AutoCAD Layers – Advanced Guide By Jay Cad

Dear reader, If you are looking for the basics of AutoCAD layers, check out my previous post “A Handy Guide to AutoCAD layers“.

In this post, I am assuming you are familiar with the following topics:

  1. Creating layers
  2. Changing layers settings (color, name, visibility, lineweight, line type .. etc)
  3. Changing layers for the different geometry

Grouping Layers

You can actually group layers into a folder within the layer window – specially helpful if you are drawing objects from multiple disciplines (think architectural, structural, interior design .. etc) or bundling the layers within their category.

I like to bundle the layers I use for detailing away from the other architectural layers I use or the annotation layers we create.

XREF Layers

When you using CAD attachments in your drawing in AutoCAD, you are able to see the layers of that attachment within the Layer window.

You can actually modify the attachment (XREF) layers for your current drawing without even opening the attachment file. Note that the changes only apply for your current drawing and will not change the attachment settings.

One scenario I would suggest, is to change the colors of any xref you insert into a single color (think grey) to easily differentiate your drawing objects from the Xref objects – up to you of course.

Layer Lock (LAYL)

You can you use this feature by literally typing “Layer Lock” or using the combo “LAYL”.

I personally love this feature and heavily use it when working with AutoCAD. I lock layers that I am not going to change or work with that way I ensure that they don’t change.

Truth? I actually lock all the layers except the one I am currently working on. There’s a very quick to do that using the next concept below.

Layer Isolate (LAYISO)

Layer isolation allows me to lock all the other layers except the one I choose to isolate.

Note that Layer Isolations actually has two settings, one is to lock & fade all other layers (fade as in reduce their visibility, you’ll see it when you use this feature).

The other setting will actually hide all other layers and turn them off.

In case you want either or, you can first start the command by typing “LAYISO” and then going with the down arrow on your keyboard to access settings – see short video below:

Layer Match (MA)

Now there is not a command called Layer Match – for that, we use the Match Properties command that will match the layers of a source object to a destination object.

Match Properties command in AutoCAD does more than match the layers, it also makes sure to match all properties even the ones that are override and not necessarily set to “ByLayer”

Here’s actually what this command exactly does:

You can access the Match Properties settings after you start the command, select a source object, use bottom arrow on keyboard, and choose “Settings”

Layer Settings in Viewports (VP)

Did you know? Layers in Autocad have different settings between the Model space & the Paper space.

Here’s the Layers window when opened in the Model Space:

In the screenshot below , I am looking at the Layers window while being in a layout or sheet (Paper Space)

What happens is that AutoCAD duplicates the Layer properties to include some that only work in the paper space or View Port.

So before we had “Lineweight” + “Linetype” + “Color”

Now we also have “VP Lineweight” + “VP Linetype” + “VP Color”

In case you are wondering why is that helpful, well it gives the user an additional level of control for different sheets or layouts to have different layer settings for different sheets.

An excellent example would be of a floor plan that shows all text notes, dimensions, material callouts, and another that only shows the layout of the floor plan minus all the annotations for clarity.

In the screenshot above, I have 2 viewports on a layout.

The left viewport has all the Layers On & visible – the one to the right, I chose “VP-Freeze” for 4 layers that represent dimensions, text notes, and elevation callouts.

That allows you to easily look at the layout minus all the detailed information, and this is anyway one use case.


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