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TurboCAD Layers & Dimensions - Help Please

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Nigel Graham 216/10/2020 20:56:54
1663 forum posts
20 photos

Having made some progress with TurboCAD Deluxe 19, even to the extent of very tentative 3D drawings (pretty but of no practical value in the workshop) I would like to use some of its main features properly.


In particular:

Layers - I am not certain of their real purpose, but they seem to allow pre-setting line properties. I cannot see how though, and the on-line "Help" manual does not instruct you.

I fill in the layer-formatting table, typically creating three Layers - outline, centre-lines and dimensions, but the last might not work as a layer anyway. There is though, no [Save] or [Enter] button; and even when the tool-bar shows my entries have been saved, they do not work.

So how do I use the wretched things so they work?


Dimensions - somewhat akin to the Layers problem.

IF it is possible to pre-set the dimension properties (line characteristics, arrow size, label font and size, decimal places, etc.); how?

(These are not Layer properties.)


I have to draw everything on the default Layer 0, then edit them afterwards. Whilst it's possible to select several drawing objects at once for editing, this is less reliable and certainly very laborious for editing dimensions, and altering a dimension re-sets its appearance to the defaults.


I do have two generic CAD primers, but whilst they suggest things that Layers can do, they are obviously not necessarily applicable to every CAD "make".

D.A.G. Brown's CAD For Model Engineers barely mentions Layers but hints they are for repeating parts of drawings. His example is the axle-boxes on a 6-wheel tender - draw one axle-box on its own layer and copy it.

Neill Hughes' CAD For The Workshop is more forthcoming, and he develops that sub-assembly theme to separating whole fields of a complex drawing, such as a layer each for the engine, electrics, etc. of a car. He also shows a sample of an equivalent layer-properties table, probably that of the particular CAD programme he uses.

- Neither book though, helps me use TurboCAD's Layer feature for either line-setting or separating / repeating areas of drawings.

And yes, I have asked on the TC Users' Forum but seemed unable to put over that I want to know how to operate the tools.


Incidentally I noticed Neill Hughes devotes a few pages to summarising the basic machining processes. I think it safe to say most model-engineers can skip that section. However, it struck me that if you don't already have at least some, fairly broad practical workshop experience, you are wasting your time learning CAD because you will never be able to design things, only draw pretty pictures of them. In a professional setting you'd be regarded sarcastically by the machinists as a "college-boy engineer" - your calculations and specs. might be spot-on but your drawn details be virtually impossible to make. Yes, I have seen examples..

Mike Woods 116/10/2020 21:55:13
40 forum posts
1 photos

Regarding layers. This one puzzled me when I first started exploring TurboCAD. To enable this once you have set up your layers table, all you have to do is select your drawing tool (line, arc, circle....whatever), then change its properties (colour, line style, thickness etc) using the drop downs in the tool ribbon just above the drawing space. For example, the default setting is black, using the dropdown opens a menu showing a grid with lots of pretty colours. Towards the end of that grid, you will see some hieroglyphs. There is one that looks like a stack of paper. That is the layers button. Press that and your line will automatically pick up the colour of the layer you are drawing in. Similarly for the line style and thickness drop downs.

You will need to do this for each drawing tool on first use, but once set they will use the layer properties.

If you subsequently change the properties in the layer table, all lines previously drawn with that tool will change accordingly.

Hopefully I haven't mangled the English language too much in trying to explain this simple, but apparently undocumented feature. I've been using TurboCAD V20 Pro, sporadically, or several years and am still finding undiscovered features and different ways of doing things. Good luck in your endeavours.

Edited By Mike Woods 1 on 16/10/2020 21:57:00

Edited By Mike Woods 1 on 16/10/2020 21:57:55

IanT16/10/2020 22:40:40
1882 forum posts
182 photos

Hello Nigel,

I've used versions of TC Deluxe for many years and certainly use 'layers' for drawing anything complicated. However, I will state right up-front that I was pretty much self-taught in that all the TC references/books I have, simply describe how particular commands function in isolation (like a dictionary) not really how they are used in combination (an instruction manual) to produce good drawings.

I'm also currently learning Sold Edge 2020 and what is becoming very apparent is that the CAD tool dictates to a large extent how you have to approach a design. SE is very different to TC in so many ways, that I've had to re-learn how to 'build' the drawing - and it's not just the 2D/3D aspects either. I've only used TC for 2D drawing - tried 3D but gave up on it - so I cannot help you there (suggest Paul the CAD YouTubes for that) .

