wiki:BasicTutorial

Version 2 (modified by leo, 11 years ago) (diff)

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Basic Tutorial

This page is designed to give you a good understanding of the basics of LeoCAD, it will teach you how to browse the pieces list, add pieces to a model and move and rotate them around, create a model with multiple steps and change the camera position.

To do that we'll create a simple racing car, so start LeoCAD and you should see a window that looks like this:

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LeoCAD has a standard user interface with toolbars and menus. The big white area on the left is the main drawing area and on the right there's a list of available pieces with a picture of the currently selected one and list of colors.

Note that user interface is different between Operating Systems so if you're not running the MS Windows version of LeoCAD your screen won't look exactly like the screenshots here but they will be still close.


Let's add our first piece to the model, open the "Plates" category from the pieces list on the right (1), then scroll down and select "Plate 1 x 4". We want our car to be blue so click on the blue rectangle at the bottom (2). Notice that the picture on the top right corner has changed to reflect the new color.

Now let's add the brick to the drawing area, click the "brick" icon on the top left of the screen (3) and the mouse cursor will change to a small brick. Move it to the drawing area, click with the left mouse button and a new piece will be added to the model.

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TIP: You can use the grid to help you see better where each piece is located. You can do that by choosing "Preferences" under the "View" menu, then going to the "Drawing Aids" tab and checking the box "Base Grid". Also note that the X/Y/Z location of the currently selected brick is shown on the lower right corner.


Now select "Plate 2 x 4" from the list of pieces and add it next to the first piece. After you add a piece the mouse cursor changes to an icon that looks like four arrows, that means that if you now keep the mouse button pressed and move the cursor the objects that are currently selected will be moved. If you look at both bricks, you’ll see that the new brick has a blue outline, that means that it is selected and it will be modified when you drag the mouse.

While holding the left mouse button down move the mouse and position the new piece 2 "units" from the first piece like the next picture.

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TIP: To move pieces one axis at a time you can click on the axis arrows (1), or use the keyboard (default keys are the arrow keys, Page Up and Page Down).


We want to make instructions in a way that people can see the order that we added pieces to the model so we need to split the building instructions in "steps".

Since now we'll be adding pieces on top of the existing pieces it's a good time to do so in another step, so click on the the right arrow icon (1) on the top right toolbar. If you look at the status bar at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see that it now says "Step 2" on the right side (2).

Add a "Plate 2 x 8" just above the first pieces, we are going to use it to hold the first two bricks together so we will have to rotate it until it's in the correct position. Select the "Rotate" icon from the toolbar (3), the cursor will change and then drag the mouse until the brick is rotated 90 degrees.

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TIP: Just like moving, you can also rotate around one axis at a time by clicking on the circles that appear around the currently selected piece, or by using the keyboard (default keyboard shortcut is hold the SHIFT key down while pressing the arrow, Page Up or Page Down keys).


Now go to step 3 of the project and let's keep building our car. We need to add a steering wheel and mudguards next but if you're not familiar with naming convention of the Pieces Library it can take a while to find out which category a piece belongs to but luckly we can quickly search for pieces.

Type "Car Mudguard" in the search box (1) and press Enter. LeoCAD will search all piece names for the text you typed and display the results in the category tree under "Search Results" at the bottom of the tree.

Select "Car Mudguard 2 x 4 without Studs" and add it to the model, then do the same for the steering wheel and you’ll have something like this:

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Advance the instructions another step and add a "Slope Brick 45 2 x 2" above the mudguard and another to the front of the car.

Let’s also add another "Plate 1 x 4" to the car, LeoCAD remembers that you recently added one so you can quickly go back to it by clicking on the arrow to the right of the search box (1) and selecting it from the list of recently added pieces.

Here’s the picture of the almost complete car:

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There's one very important thing missing in our car: the wheels, but before we add them we need to add the wheel holders so let's do that on step 5. It's not going to be easy to see the bottom of the car from the current camera position so we should rotate the camera around the car but we don't want to change the camera position for the previous steps.

To make changes not apply to previous steps LeoCAD uses a concept called keyframing, that means that any changes made to a key frame won't affect previous steps, and changes done to steps before the key frame won't affect steps after it.

Turn keyframing mode on by clicking on the "Key" icon on the toolbar (1), then select the "Rotate Camera" icon (2). Now drag the mouse until you can see the bottom of the car from a good angle. If the car is not centered on the screen, you can also use the "Pan" and "Zoom" tools to adjust the camera.

Once you get a good camera position turn keyframing mode off by clicking on the "Key" icon again and then add two black "Plate 2 x 2 with Wheels Holder" to the car:

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Now we can finally add the wheels to the car, so go to step 6 and change the camera position to an angle close to what we had on the first steps of the instructions. Add a gray "Wheel Centre" and a black "Tyre" to the first wheel holder.

Change to the front camera by pressing the "F" key and zoom in, if you take a close look you’ll see that you can’t move the wheel to the correct place. That’s because the program is moving the bricks only to fixed places so turn 3D Snap off (1). Now select both the wheel and the tyre by choosing the "Arrow" icon (2) and clicking on the pieces while holding the CTRL key down and you’ll be able to move both pieces at the same time to the correct place.

Now turn 3D Snap on again. As we’re going to need 3 more sets of wheels let’s save some time and use the clipboard to help us, it works just like Notepad or any other Windows application. You can press CTRL+C to copy and CTRL+V to paste or use the toolbar icons. Make sure that both the wheel and the tyre are still selected and place a copy on the clipboard, them paste and move the pieces to the correct place.

We still need one last thing to finish the project, a driver ! Go to step 7 and select "Minifig Wizard" from the "Piece" menu, you’ll see a dialog where you can customize a minifig. Select the options you want and click "OK" to add the driver.

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If you have done everything correctly, the finished car will look like this:

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Now you should save the file to make it possible to use it later. You can also send it by email to your friends or ask the program to create a web page for you, just take a look at all the options you have on the menus. You can even create raytraced pictures and use them as your Windows background if you have POV-Ray installed !

This finishes the quick tutorial, remember that this does not teach you how to use the advanced features of the program, like creating animations but it will help you get started with the basic features.

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