Creating Custom 2D Drawing Templates in Alibre Design

2D Drawing Templates in Alibre Design

Creating your own customized 2D drawing templates from scratch gives you most control over how your subsequent 2D drawings look and behave. Even if you choose to edit one of the provided standard templates to produce your own (which can be faster), the information here will help you to understand the options available.

General Points

The standard templates provided in Alibre Design are write protected, the folder in which they are stored is deleted and re‐created when the software is updated. Do not store your customized templates in this folder, or they will be lost. Instead choose a separate location to store you custom templates.

2D drawings inherit many aspects of appearance and behaviour from templates. It can make sense to customize templates for different styles of work, or to comply with different internal, customer, national or international standards.

The standard templates provided with Alibre Design can be divided into 2 groups

  • American – Letter sheet sizes, inch units, 3rd angle projection 
  • International – ISO sheet sizes, mm units, 1st angle projection     

Your own requirements may not exactly match the settings of either.

2D drawing templates are simply 2D drawing files – they can be edited by opening in Alibre Design.

Creating a Custom Template from Scratch

From Home Window, click on new 2D drawing

If prompted for a file name, fill that in now.

Sheet Size

Select ‘Blank Sheet’ and choose the desired standard sheet size from the drop down list, or choose and specify a custom size.

After setting the sheet size, check the ‘Create Empty Drawing’ box.

When the drawing opens, you should see a blue rectangle representing the drawing sheet.

Drawing frame & Title Block

It is usual for each sheet to have a frame around the drawing area, and also a Title Block to contain information of various kinds.

The frame is smaller than the sheet size, leaving a border between the frame and the edges of the sheet. The border ensures that the drawing will not have critical information ‘cropped’ by printers not being able to print to the edge of the sheet, nor by minor misalignment when drawings are copied. The Frame also makes it obvious to users of the drawing if part of the drawing has been lost during copying.

Frame/Border details do vary – BS EN ISO 5457 for example specifies a wider border at the left hand side of the sheet, to allow space for filing paper sheets in a binder or folder without encroaching into the drawing area.

To place a Frame, right click on the sheet, select ‘Activate Sketch on Sheet’ – you should now see a red coloured node at bottom left corner of the sheet (at the origin). A Red outline just outside the sheet indicates that Sketch on Sheet is active.

Place a rectangle on the sheet using one of the rectangle sketching tools, position it roughly as required. To position and size the frame accurately you can dimension from the origin point (not from frame sides), using standard or ordinate dimensions.

Title Block

After placing the frame, you can add the title block – using the line tool or rectangle tools. Sizing and precise positioning is again accomplished by adding dimensions. You can dimension from the frame previously added to the sheet, or from the sheet origin. You may also find sketch constraints, and the trim, extend, and theoretical intersection sketch tools useful when producing the title block.

Don’t bother to delete dimensions that are used to help define your frame and title block – they won’t show up in drawings which refer to the template, they may also be useful later if you need to edit the detail of the template.

The following example of a frame and title block has been provided by our Reseller, O‐Punkt.Data fields

Alibre Design has provision for populating data fields (typically within the drawing title block, but can be anywhere on the drawing sheet). Data fields can be filled in by the user, or they can be automatically populated from design properties of the model chosen to drive the drawing in the Design Properties dialogue (accessed from the Drawing Tools portion of the Ribbon).

Data field: Manual

To create a data field that is filled in manually. Select ‘sketch on sheet’, then from the menu bar select Sketch ‐> Text ‐> Field

The following dialogue will appear – under Set Type, choose User Input.

Name: give your field a meaningful name.

Prompt: this is a prompt text that will display to the user.

Text Options: choose text alignment, font, and font size to be used in the field.

Default Value: What is entered here will populate the field if the user doesn’t enter any text. It is also a preview window for the effect of Text Options. 

The symbols box (above right this box) allows selection of commonly used drawing symbols.

Position: The X & Y Values reflect the position of the start of the text field (the red cross‐hairs), you can position by clicking the cursor on the sheet, or by adjusting the X & Y values (or a combination of these methods).

Rotation Angle: Use zero for horizontal text + or – 90 for vertical text, or any other angle required. Click Apply to finish. To edit, right click on the field and select Edit from the context menu. 

