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Monday, August 24, 2015

AutoCAD Tip of the Day – Hatch Boundary Selection Optimization

How many times have you almost lost your religion over hatching?  In today’s AutoCAD Tips, we are going to addresses a few of the problems associated with selecting a hatch boundary.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.  You are working towards a deadline, you are almost finished, and all you need to do is hatch one last area and then plot.  You select a point inside the boundary and wait.  And wait, and wait.  You start sweating as you think “when was the last time I saved?”  You start praying, “Please don’t freeze up!”  After what seems like an eternity, if you are luck, the boundary finally selects and disaster if avoided. This time…

Cause 1: When you select a point AutoCAD starts analyzing the objects around it to create the hatch boundary.  Having an X-ref on the screen significantly slows down the selection process and may even lead to AutoCAD freezing up.
Solution 1: Temporarily unload the X-ref (or zoom to the point where it’s not visible on the screen) and re-pick your point.  If necessary, draw a pline around the area you need on the X-ref if it’s required to complete the boundary before unloading.

Cause 2: There may be several blocks it’s trying to analyze that are part of an X-ref.
Solution 2: Turn the layer containing the blocks off before picking the point for the hatch boundary.  As a general rule of thumb, the more objects you can turn off that you do not want in the hatch boundary, the better.

Cause 3: The boundary is not closed.
Solution 3: You can set your Gap Tolerance through the system variable HPGAPTOL to a distance that is big enough to close in the gaps, but this sometime yields inconsistent result and make boundary selection even more troublesome in some cases.  The best solution is to make sure boundary is completely closed and then select the hatch boundary.

Cause 4: Not all items you’ve selected for the hatch boundary are on the same plane.  Something has a different “Z” value (it’s in 3D space).  But you may be saying, “I don’t draw in 3D”.  Trust me; this has a habit of happening sometimes.
Solution 4: Make sure all the items in the hatch boundary have the same “Z” value.

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Mike Williams

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39 Responses to “AutoCAD Tip of the Day – Hatch Boundary Selection Optimization”
  1. suvin says:

    sometimes when i plot the drawing the complete drawing is not seen on the preview even though every thing is selected..plz help me

  2. Joe says:

    Thanks for the tip, it was very helpfull.

  3. Sam says:

    Hi thanks for the tips, very helpful. I have been having a struggle with x-ref based drawings and maintaining consistency, and wondered if you have any information on how to check cad drawings?

  4. Hey Suvin,
    could you give me a little more information about your problem? Did you make sure you didn’t have some items on a layer that is set to “no plot”?

  5. Sam,
    Using XREFs will help with maintaining consistency. Without XREF, you have to make sure you update all drawings individually when a change is made.

  6. cesar says:

    How do you hatch a single line object? I need to hatch tons of lines (hvac single line dwg.)
    Is there any way to hatch them without converting to polylines, offset, etc.
    Thank you !

  7. Cesar,
    By any chance are you using Architectural Desktop (AutoCAD Architecture)? If so, you can make a wall style that only shows the hatch and not the bounding lines. Another option would be to create a dynamic block that hatches and area that’s on a noplot layer. Let me know if either of those works for you.

  8. Emanuel says:

    Hey, I’m sort of new at AutoCad and I was just wondering what Hatch and Xref have in common
    thanks ,Emanuel

  9. NCA says:

    It’s been a long time since these types of problems occurs to me and fortunately I solved it by myself. I think this kind of forum is very helpful to all AutoCAD users from beginners to experts. Thanks to the author for making this forum.

  10. NCA,
    Thank you so much for the encouragement. I really appreciate it.

  11. Emanuel,
    The thing XREF and HATCH have in common for this tip is the fact that when you try to hatch an area and you have an XREF visible on the screen, it can take a long time to find the boundary and, in my experience, is also a major cause of AutoCAD locking up.

  12. john says:

    i am very new at auto cad will you plse explain what xref is. all the tips i have seen have been greatly insightful

  13. Jose Pezo says:

    I would like to know how to fix a problem we encountered when hatching with “concrete”. After we select a boundary the hatch appears like straight line confetti instead of showing it as little triangles and dots. What can I do to solve this problem?
    Thanks in advance.

  14. KM Zachariah says:

    I had edited the file acad.pat and inclued some new patterns which were available from the internet. However, these newly added patterns are not displayed in the pull down submenu of the BHATCH command.

    How can I ensure the display and use of newly added patterns?
    Is it sufficient to include the new patterns in acad.pat alone? What would be the effect if I included the changes in the acadiso.pat file? Can I retain the new patterns in an entirely independent file with extension “.pat”?

  15. This usually has to do with how far that hatch is away from your hatch origin. If you are on an old version of AutoCAD, you may have to type SNAPBASE, pick somewhere near your hatch area and re-hatch. If you are on a newer version, select your hatch, right-click and select “set origin” and pick a point on or by your hatch. Let me know if that works.

  16. Check and see if they are showing up under the “Custom” tab in the hatch patter palette.

  17. Natalie says:

    Why using the “pick points” method? Always, always, always use the “select objects” method to create hatches. Create yourself a “hatch-boundary” layer, set it not to plot, take 2 seconds to draw a polyline for your boundary, and use the “Add: Select objects” to select your boundary for your hatch. No freezing. No sweating. Problem solved.

