Understanding AutoCAD Templates

Creating architectural plans from scratch is often a time-consuming procedure, especially in AutoCAD...
Understanding AutoCAD Templates

A building cannot be created without a professional set of plans, and drawing these plans is often one of the most essential – and (for some) tedious – steps in the process. 

Creating architectural plans from scratch is often a time-consuming procedure, especially in AutoCAD. This is where templates come in. 

In this article, you’ll get the full rundown of templates for AutoCAD to understand what they are, why people use them, and how they are used in the architecture industry.

What is an AutoCAD template?

All AutoCAD drawings begin with a template. When the program launches, users are greeted by the Start tab where you can either start drawing with the default template, or choose from a list of other template files. 

A template file is an AutoCAD drawing saved in template format, with the .dwt extension.

Essentially, AutoCAD templates are ready-made, standardized files loaded with settings, styles, and drawing elements. They make the drafting process more convenient, consistent, and efficient.

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The AutoCAD Template Kit

What is an AutoCAD template used for in architecture?

In architecture, AutoCAD templates are used to streamline the drawing and documentation process. They particularly help architects get started on new projects, with all of the things they may need pre-loaded and at their disposal.

For architecture firms, CAD managers often create, monitor, and distribute template files to maintain consistent standards and styles throughout the company. This allows them to have uniformity in their sheet submissions across all of their projects.

Why use one?

Being able to jump right into a new document helps architecture professionals transition straight from design to drafting without derailing their train of thought. This continuity in the production process saves time, and turns the attention to more important design problems.

With a template, you won’t have to worry about hunting down your favorite blocks to copy and paste, or making sure to match the visual styles of your previous drawings. A carefully crafted template can handle those things for you, providing you with a small library of essential tools, and a suite of additional drawing elements to make your plans clear and presentable.

Pro’s and con’s

Pros

  • Simplifies and speeds up the drawing process
  • Combines frequently used blocks and drawing elements
  • Standardizes graphics and layout styles

Cons

  • Tends to make all drawings look the same
  • Uses more memory than a default AutoCAD file
  • Other architects may use the same template

What should be included in a successful template?

As mentioned before, AutoCAD comes with a few default templates to get you started, but an effective template can have so much more to offer. In order to make the most out of it, a template should be equipped with several different elements to refine your drawing every step of the way. Here are some features to look out for.

Blocks

Most templates include a collection of frequently used blocks that can be copied into your plans with a single command. It can contain furniture, trees, doors and windows, and many other objects to easily populate your drawings with detail and context.

Layers

The layer panel is often overlooked in AutoCAD, but adjusting and naming layers for a new drawing can actually take a lot of time. Maintaining an organized set of layers allows you to quickly make changes without affecting other elements of the drawing.

A quality template can include a set of layers to keep your file in order from start to finish.

Annotations

Architectural plans use annotations to show vital information like dimensions, callouts, tags, section cuts, and labels.

Creating and selecting these elements without a template can often lead to inconsistencies in drawings, and can make it more difficult for clients and contractors to understand.

Annotations are an important part of a template as they ensure your drawings are clear and legible for everyone involved.

Lines, Colors, and Hatch Patterns

Visual elements such as line styles, colors, and hatch patterns, are also a major part of many templates. These attributes help to maintain a consistent and presentable overall look for drawings, and can aid in the readability and accuracy of the final sheets.

Layouts and Title Blocks

When drawings are nearing the final stages of production, views are placed onto pages for layout. This is where architects add a title block filled with all the necessary information about the company, sheet content, project information, and more.

Templates typically include layouts and title blocks for various situations and paper sizes.

Plot and Publishing Settings

Once the drawings are complete and the layouts are ready for printing, a few final steps are required to generate the final sheets. Architects take time fine-tuning the plot and publishing settings to achieve the intended output for print.

Many successful templates feature useful presets for these settings to reduce the need for trial and error.

But …do architects still use AutoCAD?

Although the fundamentals of architecture remain the same, the way in which we create our drawings has drastically changed over the years. From hand-drawn plans in pen and pencil, to computer-aided drafting and design, the digital age has transformed the industry for good.

Firms today are dominated by computer screens, and 3D programs are constantly changing how we imagine forms. With our rapidly changing environment, many wonder if AutoCAD is still being used by architects in the field.

However even with all the new software available, you will be pleased to hear that architects around the world do still use AutoCAD in their practice.

The main concern for prospective AutoCAD users is the prevalence of Building Information Modeling (BIM) programs. These programs, such as Revit and Archicad, offer a versatile set of tools that combine traditional drawing aspects with information, 3D modeling, analysis, and collaboration.

Many firms have begun transitioning to BIM software, while many firms continue drafting with AutoCAD exclusively. Even with BIM workflows, however, AutoCAD is still used for preliminary plans, construction details, and coordination drawings.

This is because AutoCAD and the .dwg format are still some of the most reasonable tools to use for planning, making quick changes, or sending lightweight files to other designers and consultants.

Most firms now require technical skills in BIM, but AutoCAD continues to play a key role in the practice of architecture.

Knowledge in AutoCAD is part of the foundation for learning more advanced programs like Revit, and files are regularly cross-referenced from both programs to bring a project together.

It’s also still used by many allied professionals in design and engineering, and it’s important to be able to interact with their files as well.

Conclusion

AutoCAD has been around since 1982, and although new programs are capable of doing more, it is still widely used in the industry and remains an essential tool for all architecture professionals.

As with every tool in the architect’s arsenal, there are always different ways to make things more efficient and convenient. AutoCAD templates are a great way to improve the drafting experience.

When used properly, templates can enhance the way your drawings look, and revamp the way you approach drawings altogether.

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The AutoCAD Template Kit

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