AutoCAD Civil 3D Surveying Quick Tips and Tricks: How To Setup and Use Surface Styles To Edit Surfaces Efficiently

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AutoCAD Civil 3D Surveying Quick Tips and Tricks: How To Setup and Use Surface Styles To Edit Surfaces Efficiently

In today’s AutoCAD Civil 3D Surveying Quick Tips and Tricks I will show you How To Setup and Use Surface Styles To Edit Surfaces Efficiently. This technique increases your CAD drafting and AutoCAD Civil 3D Surface creation and editing productivity by employing proper template setup and reducing switching between Toolspace Tabs and drilling down through what can be a rabbit-hole of options and settings AutoCAD Civil 3D uses to do the voodoo that it do.

This really leads to an important note: The overall techniques and processes that I'm showing you here are specific to setting up Surface Styles in your AutoCAD Civil 3D Templates so that you can Edit Surfaces Efficiently, but if you concentrate on the bigger picture, that of setting up your AutoCAD Civil 3D Templates with preset Styles to increase your productivity, then this is really what this post (and more to come) is all about. In fact, using the techniques that I describe below is really just one small part of a mindset and process which will allow you to take many small efficiencies and accumulate them into big increases in productivity, efficiency, and profit.

Two things we're trying to accomplish are:

  1. Have a preset Surface Style setup for editing AutoCAD Civil 3D Surfaces in your Template Drawing so that you only have to do this step once, saving you time from this point out.
  2. Speed up the AutoCAD Civil 3D Surface editing process, reducing the need to switch back and forth between Prospector Tabs, find an appropriate Surface Style, and then drill down to switch on the Surface Style Components you'd use for surface edits, like Points, Triangles, and Border, for instance.

In General, What We Will Be Doing Is:

  1. Creating Surface Styles specifically setup for editing AutoCAD Civil 3D Surfaces.
  2. Use these Editing Surface Styles to edit a surface more easily by switching between "editing mode" and "Final Display Mode"
  3. If not already setting this up in your AutoCAD Civil 3D Template, then either saving your working AutoCAD Civil 3D drawing file as a Template, or transferring your newly created Surface Style for editing to an AutoCAD Civil 3D Template drawing file.

And Away We Go ....

1. Create either a new Surface Style or copy an existing Surface Style to work with. Name, or rename, this Surface Style to your liking. I named my new Surface Style "Surface Edit with 2' and 10' Contours. The name doesn't matter at all, but it helps future users to make it named something intuitive and easy for them to find and use.

Name Surface Style

Name Surface Style

Now edit your newly created Surface Style. I recommend going through the Surface Style Tabs of Information, Borders, Contours, Grid, Points, Triangles, Watersheds, Analysis, and  Display to optimize the surface style to your editing needs: I am going to, however, specifically discuss the Display Tab, which will do the bulk of the heavy lifting in helping you to effectively and efficiently edit surfaces. So switch to the Display tab.

Surface Style Display Tab

Surface Style Display Tab

First thing to do now is to make the Triangle visible. These Triangles are the TIN lines you will be editing when you edit your Surfaces. Second, optimize the colors for viewing and editing the surface. You have to figure out what colors work best for you, but in my experience, making the Triangles a brighter and clearer color with the Major Contours and Minor Contours visible, but less "strong" than the Triangles, works best. Save your updated settings.

As a practical matter, you will probably need to work with this new Editing Surface Style for a while on real world projects to determine what colors (and linetypes) work best when editing a Surface. Depending on your work, you may like to preset the other Surface Style Component Types to suit your needs, too.

2. Test your new edit Surface Style and save to your AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Template. If you've been working in you AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Template then all you need to do is save the template file. Otherwise, you can open your AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Template file, making it current (leave your working file open too), switch to your Settings tab (in Master View), and drag an drop your new editing Surface Style from your working file into your AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Template file. Then, save and close your AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Template file.

3. Now let's give it a test run. Open a new AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing from your Template file and create a surface to work with. Here I wrote about one method of surface creation: AutoCAD Civil 3D Surveying Quick Tips and Tricks: Create A Surface From A Point Group.

In the next picture you will see a Surface that I created and applied the out-of-the box AutoCAD Civil 3D Contours 2' and 10' (Background) Surface Style (with a little tweaking on my part).

Surface with Plan Output Surface Style

Surface with Plan Output Surface Style

While this is great for final output and deliverables, to use this Surface Style for editing would require me to switch to the Setting Tab, find the Contours 2' and 10' (Background) Surface Style, and then drill down to switch on the Surface Style Components I'd use for surface edits, like Points, Triangles, and Border. (Note: you can also right click on a Surface and select Edit Surface Styles, which also does save a few steps).

Instead, now all you need to do is to edit the Surface Properties to set the Default Surface Style to your editing Surface Style that you created. See picture below.

Surface with Editing Surface Style

Surface with Editing Surface Style

Now do your editing, and when done, then just switch the Default Surface Style to what you would use for your final output and deliverables.

So often we focus on our final output, which AutoCAD Civil 3D is great for automating, and forget that this powerful software can be used in the everyday work-flow to help us get our work done smarter, faster and more efficiently.

This AutoCAD Civil 3D Surveying Quick Tips and Tricks is brought to you by the Professional Land Surveyor Source, showing you how to How To Setup and Use Surface Styles To Edit Surfaces Efficiently.

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Eric D. Colburn, PLS, "The Geo-Business Innovator", helps geo-professionals improve through innovative solutions, mastery of marketing and business growth strategies, and coaching/training. Eric is a successful, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, industry writer, product development consultant, and RI licensed professional land surveyor.

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