So, having said all that, with TC I tend to create layers for different types of objects, as well as ones for drawing aids and dimensions. Each layer has it's own colour and name. I don't worry about line widths or any such at this stage. I usually leave layer '0' blank and first create my base lines and reference points. There are special functions for this but using a 'reference' layer means I can work with them using the standard layer commands. I always use 'red' for this layer - it helps to standardise in these things. My 'dimension' layer is always 'blue' for instance.

I think you will have to experiment from this point to see what best suits you but I tend to draw my base reference lines and points, then sketch in major components (each with its own layer). Now this is where I find layers are very useful, because you can make visible/invisible parts by layer - which is very helpful when trying to snap on some parts (but not others) and also helps to focus just on those part areas needed for a new construct.

Sometimes you will need to be able to 'see' multiple layers but want to only work/change one of them - and this is where the 'lock' command is useful, just lock what you don't want to change and don't lock the part you need to alter. As you build parts in this way - you can also change/modify/simplify your reference lines/points. For instance, to get circle centres on the same level, I might draw intersecting reference lines but once those 'circles' are drawn, I can use the 'C' (circle) snap instead, so can delete those construction lines to prevent the reference layer becoming too busy.

You can also move and merge drawn objects between layers by selecting them and changing their layer (using top line drop downs) - and there are many uses for this. For instance, in the model view, I usually have one very large 'model' space but keep various major parts of the drawing in different areas. So you can then have new layers for (for instance) sub-assemblies and then select and merge parts into that new layer and move them to another area. As long as you are careful to do this only to finished parts (TC is not parametric) it works well. If you switch layer 'sets' on/off and use the zoom-in control, it will immediately take you to the layer set (and model area) currently visible.

Line thicknesses (and such) don't really matter too much in the way I do things until you start setting up paper views into your model space. Again, layers are very useful in setting up which parts of the drawing appear in the paper space. By the way, Layer '0' has slightly different properties from the other layers and I tend to use it as a 'scratch pad' - moving objects in and out as required.

Not sure this has been a great explanation of layers but it's going to be very much a mix of learning how to create and manipulate layers - and then discovering ways to use them to assist your drawing style. If you confine yourself to drawing just using one or two layers, you will deny yourself a really very useful feature of TC.

The only other thing I can very strongly advise, is to learn the basic keyboard commands for snaps - it's much easier and faster than using mouse commands.

Hope this has helped at least a little! TC is a very good product but like anything worthwhile, it needs time and practice to get the most from it. Learning to use layers actively will be a big step forward for you.



IanT16/10/2020 23:22:24
1882 forum posts
182 photos

Have a look at this YouTube Nigel - its for TC DL17 but covers the basics of layers.

Paul the CAD - Layers

Paul the CAD has some very good 'Get-You-Going' YouTubes on TurboCAD but he does cover different versions. Most of it still applies but there are sometimes small changes between versions - so just be aware of what he's using.



HOWARDT17/10/2020 08:01:05
776 forum posts
28 photos

In days long gone I used AutoCad, this used layers and probably still does. Layers were a way of differentiating line types so that the printer could use different pens, yes in days gone by we used ink pens in paper printers. This allowed you to use different colours and pen nib diameters, but also line types in any combination. This gave the ability on screen to hide say hidden detail to simplify the view. Layers were always set in a default drawing which was reused each time for a new part so all creations were the same.

John Paton 117/10/2020 09:06:05
303 forum posts
17 photos

Ian T - well done you and nicely explained. I gave up trying to teach myself AutoCaD and spent two years of evening classes at the local college. Learned a huge amount and really enjoyed it. We spent hours working slowly through the basics and this was a vital discipline for me as I usually try to run before I can crawl and learn very bad habits as a result.

As a building surveyor often designing components as well as larger building works projects this was invaluable and such a smug feeling when sending your design to a fabricator who says 'yes I can Cnc machine that straight from your design' (laser cut stainless sheet,laser cut holes, folded to shape and joints machine welded. Very economic price for a run of 10 and unbelievable finished quality and accuracy.)

My primary learning was to totally change my survey methodology from that I had been trained to use, now needing to work with coordinates rather than vectors.

After that get to grips with model space and paper space ( not so intuitive but vital for setting scales and getting print out to scale)

Then the use of layers much as you describe but in architecture so useful for assemblies of components from different designs and suppliers.

I try to minimise the number of layers where I can as they can rapidly get out of control.

As you say the first layer is for setting out and so called 'construction lines' using colours so they can be identified for having that function. So useful for setting snap points such as the meeting points of adjoining curves with direct relevance for Cnc milling/routing

One layer for importing sub assemblies is good and certainly different layers for separate assemblies or machining operations would make sense.

