CAD for Dummies: The 9 Best CAD Tips and Tricks for Beginners

The Beginner’s Guide to Computer-Aided Design

Are you at a loss when it comes to learning computer-aided design? Are you wondering what some of the best CAD tips are? Check out this beginner’s guide!

Keyword(s): computer-aided design

Computer-aided design, or CAD, has come a long way since it was first developed in the early sixties.

Modern CAD software is packed with incredible features allowing users to not only design and draw, but also produce stunning photorealistic 3D models.

As CAD software becomes more and more powerful, it also becomes more complex to use. As a beginner, it can be incredibly daunting.

So read on as we offer some tips to help you get started in the world of computer-aided design.

1. Try Paper First

Modern computer-assisted design software is packed with features, most of which are beyond the scope of what a beginner will need.

It can be easy to get lost among all the tools and functions when first starting out. It makes sense to have a very strong idea of what you want to design or draw before you even start using the software.

Working out a rough design on paper will give you a head start by knowing what you want to draw and in what order.

2. Choose Your Input Device

It is possible to use CAD software quickly and efficiently using just a standard mouse and keyboard.

But many people prefer the extra control that dedicated input devices can give you. A trackball can help with precision mouse placement and you can also buy dedicated CAD mice which include plenty of programmable buttons and wheels. Some people find that vertical mice can also give more control and you can even find mice with a trackball built in.

If you are coming from a manual technical drawing background, then you might prefer a graphical tablet as your input.

3. Choose Your Software

The most important thing you will need is some good CAD software.

There is a wide range of CAD systems available, so do your research before choosing your platform. Do you really need every single bell and whistle of functionality? Or is paying over the odds for features that you simply won’t use a waste of your resources?

CADmate is a fraction of the cost of the major brands but still offers all the functionality you are likely to need. In addition, you just make a single one-off payment for life, rather than paying month after month for as long as you use the software.

As a beginner, it’s always worth trying out a free trial of your CAD software before you take the plunge.

4. Make Sure Your Computer Is up to Spec

When considering what software to choose, you will need to ensure your computer has the processing power to match.

Some of the major CAD software brands have quite high minimum system requirements. And it is often the case that if your system only meets the bare minimum, processes such as saving and drawing can become a little slow.

If you’re concerned about your system not meeting the requirements, it’s worth considering software that is less resource intensive.

5. Learn What Your Mouse Does

Once you have your software and input devices, you’re ready to go.

The first thing you will need to know is what the different wheels and buttons on your mouse do. As you might expect, for the majority of CAD systems, the left mouse button is used to select objects as well as specifying locations.

The right mouse button is usually used to bring up shortcut menus. The menus that appear will depend on where your mouse is located and what action you are currently taking. Finally, you can use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out of your design, as well as for panning.

Once you become more adept with the software, you can change what the mouse buttons do to fit your workflow.

6. Learn Your Hotkeys

Hotkeys allow you to do the most common procedures with just a single press.

These are often very similar across the different software options. So for example, clicking L will allow you to draw a line. Clicking C will let you draw a circle. E is the hotkey to let you erase parts of your design, and Q will allow you to quick save your work.

Using these keys will save you a huge amount of time in comparison to selecting the options from menus or toolbars.

7. Learn Your Commands

If you find yourself regularly using a feature which does not have a hotkey, you can speed up the process by using commands.

These work in a similar way to hotkeys, but instead of tapping a single letter, you type a longer string of letters into the command window. So for example, REC would allow you to draw a rectangle. SC would allow you to change the scale of your design.

8. Free up Some Screen Real Estate

To accommodate the many different features of CAD software, your screen will show a large number of toolbars and menus.

As a beginner, there are many of these you will be unlikely to use. It makes sense to minimize or remove any you’re not using. It will give you more room for your design and stop you from becoming daunted the vast array of commands.

9. Keep Organized

Our final tip is a habit you should definitely get into from the outset.

CAD projects can soon grow pretty messy, with files and templates and renderings. Make sure that you decide on a naming system for your files and then stick to it. It will be of real value further down the line when trying to find that one file you really need from a previous project.

Are You Looking for Great Computer-Aided Design Software?

If you’re ready to dip your toes into the world of computer-aided design then you’re going to need some CAD software.

CADmate is a powerful CAD solution which is a fraction of the cost of the major CAD brands. Feature-packed without being resource intensive, CADmate is quick to use whilst still featuring all the latest tools and functions. It also uses most of the same commands and tools as the leading CAD package, as well as being fully compatible, so it’s a breeze to switch.

If you would like to know more about our software or have any other questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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