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Getting Productive with Plan Production Tools in Civil 3D

Highway
Image courtesy of Dawn Digital.

Design projects can become challenging when working with large sites which include lengthy roadways and site features that are needed to be displayed on multiple sheets for production. With the plan production tools in AutoCAD Civil 3D you can automate the process of creating plan and profile sheets quickly. We will explore how to use these tools to create multiple plan and profile sheets, sections on multiple layouts, and tie it all together in a sheet set ready for publishing your deliverable. Let’s get productive and learn how to optimize the production of final plans and profile drawings.

Introduction

How do you efficiently create your final plans quickly and easily for printing in AutoCAD Civil 3D? The plan and production tools will help you quickly create sheets that automatically display station ranges of alignments and profiles in your plans. These wizards will also Create View Frames, Plan and Profile Sheets, and Section Sheets, all of which will automatically display segments of alignments, profiles, sections, and plan sheets in your design set. The figure below shows the Plan Production Tools located on the Output tab of the Ribbon.

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You have been working on your design project for weeks and running prints for review supplying to the engineering team to check scale and the project details. We have now done the planning and it is time to produce our sheets at a scale for a deliverable. Before you start generating all sorts of sheets you must address a few concepts and prerequisites. The Plan Production features draw on several Civil 3D components to create a plan set.

We will begin with the drawing templates. Plan production tools create new layouts for each sheet in a plan set at a scale. Therefore, you have to set up templates with named viewports at each scale telling Civil 3D what you would like to produce. Most features in Civil 3D have styles which we will define those within our template.

Steps to follow while referencing this material:

  • Create the templates (you can start with the templates provided from Autodesk)
  • Use these as a guide to develop your own templates with your company title block
  • Select the Create View Frames (shown in the figure above)
  • Choose your sheet type and the template with the appropriate scale
  • Choose View Frame Groups and Match Line Styles
  • Change those (and add additional after selecting)
  • If you chose a profile you will have to select the Profile and Band Styles (as with View Frames, you can change these later)
  • Profile Views can play an important role in “white space” around your profile
  • Select the Create Sheets (shown in the figure above)
  • Define your Sheet Set (new or existing; use Sheet Sets to your advantage)
  • Add any Data References (only if you are creating a new drawing file)
  • Select Create Sheets and the process will begin to create your new layouts

Related:  Managing Your Sheets with the Sheet Set Manager with Sam Lucido

Overview

Instead of manually creating many viewports on layouts to show segments of alignments, you can create view frames that automatically capture predefined areas along an alignment. View frames are rectangular areas along an alignment that represent what is displayed in the associated viewports on the layouts (sheets) to be created. This automation saves you from making many manual changes when your design data changes. Remember the days when you created view frames to match the scale of your design?

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The image above shows an alignment of a long road with curves. The red boxes are the view frames that we are requested to show the road on Plan sheets with or without a profile.

By setting up the North Arrow and Scale on your templates you also have the ability to have that North Arrow linked to the viewport giving it the ability to rotate to “true North” when the view changes throughout your sheets.

Templates

Several predefined template (.dwt) files are provided with Civil 3D 2018. You must have templates created to follow the four scenarios as shown below. For this demonstration we have templates created for each instance as shown.

Files

Plan(s) Only

The current drawing must contain an alignment.
You must be able to access a template that contains a viewport with a Viewport Type defined as Plan, such as the Civil 3D (Imperial) Plan Only.dwt or the Civil 3D (Imperial) Plan over Plan.dwt template located in the Template\Plan Production folder.

Profile(s) Only

The current drawing must contain an alignment and a profile.
You must be able to access a template that contains a viewport with a Viewport Type defined as Profile, such as the Civil 3D (Imperial) Profile Only.dwt or the Civil 3D (Imperial) Profile over Profile.dwt template located in the Template\Plan Production folder.

Plan and Profile

The current drawing must contain an alignment and a profile.
You must be able to access a template that contains a viewport with a Viewport Type defined as Plan, and a viewport with a Viewport Type defined as Profile, such as the Civil 3D (Imperial) Plan and Profile.dwt template located in the Template\Plan Production folder.

Section

The current drawing must contain an alignment, sample lines, and cross sections. You must be able to access a template that contains a viewport with a Viewport Type defined as Section, such as the Civil 3D (Imperial) Section.dwt template located in the Template\Plan Production folder.

Templates and Viewports

We first will create our template file using specific Plan and Production Viewports. Open a title block drawing that you use for your company standard. The file you should be using will be in paperspace on a layout tab. This is the file where you define your sheet set properties which contain project-specific data that will be carried throughout the project.

We will now create the viewports. On the Contextual Ribbon Layout Tools Tab select Named under the viewports panel as shown. Notice how my layer is also set to my viewport layer. When you are drawing the viewports, they will be placed on the correct layer.

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In this example, we will create two horizontal viewports for a plan and profile scenario. We will select two horizontal viewports with a spacing of 0.25 between them. If I was to create a Plan only, I would select one viewport.

