Production Solution products?…


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What about the Color standards that we employ in our Production Solution products? As usual the question has more to do with publishing than color per se. Old school CAD CTB thinking tends to stick in our heads. CTB think tends to force color into a state of permanency. STB on the other hand liberates how we may employ color in our workflows. STB specifically can change how you think about and manage color.

In our Production Solution products we employ a simple set of rules and a system tools to manage color. The rules and the system are easy to learn, easy to maintain with the tools included in our products. Yes, thankfully they are very flexible if you prefer your approach to color to be different.

It’s Not a Race

The rules are based on the reality that Color only matters to you and your purposes of the moment.
In AutoCAD Civil 3D we are confined by how color is implemented within the application technology. We get 256 index colors to employ in any form of shade and/or in any shade order you want. Most people most of the time leave the more technical forms of color customization alone. Most people employ the classic ACI (AutoCAD Color Index) color table. KISS.

Most CAD standards practically employ only a small section of the ACI table. The reality is depending on your screen background a lot of shades of colors become useless for on-screen differentiation. You can’t see them adequately.

The following are documented in our Open Standards for AutoCAD Civil 3D. Our documented and detailed Open Standards can be downloaded here.

Simple Color Rules

Never use the first 16-19 colors except Black|White.

Why? People simply don’t act like they actually care about what others do with their colors. The odds are if you work with anyone else they use these old school colors more than anything else. If they use CTB, they are usually adamant about what their color to lineweight means to them. You don’t have to argue about that. You’re smart and employ a dumb down to CTB template to publish for them.

The last digit of the color index number (ACI) is mapped to a lineweight

We employ this simple table based on NCS recommendations and NCS named plotstyles. There’s significantly less to learn and remember. This is exactly the point.



STB Screened


Color Digit


Invisible Ink






Fine screened





Thin screened





Medium screened





Wide screened




Extra Wide

Extra Wide screened




Moderate Bold

Moderate Bold screened





Bold screened




Extra Bold

Extra Bold screened



No one says you can’t tweak the table perhaps to employ more final digits in a category like we do with 2 and 3 above.
We tend to employ the last digit of 2 for proposed Mediums and 3 for existing Mediums for consistency’s sake.

The next digits reading from right to left in the ACI number and color table determine the SHADE of color. We employ regular themes in our supplied Layer States. VEGE stuff shades of green and UTILs is the obvious shades of color for example.

Theme to Taste

Changing the SHADES applied to Civil 3D’s numerous annotative layers can theme your Civil 3D templates and drawings in dramatic fashion, if you are so inclined. The C3D View Features and related layers based on the Standard Keys demonstrate clearly how a theme may be done.

Your Black or White Background Matters

We again employ the next digits reading right to left to the help manage color visibility differences between black and white screen backgrounds. For example: yellow is easy to see on black but problematic on white.

The device of adding or subtracting 100 for these problematic ACI numbers (Shades of Color) works with our supplied system management tools. The systems works in practice in the real world.

We employ Excel to produce automatically generated AutoCAD script files to manage the Layer system and the related property details in our products. You get the spreadsheet tools because...

Color Matters
But Not Because of the Way You Think