Six Steps to Adding Images Inside of an AutoCAD Table Cell
Have you wanted to add an image into an AutoCAD table only to find that it’s not an option to attach an image in the cell? This week, I was asked by one of our customers on how to do this, so I thought this would be an opportune time to let everyone know how to successfully make this happen.
The current workflow to attach something to an AutoCAD Cell is to click inside the cell you want, then right-click in the shortcut menu, and then go to Insert. But as you will see, there are only a few options to choose from, and Image is not one of them.
So here is how we get it to work. Let’s say you wanted to create a table of architectural connectors to be used, and you wanted to include a picture of the connection to help clarify it proper installation.
You may have noticed that “Block” is one of the available options for inserting an AutoCAD Table Cell.
- The first step is to bring the image in the way you would without being inside a cell. We have a few different options to get us there. Using the ribbon by clicking on the Insert Tab, on the Reference panel, click on the Attach button. This will bring up the Select Reference File Dialog box. Make sure the File type is set to All image files in the Files of type field at the bottom. Then you can navigate to the image file you wish to attach.
(You can also type IMAGEATTACH at the command line)
Then click open button.
2. Or you could also open the External Reference Manager and attach it as shown below.
Once you are done utilizing either method, the Attach Image dialog box will appear. Choose the proper path type. If you are not aware of what each path option does, be sure to check the help file for the proper one you need because this could affect workflow and how you archive files afterward. Then set the other options is possible or check the “Specify on-screen box,” then click OK button.
The dialog will close, and the command line will ask for an insertion point. I prefer to accept the default 0,0, but it is not necessary. If “Scale” and/or “Rotation” are set to Specify on screen, then fill in the proper settings for those. (When in doubt, use 1 = scale and 0 = rotation angle.) The Image will appear at the location of insertion. Note: I prefer to insert them on layer 0 so the properties are transferred to whatever layer I reinsert them on.
3. The next step is to Block the Image. Type the Block command or choose “Create Block” from the Block Definition panel on the same Insert ribbon tab. If you wanted to keep each image in their own separate drawing file, you could use the Write Block (WBlock) command as well. I will just keep them in the same file, so we will just block them.
4. The Block Definition dialog will appear. Enter the Name using the Select objects button, select the edge of the attached image. (This will display a small preview image next to the name field.) Next, set the “Delete” option to on, since this will not be the location of the block. Tables are not “Annotative,” so leave that unchecked, along with “Allow exploding.” I check “Scale Uniformly” to keep images from becoming distorted. And the “Description” is optional.
Settings for the units will be determined by the user, you don’t need the “Open in block editor” option unless you modify the block after it has been created. So here are your choices… If you don’t mind where the image is located in the cell, you could just leave it at the lower-left (0,0) insertion point. But if you want to have the image centered in the cell, I would use one of the following methods to select the center of the image: point filters, (.X and .Y); object tracking by both the Horizontal and Vertical Midpoints of the edge of the image; or use the “Mid Between 2 Points” from the Shift+Right-Click (M2P) Shortcut Menu then click to opposite corners of the image, or fastest of all the Center Osnap works on Images. These methods will allow you to perfectly snap to the center of the image for the insertion point of the block. Once you have selected your settings and options, you have to click the OK button and you will see the image disappear from the screen, but now you have an AutoCAD block inside this drawing.
You are ready to add the image to the AutoCAD Table Cell. Select the cell where you want to insert the image. Then right-click to display the shortcut menu. From there, you will select the Insert > Block as shown earlier. The “Insert a Block in a Table Cell” dialog will appear, and you can now select the name of the block from the drop-down list. This this display the image in the preview. (Note: If you created your Blocks as separate DWG files (WBlock) then you would use the Browse… button to navigate to that file, this will also display the path of the file in the path section under the name.)
5. And now for the trickiest part: dealing with the Properties. The size of the images you are going to insert and how consistent in comparison they are to each other, along with how it is going to affect the cell heights will determine your degree of difficulty ultimately. Here are your different options for scaling:
• There is a Scale option where you can manually increase or decrease the size of the original image. (1 would be actual size, 2 would twice as big, and .5 would be half size.) This will automatically change the cells height to fit the image.
• Autofit will force the image to fit within the existing cells height. Remember to set the height of the cell prior to inserting the block if using Autofit.
Note: In either method, if you change the scale of the image after it has been inserted to a larger size, it will automatically change the cell height to make it fit.
But if you change the scale of the image to be smaller, it will NOT change the height of the cell. You would have to manually change them afterwards using something like the Properties Palette shown below.
• Rotation will rotate the image in the cell. The “Overall cell alignment” works just like it does with the text justifications within the location of the cell alignment.
Warning: the “Rotation” can play havoc on the way an image is inserted into a cell, and in many cases, can rotate itself outside the boundaries of the cell even if the “Overall cell alignment” is set properly. It is always best to create the image, the direction you want it displayed to minimize the amount of adjusting later. See below.
• Click OK when you are done, and you will see the image appear in the cell.
NOTE: You can edit the Block appearance of the Image and the setting afterwards. Use the “FRAME” command to turn off the boundary edge of the image by setting it to zero (0). You can change the block options by double-clicking inside the cell to open the “Edit Block in a Table Cell.” Or to change the settings of the Table, or its cells, select the table or cell and use the “Properties Palette” content or choose from the options in the “Table Cell” Ribbon Tab. Options and methods will vary depending on what you have selected. Remember to treat these attached images jut like you would an external reference file when sharing, managing, and archiving to keep their links.
6. Repeat the process for each as needed for each individual cell as need.
This may seem like a lot of information, but once you have done it a couple of times, you will find that it is fairly quick and easy once you get the hang of it. When you are done, you will have professional looking schedules and/or legends that have easy to understand images embedded within them.
I hope this helps. I’m Isaac Harper, and I want to thank you for your time!
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