When you’re just getting started with 3D CAD, sometimes, knowing what to learn first can feel a little overwhelming. But really, there are only 9 commands you need to get started with 3D CAD straight away. If you are familiar with 2D CAD, you might even know some of them already!

For this 3D CAD essentials guide, it’s important to already have a good understanding of selection methods and the BricsCAD Shape User interface.

1 Extrude

extrude 2d to 3d object

Start simple and start easy. If you draw out a 2D entity (object), such as a spline or polyline, the next thing you’ll want to do is make it 3D. That’s where Extrude comes in!

Begin by selecting your entity or region and launch the Extrude command. Then, drag the mouse and click or manually type in the distance.

2 Mirror

mirror in 3D

9 times out of 10, when you’re modeling in CAD there is going to be some symmetry in your designs. Don’t waste time modeling it again, just Mirror it!

Begin by selecting the entity/entities and then launching the Mirror command. Then, use the mouse to draw the mirror line in the workspace.

3 Copycopy 3D entity

If you’ve already created an object and you like the way it looks, you can simply Copy it. Type “Copy” into the Command Line.

When you launch Copy, the Command line will ask you for a “base point” and “second point”. Think about it like this: the base point is the starting point and the second point is where you want the first point to move to.

You can see a preview of each point when you hover the cursor (it’s the small red square). These are snap markers.

The usual Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V button short cuts also work just fine, although behave slightly differently under the hood. For example, you can use these shortcuts to copy entities between drawings.

4 Rotate

rotate 3D entity

Now you’ve moved that object, you might want to Rotate it.

Select the entity/entities you want to rotate and launch the Rotate command. Move the cursor around a bit and a curved, yellow arrow will appear to illustrate the rotation direction. The blue line indicates the rotational axis.

Move the cursor around some more and you will see that it snaps to entities within the drawing (eg. a solid edge).

Once you have chosen your rotation axis and direction click the mouse, release, drag the cursor to the required angle and click again. Alternatively, type the angle in manually and hit Enter.

5 Move

copy an entity in 3D CAD
Here the X-ray visual style allows you to, more clearly see where the object will finish up.

No list of essential CAD commands would be complete without the Move command! It’s handy to be able to move an object into position without redrawing it!

Simply launch the Move command. It works exactly like the Copy command, but does not duplicate the object!

When you launch Move, the command line will ask you for a “base point” and “second point”. Think about it like this: the base point is the starting point and the second point is where you want the first point to move to.

Hint: sometimes it’s easier to see where your object is going if you change the visual style to X-ray.

6 Connect to Nearest

extend the length on an entity

If your entity isn’t quite the right size, you don’t need to redraw it. Use the Connect to Nearest command to make your entities connect perfectly with the nearest entity/entities.

First, select the face, then launch the Connect to Nearest Command. BricsCAD will automatically calculate the rest.

It even works at angles and multiple faces!

7 PushPull

change the side of your entity in 3D CAD

Another way to resize and reshape an entity is to use the PushPull (DmPushPull) command. Simply select the face(s) you wish to move and launch the PushPull command. Then, drag the mouse to the required position and click. Alternatively, type the distance in manually and hit Enter, to complete the command. Simple!

8 Array

array command in 3D

If you enjoy the Copy command, then you’ll love the Array command. It allows you to copy a repeated set of objects in a set pattern; a rectangular grid (rectangle), circular pattern (polar) or along a path (path).

To begin, select the entity/entities to array and then launch the Array command. Choose the array type and follow the instruction on the Command line. The best way to learn is to experiment with the options and see how it works for yourself.

This command is so diverse that I couldn’t cover all the information here. You can learn all about creating and editing arrays in My Journey.

9 Subtract

subtract in 3D

The idea behind Subtract is very simple: if 2 entities occupy the same space in BricsCAD you can use one entity as a template to remove material from the other.

Begin by launching the Subtract command. Select the entity that you wish to subtract the material from. Then, select the entity that intersects the first entity and voilà! It’s that simple. You can also use Subtract on multiple entities at the same time.

Did You Know?

The BricsCAD Manipulator allows you to mirror, move, rotate, copy, scale and manipulate the faces of entities, all in one handy tool? To launch it, hover over an entity and hold the left mouse button slightly longer than normal. Now you have everything you need, all at the click of a mouse!

Interested in learning more about 3D CAD?

Check out My BricsCAD Shape Journey where I guide you through BricsCAD Shape step by step, or jump straight in with the Lazy Man’s Guide to BricsCAD Shape.

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