Are Surfaces New in AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013?

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No release of AutoCAD Civil 3D would be complete without some new Surface creation and edit updates. AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013 is no exception. Surfaces in 2013 deserve a Civil 3D blog post or two of their own. We can be both more indirect or direct about our “data” references in Surface Features. Huh?

Queries About Survey and Surfaces

How about the simple and useful tool that makes the boundary of one surface become the boundary on another? Let’s call it: “Surface Shrinkwrap Boundary”.

Surface Shrinkwrap Hide in Civil 3D 2013

Minor Things Can Become Major

In AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013 you can employ one surface as the Hide boundary for another. For example your corridor surface can become a hole in a wider surface. You spend less time and hassle getting to a cleaner version of a “finished” surface.
You’ll probably need to play and practice with this new tool. It will certainly cause you rethink and improve some of the surface construction and edit workflows you employ today. Be careful not to make assumptions about what’s exactly going on. You still have to put the pieces together.

A New Way to Build

Surface Build Maximum Angle No in 2013

The 2013 Surface Feature also has a new optional Surface Build property to automatically cut down on those extraneous triangles that often form in convex areas on the edges of surveyed surfaces.


This new feature helps with single leg “L” and “T” shapes in TIN surfaces, but won’t help as much if you have a “C” or a “U” shaped data. Here’s why.

The new “maximum angle” property employs “A maximum angle between adjacent TIN lines” algorithm.
This accepts values between 0-180 with 90 being the default value. It appears to be best employed with smallish changes around the default.

Surface Build Maximum Angle Yes in 2013

The algorithm chews around the edges of a surface like a Cookie Monster removing offending TIN lines until satisfied.
The method of approaching the TIN is different and less aggressive than the approach of the existing “maximum length” Build property.
"Maximum angle” is less likely to chew holes in the surface.


Improve Your Surface QA

Do you employ Civil 3D’s surface Build properties as a documented part of your surface quality control processes?
How you Build Surface does make a difference. Separate Surface Builds are informative and very useful. I also always encourage Civil 3D users to employ the surface’s Description property to provide some audit records along the way. What about you? I’m always interested in a better and easier way to get the “better” done. Leave me comment here or drop me a Tweet.

Mainstream the New Volumes Tool

The Volume Dashboard introduced in 2012 is now the default “volumes” interface in the Civil 3D 2013 Ribbon.

The Volumes Dashboard includes a powerful bounded volumes capability to help you tune your grading solution to meet the need. That means you can scratch out polygons or employ figures, parcels, etc to create closed areas to massage and track both partial and total volume solutions all in one place. Does it work with corridor Regions in 2013? Both getting back to where you were when you have lots to do and Volumes Reporting are built right in.

Volume Dashboard in Civil3D 2013

The old volumes command (it doesn’t require a volume surface) is still there. I guess we’ll call it “Quick Volumes” in 2013. It’s only available from the command line. Bummer dude.

Surfaces from Survey

Surfaces can now be more dynamically connected to a Survey database data via the new 2013 user defined “Survey Queries”.

The Survey Query idea is simple in concept. Create a query with specific conditions against your Point and/or Figure data and supply the results directly to a Surface as a part of a Surface Definition. If the backend Survey data is updated or new added data now matches the specifics of your query(s), the Surface can immediately reflect the changes. You get the choice whether or not to make the Definition update process dynamic or not when you add the Survey Query to the Surface Definition.

Survey Query in Civil 3D 2013

A dynamic Survey Db data connection (sans the actual Point Features and Figure Features) to a Surface is important. Civil 3D’s Point Feature display still remains a non-intuitive and frustrating performance weakness in the software.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, the new Civil 3D seems to provide little or no improvement when Point Features are on the drawing table. Ah well. At least it’s now even easier to keep the Point Features in their own separate drawings. That’s a good thing.
Your Civil 3D project template(s), like the one included in InstantOn Basic, do handle that sort of standard project management structure?

If you haven’t employed Survey in 2012 with SP 1 or above, don’t neglect or underestimate how really useful Survey in Civil 3D has become. Major improvements were made to the Survey interface that can make your day far more productive. Yes, Survey’s different and more capable - that isn’t a bad thing at all.

Surfaces in Civil 3D 2013 certainly got more capability and flexibility. Are you ready to manage that?

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