A New View of the World (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

31 Dec, 2006 By: Lynn Allen

The View command makes it easy to store views of a drawing.

The View command has been around for as long as I can remember (although lately that isn't as long as it used to be). In the early days of AutoCAD we were often faced with relentless regeneration times to zoom and pan (back then, a regeneration could take a painful five minutes or longer). We often used stored views in those days to take us straight to a specific area in a drawing, thus avoiding any extra regens. As zooms and pans became faster and faster, our good old friend View was cast to the wayside.

View is back, however, and stronger than ever! Now you can store the layer settings with each saved view so that as you restore a view the appropriate layers flip on and off as well! The AutoCAD guru cleverly sets up his or her views to take advantage of this very cool feature, and uses the new Dashboard to quickly navigate between saved views (and that's where you come in). This month, we're going to take a look at the updated View command so we can all save some valuable drawing time.

Save a View
The View command saves a displayed area in your drawing under a specified name. You can specify two corners of a Window to determine the saved view or save the current display. The following items can also be saved with your view, as seen in the figure below:

  • The location of the view (Model Space or a specific layout tab)
  • Category (if you assigned one -- for you extra-organized individuals)
  • The Layer visibility in the drawing at the time the view is saved (Toggle the Save layer snapshot with view option On). This includes information as to whether a layer is on/off or frozen/thawed.
  • User coordinate system (so you don't have to reset it)
  • 3D perspective (if On)
  • Live section (if you used the Sectionplane command to create a section)
  • Visual style
  • Background (notice that I selected a graphic image).

You have the option of saving many settings with your view.

Find the View Manager under the View menu / Named views or in the Dashboard under the list of saved views. You'll also find the Dashboard to be a very fast way to move from one view to another.

The background option in the View command is very interesting. You can use the default background or you can be creative and assign a specific color, gradient or image to the view. I chose an image of my dog and myself to prove a point -- it will accept just about any type of image file. Imagine the possibilities: you could use an image of the sky, a cityscape or real photos of the surrounding area to impress your client.

If for some reason you can't see the changes that you make to a view, simply restore the view again and the changes should appear.

Use the Dashboard to quickly create or go to a saved view.

In addition to any saved views you create, AutoCAD has some preset views to help you navigate in 3D which are displayed in the View tree. And you'll see that it remembers the last view for each viewport as well. The next figure displays four saved model views -- Extrusions, Primitives, ramp and Site -- and two saved paper space views called Sheet Layout and Aerial Photograph. You can make any changes to the View properties directly to the selected view in the View Manager. You can even change the boundaries here.

Use the View Manager to create, edit or change your current view.

Although you can change your current view in the View Manager, you'll find that the Dashboard is definitely the fastest way to go. A double-click in the View Manager changes the current view, or you can highlight the view and select the Set Current button (way too much work for me!).

If you create any cameras in AutoCAD 2007, you'll see that each camera view is added into the list of saved views as well. Because a camera has more properties to edit, the View Manager displays all the additional properties for you. Here you can edit the Camera location, Target location, perspective mode, lens length, clipping planes and much more.

Camera views are easy to edit in the View Manager.

If you need to update the layer settings saved with a selected view, the Update Layer button does the trick. If you need to change the boundaries saved with a view, just choose the Edit Boundaries button.

The Edit Boundaries option displays the selected view, using a lighter color for the part of the drawing that lies outside the view area. I admit that this can be confusing at first. Feel free to transparently zoom or pan if needed, then select the two corners for the view.

If you're working in a drawing that faces painful regenerations, you might find the View command can come to your aid here as well. In most cases, switching from view to view doesn't force a regeneration unless you move from model space to paper space.

Client Views
If you are doing a presentation for a client, I suggest that you save a view for each of the different displays you might need, and then use the Dashboard to quickly navigate to the desired view. For example, if you were showing some architectural floorplans to a client, you could save a view of the entire building as well as each individual room. If the client wants to see the lobby, you can easily select the Lobby view. When the client wants to see the kitchen, and you can quickly switch to the kitchen view, etc. You can even turn off the extra control panels on the Dashboard to simplify what the client sees.

Saving your viewports to a view lets you quickly jump through layouts, sending you directly to your destination. No layout tabs, no zooming or panning -- it's fast, fast, fast! And, it's especially handy with large drawings that contain many viewports.

For those of you who don't have AutoCAD 2007 yet, the View toolbar works nearly as well to quickly navigate to another view, as seen below. You can display this by right-clicking on any existing toolbar and selecting View.

Use the View Toolbar to quickly move from one view to another.

Give the very powerful, updated View command a try and navigate through your drawings with great ease! Until next month, Happy AutoCADing!

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