CAD Clinic: Civil 3D -- Implementing Object Styles

8 Dec, 2006 By: Phillip Zimmerman

Label styles challenge Civil 3D implementations.

The October CAD Clinic column reviewed the creation of surface analysis styles for elevations and slopes. Once a surface is complete and analyzed, the final task is identifying its elevations with contours. A surface object style creating contours visually annotates a surface's elevations. After creating contours, the next step is annotating the surface's elevations and slopes. This brings us to creating label styles for surfaces. Label styles present the greatest challenge to a Civil 3D implementation.

Contour Style
The definition of a contour object style focuses on the Contours panel and its settings. The Contours panel lists the first three sections you must interact with to create a contour style.

Contour settings.

The first three groups of settings control the elevation of the contours (3D Geometry), legend (Legend) and interval (Contour Intervals). The 3D Geometry settings create contours at the actual or exaggerated elevations. The most important section of the three is Contour Intervals. By default the contour interval is 2 feet (Minor Interval) and 10 feet (Major Interval). You can set the minor value to any number and when you click in the Major Interval Value cell, the value becomes a value five times greater than the minor value. For example, setting minor to 0.5 creates a major of 2.5, and setting minor to 1.0 creates a major of 5.0.

The last three sections for defining a contour style are Contour Ranges, Contour Depressions and Contour Smoothing. If you want to create depression contours, you must toggle them on here and define their appearance. The appearance is the interval and length of the depression contour tick marks. The Contour Ranges section defines an elevation surface analysis style displaying as contours.

The Contour Smoothing option is the old Autodesk Land Desktop method of smoothing, i.e., add vertices or splining. Do not confuse this option with the smoothing options of the surface edit (Nearest Neighbor or Kriging). If you toggle on Contour Smoothing here, you must set an amount for adding vertices at the bottom of the contours panel.

As with all object styles, you must set the appropriate component visibility in the Display panel of the style.

Contour display settings.

The contours appearing for this style type appear on the Major and Minor Contour component layers. If defining a contour analysis style, you need to toggle off Major and Minor Contour and toggle on User Contours. Depending on the settings and the layers and their properties, a contour style displays elevations like those shown below.

Contour surface style.

The last surface style is a watershed style. This type of style shows the collection and movement (or lack of movement) of water across a surface. To display the results of a watershed analysis means, you must toggle on Watersheds in the displays panel for the style. The Watershed panel settings affect only the visualization of a resulting surface analysis.

Watershed settings.

To create a watershed analysis, you must perform an analysis on the surface. The analysis determines the watersheds based on the surface data and the two watershed parameters (Minimum Average Depth and Merge Adjacent Boundary Watersheds). Minimum Average Depth defines when a depression becomes a watershed and prevents minor depressions from being a watershed. The Merge Adjacent Boundary Watersheds option merges peripheral watersheds if they are similar.

Watershed analysis.

Label Styles
All object types list their styles in their Settings branch. The labels are specific purpose labels, i.e., label-specific object properties.

Label types for parcels and profiles.

Each label type has a list of object properties it can use as a label component. A parcel area label includes the parcel's area, but can also include a parcel's number, perimeter, site name, address and tax ID number. You access the list of properties in the Text Component Editor -- Contents of a label component. Each label type has its own list of object properties it can use. You must edit a label style for each type of label type to view the properties available for the label type. Occasionally, two or more label types share properties; for example, a pipe label can also have the name of the pipe network or the name of the attached structure.

The initial settings for all labels occur in the Edit Label Style Defaults dialog box at the top of the Settings tree. This dialog box sets defaults values found in the General, Layout and Dragged State panel of every Civil 3D label. You can negate changes made by styles lower in the settings tree by clicking the down arrow. A red X appears on the down arrow, indicating the lower styles changes are now set to the current value in the dialog box.

Edit label style defaults.

Each object branch in the Settings tree also has an Edit Label Settings selection. This allows each object type to have potentially different settings than those set at the top of the settings tree; each label type has its own set of label style defaults. This allows you to control the default label behavior for each label type.

The last two surface object styles display surface elevations as contours, and analyze the movement of water as a watershed analysis. The use of contours is a traditional method of documenting the elevations of a surface. A watershed is another analysis method for understanding how water disperses across a surface.

The next task users face is documenting surface elevations and slopes. Civil 3D has a comprehensive set of labels, and an elaborate system for developing more. All Civil 3D labels use the settings found in the Edit Label Style Defaults dialog box found at the top of the Settings trees.

The next CAD Clinic column will continue the discussion of developing label styles, with a focus on the interface for defining and editing label styles.

About the Author: Phillip Zimmerman

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