Civil 3D Tips + Tricks for Power Users - Part Two

At ATG, we often share tips and tricks to help users become more proficient in Civil 3D. This blog is designed to compile some of the best system variables and less known (but useful) commands for Civil 3D power users. Be sure to check out part one of this series.

Read on a step-by-step breakdown of how to complete these useful workflows with an explanation of system variables and commands used –

  • Viewport creation and manipulation
  • Useful system variables and explanation
  • Useful commands and explanation

Viewport Creation and Manipulation

Viewports created by object

There are many ways to create effective viewports in Civil 3D. Here are two possible solutions to a viewport creation problem.

First, create a Viewport By Object. For this example, I will use a circle to create a circular viewport (Any size will do).

Once your circle is created, click on Layout Tools > Layout Viewports Panel, select the dropdown arrow next to Rectangular, then select Object.

Select the created circle. Now you have your circular viewport!

Viewports created by regions

This method may not always be used, but I think it is the cleanest way to place a text bubble or even another viewport within a viewport.

Start by creating a rectangle and a circle using the tools from the Home Tab Draw Panel. In this image, I created two circles (Optional).

Now that your shapes have been created, type region into the command line and select all the objects you created.

Now that all objects are regions, go to Layout Tools, select Create Viewport from Object and select the rectangle created. This will turn the region rectangle into a viewport.

What if we want to add a hole in that viewport? We will use one of the circular regions we created down below. Move the circle into the location you want the hole to be or the shape you created.

Use the command “subtract” > Select the rectangle (region) > ENTER > Select the circle > ENTER

–Optional—To repair the hole created, take the other circle that is also a region and the same size > Place in the hole > Use the command “union” > Select rectangle > Select region circle.

Viewports manipulation

The goal is to align the viewport with what you want to see using the “Alignspace” Command.

Want to align a certain street up on your viewport? We want the intersection in the red square box to be on the left side of the viewport and the remaining street going to the east.

Once you know the direction you want to take the viewport, type “alignspace” in the command line. This will auto select your viewport (if you have more than one viewport, it will ask you to select which one to use

The direction and clicks you make next matter. Follow steps 1-4 on the left.

This will throw off any sheet scale you may have assigned to the viewport, so it’s good to do “Alignspace” before setting the sheet scale. Once you set the sheet scale, type “regenall” in the command line to regenerate the sheet and lock the viewport.

Useful System Variables

Zoom Factor

Zoom Factor is when you use the middle mouse wheel to zoom in and out of a drawing, whether it’s in a model or paper space. To change the Zoom speed, simply type “ZoomFactor” into the Command line and pick a number between 3 and 100.

  • ZoomFactor = This variable, when changed, will change the zoom speed of the mouse wheel. Default Zoom Factor is set at 60 with a range from 3 to 100.

Useful Commands

  • WHOHAS = Reveals who has the file open
  • TIME = Gives information on when the drawing was last saved, and total open time.
  • Rename = Allows you to rename AutoCAD entities, including Blocks.
  • Lineworkcrop = Crop linework to a smaller area using a boundary you define. You can crop hatches, lines, polylines, arcs, circles or blocks. Neither the linework to be cropped nor the linework that defines the new boundary needs to have closed boundaries.

Don’t forget to check out part one!

Patrick Smith

Civil Technical Specialist

About Patrick

Patrick has over three years of AutoCAD/Civil 3D drafting experience. After high school he joined the military, which landed him in Washington State. While obtaining an Associate of Applied Science Degree in AEC, he worked at Best Buy as a member of the Geek Squad. Afterwards, Patrick started his AEC career in Lacey, Washington with a civil engineering firm where he was the engineer’s drafter and office IT go-to. While at this firm, Patrick worked on many projects ranging from residential to 3-story assisted living facilities.

In his spare time, Patrick enjoys building computers and solving general IT issues for friends and family. He has a strong passion for the technology industry and an even greater love for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. He is eager to assist clients with finding the best solutions with their engineering needs. 

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