Creating New Symbols

HighDesign - Sample use of symbols with different sizes, orientation and rendering mode.

One of the most used features in CAD are undoubtedly symbols and blocks: you design a component once and re-use it many times in different projects, saving time and resources. HighDesign includes a default library of pre-made symbols ready to use in your project, but you can easily make your own library of custom symbols tailored to your style and needs.

To create a new symbol, the default command is Project > New Symbol: that will open a new workspace where you can draw your component from scratch. But there are quicker ways to create a symbol. Here’s how.

What if your project already includes a drawing that would be useful as a symbol? A tree like in our example, a piece of furniture, or a MEP component perhaps. There’s no need to draw that again using the New Symbol command: you can just select that part of drawing, open the Project Menu and the use the New Symbol From Selection command, which replaces “New Symbol” when there are selected objects in the project.

The command switches from the current Project workspace to the Edit Symbol workspace: here you can review your drawing, modify, add or delete objects freely without affecting the original drawing in the project.

HighDesign symbols support multiple views, so that you can add variations of the same object or top and side views. The new symbol is always created with the default view.

While you can use layers during the design of the symbol, once the symbol has been saved it is one object that belongs to only one layer. Colors, line-types, fills, transparencies and pen weights will be preserved.

The New Symbol toolbar allows you to enter the name of the symbol, choose its destination folder in your User Library, rename the current view or add more views, and add or edit attributes.

Once everything is set, click Save. The new symbol is added to your User Library and is instantly available in your project.

Note: symbols can be displayed as fixed-scale objects, like graphic symbols, or as scale-dependent objects that adjust their size to the scale of the drawing they are inserted into. Depending on the intended use of the symbol, make sure the drawing scale in the Edit Symbol workspace matches your needs.

You can also launch the command to create a symbol from selection by clicking the “+” button on the Symbol settings panel or by choosing its icon from the radial menu in the Tools group.

The Symbol inspector includes options to control the way a symbol is displayed:

  • Fill by background: all fills contained in the symbols, whether hatches or polygons, will be rendered with the current background color to appear opaque.
  • Use symbol colors: when checked, the symbol will be rendered with its original pen colors instead of the currently selected color for the instance object.
  • As with any other object, you can control color and visibility of strokes and fills by using the main Properties bar on the project window. For example, you can change color and opacity of the fills, or hide them altogether.

Tip: in most cases, it would just make sense to create the symbol right away with its proper colors, hatches and fills. When you design a symbol, remember that by using the above options you will have the added benefit of having multiple views of the same symbol with no extra effort, so there is no need to create monochromatic and color versions of the same object.

In the image below, the same tree symbol is used in the drawing at different sizes, angles and with color options.

The symbol you just created can be used with its original colors or as monochromatic to give different emphasis to the various parts of the drawing.

HighDesign is the full-featured, accessible CAD and architectural design software for Mac and Windows. Learn more.


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