Working with Large Surfaces in Civil 3D


Working with Large Surfaces in Civil 3D



Data Shortcuts

Data Shortcuts have made utilizing large files incredibly easy, but sometimes surface files can still bog down a drawing when refreshing line work and data. Below are two ways to help alleviate the pains of extensive generation loading time utilizing tools within the surface commands.  

Welcome to Bracketville

To show how to isolate specific areas

Civil 3D Surface Built in options

  • Masks – Can be utilized in referenced surfaces. Limited to surface display
  • Boundaries – Can only be used in surface base file. Applies to both visual display and data.

Surface Masks

Masks are helpful with the time generation issue by creating a window in which the surface is displayed. With this option, the line work of the surface is isolated, but the data will still be represented throughout the overall surface. This is important to understand when using the masked surface option while calculating earthworks or deriving any other information from the surface data. A great benefit is that mask window created is actually transferable anywhere in the file and the surface line work will follow the mask window in its isolated constraints. Example of the Surface Mask process:     Notice we were able to isolate a “region” of Bracketville to lower the amount of contour lines being generated and refreshed in our drawing by one-fourth. We were also able to move our mask to other “regions” in order to move the workflows along in our site drawing as we work. This works well in jobs with many phases and/or parcels. The other option in isolating surface areas is to utilize a boundary instead of a mask.  

Surface Boundary

Boundaries work similarly to Masks but can only be created directly in the base surface file. This is because not only do they isolate the line work, they also isolate the data within the created boundary. Boundaries also can only be turned on and off in the surface file. Meaning the boundary needs to be isolated in the surface file first, then synchronized in the drawing referencing the surface. The toggling between drawings may seem counterintuitive in this instance, but this also allows the ability to calculate earthworks and other forms of surface data with phases and parcels, or in our case; regions. So in this instance, this process does come with additional benefit.   See below for an example of creating a surface boundary:     Updating the surface in another file:     Although multiple boundaries can be created and utilized within a surface, Civil 3D does have some finicky rules to keep in mind. In “Surface Properties” under the “Definitions” tab, a list of created boundaries can be toggled on and off. One thing to keep in mind is that if you select multiple boundaries, Civil 3D will not toggle all of those boundaries on, it will toggle the boundary created most recently on while the other boundaries remain off. Not only does it not show the other selected boundaries, it also does not take into account the data of the other boundaries. The only way to incorporate multiple boundaries is to simply create a new boundary encompassing all of the regions you would like.   Example of toggling between surface boundaries:     These are examples of the Civil 3D tools available solely within the surface controls. There are however other options such as using sites that are also beneficial, but require creating multiple surfaces for each site. There is no wrong way of setting up your workflows with surfaces. Comfort in the process is simply up to the user.   -Written by Buddy Hensley, AEC Industry Specialist   Applied Technology Group is a Platinum Autodesk Business Partner. Founded in North Little Rock, Ark., in 1992 as a local computer services company, ATG has grown to become a leading design technology partner with the purpose of assisting customers in maximizing the value and adoption of advanced technologies so they can perform competitively in the AEC sector. ATG collaborates with customers across the Gulf South, Midwest and Southwest through partnerships with 3DR, Autodesk, Leica, Microsoft and Panzura. Learn more about our company at www.atgusa.com. Autodesk and the Autodesk logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries.

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