Do you aspire to become an architect? If yes, then you must be aware that without a good CAD software in your skill set, your CV is incomplete. The ideal software for you is AutoCAD.
Introduced by Autodesk in the year 1982, the software is popular among city planners, architects, graphic designers and project managers. You could create an entire building plan, or rather an entire city on this software.
What is a 3D CAD Software?
Computer-aided design automates your manual drafting of product designs and increases the speed with which you can create them. Used by all kinds of designers and 3D artists, a 3D CAD software is one where you can create 3D product designs or plans with ease, comfort, speed and precision.
Earlier, when you had no software, we had to rely on 2D sketches which took time to make and gave a basic idea of the product or plan. 3D models had to be made physically and manually, which was both costly and time consuming. Now, with a 3D CAD software, you can save cost and time, adding more convenience to your work.
Let’s see why AutoCAD is so popular.
What Does the AutoCAD Software Provide?
AutoCAD software is more popular among architects and construction engineers. You can create both 2D and 3D figures and plans on this software. When planning a house, building, complex, locality or city, you need both.
Whether 2D or 3D, the designs you make on a software are a lot more precise and clean than a manual drawing. This is because the tools you use helps you take care of proportions, angles, curves and other important aspects of a figure. Moreover, you can add the desired textures, shades and colours here that exactly match your imagination and reality.
Following are some features of AutoCAD that makes it stand out for architects and construction planners:
The software has an environment where you can create a real-world. You can create a 3D object by revolving a 2D object around an axis or extruding the surface along the z-axis. Another way to do so is by combining 2 2D objects, subtracting a surface from one or intersecting them. Apart from that, there are several drawing tools that allow you to create a 3D object from scratch.
In CAD, a “block” is generally a collection of objects. In case of the AutoCAD software, it holds geometric information about a single object. In other words, the geometric properties of an object are stored in a block. Let’s understand this with an example.
Suppose, you create a door. This architectural object has a certain shape, size, proportion and texture which is stored in the block. Now, this will help you in 2 things:
- While creating another house, if you want the same door, you can import the block here and your job is done.
- If you wish to make changes in the door for every place and every file, then you simply make changes in the block. Automatically, the door will change wherever you’ve used it.
AutoCAD Architecture Toolset
There are more than 8,000 intelligent objects and features belonging to the architectural toolset of the software. You can create floor plans, elevations and other building designs with great ease here.
Considering that in architecture certain objects are inter-related, the software makes automatic updates when you make changes in one. For example, if you remove a wall, the doors and windows on it will also disappear.
The Electrical Toolset
If you’re designing a house along with interiors, then you’ll have to create electrical plans too, isn’t it? This toolset has more than 65,000 intelligent electrical symbols that’ll help you create panel layouts, schematic drawings and electric control systems. These support IEC, AS, GB, JIC, JIS, NFPS, IEC-60617 and IEEE standards.
The Mechanical Toolset
This library has more than 700,000 manufacturing parts, features and symbols that help you design & develop mechanical designs of products, machine parts, assemblies and bills of material. These symbols also comply with ISO, GB, ANSI, CSN, JIS, BSI and DIN standards.
Map 3D Toolset
This special feature allows you to add GIS data to your own CAD environment. You can aggregate the GIS data with your design data with the help of some task based tools.
AutoCAD Mobile App
Most of the CAD and 3D software are too heavy to download in mobile phones. However, AutoCAD does have a mobile app that allows to work on your designs wherever you go. You can update them from the site, your car or any other place.
AutoCAD Online Web App
Usually, any 3D design software that you use requires a download. However, if you’re subscribing to AutoCAD, you can use it in any machine. This is because they offer you a web app – you can use it through the browser whenever and wherever you want. You just need to sign in. If you have subscription, you’ll gain access to everything you’ve created here.
How Much Does it Cost?
Currently, the subscription price of AutoCAD is $1521 per year. However, you do get a free trial of 30 days before you subscribe for the software. You get access to the architectural toolset, the mechanic toolset, electrical toolset and 3D map toolset.
Can You Download AutoCAD for Free?
The answer is yes, provided you subscribe for the AutoCAD Student Version. However, your license is valid for only 3 years, which you can renew later if you’re an educational institution or an independent tutor. Of course, this version has its own limitations as the objects you’ll create will have a watermark.
Other Autodesk Software for CAD
Autodesk has got plenty of software tools for 3D designers and artists. Each of them cater to different audiences and have different prices for the same reasons. AutoCAD focuses more on architects and construction professionals. On the other hand, there are 2 more CAD software made for other audiences:
While AutoCAD allows you to make both 2D and 3d drawings, AutoCAD LT only focuses on 2D. For this reason, it is obviously cheaper than AutoCAD. Here’s what you can do with it:
- Create & edit 2D drafts, drawings and documentation faster.
- Customize ribbon and tool palettes.
- Import data from PDF, DGN and Bing maps.
This app is also used by construction professionals, but for other purposes.
This advanced 3D CAD software is designed for product designers and engineers. You can also create 3D environments, rendered animations and assemblies. It is useful for creating mechanical structures – both internal and external for any kind of product. Mostly, it is popular for complicated products like automobiles, machinery and electricals.
Avail an Online AutoCAD Course
The Autodesk student community provides you with a lot of free courses and tutorial guides, encouraging you to use the software to its fullest potential. Apart from the free education plan, there are many distance learning resources and certification courses that you can gain access to.
These include tutorial videos, free tips & tricks and access to certified and authorized learning centres. You can even find a local authorized learning centre that is nearest to you if you wish to get classroom training. This will help you get a proper training along with professional certification to use the software.
Apart from that, you can also avail online courses on AutoCAD from other platforms. Some of them include:
For complete beginners having no background knowledge in computer-aided design, this course is perfect for you. Your tutor, Mike Freeman will be training you to navigate the software, use various tools and commands, create drawings in different environments and show the way ahead.
This course is a lot more detailed, suitable for beginners as well as those with basic knowledge. CADCIM Technologies has designed a 16.5-hour course that introduces you to the interface of the software, teaches you to use all the tools, layers, status bar, dimensions, texts, constraints, viewports, blocks, attributes, drawing utilities, groups, page setups and collaboration tools. By the end of the course, you can create customized designs of your own independently.
This is a bestselling course created by Jaiprakash Pandey, having more than 56,000 students so far. You’ll learn the software usage in detail, starting from scratch. Starting from the basic drawing tools and moving on to use hatches, gradients, layers, texts, tables, blocks, groups, attributes, parametric features, external files and sheet sets, you’ll be learning to develop your own products, publish and print them and collaborations.
Alternative Solutions to AutoCAD
Autodesk is a company that does have expensive software solutions for 3D artists. You won’t get a free version of the software unless you’re a student. However, that does not mean that you won’t get free CAD software alternatives in the market. Following are some open-source CAD software that you can consider going for:
Of course, the features, interface and facilities of these software solutions will vary and not all are as friendly with architects as AutoCAD is. Due to the several benefits that the paid software provides, thousands of users find it worth the price. If you’re still to learn, you have 3 years to decide if it’s worth it before you pay for it. What do you say, want to give it a shot?