For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you know that this past Spring semester, I took a class on architectural drafting. And this was drafting by hand. While it was certainly satisfying seeing the final product, these drawings took hours upon hours to complete.
It’s no wonder that these days, architects, interior designers, engineers, and others in the field now rely on computer programs to draft their floor plans, mechanical/electrical plans, elevations, etc.
There are many different programs out there (in fact my interior design program offers classes on three different softwares), but the program that seems to be the most popular (for 2-D drawing, at least) is AutoCAD. In fact, even when I was searching for internships, about half of the listings wanted proficiency in AutoCAD.
Luckily, Cañada College decided to offer an accelerated AutoCAD course during the summer session, and I jumped on the opportunity to add this to my skill set as soon as possible.
What is AutoCAD?
As the CAD in the name suggests, AutoCAD is a computer-aided design and drafting software. It is used by many different professionals to generate blueprints, floor plans, elevations and other drawings.
And though it may be obvious, here are a few advantages of doing computer drafting over hand drafting:
- Working with a design team is easier, since drawings can easily be shared digitally.
- You can draw fixtures, furniture, appliances, etc. only one time and re-use them for other drawings.
- You can use items drawn by other designers, easily pulling them into your own drawings.
- You can have a library of items and templates for re-use.
The great thing is: Autodesk, the distributors of AutoCAD, offer free licenses of the software to students and educators.
Thoughts so far
I’m only a week into my course, but as the title of my post suggests, I’m loving AutoCAD. I find it really easy and intuitive to use. And you can draw things so much more quickly than hand drafting. Make a mistake? Just hit undo or delete.
AutoCAD has keyboard shortcuts for all of the commands, which make the work even faster. And even if you’re working on a laptop, it’s good to use a mouse with a wheel, as that provides a lot of capabilities to easily navigate around your drawing (e.g. zoom and pan).
The class itself has been a little slow, since they have to accommodate students who may not be as computer-savvy. But yesterday, we spent the afternoon working on a few exercises and projects at our own pace, and that is when I really got into a good flow. It’s just amazing how quickly you can generate drawings after learning just a few basic commands.
For example, creating these outside walls for a hotel suite took my probably 10-15 minutes:
Drawing the same thing by hand would have probably taken me 2-3 times as long.
A few other drawings I completed:
In many interior design firms, it seems like the design assistants or junior designers do a lot of the drafting, so if I go that route, it’s definitely something I’ll do a lot of, in the beginning. In fact, some large design firm have dedicated drafters.
It’s also something you can do on a freelance basis, as some independent interior designers will outsource their drafting work.
We’ll see what the rest of the course has in store, but if this first week is any indication, working in AutoCAD is definitely something I’ll enjoy and could even become something I decide to specialize in.