I am just about to move away from AutoCaD (cost now I am retired) and start 3D modelling and machining using budget software. If there was a local college course I would use it, but that cupboard is bare so hope I can find some fellow enthusiasts locally so we can help each other.

I find a big aspect of the learning is how each individual persons mind works - cad probably suits a 'mathematical / black and white'mindset better than an artistic one and I should love to see how work produced on computer animation type models migrates to 3D printed objects.

Reworking scanned objects through rastered model forms and 'brushwork' modifications using say a tablet or touchscreen looks fun but may be alien to the engineers desire for micron accuracy.

All fascinating stuff and as is usual I am sure we have members who can help guide through all of this! There are talented stars on this forum, as well as highly trained and experienced individuals.

IanT17/10/2020 10:15:45
1882 forum posts
182 photos

Thank you John - it's a difficult thing to explain easily, a bit like "this is how I draw things..." but with no pictures

As I said in my earlier post, moving to 3D CAD really seems to need a shift in thinking and I did struggle at first. I've tried several systems but have now settled on Solid Edge 2020 (Community Edition) which is free, fully featured and (key for me) NOT cloud based. I think it is a great choice, provided you don't need an integrated CAM package (which Fusion 360 has).

I found the self-paced training very helpful as I could work through it at my on pace (i.e. slowly). The exercises use a browser window to show how to build the various models but the student actually uses Solid Edge itself to do the work. They are very well designed and really good to get you going.

Solid Edge - Recommended Learning Paths

There is also an increasing amount of material on YouTube but (as is often the case) of varying quality. I found this Academic recently who has some very good training videos, where he describes what he's doing and doesn't go too fast - he's not too rushed.

Solid Edge Tutorials - Mohamed Sief

Hope this helps with your ventures into 3D CAD.



Tomfilery17/10/2020 12:01:23
131 forum posts
4 photos


Re Dimensions in TC.

Select the dimensions button and draw one on your drawing (don't worry about it's style for the moment).

Once done, click on the "selector" button.

Click on the dimension to select it.

Click on the "properties" button (looks like a list, on a page) and this will give you access to changing the settings for the dimensions (including fonts, arrow sizes, etc).

Once you are done and exit "properties" your dimension will have the new properties, however, this will NOT become the new default. I assume there is a way of including this a default, by creating a new template which includes the setting, however, I've never successfully done this, except by adding a dimensioned line to the template, so that whenever you open a new drawing, you have one pre-formatted dimension to copy subsequently.

So, what I do is (having formatted one dimension), I draw in all the others I require, using the existing default dimension properties (i.e. NOT the ones you really want). Next click on the "format painter" (paintbrush button) and click on the dimension which does contain the formatting you want - this sets the format you will now "paint" onto the other dimensions. Now click on each dimension you want to modify, in turn, and your new format is painted onto them.

I know it sounds a faff, but it is a lot quicker to do, than to write up. I normally don't dimension the model space, instead, copy the component to a paper space and dimension it there. Helps minimise the clutter.

Similarly, re layers, draw something, select it and THEN tell the object which layer you want it to be. Once you have a number of layers in the drawing, you have to be carefull that you ensure the correct one is set, when drawing new lines - though you can easily change the properties afterwards, if you get it wrong. I have loco drawings where chassis, boiler, frames, etc. are all on different layers, so that I can readily work on parts without the other bits cluttering the work area.

Hope this helps.

Regards Tom

IanT17/10/2020 12:21:40
1882 forum posts
182 photos

Just noticed my link to the Solid Edge Learning paths doesn't seem to work. I'll try again

Solid Edge - Recommended Learning Paths



Gary Wooding17/10/2020 12:36:52
866 forum posts
225 photos

To pre-set a dimension property just select the dimension tool whose properties you want to set, then right-click and choose Properties. Don't draw a dimension at that time. You can then choose the property you want to set, eg. Pen to set line type/width/colour, Format to set text size and font, arrow size and colour. Etc. After you press OK, that particular dimension type will have those properties until you change them.

For Layers, bring up the Layer window which lists all the layers you have created, then choose the properties you want each layer to have. When you create a layer, just set the properties you want it to have.

When you want to draw something, eg. a line, select the line tool than choose the layer name in the little window near the top of the screen (if you haven't chosen a layer before then it will be 0 (layer 0)). You can choose the colour, line style, or set them to 'by layer' which will pick up the settings for the layer you've chosen.

Nigel Graham 221/10/2020 23:07:08
1663 forum posts
20 photos

Thank you all, for your help.

Tomfilery - I know the various formatting menus but had not discovered "Format Painter".

