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Hints and tips

After learning the basics of CityCAD, you may find these hints and tips useful:

1. Use keyboard shortcuts

When drawing and editing in the main display window, you can select the following tools by typing these letters:

S - (S)elect Tool, R - (R)oute Tool, A - Rot(a)te Tool, U - R(u)ler Tool, O - (O)rbit Tool
D - Sub(d)ivision Tool, M - (M)odify Tool, T - (T)ree Tool, Y - Tree Spra(y) Tool, I - City (I)tem Tool
P - Offset route tool (to (P)ull a copy of the route away from an existing route), E - (E)xtend route tool, F - (F)illet route tool

You can remind yourself of these shortcuts by holding the mouse cursor over each button on the CityCAD toolbar to show the tooltip.

Other shortcuts include:
Ctrl-C - Copy
Ctrl-Shift-C - Snap to orthographic axes on/off
Ctrl-D - DXF-tracing snap settings
Ctrl-D - Set snaps to DXF tracing defaults
Ctrl-Shift-D - Set all snaps to default
Ctrl-E - Zoom to Extents
Ctrl-Shift-G - Edit groups
Ctrl-I - Image tracing snap settings
Ctrl-M - Move to...
Ctrl-N - New
Ctrl-Shift-N - Show/hide all nodes
Ctrl-O - Open
Ctrl-Shift-P - Edit phases
Ctrl-Shift-R - Set all snaps to narrow (r)ange
Ctrl-S - Save
Ctrl-Shift-S - All snaps on/off
Ctrl-V - Paste
Ctrl-W - Zoom to Window
Ctrl-X - Cut
F1 - open help
F11 - toggle full screen mode on/off

2. Right-Click

The first time you use CityCAD, you will probably use the Route Tool a lot to draw streets. When using this tool, you can right-click to select elements, or right-click on an empty part of the ground to de-select everything.

If you want to start drawing a different type of street, a quick way is to right-click on an empty part of the ground to de-select everything. The Default Route Properties then appear on the right, and you can choose a new type of route or change the streetscape settings. Any new route you draw after that will have the new settings.

When using the select tool, you can right-click on an element and select 'Show in City Grid'. This will open the City tab in the City Analysis Panel below with the chosen element selected.

3. Draw a Grid on to Your Image Before Importing

You can import Ground Plane Images to use as a base for your masterplan.

These can be maps, plans, aerial photos or even simple concept sketches.

To make the image easier to import, draw a grid on to the image first at a known size e.g. 100m x 100m. This makes it easy to use 3-Point Positioning to scale the image more accurately.

4. Adjust Snap Radius

If you are working on buildings in a bit more detail, you might find it useful to go to Edit Menu: Preferences. Then choose ‘Snaps’, and you can then change which snaps are used and the radius for each one.

If you have imported a DXF base map and are ‘tracing‘ over it with Boundary Routes, type Ctrl-D to select DXF tracing snap settings.

Use the 'Use Image Tracing', 'Use DXF Tracing' and 'Use Narrow Range' buttons to set the snap radius to an appropriate level for those tasks.

5. Adjustable Node Size and Colour

By default, Node Markers stay the same size (about 8m high) so that they are visible for most work at the urban design scale.

If you want to work at a much larger or smaller scale, you can set the Node Markers to resize if you zoom in closer.

To do this, choose Edit Menu: Preferences: then ‘Display‘. You can then set the size of the node markers to 'Dynamic Resizing'.

6. Use the Settings Library

This allows you to save frequently used sets of properties for blocks, routes and other CityCAD elements.

Follow these steps to create an entry in the settings library:

  • Create one example of the element (eg. the block) with the required settings
  • Select the element.
  • Go to the Settings Library and click the green plus sign.
  • You will be prompted to enter a name for this settings combination.

The settings will now be saved. To apply them to any other element in the model, select the element you want to apply them to and then double-click on the desired settings in the Settings Library.

7. Draw Individual Buildings with Boundary Routes

You can use ‘Boundary Routes‘ (ie. a route with no streetscape elements like pavements, lanes etc) to draw the outlines of buildings.

You may find this useful if you want to draw the outlines of buildings, or if you want to adjust the size of a building independently of the streets around it.

8. Remember that DXF Base Maps can be 3D

If you are importing a DXF Base Map, all lines will be shown in 3D. This means so you can import contour lines or wireframe building models to use as a base map or to provide context for your city model.

9. Rotate City Items and Pasted Elements before placing

If you have selected the City Item Tool and are about to place an item, or have just started a 'Paste' command, if you hold down the control key and move the mouse wheel up and down, you can rotate the object before it is placed.

Also, if you Paste an element, you can use this method to rotate the element before it is placed.

10. Contact Holistic City Technical Support

We are here to help - please contact our support team at if you have any questions.

We are always interested to hear about projects where CityCAD is being used. Your feedback will help us improve CityCAD and enhance the value it can offer to your work.

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