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  • Navigating AutoCAD’s Realm of PLAN Command Options, Dynamic 3D View, and Model Shading

    November 16, 2023
    Dr. William Anderson
    Dr. William Anderson
    3D Modeling
    Dr. Anderson is a highly regarded expert in the field of AutoCAD 3D modeling and design. He has a deep understanding of how AutoCAD can be leveraged to create complex 3D models with precision and efficiency.

    AutoCAD is a versatile software tool that offers a multitude of features and commands for creating and editing 2D and 3D drawings. For students studying engineering, architecture, or any field that requires precision drafting, AutoCAD is an essential skill. In this blog post, we will explore three crucial aspects of AutoCAD's 3D functionality: the PLAN command options, dynamically changing a 3D view, and shading a 3D model. Additionally, we will delve into various relevant commands and variables such as PLAN, 3DORBIT, 3DDISTANCE, 3DSWIVEL, 3DCLIP, 3DCORBIT, SHADEMODE, and RENDER. If you need assistance to complete your 3D Modeling assignment, don't hesitate to reach out for help.

    Mastering the PLAN Command

    The PLAN command in AutoCAD is a fundamental tool for working in 3D. It is an indispensable feature for orienting your view and defining a reference plane for drawing in a 3D environment. By utilizing the PLAN command effectively, you can specify which face or plane of a 3D object you want to work on, making your 3D design process more intuitive and accurate.

    Unleashing AutoCAD's PLAN Command and Dynamic Visualization Tools

    PLAN Command Options

    a. World:

    The "World" option sets the current UCS (User Coordinate System) to the default World UCS. The World UCS represents a global coordinate system that is consistent across all AutoCAD drawings. This option is particularly useful when you want to start drawing in a 2D environment and temporarily switch to the World UCS. It's an excellent way to transition between 2D and 3D work seamlessly.

    b. Named:

    The "Named" option allows you to select a predefined UCS. A UCS defines the orientation of the X, Y, and Z axes within the 3D space. AutoCAD enables you to create and save named UCS configurations to easily switch between different working planes. This feature is incredibly valuable when you are working on complex 3D models with multiple components, each requiring a specific orientation.

    c. Previous:

    The "Previous" option reverts to the last active UCS before the current one. This feature is handy when you need to switch back to a recently used orientation quickly. It ensures that you can maintain a fluid workflow by toggling between different UCS configurations without the need for repeated manual adjustments.

    d. View:

    The "View" option sets the UCS to align with the current view. This can be especially beneficial when you want to draw on a specific face or plane visible in your current viewport. By choosing this option, you align your working plane with your field of vision, simplifying the drawing process and increasing precision. It's particularly useful for complex 3D models with intricate details.

    By mastering the PLAN command and its various options, you gain the ability to effortlessly navigate 3D space and select the appropriate working plane for your tasks. This is crucial for creating accurate and efficient 3D designs, whether you are an engineering student, an architect, or a professional drafter.

    Dynamic 3D Views

    In the world of 3D modeling and design, the ability to dynamically change your view is paramount. AutoCAD offers a range of tools that are essential for navigating and visualizing your 3D models effectively. Let's explore some of these dynamic view manipulation tools:


    The 3DORBIT command is a versatile tool that allows you to freely rotate your 3D model in any direction. By entering the command and then clicking and dragging your mouse, you can orbit around the model effortlessly. This tool is a powerful way to explore your design from different angles, gaining a better understanding of its spatial characteristics.

    When you're working on intricate 3D models, the 3DORBIT command becomes indispensable for inspecting every detail and making sure your design meets your requirements. It enables you to view your model from any perspective, helping you identify potential issues, make adjustments, and optimize your design for its intended purpose.


    The 3DDISTANCE command is a valuable tool for measuring the distance between two points in 3D space with exceptional accuracy. This command is particularly useful when you need to check the dimensions of your 3D model or ensure that certain components are correctly aligned. By providing precise distance measurements, it aids in quality control and precision in your 3D designs.

    Imagine you are an architecture student working on a complex 3D model of a building. The 3DDISTANCE command allows you to verify that various elements, such as windows, doors, and structural components, are correctly positioned and meet the required specifications.


    3DSWIVEL is a command that enables you to swivel your view in place. Unlike orbiting, which changes the observer's position, swiveling only rotates the view while keeping the viewpoint fixed. This tool is particularly helpful when you want to inspect details from different perspectives without altering your position in the 3D space.

    For instance, suppose you are an engineering student working on a mechanical assembly in 3D. The 3DSWIVEL command allows you to closely examine the connections and interactions between individual components without losing your orientation within the assembly.


    The 3DCLIP command is a powerful feature that aids in creating section views of your 3D model. It allows you to define a cutting plane and display only the part of the model you are interested in. This is extremely useful for visualizing the interior components of complex 3D models and presenting them effectively.

    In a scenario where you are designing a complex piece of machinery, the 3DCLIP command can help you create section views to illustrate the internal workings of the device, making it easier for others to understand its functionality and structure.