Gary - I'll try that dimension-formatting as you describe. I'd found how to create the Layers but seem unable to make them work.

I found I can't achieve consistent behaviour - or misbehaviour - of layers.

I managed to make them work to some extent but while my selected colour might happen in one layer, in another it obstinately stays black. That's even if the "By Layer" label is displayed everywhere - and it crops up in all sorts of places such as the dimension-formatting menus, and on the colour chart but not the colour selector on the tool-bar.

Clive Foster21/10/2020 23:29:57
2814 forum posts
101 photos


I suspect you need a flow chart of how the layer behaviours work and what the correct order of operations is to get specific behaviour.

Things like line colours having all layers and just this layer variants of the command are something you'd expect in a CAD program making sophisticated use of layers.

The difference will be defined by the order of operations and where in your setting up process you make the command. TurboCAD and I didn't get on and parted a goodly while ago but it seems to have very robust protection against single layer changes propagating back to the default level. But not so good at stopping single layer effects from bleeding into another single layer. Sounds like the way you work is trying to exploit a layer to layer bleeding effect rather than doing things the proper way.

A flow chart should help you sort out where the demarkations between default, all layers, just this layer and don't do it in this order because it doesn't actually do what it appears to do.

But personally i've always felt that TurboCAD has an intrinsic tendency to be too clever for its own interface making some things stupidly difficult until you have the Road to Damascus moment. First time through the paper and print size setting thing reduced me to incoherent fury!


Gary Wooding22/10/2020 10:02:58
866 forum posts
225 photos

If you select one or more dimensions that you have already drawn and then right-click and choose properties, the properties you choose will be applied to those particular dimension, but no others. They will not affect any new dimensions you draw. On the other hand, if you choose a particular dimension tool and right-click and choose properties before actually drawing a dimension, the properties you choose will be applied to all new dimensions you draw with that particular tool.

Properties of layers work in a slightly hidden manner. If you set a layer property to red and dashed line, say, and then choose the line tool and select a particular layer, the layer properties will only take effect if the required properties of the line tool are set to By layer. Just to confuse the issue, sometimes it's denoted as the words By Layer, and sometimes it's denoted by a little symbol that looks a little bit like 3 little sheets of paper one above the other. If you change the properties of a layer, the changes will affect everything that has been drawn with the properties of that layer.

For example. I've set up a layer called Dims, with a colour of blue. I've set all my dimension tools (diameter, angle, orthogonal) etc. to have line style and colour to be by layer. Then, when I want to insert a dimension, I select the Dims layer, choose the appropriate dimension tool, draw the required dimension and it comes out blue. If I change my mind later, and want all my dimensions to be red, then I just change the colour of the dims layer and all existing and new dimensions will become red.

I should mention that I'm using Tcad Pro Plat V21, but I don't think that that makes any difference.

Nigel Graham 210/05/2021 14:51:05
1663 forum posts
20 photos

Thank you!

I have found how to set Layers for different line-formats ans was familiar with formatting dimensions, but not how to make the latter apply to all the dimensions.

Tomfilery -

That further use of Layers - for separating parts of a drawing - is how I finally found them defined in DAG Brown's introductory CAD book. It makes sense by reference to the manual equivalent of drawing on a transparent sheet overlying one or more carrying, say, the general-arrangement.

Clive -

A flow-chart... an interesting idea that. The on-line 'Help' document does not explain Layers, and if I remember rightly it mixes them with another topic, Snaps I think. (I've been tempted to create flow-charts of the MELG "orange-&-white" book... )

If I recall correctly, the on-line manual does not explain Layers properly at all, and even mixes them up with another tool, Snaps I think.

I'd not known of that that bleeding across from layer to layer, but I have noticed layers are not as water-tight as they seem. It's still usually necessary to edit entities by selecting "By Layer" on al three character menus, not much better than editing them individually.

Gary -

I thought there ought to be a method for formatting dimensions' appearance beyond the basic line characteristics given by the Layer tool.. It's not at all obvious!

I'd expect the adjacent tool-bar menus to reflect the Layer you choose, but often they don't. I tend to use blue for dimension and centre-lines, but when switching from a thick black outline layer to thin blue dimension layer, the colour and thickness don't always change with it. I may as well bung everything on one layer and edit the lines afterwards!

The "By Layer" command for colour only appears on the colour chart itself.

= = =

TurboCAD has introduced what appears to be a new version of the Deluxe 19 I use, as sold by Paul Tracy (he used to advertise TC in our magazines). It's in the roughly comparable up-front price range suggesting it's not been hugely developed further, but I wonder if IMSI has ironed out a lot of the difficulties.

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