Creating Dynamic Blocks in AutoCAD

I recently presented a webcast about dynamic blocks where I provided an overview of dynamic blocks and showed how to manipulate them using their grips. For those who could not attend the live presentation, you can view the recording here.  We discovered during the webcast that many of you wanted to learn how to create dynamic blocks. In this blog post, I will give you an overview of creating dynamic blocks using some of the authoring tools provided in AutoCAD. 

Opening Block in the Block Editor 

Dynamic blocks are created in the Block Editor. In the Block Editor, you can create new dynamic block definitions from scratch, or you can turn a conventional block into a dynamic block by adding actions and parameters to it. Let us begin by creating a new block or getting a conventional block into the Block Editor first. There are few ways to do this: 

  • You can open the Block Editor by clicking  (Block Editor) in the Home tab>Block panel or in the Insert tab>Block Definition panel. This opens the Edit Block Definition dialog box. Here you can enter a new name for the block (if starting from scratch) or select a block from the list (if using an already created block) and click OK. If you need to create a block from scratch, draw the objects for the block using the regular drawing and editing commands in the Block Editor. 
  • Another method to open an already existing block is by double-clicking on it in the drawing window. It opens the Edit Block Definition dialog box where you can either enter a new name for creating a new block or select a block from the list. 

  • You can also create a new conventional block in your regular drawing window by using the (Create Block) command, which opens the Block Definition dialog box. First, create a block, and then use the Open in block editor option in the dialog box (as shown in the figure below) to open the newly created block in the Block Editor. 

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Block Editor  

Once you have a block in the Block Editor, you can add parameters and actions to objects in the block to convert it into a dynamic block. The figure below shows a receptacle cover block in the Block Editor environment, with a Block Editor contextual tab displayed in the ribbon and the Block Authoring Palettes opened and displayed. 

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  • The Block Authoring Palettes are provided for adding parameters and actions to the block. 
  • Parameters are similar to dimensions, but they control the block geometry. For example, in the receptacle cover block, you would add a linear parameter to define the width. This will allow you to adjust the width of the cover. 
  • Actions are added to parameters so that you can modify the parameter. In the receptacle cover block, the linear parameter specifies the dimension that you want to control. You can add a stretch action to that parameter so that you are able to stretch the block to the required width. 
  • From the Block Authoring Palettes, select the required tab to open its corresponding available options.  The Parameters and Actions Authoring Palettes are shown in the figures below. 


Adding Parameters, Actions, and Increments 

Let us add parameters and actions to the receptacle cover.  

  1. In the Block Authoring Palettes, in the Parameters tab, click  (Linear). 
  2. Pick the top endpoints of the two outer vertical lines (to display the full width across the top of the plate) and place the dimension, as shown in figure below. Note that there is an exclamation mark placed near the ends. These points indicate that an action has not yet been associated with the parameter. 

3. In the Block Authoring Palettes, in the Actions tab, click  (Stretch). 

4. Select the Distance parameter that you just created. 

5. Select the right endpoint of the parameter to associate it with the action. 

6. Create a Crossing Window around the right vertical edge of the plate for the stretch frame, as shown in figure below. 

7. Create another crossing window around the same right vertical edge of the plate to select the objects. Do not select the holes, only the edge of the plate. Press <Enter> to complete the command. 

8. Repeat the process to add another  (Stretch) action to the other end of the Linear parameter. 

9. Select the Distance parameter and open the Properties palette. 

10. In the Properties palette, set the Value Set, as shown in figure below. 
(Dist type: Increment; Dist increment: 1.8; Dist minimum: 2.8; Dist maximum: 6.4). 

11. Click to close the Block Editor and select Save the changes to Receptacle Cover

12. In the Drawing window, insert the block Receptacle Cover and test the Stretch actions. The edge of the plate should stretch to two additional positions (4.6000 and 6.4000 based on 1.8 increment) on either side, as shown for the right side in the figure below. 

I hope that this blog gives you a basic understanding of how to add parameters and associate them with actions while creating a dynamic block. A detailed explanation and hands-on practices for creating dynamic blocks have been provided in our AutoCAD 2024 Advanced learning guide.   

About the Author

Renu Muthoo

Learning Content Developer<br><br>Renu has worked with Autodesk products for the past 20 years with a main focus on design visualization software. Renu holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and started her career as an Instructional Designer/Author where she co-authored a number of Autodesk 3ds Max and AutoCAD books, some of which were translated into other languages for a wide audience reach. In her next role as a Technical Specialist at a 3D visualization company, Renu used 3ds Max in real-world scenarios on a daily basis. There, she developed customized 3D web planner solutions to create specialized 3D models with photorealistic texturing and lighting to produce high quality renderings.

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