General Software

CAD Clinic: Styles -- Dressing Civil 3D for Success

11 Jan, 2006 By: Phillip Zimmerman Cadalyst

Creating and modifying styles for Civil 3D.

Styles and settings can format the graphical display, design criteria, reports and documentation you create. Civil 3D provides basic content and style definitions in the template files, which may or may not meet your CAD drafting standards. When the styles do not meet your needs, one of the biggest cost of implementing Civil 3D is the time spent setting up and modifying the necessary styles.

What is Your Image?
The documents you produce and submit to clients are a part of your marketing materials, and their appearance creates an image of your company.

The LDT (Autodesk Land Desktop) offers a steady foundation for developing design documents, but it doesn't offer any tools to enhance, modify or add new documentation to the basic profile. The drafter must add to the profile to make it become the standard. Creating consistent documentation is a challenge when it is an extra effort rather than a part of the application. Civil 3D's styles can help you develop the look your company wants to show to its clients. Changing the styles automatically changes how the profile appears on the screen.

Choosing the Right Material
Civil 3D styles use your company's legacy designs as raw material. Many CAD standards only describe layers and their properties. Few, if any, standards describe the look of a profile or section, where its annotation is and how it is a part of an overall composition. When implementing Civil 3D, spend some time collecting examples of what your company submits to your customers. As you collect and review the examples, you may find that you document a design element (for example, how you draw a profile grid, how you annotate it and how you represent a design within the profile grid) in more than one way.

Also, determine what changes or improvements you want to incorporate in the Civil 3D styles. If you use more than one way to represent a design element, you may need to develop a second style or differentiate the elements more.

The Basic Look
Every object and label style in Civil 3D has a standard style. The Standard style provides a starting point, and the Shipping Content styles provide examples of how flexible and powerful styles can be.

If you like the standard content styles available in the software, you can begin today using them as your standard design. If they don't represent your look, then you must develop a fundamental library of styles before you deploy Civil 3D into your office. If you don't, you'll waste time developing styles when you should be completing design tasks to meet deadlines. There will be some styles you add after you deploy the program that represent unforeseen or special situations.

Style Studio Basics
Most Civil 3D objects have at least three styles: object, label and table. Some objects do not have table styles, and others may have additional styles. If you learn how to create or modify one object or label style, you can repeat the process with all object and label styles. Civil 3D creates and modifies styles with the same interface. What varies between objects and their styles are the components and characteristics of an object and the object properties you can use as a label element.

The Object Style Studio
The Object Style dialog box contains the Information, Display and Summary tabs. The Information panel contains the name, description and dates of the style. The Display panel contains the names of the components and characteristics of the object type. Between the two tabs are additional panels that control the behavior of the object. The number of tabs depends upon the complexity of the object type. A surface object has more tabs than an alignment because of the complexity of the surface object (figure 1).

Figure 1. The number of tabs on the dialog box changes depending on the complexity of the object.

The Label Style Studio
All label styles use the same dialog box (figure 2). The differences between objects are found in the Layout panel, such as what properties of the object can be used as annotation.

Figure 2. The Label Style Composer dialog box.

Use Styles for Consistency
Civil 3D styles make it possible for any engineer or designer to create consistent documents, because the application creates the design elements and their annotation, not you. Civil 3D shifts the focus from drafting to design by placing drafting tasks in styles. A style produces consistency and confidence that all that is needed to document an element is present and in the right place. Also, styles shift the focus to the quality of the design not if the document is complete. A style is your specifications and all the necessary annotation for each type of design element.

About the Author: Phillip Zimmerman

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