCAD Architecture objects. After selecting a PDF file, you can use the Import PDF dialog box to customize your import. You can choose which page of the PDF file to import and specify scale, rotation, insertion point, type of data to import, and so on. If you choose not to apply lineweight properties, AutoCAD Architecture will use the default lineweight. The PDFIMPORT command offers the option of selecting an attached PDF underlay. This option is found in the contextual PDF underlay ribbon tab. You can specify a polygonal or rectangular boundary around the objects you wish to import or you can choose to import the entire underlay.

When using the Plot tool to create PDF files, you can now choose from four predefined PDF presets offering a quick way to apply different PDF output options that meet various needs. If you select any PDF pc3 from the printer/plotter drop-down list, a PDF Options button is displayed, providing convenient access to the PDF Options dialog (see Figure 4). Similar PDF presets and options controls are available when creating PDF files with the Export to PDF and Batch Plot tools.

The Sheet Set Manager has also been updated to support these PDF enhancements. Layout names are automatically displayed as page labels in the PDF file, making it easy to identify sheets when viewing the PDF.

Figure 4: PDF options

Text Alignment and Text Edit

AutoCAD Architecture has a TEXTALIGN command that allows multiple text objects to be aligned to a base object and provides a preview of the result. After typing TEXTALIGN, the prompt Select text objects to align [alignment Options] is displayed. Select two or more objects to align and press Enter. With this command, you can easily control the spacing or alignment direction.

The TEXTEDIT command has a new “multiple” option that allows you to perform multiple text edits as one time. There is also an Undo option within Multiple mode that allows you to undo Individual text edits. It is important to note that if you leave TEXTEDIT and perform an undo, all of the edits within the TEXTEDIT will be undone.

Layer Merge

Layer Merge (LAYMRG) can be found in the Layer Manager in AutoCAD Architecture. At the command prompt, you can enter LAYMRG. Then in the drawing area, select an object on each layer that you want to merge and press Enter. Next select an object on the target layer. All objects on layers that contain objects in the first selection set are moved to the target layer.

You can also do this using the Layer Properties Manager. Select the Home tab of the ribbon, Layers panel, and then select Layer Properties. In the Layer Properties Manager, select the layers you want to merge into another layer and right-click and select Merge Selected Layers To (see Figure 2). You will need to press Ctrl+click to select more than one layer. In the Merge to Layer dialog box, select a target layer. Objects on the merged layers are moved to the layer you select in this dialog box. The now empty layers are automatically deleted.


The rendering engine in AutoCAD Architecture is easy to use and yields great results. The Render ribbon panel on the Render ribbon tab supports the rendering engine. It includes a size drop-down where you can quickly select from standard pre-defined render sizes (see Figure 5).

The Render Presets list includes additional options enabling you to control the render quality by setting either the number of levels to render or how much time to render. The new Render Presets Manager is much simpler than the previous Render Presets Manager. You can create, modify, and delete custom Render Presets. Specify Render Preset name and description as well as the duration and accuracy. You can render directly from the Render Presets Manager, choosing to render in the Render Window, the current viewport, or a specified region in the current viewport.

When rendering in the render window, a drop-down list enables you to select from a list of standard render output sizes or choose More Output Settings to access the new Render to Output Settings dialog box, in which you can specify the image size and resolution. You can also choose to automatically save the rendered image to a file including BMP, TGA, TIF, JPEG, and PNG formats.

A new Render Environment & Exposure palette offers powerful new Image Based Lighting (IBL) environments. When the Environment control is turned on, you can select from pre-defined, image-based lighting environments. The image-based lighting environments automatically apply lighting effects. Some of them include 360 background images that emulate a realistic environment as you orbit around the model. The viewport must be in a perspective view and you must render to see the IBL environment.

A control in the Render Environment & Exposure palette enables you to use a custom background image. Custom images are static and do not emulate a realistic 3D environment as you rotate. Additional controls in the Render Environment & Exposure palette enable you to adjust the Exposure and White Balance. The Exposure slides between Bright and Dark. The White Balance slides between Cool and Warm. The new render window displays the current render process and allows you to save a snapshot, zoom in and out while rendering, and print the rendered image. Render history is displayed in the expanded section of the render window.

Figure 5: Render to Size

Geographic Location

Geographic location information in a drawing file is built around an entity that is known as the geographic marker. The geographic marker points to a reference point in model space that corresponds to a location on the surface of the earth of known latitude and longitude. The program also captures the direction of the north at this location. Using this information, the program can derive the geographic coordinates of all other points in the drawing file. You can set a geographic location using the Set Location tool on the Insert tab of the ribbon, then easily search for an address from a map and drop a marker on the map to mark the spot. Drawing units can be easily modified.

After you insert a geographic marker in a drawing, you can do any of the following:

  • Make the program automatically determine the angle of sunlight when you perform sun and sky simulation.
  • Insert a map from an online maps service in a viewport.
  • Perform environment studies.
  • Use position markers to mark geographic locations and record related notes.
  • Locate yourself on the map in real-time on systems that support location sensing.
  • Export to AutoCAD Map 3D and expect the model to position itself automatically.

You can remove geographic location information from a drawing file using the GEOREMOVE command. The geographic marker and GIS coordinate system are removed from the drawing file. However, position markers will remain in the drawing file.

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