  18. That’s a good option if the are you are hatching is fairly simple. But many times the areas get so large and complex that drawing a pline would take much much longer than picking a point in the center. That’s assuming it can find a boundary of course.

  19. Natalie says:

    You can always use the ncopy command to copy a bunch of lines from your xref or block so you don’t have to actually draw the pline entirely. I just think that selecting the “pick a point” method is madness, especially if your drawing is so complicated that it’s difficult to draw a polyline for our boundary!

    I work on fairly big urban design schemes with loads of hatching, and quite often solid hatch, and the CAD technicians who use the “pick a point” method usually don’t use it twice! I’ve seen computers crashing for half an hour, whereas it only take a few seconds, or up to a minute if a very complicated boundary, to draw your boundary. The advantage of this is you can then alter your boundary very easily and without causing further freezing, which is super important when you are being asked to change a boundary 10 minutes before a meeting and you know the drawing takes 5 minutes to print so you have no time to mess about!

  20. Natalie,
    Thanks so much for the in-depth explanation. I see that I need to revisit my methods

  21. Mark says:

    I agree with Natalie’s methods. I swore off the pick point method a long time ago, mainly because hatches created with the pick boundary method seem to hold their associativity better for future revisions as Natalie said. I am also impressed that you (Mike Williams) are willing to re-think your methods. I’m known as the AutoCAD answer guy in my office, but I’m occaisonally ‘schooled’ on better ways to do things too! Keep up the good work and open mind! Thanks.

  22. Amber says:

    I was literally trying to hatch my project for a midterm deadline and having this exact problem! I wish you’re post had shown up about 12 hours earlier. :) Luckily, it was a nonjuried midterm and I’ll know now how to hatch quicker for finals!

    What is the easiest method for creating boundries in a drawing?


  23. Rick says:

    At work i deal with a lot of blocks. The person who draws the blocks sometimes has an open in them and on occasion its been hard to find with out exploding it. On simple shapes such as rectangles, squares, or circles i will duplicate the shape over the existing one, hatch it, then delete mine off the original.

  24. Excel says:

    nice tip. but even with the above info, you will definitely loose your religion trying to do hatches and boundaries most of the time with curves. ending up trying to join each individual curves in your drawing to produce closed curves just for hatching isn’t funny anymore – that autodesk has resolved by now rather than just changing screen icons, file formats and others (layer filter, scale list, etc) from one release to another by the next release.

  25. Marola says:

    I have a question not about hatch, but related to the cause and solution 4. Many times I work with drawings from different people and when I discover the 3D-mess I get crazy. Is there a way to make objects with different Z value have zero Z value at once? Thanks for your tips and answers.

  26. If you have express tools installed, you can use the command FLATTEN to get rid of the 3Dness of the object.

  27. Marola says:

    Thanks for your answer Mike. I didn’t know about that command. When I want to convert 3D geometry to 2D geometry, I use to use the command “FLATSHOT” (the difference is that with this command a block with the 2D lines is inserted).
    My question and my big problem is when the drawing has only 2D objects with different Z value (or different Z value in the same object). I know a solution that is plotting a DXB file, but I don’t like it at all, because there is a degradation of drawing precision, yes I know it’s insignificant, but if I draw a line with a value of 200, I think that 199,954664 is not a valid value (although the difference is insignificant). I think accuracy is very important. With this method you also lose a lot of information (layers, blocks…). After many years I haven’t been able to find a good solution…
    Thanks for your answer Mike

  28. Marola says:

    I’ve been trying the command flatten and at first I thougth it didn’t work with 2D object, but that’s because I used it in an isometric view, and it’s extrange how it works in this view (I saw it with the orbit). Then I tried it in a plan view, and it’s better, of course, but I think is not a good command because it degradates the precision.

  29. Rudy says:

    Good Tip: This ‘HAS’ happened to me on more than one occasion and you ‘CAN’ develop somewhat of a sweat…but never to the point of losing religion. That wouldn’t be too wise.

    By the way, how can upload my photo?

  30. Rudy says:

    I meant to say how can ‘I’ upload my photo?

  31. haha. You are correct. that wouldn’t be very wise. If you create an account on the site, you should be able to upload a photo under you user profile.

  32. randomnewb says:

    the command “bpoly” works wonders. works similar to hatching, and im sure it uses the same mechanics as the hatch pick a point method. this aside, it works nicly to create “boundary” Plines to contain your hatching.

  33. You are correct. Bpoly is a great way to generate a boundary in Autocad without using the hatch command.

  34. Freddy says:

    Thanks mike ur tips are really helpful.

  35. praful says:

    how to creat linetype.

  36. praful says:

    how to creat linetype.

  37. Keith says:

    One shouldn’t have to go through the troubles to get a simple hatch to work.

  38. Mark says:

    Great suggestions, xrefs do create problems. Zooming in to eliminate as many of the xrefs as possible helps. Using bpoly for bounding polylines sometimes helps create an object to hatch to. As noted above, much better to hatch object than picking a point.

  39. saianandan says:

    very good tips and helpful

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