Data field: Automatic

Initial selection is as for manual data fields, when the dialogue box appears choose Property Value instead of User Input.

From the drop down list which appears, choose the required property of either the design (chosen in Drawing Properties), or the drawing (at end of drop down list). The chosen property will only appear in the drawing if it is already populated in the 3D design file, or is a valid property of the drawing.

Text Options, and Position & Rotation behave as previously described.

Prompt & Default Value are not used for automatic fields.

Fields are dynamic text – either filled in by the user, or automatically populated with properties from the design or drawing. If permanent text is required, perhaps to identify what the contents of a field relates to or maybe standard notes that should appear on all drawings, Labels are used.


Labels are used to place text that never changes – for example the descriptor text for a Data Field, or Your Company address. Labels are inserted in a similar way to Data Fields, select ‘sketch on sheet’, then from the menu bar select Sketch ‐> Text ‐> Label.

All controls in the Label text dialogue work in the same way as already described for Fields.

NOTE: Do not attempt to insert fields or labels within an ordinary drawing, they should only be inserted in templates.


If you wish to insert a logo, or a photograph to embellish your template, use the Insert Image command. This can be accessed from the Sheets and Views tab of the Ribbon, or from Insert on the menu bar.

Selecting either will open a file browse window, from which you can navigate to your chosen image file (several common image file formats are supported). The image is placed on the sheet and can then be treated like any 2D view. It can be dragged to a new position and can have scale changed to alter the image size.

Remember that your drawings may be copied and re‐produced at different scales, often on a monochrome copier. Images or logos that are fairly simple tend to be most suitable.

2D drawing properties

There are a number of properties that can be set for 2D drawings – these will be inherited from the template, so making sure they are set as required in the template will save manual editing when producing drawings later.

To access the properties for your template click the Alibre logo (top left of screen), then click Drawing Properties. You should then see the file properties menu. 

The tree view on the left has many ‘branches’, each representing a related set of drawing properties. You may wish to adjust some of the properties across a range of branches – we’ll look more closely at just a few.

The ‘Detailing’ branch (shown above) allows you to pre‐select which view creation options will be active when the template is used. You can also choose if First Angle or Third Angle projections should be used to create views. There are also options to adjust the detailed appearance of hole patterns and of the scale label for views.

‘Dimension Styles’ control what units of measure are displayed, and a whole lot more detail about exactly how dimensions appear in the drawing. You may find it helpful to define several dimension styles, which you can then choose to apply to any dimensions in your finished drawings.

You always have the option to override a style and manually edit any particular dimension – but you save a lot of time by pre‐defining dimension styles that cover your most common requirements.

‘Layers’ gives control over visibility, colour, pattern, and weight (thickness) of the various line types used in the drawing. You can add additional line types if required. As an example, an ‘invisible’ layer can be useful, you can switch specific lines to this layer to hide them.

Note that the display of lines on screen is NOT ‘what you see is what you get’ (wysiwyg). On screen display is optimised for visibility and precision – line weights especially may appear very different on screen from when the drawing is printed. You may have to experiment and do some test prints to get exactly the desired effect.

Note that you can access both dimension styles and layers directly from the Ribbon

You can explore the other ‘branches’ of the drawing properties tree to what aspects of the drawing they control.

A few final words about some aspects of drawing appearance.

Fonts: Alibre Design can use installed fonts from Windows. For fully compliance with ISO standards for drawings, the font required is laid down in the standards. A freely downloadable suitable font is available; search the Internet for ‘osifont’ and install it on your computer.

Decimal separator: For full compliance with ISO drawing standards, the comma should be used as the decimal separator in dimensions. This is in line with common practice for much of Europe, but in the United Kingdom, the full‐stop (or decimal point) is commonly used as the decimal separator. 

Use of the decimal separator character in Windows (and hence in Alibre) is determined by the Windows Regional Settings. To produce fully ISO compliant drawings on a computer with Region or Country set to United Kingdom, it will be necessary to customise the related number format to use comma as the decimal separator.

This guide is not exhaustive, but tries to show enough to help you get started setting up your own custom 2D templates. Please use the feedback option to let us know if there are specific items that you feel we should add to improve this document.

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