Linetypes play an integral role in visually separating certain elements of our designs. Most of the time one of the 40+ linetypes that come with AutoCAD will suffice, but what do you do when you need a custom linetype? While its true linetypes must be developed, the good news is that it’s not as difficult as it sounds.
In their most basic form, an AutoCAD linetype is really nothing more than a .txt file with a .lin extension. It’s completely possible to create linetypes using nothing more than your bare hands and Notepad (the digital variety that comes with MS Windows). For those who prefer a more graphical approach, check out the Make Linetype (MKLTYPE) tool found on the Express Tools Ribbon tab > expanded Tools panel. If you know how to draw and trim lines in AutoCAD you can also create custom linetypes.
Let’s say you want to create a custom linetype to represent the stripes that will be painted on a road you’re designing. Using the scale of 1” = 50’ you want the stripe to be 10’ long, and the gap between the dashes to be 5’.
- Calculate necessary dash length
Similar to how you might calculate text heights; 10’ (dash length) / 50’ (drawing scale) = 0.2, and 5’ (gap length) / 50’ (drawing scale) = 0.1. Assuming LTSCALE, MSLTSCALE, and PSLTSCALE are each set to 1 a linetype dash of 0.2 units will draw to a length of 10’ inside your drawing.
- Draw a line to represent linetype
The overall linetype definition will be 0.3 units long; 0.2 unit dash + 0.1 unit gap (spacing). Notice the vertical line 0.1 units away from the end of the horizontal line that’s 0.2 units long. You’ll use this lines endpoint to define the overall length of the linetype definition.
- Define the linetype
- On the Ribbon select the Make Linetype tool found on the Express Tools tab > expanded Tools panel.
- Specify a name for your .lin file from the MKLTYPE – Select Linetype File. This is different from the name AutoCAD will identify the linetype within the software. Since you can store multiple linetypes inside a single .lin file, you could also select a pre-existing .lin file from this dialog as well.
- Enter a unique name for your linetype. This is the name AutoCAD will use to reference the linetype within the software.
- Give your linetype a useful description.
- Use the Endpoint Osnap to pick the starting point for the line definition.
- Use the Endpoint Osnap to pick the ending point for the line definition. This will be the upper endpoint of the vertical line shown in the example.
- Select the object to include in your linetype. While this linetype is composed of just one segment, you can select multiple segments to be included in your linetype definition.
- The command line confirms the creation of your custom linetype definition.
Your custom linetype definition is automatically loaded into the current drawing. To use this linetype in other drawings, use Design Center to load it from the drawing you created the definition in, or use the LINETYPE command to load it from the .lin file you created. Stay tuned as we explore creating complex linetypes with text and symbols.