Scale Drawings: Work With Them in Visio
Microsoft Visio was never intended to replace computer-aided design (CAD) applications, but it does have the ability to produce accurate floor plans and drawings to scale. Most versions of Visio include shapes designed for scaled drawings, and Visio will scale them to the scale you are using.
Tip: It is always a good idea to include the scale of the drawing on the actual page when you are using a scale drawing, so that other people viewing it will understand what was used to produce it.
Changing the magnification of ordinary objects makes them easier to edit and can be easily shared with colleagues. There is another advantage to this approach; By drawing objects at different scales, you can show more or less details on a standard sheet of A4 paper. For technical work such as engineering drawings and architectural plans, precision is essential if the drawing is to be used as a basis for assembly or construction. Shapes in drawings like these need to be positioned accurately and precisely to be used as a useful planning tool.
Set a drawing scale
Although it seems obvious, if you are creating a scale drawing, you must first set the scale of the drawing. This is easy to do in Visio by choosing Page Setting from the Tail menu. In the dialog box that opens, the drawing scale can be set from the drawing scale tab. There are several predefined scales to choose from, or you can create your own custom scale and use it instead. It is often useful to change the drawing units of measure at the same time; If you are using metric units to plan your kitchen makeover, for example, you probably want to choose millimeters at this stage, but if you plan to design a parking lot, this would probably change to meters.
Tip: Units of measure include days and weeks; You can use these units for programs such as timelines where, for example, 3 cm represents a week, and so on.
Choose the right template
All versions of Visio ship with US units and metric unit templates. During the installation process, your computer configuration is verified and the appropriate templates are installed; If you use both in your work, both can be installed and the right one can be chosen when you want to start a new drawing.
Most of the templates suitable for creating a scale drawing are in the Maps and Floor Plans category, but the Parts and Assembly template in the Engineering category is also suitable. In Visio Professional there are templates to create:
- Office design
- Low level
- Home Map
- Plant layout
- Electricity and Telecommunications Plan
- Plumbing and piping plan
- Mirrored ceiling plan
- HVAC plan
- Security and access plan
- Site Map
- Space plan
- Parts and assembly plan.
When you start adding shapes from these templates to the drawing page, the shapes will be resized to match the scale of the drawing. Other drawing aids, including grid lines and rulers, will snap to current units to ensure shapes are positioned accurately.
There are some very useful visual aids that help you position shapes in a scale drawing: dimension shapes. These shapes, specifically the Controller Dimension Shape and Room Measure Shape, automatically measure the distances they span and display them based on the units and scale of the drawing. There are many more sizing shapes available in the Building Core stencil and others; If you search for them in the search box at the top of the shapes window, you will find over 100 shapes that can be used to display measurements.
Personally, I use the controller dimension shape frequently when creating floor plans as it serves two purposes. Dragging the shape onto the page and then attaching a controller dimension shape to it will display the dimensions of the shape, which is very useful. However, if you change the controller dimension text when it’s pasted to the shape and then click the gray arrow, it will actually change the shape dimensions to the value you just entered – very clever and incredibly useful!
For additional free resources, tutorials, and videos on creating scale drawings in Visio, visit our website at www.visio-tutorial.com.