AutoCAD 3D: Your first drawing

We have taken a good time lately working on mastering the basics in AutoCAD, and with it, you must be able by now to draft all basic shapes using AutoCAD.

As you must have noticed from our past experience, learning AutoCAD goes first with understanding what the environment is made of, How to draw basic shapes, and finally how to combine all the basics to create complex designs.

AutoCAD 3D features

Before diving into creating your first 3D drawing in AutoCAD, I would like to throw the following.

AutoCAD is primarily for generating 2d sketches. It does have some ability to visualize those 2d sketches in 3d, and even to make 3d objects, but it’s primarily built around a flat, sketch-based workflow. If your invention is fundamentally two-dimensional, or made of trivially interlocking 2d parts, AutoCAD might be the right thing.

Inventor is for 3d product design. It’s a professional piece of software and takes quite a bit of time to learn, but that’s also true of its direct competitors. It’s currently Autodesk’s most powerful tool for mechanical design. I can’t give you a coherent feature comparison to SolidWorks or Creo because I don’t know them well enough; I do know that SolidWorks is more popular. Inventor is second, I think.

We do have a fairly new product called Fusion 360. It’s built on the same modeling kernel as Inventor, and has better free form modeling. It’s designed to be an all-in-one package for product design by hobbyists and small businesses. We focused on making the user interface as easy to learn as possible. It’s still quite a new product, and gets updates every few months, partly based on user feedback from its forum. A major advantage is that it’s free until you start making money with it, and even after that it’s pretty inexpensive.

Adam Helps (Software Engineer at Autodesk)

No need to elaborate further, but be aware that there are some industries (like Structural Design, Civil engineering) where AutoCAD is the preferred CAD software for 3D creation.

Surface Modeling and Solid Modeling

While talking about AutoCAD Drawing and CAD, it is important to know the difference between Surface Modeling and Solid Modeling.

Surface modeling CAD (Blender, Sketchup, Rhino, Maya) deals with manipulating the curves and surfaces of a model. It’s more free form and generally done by clicking and dragging the surface/curves around to your liking. It’s ideal for architects, jewelry design, or anything you want done aesthetically.

Solid modeling CAD (Solidworks, Inventor, ProE, SolidEdge, GeoMagic) deals with adding dimensions and constraints to a 3d model. It is “parametric” meaning you can define the shape and later edit. This is very essential for engineers since design changes are always happening. Great for mechanical parts that require constant iterations. Some solid modeling CAD can perform surface modeling but it’s a nightmare.

gyronictonic from

AutoCAD 3D modeling 101


The following image shows you an overview of what the object is made up of.


All object are arranged like this


The elbow:



Crating basic 3D AutoCAD drawing

Before fully diving into this, you should make sure all tabs are activated. (Right click to show the menu)


Creating a Cylinder


To create a cylinder

  1. Click on Cylinder
  2. Specify the center of the base
  3. Specify base radius
  4. Specify the height of the cylinder

Other route you can use to create a cylinder are the following.

Using the EXTRUDE command
  1. Create a Circle
  2. Use the extrude command to obtain the cylinder


To do that

  1. Create a circle the way we learned
  2. Type EXTRUDE and Press ENTER
  3. Select the circle and Press ENTER
  4. Specify the height of extrusion
Using the REVOLVE command
  1. Create a rectangle
  2. Use the REVOLVE command to obtain the cylinder


To do that

  1. Create a rectangle using the RECTANGLE command
  2. Type REVOLVE and Press ENTER
  3. Select the rectangle and Press ENTER
  4. Select one of the end of the red line shown on the image above
  5. Select the second end
  6. and Press ENTER

Using this method, you can at the last step decide not to close the cylinder, meaning you will have to enter an angle value less than 360 before pressing ENTER.


Creating a sphere

To create a sphere

  1. Click on sphere
  2. Specify the center of the sphere
  3. Specify the radius of the sphere

Create the last piece of that elbow


Simply create a triangle and extrude it. (use the POLYLINE command to create the rectangle). You can as well use the WEDGE command to create it.

We have pretty much created all basic 3D objects we need, now we need create copies, rotate them and assemble everything.

We have seen quite a number of new techniques here today, We will be coming back for the second part of this, where we will deal with some commands like UCS, UNION, SUBTRACT, INTERSECT and show you how to assemble the whole to create our final design.

You might also like the following AutoCAD 3D tutorials:

AutoCAD 3D how-to tutorials

3D AutoCAD drawing
Subtraction of objects in AutoCAD
3D Intersection in AutoCAD
How to unite 3D objects in AutoCAD
Drafting a 3D rectangle
Shell in AutoCAD
Save your life with the SPHERE command in AutoCAD
Sweep in AutoCAD
3D rotate in AutoCAD

3D Projects

3D Design project for beginners – AutoCAD
An easy Modeling 3D project
3D Design project for beginners – A Stool
3D design project for Beginners – A table
CAD projects for Beginners – 123D Design
Modeling a Vase in 123D design
How to assemble in 123D Design
Beginner’s tips – Autodesk 123D design
Design a mechanical part with Autodesk 123D Design
Modeling with AutoDesk 123D Design


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