Best AutoCAD training options?
September 4, 2007 8:31 AM   Subscribe

AutoCAD Training: online, book/CD, or in person?

I'm a carpenter, and I know how to draft. I have some limited exposure to CAD, but it's just a hobby at this point (loves me some Sketchup!). It seems to me that more of the jobs that I would like to have expect AutoCAD ability. What would you say is the best method to get some? (mind you, I don't own the program, or even have a computer that can run it at the moment (Mac person))
posted by schwap23 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
AutoCad is a HUGE app, and while you could probably learn the basics self-taught, I would recommend taking a course. Perhaps at a nearby community college?
posted by elendil71 at 8:42 AM on September 4, 2007


Definitely take a course. Of course will have to get a computer and the software, but you may be able to get a previous version and save some money.
posted by The Deej at 8:48 AM on September 4, 2007


AutoCAD gets used for a lot of different things, so whatever route you choose, make sure you're learning it as applied to your field.

...learning how AutoCAD gets used by PCB layout designers, for example, may not be particularly useful to you as they'll be using some tools far more often than you will and in different ways.
posted by aramaic at 8:48 AM on September 4, 2007


Let me add some clarification: It seems to me that taking an in-person course is going to be the best way to learn, but I want to know if I'm overlooking something. Also, is private training (from a 'certified training provider') going to be better/worse than more pubic training (such as a community college)? Personal anecdotes encouraged....
posted by schwap23 at 8:58 AM on September 4, 2007


I'm inferring by your occupational background that you might want to ultimately produce shop drawings for a millwork outfit or do residential drafting. If that's the case, AutoCAD is the vernacular, but it's old hat. A lot of shops are moving toward 3D based parametric modeling programs. These new generation programs are more thorough and more time efficient in the long-run. Also, I've been using AutoCAD for 13 years, and I'm more inclined to use Sketchup at this point. 2D AutoCAD is nothing more than a very sophisticated Etch-a-sketch. 3D AutoCAD is best left ignored.

If you do end up pursuing AutoCAD, check out AutoCAD LT, it's cheaper and will probably do what you want it to.
posted by tfmm at 9:11 AM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm a lifelong AutoCAD user, from the days of R14.

I *highly* recommend having someone walk you through some sort of training course or instructional session. It's not that you can't figure it out yourself, but having the option of doing exercises and projects is a HUGE help, as the learning curve is high.

(I know R14 isn't that long ago, but it was for me!)

It is a vast program with millions of great features. Enjoy your quest - I am excited for all of the "OH THAT'S HOW TO DO THAT" moments you're gonna have!
posted by jimmyhutch at 9:22 AM on September 4, 2007


To address this question, I guess it depends on how you're gonna best utilize AutoCAD and in what industry you're working. I'm a lighting designer, so I use certain functions that, say, a mechanical engineer might not use. I do a lot of 3D stuff, and (IMHO) AutoCAD has a steep 3D learning curve for beginners.
posted by jimmyhutch at 9:28 AM on September 4, 2007


I learned it at the local community college and then went to work at a job where I used it all of the time. The class worked best for me and I could hit the ground running when working.
posted by JJ86 at 9:52 AM on September 4, 2007


If you need it to get a job, take a class. Employers are invested in this giant, so there will be a market for awhile, especially in the trades, which generally are a bit slower to adopt the latest tech. You don't have to take a class specific to carpentry to learn to use the tools; just make sure you mess about with it in lab as often as possible so you can figure out how to do the things you need specifi to your job (or find out the questions you need to ask your instructor about specifics). I agree that you may personally get more mileage out of Sketchup- I've seen some beautiful construction drawing done with it. Keep in mind that AutoCad is a dinosaur- it's possible that AutoDesk is going to start pushing for adoption of the less clunky Revit, so investigate classes in that as well as AC 3d.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:27 AM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


AutoCAD's initial learning cure is ridiculously steep. I'd strongly recommend taking at least an introduction of 30-40 hours of class room instruction. I haven't seen a book that adequately communicates the basic mind set of AutoCAD way and you'll struggle with it until you pick that up. Once you've done that lots of practise is more important than additional instruction. Running AutoCAD is in many ways like learning an instrument. Basic instruction will let you know how to blow that Oboe and where to put your hands. After which practise, experimentation and reading will let you rise to the proficiency you need.

schwap23 writes "Also, is private training (from a 'certified training provider') going to be better/worse than more pubic training (such as a community college)?"

Qualifying for AutoDesk Training Centre status is fairly straight forward and of such enormous financial benefit (reduced licencing fees, advertising co-pays, accreditation, support) that I'd be leery of any program with more than a few instructors that didn't have their ATC.

One word of advice: learn and use keyboard shortcuts as soon as possible. Not only is it faster, IMHO, but it frees up valuable screen real estate being wasted on tool bars.

Full disclosure: I used to do tech support for a college with 800 odd ATC seats teaching thousands of students a year during which I learned CAD. However I no longer have any vested interest in getting you or anyone else to pay for instruction.
posted by Mitheral at 11:30 AM on September 4, 2007


to add to what Mitheral said, COMMAND LINE COMMAND LINE COMMAND LINE!
posted by jimmyhutch at 1:29 PM on September 4, 2007


One word of advice: learn and use keyboard shortcuts as soon as possible. Not only is it faster, IMHO, but it frees up valuable screen real estate being wasted on tool bars.

Word.

I took a couple courses; one at a community college on R13, one when my first firm bought R14 and paid for my training. Those are helpful, but it really took a while before I started figuring things out, and a lot of that just came through use.

Taking a course at a community college may enable you to get a student version of the program, which will save you tons of money. Also investigate AutoCAD LT, if they still make it, because that's probably all you'll need. Even if most design firms end up going to Revit, they can dumb drawings down to 2D AutoCAD, so you'll be functional for a while. Go at your own pace.
posted by LionIndex at 3:16 PM on September 4, 2007


to add to what Mitheral said, COMMAND LINE COMMAND LINE COMMAND LINE!

Oh hell yes. I'm learning VectorWorks now- it drives me crazy that there's no command line.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:00 PM on September 4, 2007


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