When Moved the object Elevation Changes in AutoCAD?

Learn why when Move or Copy in AutoCAD, program changes object Elevations and How to Stop That!

Why, when I move polyline in AutoCAD it changes the polyline elevation? Why when moving COGO Points in Civil 3D they lose their elevations? When I copy objects in AutoCAD they change their elevations, why?
The answers to these and other questions related to Elevations and Move in AutoCAD will be answered here!

AutoCAD Elevation OSNAP

The system variable OSNAPZ was introduced back in AutoCAD 2006 version. It controls whether object snaps are automatically projected onto a plane parallel to the XY plane of the current UCS at the current elevation. According to Autodesk’s site. Or in simpler words, OSNAPZ controls whether the objects/cursor will Snap and change the Z value (elevation) of the object.

To copy or move without changing the election, type on the command line OSNAPZ and enter 0.

OSNAPZ, 0 – Osnap uses the Z-value of the specified point

OSNAPZ, 1 – Osnap substitutes the Z-value of the specified point with the elevation (ELEV) set for the current UCS

If you found this information useful. Don’t forget to check our other AutoCAD Tips for more great Tips and Tricks just like this one!

Surface Contours are Missing in AutoCAD Civil 3D (3 Possible Solutions!)

Your Civil 3d Surface Contours are not shown? Don’t worry, the missing surface contours problem can be due to several different reasons. Here, we will go through each possibility one by one.

Surface Contours are turned off

The first, and maybe the most obvious reason for missing contours, is that they’re turned off in the current Surface Style. To check if that is the case, follow the steps below.

  1. First open the Toolspace, under Prospector, extend the Surfaces tab so you can see your surface there.
  2. Then right-click on the surface name and select Edit Surface Style
  3. A window will pop up, go to the Display tab and check if the Visibility of the Major and Minor contours is turned On.
  4. Hit OK to close the window.

If the contours are on, and you still cannot see them on the screen, proceed to the second solution.

Surface or Contours’ Layer is turned Off (or Frozen)

The second reason for missing the Surface Contours is also quite an obvious one. More particularly, the layer could be turned off.
Here, however, you can find one small hurdle. You have to check, for both the Contours’ and the Surface object Layers. This is because the contours could have nested different layers.

First, let’s check the counters layer, go back to the Surface Style window, and under the Display tab, check what is the layer of the Major and Minor Contours. Then check if the said layer/layers are turned On (or frozen).

Then, if your terrain contours are still not shown, let’s check if the layer of the whole Surface Object is turned On/Off. To do that, go again to the Toolspace, under Surfaces, where you can find your surface. Right-click on it and choose Select, to select the surface object.

Now, as the surface is selected in the object Properties you can check what is the layer of the surface object. Then check if the said layer is turned On or Off.

AutoCAD Civil 3D Level of Detail

This is an option, that I personally found out about, fairly recently. It is supposed to hide some of the linework from the more complex drawings.
Unfortunately for me, it tends to hide out the surface Contours when the Terrain is more complex. This left me wondering, why the surface contours are missing from my Civil 3D drawing…

To turn it off, go to View Ribbon, and under Views drop down menu, click on Level of Detail.

I hope these suggestions helped you to bring back your missing contours.
If you know about other Civil 3D options that can mess with the Surface Contours, please let us know in the comments below.

If you want to learn more Civil 3D Tips & Tricks, check out our other AutoCAD Civil 3D posts!

How to Create Surface from Text in Civil3D (Also Assign Elevations to Text!)

Often times we receive exported files from other surveyors that we need to use in our drawings. At this time, it is great that AutoCAD Civil 3D gives us the opportunity to Create a Surface from Text Objects.
To illustrate better the task. We will look at an example where we have received a drawing with Anonymous Blocks instead of Cogo points or normal blocks. We will create a surface using those Blocks, more particularly the text that is hiding in them.

