Working on small details

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When drawing with SoftPlan it can become darn near impossible to do small details using the mouse. But there is a simple solution.

When using the mouse to draw, the cursor is actually snapping to an invisible 1/8" grid on the screen. When you are zoomed out you don't notice this and cursor movement is smooth. But when you are zoomed in real close it feels as though the cursor just does not want to move.

To release the cursor from the grid use the ` key (to the left of the 1 key under Esc) to activate the Small Cursor. Small Cursor is is not locked to the grid and will move freely for close up detail work. It is a toggle so using ` will switch back and forth between large cursor and small cursor. If the Small Cursor default size is too small for you (it is for me) you can control the size of the cursor by selecting System Options-->System Options-->Locate Tolerance and change the size of the Small Cursor. I have both the Small Cursor and Large Cursor set to 5.

Also, make extensive use of other tools such as Offset, Fillet, Between, Extend, Trim, and Snaps. Using these tools is much faster, easier, and more accurate than trying to draw everything by eye with the cursor.

So why not just draw at a larger scale? Of course you 'could' do that, and many people do. Landscape Architects are notorious for drawing at 1"=1' rather than 1"=1". I've never been able to get a straight answer why they do that other than "That's just the way we were taught in school". I suspect that it goes back to the early days of CAD when virtual workspaces were limited. If you drew a large project such as mapping out a city at full scale you would quickly reach the limits of the virtual space. But that's just one theory. Another theory is that they are just too lazy to press the ' key for feet.

So why draw at full scale? Because by drawing at full scale you don't have to do a lot of math in your head. You want a 12" line draw it at 12". You want to offset a line 3" then offset it 3".

After your detail is completed you can decide if you want to keep it at full scale or scale it up or down.

If I am going to use the detail as a symbol and the symbol is intended to be shown at a different scale I will scale it using Edit-->Adjust Size. That way every time I insert the symbol it will be at the correct scale.

If I'm going to use the detail as part of a detail sheet or to show a detail of a specific area I will leave it full scale and use Multi-Drawing to bring the detail onto the page and adjust the display scale. If I later need to make changes to the detail I can always go back to the original detail drawing and make the change. The Multi-Drawing will update with the changes. By leaving the detail full scale I can place dimensions on the detail and they will be correct. If I had scaled the detail itself then none of the dimensions would be correct.

So switch over to Small Cursor when working zoomed in on small details. But remember to switch back to the standard cursor for normal drawing. Using the 1/8" grid to prevent all those 1/32" dimensions from cropping up is a good thing.

Bill is the owner and maintainer of

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