AutoCAD 2009: Get a Better View (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

1 Aug, 2008 By: Lynn Allen

ViewCube enables you to load any Autodesk product and quickly view designs in 3D.

If you use more than one Autodesk product, you may have wondered if they were developed in two different galaxies! In many cases, one Autodesk product might look and act completely different from another, even though the same company created it. Autodesk recognizes this fact and is working diligently to correct it. A new viewing tool called the ViewCube debuted in AutoCAD 2009 and will work its way into the many other Autodesk products. If you take the time to familiarize yourself with the ViewCube, technically you should be able to load up any Autodesk product and quickly view designs in 3D. Viewing is integral to all design applications, so this feature is certainly a step in the right direction.

If you are not a ribbon fan, use the pulldown menu (View / Display / ViewCube / On). Or if you prefer you can also execute the Navvcube command directly.
The easiest way to see ViewCube is by making a new drawing and then selecting one of the AutoCAD 3D template files. You can take several routes for an existing drawing. There are two requirements to display the ViewCube. First you need to be in a 3D Visual style (very important), and second, you'll need to execute the Navvcube command. I would start by switching to the 3D Modeling Workspace. This will put both of the requirements before your eyes on the Home tab.

If you are not a ribbon fan, use the pulldown menu (View / Display / ViewCube / On). Or if you prefer you can also execute the Navvcube command directly.

It is a tad confusing that we refer to this feature as the ViewCube and yet the actual command is Navvcube (for Navigation Cube). I'm not exactly sure what the thought process was. The good news is that using ViewCube is amazing, and I would have loved having this great tool with AutoCAD 2007 when 3D became a reality in AutoCAD.

The ViewCube will display various hot spots as you move your cursor around the cube.
You'll find that the ViewCube lives in the upper left corner of the screen by default. As you move the cursor around the ViewCube, you'll see that various hot spots appear, indicating this is a valid place to select. Simply select any of the 26 hot spots to change your display to the corresponding view. The ViewCube makes it easy to get the standard orthogonal views such as right, back, or top.

Holding down the left mouse button as you move around the cube allows you to drag the cube to a custom view (much like the 3dorbit command).

When you view a model from one of the face views, you'll see two additional icons (called roll arrows) appear near the ViewCube. You can use these roll arrows to roll or rotate the current viewing angle 90 degrees in the positive or negative direction (around the center of the view).

Roll arrows appear when you view the model from one of the face views.

You will also notice that the ViewCube has a compass that indicates which direction North, East, South, and West lie. The North direction is based on the North and Up directions defined by the WCS of the model. You can also use the compass area to change your view. Dragging the compass around makes it easy to rotate around the object while maintain the same viewing angle.

If you choose to use the ViewCube as your 3D viewing tool, you'll probably want to set a home view. Use the small house icon in the upper left corner to quickly get to your saved home view. How do you save a home view? Simple move to your preferred default view and select Set Current View as Home from the shortcut menu.

Use the shortcut menu to set up your home view.

Switch to a saved UCS or create a new UCS with the ViewCube.
You'll also find the ability to view your model from two different view projections listed in the shortcut menu. Perspective views are determined based on the distance from a theoretical camera and target point. Those objects that are in the back appear smaller than those in the front. The Perspective with Ortho Faces option will force a perspective projection unless the model is being viewed from one of the face views.

You can also switch from the WCS to a saved UCS with the ViewCube. You will see that if you select New UCS, it takes you into the actual UCS command. By default it will create a UCS called Unnamed. Use the Named option to give it a logical name.

Of course there are numerous settings that control our little ViewCube as seen in the ViewCube Settings dialog box.

Use the ViewCube Settings dialog box to set up your ViewCube to your liking.

Here you can relocate the ViewCube to any corner of the screen. You can make the ViewCube larger or smaller and control the opacity level of the ViewCube. You can turn off the UCS and compass options (not sure why you'd want to). Definitely consider changing the default of Zoom to Extents After View Change Option if you don't want AutoCAD to zoom back out to extents every time you change the view. And if you want to set up your own custom view, you'll need to turn off the Snap to Closest View option while dragging.

You can revert back to legacy 3dorbit behavior by turning off the Keep Scene Upright option. Some of you remember the original 3dorbit command had a tendency to leave us underneath the model (very confusing). I suggest this only for those true viewing experts!

So give the new ViewCube a try, especially if you think you'll use other Autodesk products. Once you become proficient with the ViewCube, you'll be able to easily view your designs in any of the Autodesk products! As for me, I like the ViewCube because it is simple and visual — and that's a good combination! Until next month, happy AutoCADing!

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor and Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD video tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

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