Move Text to Elevation

As previously said, we have been given a file with Anonymous Blocks. They are really hard to work with because every single one of them has a different block name. Lacks attributes and can’t be edited. We previously discussed How to Convert Anonymous Blocks *U### to Normal AutoCAD Blocks.

Today, however, we will isolate all the blocks and Explode them. We are not using them for Surface Creation because they lack Z coordinates.

After all the Anonymous Blocks are exploded the drawing is left with Text objects and some lines that represent the point location. Now if we select the Mtext containing the Elevation information we can see that there is no “Z” position filled in. Our first task would be to assign it to all text objects.

Don’t worry, we are not going to fill in all the elevations manually. We will use the Civil 3D Move Text to Elevation tool, to Automatically Assign Elevations to all Text objects! Please follow the steps below:
  1. Isolate all the Mtext objects that contain Text (in our example we will isolate using Quick Select to select all the red text, and hit Isolate Selected Objects) Check How to Quick Select objects by Color! (AutoCAD trick) for more detailed explanation.
  2. After we are left with only Text containing Elevations we go to the Modify Ribbon tab and under Ground Data select Surface.
  3. A new Ribbon tab will Appear called Surface. There under Surface Tools click on the Move to Surface drop-down menu and select Move Text to Surface.
  4. AutoCAD will prompt to Select Text Objects: Here we select our text that contains the Elevation and hit Enter.

At this point, our Mtext objects must have their Position Z property automatically filled in.

Create surface Using Text Objects.

The hard part is over. Now we just have to create a Surface using our Text objects. To do that follow the steps below:

  1. First, We create a TIN Surface the usual way – Home Ribbon tab > Surface drop-down menu > Create Surface > TIN Surface > Fill in the Name, Description, Style.
  2. Secondly, go to Toolspace > Surfaces > Your Surface (in the example Surface from Text) > Definition > Drawing objects > Add
  3. A window will pop up, Add Points From Drawing Objects. Under Object Type: from the drop-down menu choose Text.
  4. Select the Objects and hit Enter!

That is it! our Surface is now ready!

Tip: Before creating the Surface from Text it would be good to check where the Text Object Grip point is. If it is away from the actual Point Placement, you should move it to correspond with it. Otherwise the surface will be displaced with that error.
In our example I had to move the point grip of all red Text Objects.

Hope you find this post useful! You can check our other post Point Elevations From Lines or our other Civil 3d tips and Tricks!

How To Raise or Lower Multiple Feature Lines in Civil 3D

It is quite a common task, to raise or lower the elevations of all vertexes of a feature line in a drawing. The reasons can be anything, from using the wrong benchmark to revisions by the client.

No matter the reasons, it is great to have the opportunity to automatically raise or lower vertexes by a constant with one click. However, is it possible to raise or lower the vertexes of multiple Feature Lines in Civil 3D at Once?
The answer is big YES! To do that just go through the steps below.

  1. Select all the Feature Lines you want to Raise or Lower.
  2. Right Click on the screen and choose Raise/Lower…
  1. AutoCAD will ask to Specify elevation difference. Here just enter the desired elevation to add or subtract from the elevations.
    Note: To subtract you need to enter minus before the number. For example, if you want to subtract 10 from all your elevations type in -10

That is all! You are all set, now all the elevations of the vertexes are raised or lowered with just 2 clicks!

If you want to learn more Civil 3D Tips & Tricks, check out our other AutoCAD Civil 3D posts!

Convert Anonymous Blocks *U### to Normal AutoCAD Blocks

Today’s issue we are going to deal with will be converting anonymous block objects in normal AutoCAD Blocks.

*U### blocks?

Usually, anonymous blocks are really annoying and hard to work with. They have strange names for example block with * in front of a random name. The different types of names mean that things though here are the different Anonymous block names:
*U### = anonymous blocks
*E### = anonymous non-uniformly scaled blocks
*X### = anonymous hatches
*D### = anonymous dimensions
*A### = anonymous groups

They can be purposely created so you can’t work with them or get created by extracting a drawing from specialized software like land desktop.

