Activating AccuDraw

To start AccuDraw use the Toggle AccuDraw button. This is found on Home > Primary > More:

If AccuDraw is not already running, this will open the AccuDraw dialogue box. If it was already running, it will close it.

Alternatively use the keyin: accudraw toggle or accudraw activate.

To activate AccuDraw no matter which tool you have selected, hit [F11].


AccuDraw can be used to enter direct distances, but its real power comes from the multitude of shortcuts that are built in.

To call up a complete list of available shortcuts, type ?

Remember, to activate AccuDraw first hit [F11]

This brings up a full list of shortcuts:


When AccuDraw is active, [Enter] will lock AccuDraw to the direction of movement. This “Smart Lock” guarantees that elements are drawn exactly along an axis.

In practical use, this allows end points of elements to be lined up:


AccuDraw works to the principle of co-ordinate systems. When an element is drawn a start point is specified then a relative co-ordinate is entered from there.

Rectangular (or Cartesian) Mode

Enter two distances: one X value and one Y value.

AccuDraw automatically expects a value to be entered in the direction of movement. Move to the left or right and the X box becomes active; move up or down and the Y box becomes active.

Using the M (Mode) shortcut changes AccuDraw between Rectangular (X and Y):

and Polar (Distance and Angle):

Absolute Mode

AccuDraw can also enter absolute co-ordinates.

When AccuDraw is active, type PP to bring up the Data Point Keyin window:

Choose “Absolute (xy=)” from the menu on the left and type in the co-ordinate in the text box. Enter the co-ordinate in the format:


If one or more values are 0 you may either enter 0 or leave it blank.

100,0,0 is the same as 100

100,0,100 is the same as 100,,100

The Z value is only necessary in a 3D file.

The absolute co-ordinate values are distances from the design file’s global origin.

Northings and Eastings Mode

A third mode that is only available through a keyin is Northings and Eastings. To change to this mode keyin:

accudraw settings northeast

Enter two distances: one E value and one N value.

This mode is not to be confused with true Northings and Eastings. It is merely a relative co-ordinate using East and North as distances rather than X and Y. It operates exactly the same as X and Y except the axes are swapped.

To change back to XY keyin:

accudraw settings xy


The “O” shortcut is probably the single most important AccuDraw command.

AccuDraw is designed to help Accurate Drawing but it is also designed to improve efficiency. The “O” shortcut (Origin) allows AccuDraw’s origin to be repositioned during any command.

Consider the simple example below where you need to draw a second line from 1000mm above the left-hand point to 1500mm above the right-hand point. Without O you need to draw construction lines and then delete them:

Using O instead the line can be drawn far quicker, without constructions:

Keypoint Divisor (Snap)

Normally an element is divided into 2 parts. This gives 3 snap points on a line: the start, middle and end:

To set other equal points, use the K shortcut. K calls up the Keypoint Snap Divisor dialogue box which sets the number of Keypoints.

Remember that the value entered is not the number of snap points, but the number of segments or spacings of an element. For example Keypoint Snap Divisor = 3 splits into 3 equal segments.

Either use the drop-down menu to select a Keypoint value from 1 (endpoints only) to 5 (1/5th points):

Or type in a larger value in the text field. The maximum snap divisor is 255.

Keypoint Snap Divisor only works with Keypoint snap mode.

The Keypoint Snap Divisor is stored in the DGN file. Save Settings to retain the Keypoint snap value for the next time the file is opened.


Indexing is when AccuDraw jumps to an axis. You know, when you get close to horizontal or vertical, the line goes bold and sticks to your direction without having to enable SmartLock:

Indexing is also when AccuDraw jumps to the last distance you entered:

The sensitivity for Indexing (i.e. how close or far away you have to be for AccuDraw to jump to the axis or distance) is set by the Indexing Tolerance. By default it is 10 pixels. You can change this to any value from 0 to 100 by going to File > Settings > User > AccuDraw Settings.

You can also control whether AccuDraw uses the axis and/or distance indexing using the tick boxes.

To temporarily suspend indexing rather than turn it off altogether (for example, to place a point very close to the axis but not on it) make sure AccuDraw is well away from the axis and enter LI. This will disable index locking during the current command.

Entering LI while AccuDraw is indexed it will lock to that index (similar to using SmartLock).

TV time

Two of the more frequently used AccuDraw shortcuts are T (Top Rotation) and V (View Rotation). They can often be confused because in normal situations they appear to do exactly the same thing.

Think of a dgn file like a piece of graph paper. It is based on a series of grids that can be rotated, but are aligned by default so that X is horizontal to the screen and Y is vertical.

The grid can be rotated using a variety of methods but the view in which you are looking at it cannot be.

The AccuDraw keyin T always rotates the AccuDraw crosshairs to the grid (whether you can see the grid or not) – the Top view, regardless of view orientation.

V rotates the crosshairs to the View, which is always orthogonal to the screen:


AccuDraw’s R (Rotate) commands can be used to align AccuDraw to an exact orientation when the standard rotations (Top, View, Front, Side, etc) won’t do the job.

The easiest to start with is RE (Rotate to Element). When you enter the AccuDraw shortcut RE the cross hairs rotate to match any element you hover over. To select the rotation, you click once. After rotating, continue using the tool you had selected.

It is worth noting that the direction of the X and Y axes differs depending on the element direction. Selecting a rectangle will give a different orientation on every side. Note the red and green axes in the movie above.

RQ (Rotate Quick)

RQ is used to rotate AccuDraw around its current location. It is most useful when you do not have an element to rotate to. (If you had an element you’d use RE.)

RA (Rotate ACS)

RA allows the current ACS to be rotated by two points (the X- and Y-axes) in 2D or 3 points in 3D.

RC (Rotate to Current ACS)

If you have an Auxiliary Co-ordinate System defined, RC will rotate AccuDraw to match it.

An alternative to RC, when working with ACSs, is using the ACS Lock (in Drawing Scale). With ACS Lock on, T (Top) does the same as RC.


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