    Similar to the 3DORBIT command, 3DCORBIT allows you to rotate your model. However, it constrains the rotation to predefined angles, such as isometric views. This can be helpful for maintaining a consistent view orientation when working on technical drawings.

    When working on projects that require precise and standardized views, such as architectural plans or engineering schematics, the 3DCORBIT command ensures that you can easily switch between commonly used angles, making your drawings consistent and easily understandable.

    By incorporating these dynamic view manipulation tools into your AutoCAD workflow, you gain the ability to explore your 3D models from various angles, measure distances accurately, create section views, and maintain consistent view orientations. These capabilities are invaluable for achieving a comprehensive understanding of your designs and communicating your ideas effectively.

    Shading a 3D Model

    AutoCAD offers various shading options that enhance the visual representation of your 3D models, making them more appealing and easier to understand. Shading adds realism and depth to your designs, bringing them closer to real-world objects. Let's delve into these shading options:


    The SHADEMODE command is a versatile tool used to control how surfaces are displayed in 3D models. It offers several modes, including:

    • 2D Wireframe: In this mode, only the wireframe representation of your 3D model is displayed. This mode is useful for drafting and making precise measurements.
    • 3D Wireframe: This mode shows the wireframe representation, but with hidden lines removed. It provides a cleaner view of your 3D model.
    • Realistic: The "Realistic" mode adds shading, lighting, and material properties to your models. This makes them look more like physical objects. It's a great choice when you want to create more lifelike representations of your designs.
    • Conceptual: In this mode, your 3D model is displayed with conceptual shading, emphasizing its form and structure without going into fine detail. It's suitable for conceptual design presentations.

    Selecting the appropriate SHADEMODE allows you to control the level of detail and realism in your 3D model, tailoring it to your specific needs. This feature is particularly important for students and professionals in fields where realistic visualizations are crucial for design communication.


    The RENDER command takes shading to the next level by allowing you to create photorealistic renderings of your 3D models. It offers an array of options to control lighting, shadows, reflections, materials, and backgrounds, resulting in highly detailed and visually stunning representations.

    In a scenario where you are an architecture student presenting a design proposal to a client, the RENDER command enables you to create realistic images that provide a clear visualization of the proposed building. You can adjust lighting to simulate different times of the day, add realistic materials to surfaces, and create lifelike shadows and reflections.

    By mastering the SHADEMODE and RENDER commands, you can elevate the visual quality of your 3D models and create compelling renderings that effectively communicate your design ideas to clients, instructors, or peers.

    Commands and Variables in Action

    Now, let's put these commands and variables into action by considering a practical scenario. Suppose you're working on a 3D architectural model of a building, and you want to present it with realistic shading for a client presentation.

    1. PLAN Command: Start by using the PLAN command to set your UCS to align with the elevation of the building's facade that you want to work on. This ensures that your drawing plane is perfectly oriented with the selected face, making it easy to create precise details.
    2. 3DORBIT: Next, use the 3DORBIT command to adjust your view to a suitable angle. You can rotate and swivel your view as needed to focus on specific details. For example, you can use 3DORBIT to move around the building and inspect its various elements, such as windows, doors, and architectural features.
    3. 3DCLIP: To create a section view that shows the interior of the building, use the 3DCLIP command to define a cutting plane. By specifying a cutting plane, you can remove the external walls temporarily and focus on the internal layout, giving a clear view of the building's interior.
    4. SHADEMODE: Change the SHADEMODE to "realistic" to give your model a more lifelike appearance. By doing so, you add shading, lighting, and material properties to your model, making it look more like a real building. Adjust the lighting settings to create the desired ambiance, whether it's a sunny day or a moody evening.
    5. RENDER: Finally, use the RENDER command to create a high-quality rendering of the model. Customize materials to mimic real-world surfaces such as concrete, glass, or wood. Fine-tune the lighting to cast realistic shadows, and set the background to create the desired context for your building.

    By following these steps, you can transform your 3D architectural model into a stunning visualization that not only showcases your design skills but also helps your clients or instructors visualize the building as it would appear in the real world.

    In conclusion, mastering the PLAN command, dynamic 3D view manipulation tools, and shading options in AutoCAD is essential for students and professionals alike. These tools empower you to work efficiently, explore your designs from various angles, and create realistic representations that effectively communicate your ideas. Whether you are an aspiring architect, engineer, or designer, these features are indispensable for achieving success in the world of 3D modeling and design.


    AutoCAD offers an array of commands and tools to help you work effectively in 3D, from the basic but essential PLAN command to dynamic view manipulation and advanced shading and rendering options. These features are invaluable for students and professionals in fields where precise 3D modeling is required.

    As you become more proficient with AutoCAD's 3D capabilities and the associated commands and variables, you'll find that your ability to create, edit, and present complex 3D models will greatly improve. So, practice these tools, experiment with different settings, and don't hesitate to explore other related commands and options to enhance your AutoCAD skills. With dedication and practice, you'll be well on your way to becoming a 3D modeling expert.

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