As the title says I use AutoCad on a daily basis and a novice Blender user. Mainly 2D drafting is what I work with in AutoCad. I got to thinking about if Blender has any mesh modeling tools that can do stuff like in AutoCad with mesh models.

Offset tool Is there any type of offset tool in Blender? In AutoCad, the offset tool can copy a line or arc and displace the copy to a specified dimension away from the original making them parallel to each other.

From Base point tools In AutoCad, tools like copy, mirror, scale, rotate, etc. let you select a base point to work from. For example if you were to scale a circle up in size, AutoCad lets you pick a base point from a snap point or empty space and it will scale from there.

If you know any other tools that are similar that I havn't mentioned and would like to share, it would be very helpful.



2 Answers 2


I don't have any experience with AutoCad but I can tell you that these all sound perfectly possible.

Offsetting sounds like simple duplication. Shift-D the object or part of the mesh you want to copy and then move it, restricting to an axis (via X, Y, or Z hotkeys) to keep it parallel. If you want the new mesh to always resemble the old you can make a linked duplicate with alt-d. The new mesh will mirror the old one any time you edit it.

As a 'base point' blender has the '3D cursor', that red and white circle you always see. Left clicking places the cursor and then by pressing the period key (not on the numpad but on the keypad) your transformations will use it as a 'pivot point' (blender lingo). If left clicking isn't accurate enough you can make the cursor snap to the grid or to any vertex or object center you select (shift-s to bring up the snapping menu).

Blender is extremely capable, but probably has different names for most tools. It has less of a focus on precision and more on artistry than CAD programs from what I understand, but you can make it work. I've watched interviews wherein car engineers and designers started their visualization with blender and then brought it into AutoCad to tweak later.

  • $\begingroup$ I think HowToBlend has done a pretty good job of answering the specific questions in your post. Two things I would note: although I am not facile in Autocad, either, I suspect that most of the Autocad funtionality is present in Blender, perhaps not under differently named tools, but some functionality may be spread across different tools, including modifiers and add-ons. Also that Blender has import or export capabilities for a lot of file formats, including Autocad's ~.DXF format, so you may be able to export from Blender (and back) if you find some tool you need that isn't yet in Blender. $\endgroup$
    – brasshat
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ I am an autocad user myself, all I can say is that blender have it personal touch in workflow. Blender will never have the precision that autocad is required to have. But if you work with blender long enough , you will find that the tools that blender offer are pretty comprehensive and sufficient in a regular architecture modeling environment. In fact I personally like blender over 3d studio max , the latter which I have used for over 12 years. $\endgroup$
    – hawkenfox
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 6:26

While I can't compare with autocad some things that may interest you -

The manual page on numeric input can expand on moving/scaling/rotating by exact amounts, you can also enter expressions which can include unit measurements (mm, cm, ft, yards) to calculate the value, which can also be used during a viewport transform after pressing numpad * or =

There is a ruler and protractor included with blender.

You can display edge lengths and angles while you are editing.

Antonyioya has a measureit addon.

You might find tinyCad to be a useful addon.

Maybe a little further out there is sverchok which provides node based parametric mesh creation, with animation nodes providing some of the same functionality but more focused on object manipulation.


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