Awesome Annotation Scaling (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

31 May, 2007 By: Lynn Allen

AutoCAD's new feature makes it easy to set scale factors for dimensions, hatch patterns, blocks, attributes and text.

Anyone who uses paper space layouts has fought the good fight of dealing with scale factors. Getting the correct text height, dimension scales, linetype scales, hatch pattern scale factors and the like are arduous tasks for even the most skilled AutoCAD operator. Combine that with handling multiple scale factors on a sheet, and you're certain to get a migraine headache. Enter the new annotative scaling in AutoCAD 2008.

In my opinion, this capability is the single biggest new feature in the latest release of AutoCAD. If you embrace this new feature -- which you should -- you'll find the increased flexibility a godsend. Are you convinced yet? Let's take a look.

If you find these textual instructions hard to follow, I promise that they'll make sense when you try it for yourself! This feature definitely requires some hands-on experimentation to fully understand.

Annotative scaling affects the following objects: dimensions (including leaders and the new multileader), hatch patterns, blocks, attributes and text. For all of these objects, you'll find a new annotative option in the associated style or description. Here's the Style command along with the new Annotative option. When you select Annotative, the modified option of Paper Text Height displays.

The Style command contains the new Annotative option to control text height.

For years we at Autodesk have preached the value in leaving the height in the Style command set to 0 so you could modify the text height in the Text and Mtext commands. Now we're preaching a slightly different process. Enter the desired final paper space text height in the Style command. This ensures that your text is always at the correct height regardless of the scale factor you use. It also means you probably need to create multiple annotative text styles for all the various text heights you intend to use in your drawing. Though it requires a little work upfront, the results are well worth it in the long run.

While in model space, you can see a new option along the status line called Annotation Scale (see below).

Use the new Annotation Scale option on the status bar to set your scale factor.

As you create your various annotative objects, simply set the scale factor to the one that you plan to use in your paper space layout. If you plan to display an object at two different scale factors -- no problem! You can easily assign multiple scale factors to one annotative object by using the Annotative Scale option in the Properties palette (see below). You also can access this option directly with the ObjectScale command, which exists clandestinely and doesn't exist in the menus.

Add additional scale factors to an annotative object from the Properties palette.

Tip: You'll find that it pays to plan ahead and assign the various scale factors you will use.

When you're ready to lay out your viewports in paper space, proceed as usual. Create your viewport and assign the Viewport scale factor, which is available along the status bar right next to the new Annotative option. Here you find two new icons (I'll introduce you to them later) as well as the now conveniently placed Lock/Unlock icon.

Tip: It's easy to lock and unlock a viewport for scaling with the new lock icon on the status bar instead of from the Shortcut menu.

Bonus Tip: Don't forget you can use the ScaleListEdit command to customize the list of available scale factors.

The new icons on the status bar make it easy to assign a scale factor to viewports.

You can scale your viewports to any value, but by default your annotative objects display only if they have the correlating scale factor assigned to it. This will definitely freak you out when you change your scale factor to an option not supported by the annotative objects and they disappear from the screen. To display the objects, regardless of their correlating scale factor, you can turn on the new Display option (second from the right). But, remember that if you want an object to display and it doesn't, you should assign the proper annotative scale factor to it (see ObjectScale above).

Use the new Annotation visibility icon to turn on the display of all annotative objects.

Confused yet? Ah, well, let's continue and try to dig out of this hole.

Annotative Objects for the Lazy (Like Me)
The Annotative tool on the far right of the status bar is a true lifesaver. Let's say you aren't so good at planning ahead. Let's say you aren't sure which scale factors you need to assign to each annotative object. No problem. You use the last of the new annotative options on the status bar (see below) to add them as you go. Every time you change the scale factor of a viewport, the new scale factor is added to each annotative object. Fabulous! Don't go crazy here; you can imagine the overhead to your drawing if you have 20 different scale factors assigned to each annotative object.

Make it easy on yourself and use and add scales as you go with the Automatically add scales icon on the status bar.

Additional great news here: You can easily add and remove scale factors for individual annotative objects as you right-click on an object and select Add/Delete Scales from the shortcut menu. This makes it easy to display an object in one viewport but not in another (something we controlled with layers in a previous life).

Control the display of individual annotative with the shortcut menus.

Tip: When you use the new annotative objects, you can move them independently in each viewport even if the same objects display in multiple viewports. Fabulous!

Last but not least: What happens when you send your drawing files to a colleague who uses a previous release of AutoCAD (without annotative objects)? No problem. AutoCAD automatically does what we've been doing for multiple releases and creates an individual layer for each scale factor.

Multiple layers are created for each scale factor when saving to a previous release.

All this will be done automatically as long as you have the Maintain visual fidelity for annotative objects selected in the Options dialog box.

Be sure you have the Visual Fidelity option selected when saving to previous releases.

Bonus Tip: Here's the biggest tip you'll get when dealing with annotative objects. Saving all of this information on each annotative object can really slow you down. Do yourself a favor and turn off the Maintain visual fidelity option until you're ready to save to a previous release to speed up your drawing immensely!

Give the new annotative objects a try. After a little practice and experimentation, I promise you'll have an entirely new outlook on the painful world of paper space scale factors. The pain will be gone! What will you do with all that leftover aspirin?

Until next month -- Happy AutoCADing!

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