Chances are, by reading the other posts in this series, you’ve become quite proficient with the Make Linetype (MKLTYPE) command; so I won’t spend too much time on that. Instead, I’d like to focus on some of the gotcha’s of creating linetypes with text, and how to overcome them.
So far my “Linetypes the Super Simple Way” series has covered creating a simple dashed linetype and creating shapes for a linetype. In this post I’m going to continue the series by exploring how to create a linetype using the shape we created earlier. Although the actual linetype is still defined within a .lin file; a linetype with a shape or text within its definition is called a ‘complex linetype’. I’ll cover adding text to linetypes in a later post, but for now we’ll remain focused on shapes within linetypes.
Last week I started a discussion about creating Custom Linetypes the Super Simple Way. Today I’m going to continue that discussion by talking about yet another component to creating custom linetypes – shapes. As this post will outline, linetypes cannot contain Blocks, but may contain a lesser known object known as Shapes. AutoCAD Shapes are similar to AutoCAD blocks, however they have several restrictions that are not otherwise present when creating blocks.
My best bit of advice to anyone looking to create a custom shape; think simple. I say that due to the limitations of shape definitions within AutoCAD. These limitations include:
Shapes must be composed of straight line segments; arcs are not supported.
Each line segment must be drawn in one of the 16 supported directions; increments of 22.5 degrees.
A line may be no more than 15 units long. Remember linetypes are multiplied by a scale factor (LTSCALE).
Shapes must be continuous. Think of drawing with a pen without lifting the pen away from the paper.
To summarize; if you can’t draw it with an etch-a-sketch, you probably won’t be able to draw it with an AutoCAD Shape.
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 there’s always that perpetual need for one more 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.