3 Civil 3D Tools You Can Use to Reduce Surfaces & Speed Up Drawings

In the September 5th Infrastructure Tuesday webinar, Aaron Powell discussed three infrequently used tools and features inside Civil 3D that can reduce the size of your surfaces and, consequently, speed up your drawings.

In the example used during the webinar, Aaron began with a 15.1 MB file comprised of a 1 MB template style and 14 MB topographic surface that was captured via aerial photogrammetry. In the end, he was able to create a file that included all the surface data he needed, yet wouldn’t slow to a crawl when another element, such as an alignment, profile, or surface, is added to the file.

Read on for the three tools Aaron suggests for reducing surfaces and creating more manageable drawings.

Make sure you look into the known Civil 3D performance degradation issue that many users have experienced. Read more about the official fix from Autodesk.

#1: Remove Snapshots

The example surface used by Aaron during the webinar was built by importing an XML file into Civil 3D. Building surfaces this way automatically creates a snapshot. If you open the Surface Properties and look at the Definition tab, you can remove the snapshot and rebuild the surface without it. In many cases, usually with smaller surfaces, removing the snapshot can reduce the file size of the drawing containing your surface.

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#2: Extract Contours

When you select the surface, there is an Extract from Surface menu in the Surface Tools section of the contextual ribbon that appears. From this menu, you can select Extract Objects. Depending on what options you have displayed in your surface (TIN lines, border, points, contours, etc.) you may have many or just a few objects to choose from. Extracting your Major Contours and Minor Contours replaces the contours with individual polylines with z-values. You can then open a new drawing, select one each of the Major and Minor Contours, use the Select Similar function, and copy and paste to original coordinates in the new drawing. Once you create a surface from the polylines and create contours in the surface, your new drawing size will be significantly smaller than the original.

#3: Create a Cropped Surface

Whether you’re getting a jump start on a project or you have surveyors still collecting information that needs to be updated in a surface, you can create a cropped surface that is connected to your original surface allowing your surface to continue to update. If you create a rectangle around the area of your surface that needs to be used and select your surface, you can select Create Cropped Surface from the Extract from Surface menu in the contextual ribbon. In the dialog box that opens, you can select the crop area by choosing a point inside the rectangle you created. Create a New Drawing for your cropped surface with the same template that you are currently using. This will create a drawing with a more manageable drawing size for you to work with.

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How do you work with surfaces to keep your drawing sizes manageable? Leave your tips in the comments below!

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