Combining Blocks Using Visibility States Within AutoCAD Dynamic Blocks

November 6, 2019 Kevin Breslin

Matt Miyamoto | ISD Project Manager

Are you working in an AutoCAD-based drawing that has a large number of similar blocks?  Have you ever spent too much time sorting through a long list of block definitions in your drawing or block library?  If the answer is Yes, combining blocks to create a Dynamic block with Visibility States is a way to save time and help manage content in your drawing.

By using Visibility States and leveraging the Visibility Parameter in the Block Editor, you can combine multiple block definitions into a single Dynamic Block that includes a drop down list to “switch” between multiple view options for a block.  A good example of this is the Door – Imperial dynamic block that comes with the out of box installation of AutoCAD.  Instead of having five separate blocks, a single dynamic block definition contains five different views of the same door to display it Closed, or Open at 90, 60, 45, and 30-degree angles. 

In order to create a block like this, we’ll need to start out with multiple versions of the same object or type of object.  In this case, we’ll use some street signs.  Each sign is drawn as a standard AutoCAD object using Polylines and text.  In addition to the signs themselves, we’ll also designate the geometric center of each object as the common insertion point for the block.

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Now that we have the content created in the file, we can use it to define the block.

  • Define the Block and provide a Name (i.e. “Street Signs”)
  • Select all objects and select the Open in Block Editor option
  • Designate the Geometric Center of one of the signs as the Insertion Point for the block (this will be the common insertion point for all signs in the final block definition).
  • In the Block Editor, assign the Visibility Parameter (use the object that was selected for the Insertion Point to start). Click a spot relative to the object where you want the List icon to appear in the dynamic block

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  • Use the Visibility Panel to Create Visibility States for each Object

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  • In the Block Editor, use the Visibility tools to apply visible/invisible parameters to each object while the corresponding Visibility State is current (i.e. STOP should be Visible and the objects invisible when the STOP Visibility State is current).
  • Move each object into position so their Geometric Center points align. This will place the objects so the block appears to remain in the same spot when the different list options are selected.

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  • Test the Block to confirm the Visibility options and corresponding Visibility States.
  • If the block is working as expected, Close the Block Editor and return to the drawing. Be sure to save the changes upon exit.

A new dynamic block definition now exists in the drawing and contains multiple object views, reducing the number of blocks in our library, and allowing us to quickly insert and switch between object blocks as needed in our file.  The same process can be leveraged for many different scenarios where similar objects or multiple versions of the same object need to be used repetitively in your AutoCAD files.

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