Course Content
AutoCAD Advanced Techniques
About Lesson

In this lesson I will show you how to print drawings. In AutoCAD, this process is called plotting because this term comes from the time when devices with pens – plotters – were used to create finished drawings.

To begin with, you need to run the Plot command, although the same result can be achieved by pressing Control+P. After that, a new frame will appear on the screen that includes all the necessary parameters. Since I have them already set up, I will only briefly mention the most important ones. First of all, the selected device and its “driver” belong to that category. Unfortunately, I don’t have any printer, so I chose the option that allows me to place the final version of the drawing in a PDF file. Regardless, I had to determine the exact size of the format, the scale at which the drawing would be printed, and several parameters. To make sure everything is working, I’ll click on a button called Preview and AutoCAD will show me the final version of my drawing. I can zoom in on it and check how the smallest details are displayed, although some things like the difference in line thickness are still beyond the scope of this function. On the other hand, this kind of presentation is enough to draw my attention to one mistake. Namely, I would like all the lines to be black, and here one part of the drawing is shown in red, so I have to go back to setting the parameters. To that end, it is enough to press Enter and display the previous frame again. The function I need is in its upper right corner, so I’ll select the monochrome option from this list and thus disable all colors except black. If this part of the box does not appear on your computer, if you have a simplified version of the Plot command in front of you, simply click on this icon and display all the options.

If I now run the Preview function again, you will see that all the elements of the drawing are shown in black, which means that I have successfully solved the first problem. Now all that remains for me is to make the lines that represent the mechanical components slightly thicker than those that belong to the elevations and thus make the whole drawing easier to “read”. So pressing Enter will bring me back to the parameters box and selecting this icon will launch a function that allows me to specify different line thicknesses. I could achieve a similar effect by changing the parameters related to individual Layers, but in that case I would not be able to apply the same parameters in other drawings. Precisely for this reason, I decided to connect the thickness of the line with the color with which certain elements are displayed, which in this case means that everything that was shown on the screen in red color on the paper will have a thickness of 0.5 mm. If I then click on the Save & Close button and start the Preview function, you will see that the lines representing the machine elements are now slightly thicker than the others.

With everything now in place, all I have to do is click the OK button and finish printing. Since I have decided on the PDF format, a box will appear on the screen where I can choose its name and location, and instead I will cancel this process by selecting the Cancel option and return to the drawing.

I did this to show you how the thickness of the line can be determined via the Layer. To that end, it is necessary to first start the Layer Properties function and then select the appropriate thickness in the column called Lineweight. Of course, all of this applies to a specific Layer, so I have to pay attention to where I’m going to click in order for the dimension box to appear on the screen. I will again decide on a thickness of 0.5 mm and close all the frames with OK. Now I can go back to the print parameters box, click on the icon that controls line thicknesses, and set the red color back to the default value. This time I will first click the Apply to layout button and then click Cancel to close this box. That way I’ve permanently saved the currently valid parameters so I don’t have to change them every time I run the Plot command.

Although printing is usually done from Layout mode, this function can be started at any time, even during the creation of the drawing itself. To prove it to you, I’m going to go back to the model and run the print command again. Although everything looks the same at first glance, this time I’ll have to set a lot more parameters because I can no longer rely on the values coming from the Layout. In other words, in addition to the appropriate driver, format and scale, I will also have to choose the part to be printed (What to Plot). In doing so, instead of what is currently on the screen (Display), I can choose the entire drawing (Extents), its limits or a specific segment (Window). In that case, I need to frame the appropriate part of the drawing with the mouse and thus select what interests me.

In this small frame, you can see the position of the future drawing on the paper, and I will use the opportunity to move it to the center by selecting the Center the plot option. Now I can finally check what I have achieved and note that some elements are still displayed in different colors. This can be easily fixed, so I’ll go back to the parameters box and select monochrome from this list. AutoCAD will warn me that this change may affect other Layouts, so I will click the No button and prevent this change.

I have to draw your attention to the fact that all these parameters will be ignored if I now click on the Cancel button and give up printing, which would not be the case if I did all this from a Layout. So I’m going to double check that everything is in place and finally print this drawing. Before that, I want to emphasize that its scale is selected automatically, although I could have chosen a specific ratio instead of the Fit to paper option.

As soon as I click the OK button, I will be able to save the new file and thus complete the entire procedure. If you have a suitable device at your disposal, it should already be doing its job at this moment, which means that you will soon have a tangible result of your work in your hands.

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