These block objects, can’t be easily modified as they have no exact name and definition, they don’t appear in the block editor, can also slow down a drawing, as every single entity is stored as separate *name block, as seen on the example below.

Convert *U### blocks to normal AutoCAD Blocks

There is one great Lisp by .. that helps us Convert multiple *U### blocks to normal ones. If you are not familiar with Lisps you can firstly check our post Accelerate Your Work with AutoLISP! After doing that follow the steps below:

  1. Download the AutoLISP from here.
  2. Open the drawing containing Anonymous Blocks and load the AutoLISP.
  3. Now type in the command line UNANONALL to convert all the blocks in the drawing, and hit Enter.

That was it, the blocks are now converted back to normal and can be used as intended!

Alignment Label Text Rotating? (One click solution!)

Today we are going to look at one really small tip that bothered me in the past. Rotating Alignment Labels.

If you are using a template that is given to you already set and you haven’t done it by your self then, it is likely that you are not absolutely familiar with all the settings made into it. Or even if you have done it by your self, maybe you haven’t paid attention to every small setting along the way.  So you end up with Labels that are facing the wrong side, much like in the example:

The reason for this is that AutoCAD Civil 3D is trying to rotate the text so it is best readable. However, in some cases like the one in the example, it looks bad. To turn this “feature” off just follow these simple steps:

  1. Right-click on your Alignment and go to Edit Alignment Labels…
  2. A window will pop up called Alignment labels, here you can see all your labels. Find the one that bothers you and click on the ticket icon near its style name.
  3. A New window will pop up, here make sure you’ve chosen the right style and click on the Edit Current Selection

  4. In the new window go to General Tab and there, under Plan Readability change Plan Readable to False
  5. Click OK on all the windows and your Alignment Labels should be now Static!

If you like this post make sure to look at our other Civil 3D related Posts or AutoCAD Posts and don’t forget to Subscribe or follow us on the social media.

Show Only Last Two Digits of Elevation Labels? Civil 3D

Your drawings are full of stuff and you are running out of space? Definitely displaying only the last two digits of spot elevations will help you make your drawings look way better.

So let’s jump right in it.

Create an Expression

We will have to create an Expression that will help us display only Last Two digits of the Spot Elevation Labels. Follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Toolspace panel on the Home Ribbon Tab.
  2. Select the Settings menu on the right side
  3. Right click on Expressions which are located in Surface > Label Styles > Spot Elevations > Expressions and hit New.
  4. Give that expression a name, for example, “Last two digits” and in Expression field paste this text: {Surface Elevation}-100*TRUNC({Surface Elevation}/100) and hit OK

We just did the Expression for removing the first digits and leaving only the last two ones. Now we can place that expression in out Spot Elevation Labels and move forward. However, there is one small problem, if a truncated value is below 10 we will end up with only one digit in front of the decimal sign. James Musselman@ from http://blogs.rand.com/civil/ came up with a great solution. Create an expression for text high that will return 0 if the truncated value is below 10 and return nothing if it is above. So let’s create the second expression

  1. Right click on Expressions and hit New again.
  2. Give the second expression a name, for example, “Zero” and paste this in the Expression Fied:  IF({Last Two Digits}<10,0.1/12,0) and hit OK.

Create Spot Elevation Label

After creating the two Expressions, we are ready to create the Spot Elevation Label that uses those. The steps are as follows:

  1. Go to Layout Tab in Label Style Composer (one way to open it is to Right click on your label and hit Edit Label Style) and create new Text component.
  2. For Anchor component choose <feature> For Contents place “0” and for Text Hight choose our “Zero” Expression.
  3. Create another Text component and for Anchor component choose the first Text in our case “zero” and for contents choose the Last two digits Expression.
  4. Hit OK. And you are ready!

