AutoCAD

Get a Grip on Array Editing

12 Mar, 2013 By: Lynn Allen

Circles and Lines Tutorial: In AutoCAD 2013, new dynamic grips and polar and path array tools make it even easier to manage arrays.


AutoCAD 2012 improved the Array command by adding associativity — not to mention the awesome new path array. AutoCAD 2013 takes arrays to the next level by adding handy dynamic grips for speedy editing as well as a more visual experience.

Thrice Arrays

As you may know, AutoCAD uses three different types of arrays:

  • A rectangular array copies objects along rows and columns (and levels, if you are using 3D).
  • A polar array copies objects in a circular pattern around a center point.
  • A path array copies objects along an object such as a pline, spline, or ellipse.

AutoCAD 2013 added more visual cues early in the process of making all of these arrays. For example, as soon as you select the objects you want for a rectangular array, AutoCAD now displays a 4 x 3 array (four columns, three rows). Of course the chances of you wanting a 4 x 3 array are pretty slim, but you do get a preview of your proposed array right away, and it's immediately adjustable. You can easily change the number of rows, columns, and levels via the ribbon (or the Command line, for you ribbon rebels).

Get a Grip

And now, in AutoCAD 2013, we also have dynamic grips! You'll find five new grips on your rectangular arrays (figure 1). Here is a summary of how to use them:

  • A grip on the object at the end of the columns can be moved to add or remove columns.
  • A grip on the object at the end of the rows can be used to add or remove rows.
  • A grip on each of the objects closest to the original can dynamically control the spacing between the rows or columns (depending on which grip you select).
  • A grip on the far diagonal object of the array can control the number of rows and columns at the same time — for you overachievers!

You'll also find that if you hover over any of these grips, a shortcut menu displays other editing options (figure 2).

Quick tip:After you select a grip, you can also press the Control key to cycle through the available options.

 

Figure 1. Dynamic grips in AutoCAD 2013 provide a variety of editing options for rectangular arrays.
Figure 1. Dynamic grips in AutoCAD 2013 provide a variety of editing options for rectangular arrays.

 

 

Figure 2. Hover over any array grip to display additional editing options.
Figure 2. Hover over any array grip to display additional editing options.

 

 

Follow the Path

Figure 3. Use the new Item Count toggle to switch between a specific number of items and the number of evenly spaced items needed to fill a path.
Figure 3. Use the new Item Count toggle to switch between a specific number of items and the number of evenly spaced items needed to fill a path.
By default, polar arrays now display a full circular pattern of six items after you select objects and a center point, which of course you can adjust to your needs. With the path array, objects now immediately display evenly along the entire length of the path.

A new Item Count toggle displays in the ribbon for path arrays (figure 3). Use it to switch between two options: a specific number of items or the number of items needed to fill the path, according to the spacing between them. This new toggle works in a very similar fashion to the good old Divide and Measure commands. As you increase or decrease the spacing between the items, the number of items automatically increases or decreases to accommodate the change. If you modify the path length, the number of items adjusts accordingly.

 

Figure 4. When the Item Count toggle is off, a handy grip at the end of the array provides dynamic editing of the item count and total item spacing.
Figure 4. When the Item Count toggle is off, a handy grip at the end of the array provides dynamic editing of the item count and total item spacing.

 

A handy grip at the very end of the path array items lets you quickly change between item count and total item spacing (figure 4).

Quick tip:Even though the array appears to be one unified object, you can still use the Control key to select and edit individual array objects!

The new array features in AutoCAD 2013 are nice additions to an already powerful command. Give these new grips and features a try and you'll be an array guru in no time! Until next time — happy AutoCAD-ing!


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Lynn Allen

Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a different AutoCAD feature in every edition of her popular "Circles and Lines" tutorial series. For even more AutoCAD how-to, check out Lynn's quick tips in the Cadalyst Video Gallery. Subscribe to Cadalyst's free Tips & Tools Weekly e-newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!
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