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After placing the viewports in your drawing, you must set the Viewport type. Open your properties palette (CTRL+1) to see the properties of the viewport. Select the viewport and move to the viewport type and designate the appropriate viewport that you need for the template. You can modify the properties of the viewport within the template file to ensure that you have the proper settings for your standards.

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Once you have your layout type correct, you will need to make sure the scale is correct on the viewports and name a sheet (layout tab) to reference the correct scale and type as shown.

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The final step of completing the template is to make sure you have a North arrow and scale bar added to your sheets. You will have the options to select the North arrow block when creating the sheets in the plan and production tools to ensure the alignment is correct.

Plan Production Commands

You can access the plan production commands from the Output tab and Plan Production contextual tab on the ribbon as shown above. The Plan Production contextual tab is displayed when you select a view frame or a match line in the drawing.

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The following definitions are taken directly from the Autodesk Knowledge Network and give a good description of the general commands.

Create View Frames WizardStart the process of using the plan production tools by using this wizard to define a group of view frames along an alignment.

View Frame GroupThe view frame group object helps you manage a single group of view frames that are displaying consecutive station ranges along the same alignment. You can set many options at the view frame group level, such as styles and labeling. View frame group objects are displayed in the Prospector tree, and you can control their default command settings in the Settings tree.

View FramesView frames are rectangular-shaped regions along an alignment that define an area that will be displayed in a sheet. The view frame size, shape, and scale come from a designated viewport that exists on the layout tab of a specified template. After view frames are created, the properties of the view frame objects are saved in the currently open drawing. The view frame objects are displayed in the drawing and in the Prospector tree, and you can control their default style and labeling in the Settings tree.

Match LinesIn the Civil 3D plan production features, a match line is a straight line that indicate locations in a view frame group where one view frame intersects or matches up with another view frame. Match lines are only displayed in paper space and only in plan view. They are designed to visually indicate the locations (start and end stations) along an alignment where each view frame begins and ends. Match lines have their own object style and they typically include labels that can identify both the previous and next sheet (view frame) along an alignment. You have the option to include a left side match line label, a right-side match line label, both, or none, and you can choose where along the match line you want the label to be displayed (top, middle, end of match line). Like view frame objects, match line objects are also displayed in the Prospector tree, and you can control their default style and labeling in the Settings tree.

Create Sheets WizardAfter you have used the Create View Frames wizard, the next step is to use the Create Sheets wizard to quickly create your sheets. After you have created view frames and sheets for publishing in the sheet set manager.

The table below is from the Autodesk Knowledge Network and lists the plan production tool AutoCAD Civil 3D commands and briefly describes their functionality.  You can type in the command at the command line to start the function in Civil 3D.

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Create View Frames

Using the View Frames Wizard, view frames are created automatically. View frames are always associated with a parent view frame group.

View frames are created based on an alignment in the drawing, and on a designated plan view or profile view viewport in a template. Once the View Frames are created they will be automatically associated with a View Frame Group. and are displayed in the drawing as well as in the Prospector tree. When you chose to insert match lines, the match line objects are also displayed in the drawing and in the Prospector tree.

Most of the view frame object information is derived from the viewport information specified in the template. For example, the view frames you create get their size and scale from the viewport in the template. Similarly, the sheet layout is also derived from the referenced template. Viewports in the referenced template must have the Viewport Type property specified, depending on the type of data you want that viewport to display. Although you can move or rotate view frames, you cannot change the size of a view frame. This is because the view frame’s size is based on the size of the viewport it references in the associated template.

Before you create view frames, the desired alignment must already exist in your drawing. Depending on the type of sheets you want to produce (plan and profile or profile only), you may also need to have a profile already created. On the Output Tab of the Ribbon under the Plan Production Panel Select Create View Frames or right click view Frame Groups under prospector as shown in the figures below.

Note: Make sure you set the annotation scale to match the scale you will be creating for your viewports. Best practice is to set the scale prior to creating the view frames.

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Want more? Download the full class handout to continue step by step: choose an alignment, create sheets and profiles, and much more.

Sam is a CAD services manager and senior civil designer with Haley & Aldrich, Inc. Within these roles he presents workshops on CAD standards, tools, and productivity techniques to managers and users in both corporate and classroom settings. He provides support on a wide variety of architectural, civil, mechanical, and structural design projects. Sam has over 25 years of experience involving production design and drafting, user support, and standards coordination. He continues to be very self-motivated and enjoys working in a team environment to accomplish project objectives on time and with high quality. Sam shares his knowledge through the AKN (Autodesk Knowledge Network) and has authored 12 articles in AUGIWorld from 2011 to 2018. Sam is the owner and operator of CADproTips.com and is professionally certified in AutoCAD.

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Working with large sites and long roadways can be a challenging design task. Setting up sheets, checking the scales, and consistently creating viewports with content that flows through the design are all part of the project. With the plan production tools in Civil 3D software, you can automate the process of creating these types of sheets quickly. We will explore how to use these tools to create multiple plan sheets, plan and profile sheets, and sections on multiple layouts, which ties it all...

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