As you create 3D models in AutoCAD, you’ll discover that it can be difficult to visualize the geometry using the default wireframe visual style. Visual Styles were introduced in AutoCAD 2007 and are a powerful replacement for the old “shade modes”. AutoCAD includes five visual styles: 2D Wireframe, 3D Hidden, 3D Wireframe, Conceptual, and Realistic. You can access Visual Styles in the View panel of the Home tab when the 3D modeling workspace is active.
I won’t go into detail about visual styles during this series because you can accomplish most modeling tasks using the default visual styles. I’ll throw in a few quick tips along the way as they apply to what I’m doing but I definitely encourage you to learn more about visual styles. The AutoCAD Help system is a great resource. Here are some brief descriptions of the five predefined visual styles (directly from Help system):
2D Wireframe. Displays the objects using lines and curves to represent the boundaries. Raster and OLE objects, linetypes, and lineweights are visible.
3D Wireframe (upper left in the illustration). Displays the objects using lines and curves to represent the boundaries.
3D Hidden (upper right). Displays the objects using 3D wireframe representation and hides lines representing back faces.
Realistic (lower left). Shades the objects and smooths the edges between polygon faces. Materials that you have attached to the objects are displayed.
Conceptual (lower right). Shades the objects and smooths the edges between polygon faces. Shading uses the Gooch face style, a transition between cool and warm colors rather than dark to light. The effect is less realistic, but it can make the details of the model easier to see.
I often switch between the 2D Wireframe visual style and the Conceptual visual style as I’m creating my model. Viewing the model as a wireframe can be helpful if you want to see geometry that would otherwise be obscured by shaded faces. Viewing the model with shading, like with the Conceptual visual style, can help you better understand the model. For example, if you view the air hockey paddle in wireframe mode, you can’t tell if the cone is an extra object that overlaps the cylinders or if it has been removed from the cylinder. Changing to the Conceptual visual style, it becomes clear that the cone has been subtracted.
- Use visual styles to help you visualize the model as you create it.