Civil 3D Tips + Tricks for Power Users

At ATG, we often share tips and tricks to help users become more proficient in Civil 3D Software. This blog is designed to compile some of the best system variables and less known but useful commands for Civil 3D power users.

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

  • Dynamic Block Creation (Visibility States)
  • Useful System Variables and explanation
  • Useful Commands and explanation

Dynamic Blocks

Starting off, dynamic blocks can be very useful for reducing your block libraries using visibility states inside the block editor. This example will show you step-by-step how to create that dynamic block.

Step 1: Have your list of like blocks ready (They can either be in blocks that we will eventually explode or in line work.). For this example, I will be using Type 1 Catch Basin, Type 2 Catch Basin, and a Sanitary Sewer Manhole I have created as seen below.

Step 2: Create a new block. I will call this block STRUCTURES for our example.

After hitting OK, a dialog box will pop up saying “No objects have been selected for the block.” Click continue as we will add the blocks in a moment.

Step 3: Now that the empty block has been created, we will add existing blocks (Type1, Type2, SSMH) to the structures block we created above.

Once we are in the Block Editor screen of Civil 3D, on the command line type in “INSERT”. This will bring up the Block Insertion panel. Bring in ONE of the three blocks that we are using to create the dynamic block.

Step 4: Once your block is placed, explode the block so that it’s only the individual line work. We do this so that in the end we can purge the three blocks from our block library when we are done. We also want to move the block to 0,0 from the center of object (This will be the insertion point of the dynamic block itself).

Step 5: Next, add a Visibility State to this block using the Block Authoring Palette. Select “Visibility” on the parameters tab and insert this where you’d like to select through the different blocks.

Once you place the Visibility State from the Block Authoring Palette, you will unlock a section previously grayed out in the Block Editor called the Visibility Panel.

Step 6: Click on “Visibility States” and add three visibility states: Type 1 CB, Type 2 CB, SSMH

Select Type 1 CB and hit “Set Current.” Click “OK” after adding all three.Select Type 1 CB and hit “Set Current.” Click “OK” after adding all three. The drop down will show that you have three visibility states created.

Step 7: The Type 1 CB is already inserted into the drawing, so let’s go to our Visibility States and select Type 2 CB. We then need to select “Make Invisible” and select all of Type 1 CB in the Drawing. We then Insert the Type 2 CB with the center being at the origin for the insertion point.

NOTE: Remember to explode the blocks after you insert!

Step 8: Repeat Step 7 with the remaining blocks that you wish to include in the Dynamic Block.

Step 9: After you have finished adding in your blocks on the appropriate visibility state, we can now “test” the block in the Block Editor.

Step 10: If the block works, close “Test Block” and hit “Save Block” (next to Test Block). Your Dynamic Block is now finished and can be found inside your “Insert Blocks” panel.

Step 11 (Optional): Purge the original Type 1, Type 2, and SSMH blocks from your block library.

Useful System Variables

If you are like me and do not like to reconcile layers every time you bring in a new Xref, these two system variables are for you!

Unreconciled Layers

At the command line, type “Layernotify” and turn the variable to 0 from 1.

  • Layernotify = This will disable or enable the new layers that have been added to the notification bubble on the bottom right of Civil 3D.

At the Command line, type “Layerevalctl” and turn the variable to 0 from 1.

  • Layerevalctl = This variable change will eliminate the need for going into Layer Properties Manager and reconciling layers every time a new Xref is brought into the drawing. 

With these two options set to the appropriate variables, unreconciled layers will no longer be an issue for you!

Useful Commands

  • Ncopy = This command allows you to copy linework that is inside of an Xref without having to enter that Xref.
  • Overkill = Overkill will erase duplicate or overlapping lines, arcs, and polylines from the drawing.
  • OOPS = Undoes the last “Erase” command but does not touch the timeline for things like move/rotate/copy/etc.
    Burst = Explodes selected blocks, preserving the block layer and converting attributes to text objects.
  • Chspace = This command takes a selected object that is in paper space and, after selecting the viewport, moves it into model space without losing any properties with it. The vice versa can also be done from model space to paper space through a paper space viewport.

These are a few commands that are not well known by many Civil 3D users. Add them to your commands list — they will be very useful in your workflows!

Don’t forget to check out part two!

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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