Hope you like our Civil 3D Tip, you can check our other Civil 3D Related topics here and don’t forget to subscribe for more great tips like this one!



AutoCAD Cannot Save my Drawing! (5 Simple Solutions!)

One of the most frightening situations I’ve encountered using AutoCAD is seeing the error:

One or more objects in this drawing cannot be saved to the specified format. The operation was not completed and no file was created.

There is nothing worse than not being able to save your work and having to rely on some old version of the file. Don’t worry we will try to find a solution to this problem.


To me, this happens while I am using AutoCAD Civil 3D and having lots of COGO Points in the drawing. Usually, while I am working with the points, adding new or deleting, rotating labels, creating new groups and so on, that scary message pops out. I am not sure if the Points are really causing the problem, however, in most of the cases, the Corrupt drawing can be “Cured” by using AUDIT command.

  1. Type in the Command Line AUDIT.
  2. AutoCAD will prompt “Fix any errors detected?” Type “Y” for Yes and hit Enter.
  3. After that AutoCAD will scan the drawing and give you a Record of errors found. Now you should be able to Save your drawing!

Save As or WBLOCK

When Audit lets you down you can try to use Save As to create a new file. If this doesn’t work try doing a new file with WBLOCK Command.

Save As DXF file

If previous methods don’t do the job you can try to use this method. Just try to Save the file in DXF Format. Then Restart the AutoCAD and open the drawing. Now you should be able to save it in DWG file format.
To me, this happens when I’m trying to work on drawing that was created on a newer version of the software while I am using an older one.

Unleash full Save mode

Another thing you can try is to enable full Saves instead of Incremental ones. To do that just Type in command line ISAVEPERCENT and set the value to “0“.

Proxy Objects

In some cases, this behavior can be caused by proxy objects coming from other software. To enable the recognition for proxy objects, change the values of following variables to 1: PROXYGRAPHICS, PROXYNOTICE, PROXYSHOW. Now run PURGE and AUDIT commands and save the drawing.

If you are still suffering and drawing cannot be saved, try using the command –EXPORTTOAUTOCAD to create a file that contains only native to AutoCAD objects.

Autodesk also has a post about this issue that you can see here.

In the end, if nothing helps you can try to Restore Previous Data and minimize the damage.

Point Elevations From Lines (AutoCAD and AutoCAD Civil 3D Methods!)

Do you need to extract Points with Elevations from simple Line Objects? Or you need to create a Surface from Line Objects? Well, this was my task today, I needed to create points that have Assigned Elevations and a TIN Surface using Line Objects with Start Z and End Z properties.
We will look at several ways to do that using simple plane AutoCAD or extended functionality of AutoCAD Civil 3D!

Create Points with Elevations from Line Objects using AutoCAD

First, we will look at how to Extract Points with Assigned Elevations from Lines using just an AutoCAD.

This is the drawing we are going to use, pink lines have assigned Start and End Z properties, that we will use in our Points.

For better understanding, we will use step by step methodology:

  1. Make sure that your Lines are in separate Layer and isolate them using LAYISO command.
  2. Type in Command line DATAEXTRACTION to start data extraction tool that will help us extract Coordinates and Z values from Lines.
    1. A window will pop up called Data Extraction. On in mark Create a new data extraction and hit Next.
    2. AutoCAD will ask you where to save a new file .dxe file, here you just select name and location.
    3. On page 2 hit Select object in the current drawing and then select all the Line objects you want to extract information from. After selecting click Next.
    4. 3rd page of the Data Extraction tool will show you the types of objects you have selected. Since we selected only Lines, under Objects you will see only Line. Make sure the tick is there and hit Next!
    5. On the 4th page, is the selection of properties you need to extract. Place ticks only on Start X, End X, Start Y, End Y, Start Z and End Z (which are geometry properties).
    6. The 5th page will show the data acquired from those objects. Here I would suggest deselecting Show count column and Show name column since we don’t need those.
    7.  Page 6 is the place for choosing an output. Here select Output data to external file and choose where to save the file

