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Hi, I’m Charles Ellison. I’m a Civil 3D designer and trainer at Today we’ll be looking at the Civil 3D Settings Hierarchy in Civil 3D 2020. We now know about the four tabs contained within the Tool Space palette. Next, we’ll go into the Civil 3D drawing settings to gain a better understanding of how to set our drawing defaults. Once our settings have been determined, it should speed up our project efficiency.

Settings Tab

One of these four tabs is the settings tab. Styles are a category of items that can be controlled within this tab. For example, the look of a surface such as contour labels, contour line frequency can be adjusted here. When we look at the list of items we have control over in the settings tab, it can feel a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, Autodesk includes a great set of drawing templates to start off with. The settings panel also controls default settings and they all have a hierarchy. When we right-click on the drawing name, we find the defaults for label styles, text styles, and text height as well as other settings. The drawing scale and the and the coordinate system associated with the drawing are listed in the unit and zone tab. Civil 3D object layers are controlled within the object layers tab. When we create Civil 3D objects such as an alignment or corridor start to think of them as dynamically controlled blocks. When you create a block, all the linework and other components can be on their own layer, but the entire block definition can be on a separate layer. So in a sense all of the geometry layers that make up the blocks are nested within the block. So, when we create a Civil Object that object can be on its own layer while all the linework and sub components can be on separate nested layers. The nested layers can be controlled by styles. Object layers apply to the overall block. The abbreviations tab controls smart labels that are applied to alignments. So as we create our alignment, these labels are automatically added that can be customized to your standards.

Ambient Settings

Lastly, there are ambient settings. These work similar to the units within Autocad. Those units can be adjusted, but remember Civil 3D works on top of Autocad. In Autocad, there are linear units, architectural, decimal, etc. that are set to a determined precision. Civil 3D takes this a step further by requiring more information. Elevations for example need to be set to a specific precision. Stations need to be set to a specific unit and precision. Are you working in the United States, or the metric system? Grades and slopes need a format to work with. Rise to run? So when it asks for information on a slope, I can type in three and it knows I mean 3 to 1, not 3 percent. In this panel, we aren’t changing the precision of the drawing itself. We’re controlling the way the Civil 3D commands function.

Ambient settings are the parent hierarchy. Now when we right click on a specific feature within the settings panel, we can edit feature settings. But before we do that, click the plus icon next to General. We see a folder called Label styles. When we maximize that we have an additional list of folders for general items such as lines and shapes. Right click on one of these folders and we can set the Label Style defaults for the drawing. Each category of Civil 3D feature settings can be modified by right clicking on the feature and choosing feature settings. Lets right click on the surface feature settings. We can see Ambient settings that are actually reading from the drawing settings. If we override any of these settings in this panel they will be specific to surfaces. What if I want a certain style to be applied to a surface. Here we see we can set Default styles when we maximize this panel. It’s nice to have these defaults set for us ahead of time.

Feature Settings

Feature settings can control how profiles are created. Within this panel there are a lot of other settings such as passing eye height, headlight angle and so on that are specific to profiles. These feature settings give you very specific control over how Civil 3D will use ambient settings to create these features. Lastly, there is another level within our hierarchy for each feature folder list called Commands. When we right-click on a command settings they are reading the ambient settings for the feature. Remember that the feature ambient settings are reading from the drawing settings we set originally. So the settings tab within tool space is what we use to control how our drawings look and perform the way it should.

Once the defaults are set, this should speed up the efficiency of our work. If you’re working for a company, they’ll have a template established for you. Autodesk has some good templates right out of the box. It’s very useful and efficient to have a template setup to get you up and running with Civil 3D.