      Note:  We need data in spreadsheet so make sure file’s extension is .xls
    8. Hit Next and then Finish! Now we have a spreadsheet with data for X, Y and Z of our Lines.
  3. At this point, you will end up with Excel file looking like this:

    The problem is that we have multiple identical rows, that is because there are several lines that start or end in one point. So we will need to Remove the Duplicates. (Click on the link for more information)
  4. After Formatting the table so that we have X, Y and Z columns it is time to Bring those points back to the Drawing. I am not familiar with creating Lisp routines, so we will use a more primitive method of insertion.
  5. Before saving the file insert a new column with a specific symbol, for example, * then, save the spreadsheet as Tab Delimited Text by Clicking File > Save As > Choose where to save > Save as Type Tab Delimited.
  6. Now we have our point data in this format:
    5128.18 5119.62 979.77 *
    5121.05 5121.99 979.12 *
    5129.47 5121.48 979.22 *

    What we are going to do now is to use Replace function to format the data:
    Note: It is very important to have “Space” symbol at the end of every row. This is because we will use simple POINT command to place our points automatically.
  7. The last step is drawing the Points. To do this we will Copy the text with point’s info, go to AutoCAD and start command POINT. Paste the text in the command line.

    AutoCAD will draw all the points automatically!

Point Elevations from Lines using AutoCAD Civil 3D

AutoCAD Civil 3D is very powerful software that will help us achieve the same results with fewer steps and some bonuses. This time we will end up with a TIN Surface and Point objects!  Let’s go through the steps:

  1. Firstly we will isolate the Lines using LAYISO Command.
  2. Secondly, we will create a new TIN Surface from the Prospector Tab.
  3. Now let’s define the surface using our Line objects. Just go to Definition and then right click on Drawing Objects then Add.
  4. A window will pop up called Add Points From Drawing Objects. Here under Object type, we select Lines and then hit OK. Now select all the lines.
  5. At this point, we will have a TIN Surface created and defined by the Lines. Now we have to be sure that Points of the surface are displayed. This can be done by right click on the surface (in the Prospector tab) and choosing Edit Surface Style. In the new window under Display, we can see if Points are visible.
  6. Now, we select our new surface and go to Extract Objects.
  7. The Last step is to choose what to Extract. We need Points so check only Points property. And click OK.

Grip Issue Editing Polylines and Labels Civil 3d 2018!

At the beginning of 2018 at work, we moved to AutoCAD Civil 3d 2018, there is some cool new stuff but we faced some really annoying issues.


Label and Arc Grip Issue

The first problem we faced were the grips of Spot Elevation Surface Labels. Whenever we try to move the labels using the grips, the position of the mouse is different from the position of the vertex. It feels like the Label moves twice the distance that mouse moves.

The same problem occurred when trying to stretch an Arc Object, the selected vertex moves differently than the mouse.

 Editing Polylines

We already have discussed how important it is to Edit Polylines by Adding and Removing Vertexes. So when I tried to hower over a grip with the mouse to add vertex the menu didn’t show! The only way I was able to invoke the menu was by deselecting the polyline and selecting it again. The menu appears, but only once!

Plus Signs on Polylines

The last issue were some small “+” signs appearing when a polyline is selected and scroll with the mouse wheel. This is not that big of a deal, however, it was a bit annoying.


Autodesk support has acknowledged the problem and gave us a fix, which you can download from here. The fix itself contains .arx file and readme file. To install the fix just follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to the program folder C:\Program Files\Autodesk\AutoCAD 2018\Map
  2. Copy somewhere your original AcMapFeatureEntityUI.arx just in case
  3. Replace the old AcMapFeatureEntityUI.arx with the one in the package.
  4. Start Civil 3D it must work as supposed!

Note: Those issues are present in AutoCAD Map 3D as well, the hotfix will fix Map 3dD too!

Here is a link to the original Autodesk post.

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