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Adding Aerial Maps in Autodesk AutoCAD

May 31, 2015

Have you ever received a drawing from a surveyor or another outside source and it contains geographical information? Or maybe you received an address from a project manager and you just need to create a quick layout for a field visit to the site. You can use the AutoCAD online map function to check your location and/or add objects that are currently not on your map. One drawback is the map is a temporary graphic which is dynamically supplied by the online map service. Which means you will have to be logged into A360 to view the map. Since the release of AutoCAD 2015 you do now have the ability to clip the image and/or viewport and paste into the file as a clipped image and this will give you the ability to print the image.

Let’s take a look how to do this in AutoCAD. On the insert tab location panel of the Ribbon Set Location by hitting from map as shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Set Location


Since I am a big Detroit Tigers Fan we are going to search for Comerica Park, Detroit Michigan (Home of the Tigers) as shown in Figure 2. If you do not see this map image then you are not connected to Autodesk A360. In the address area type the location you would like to find. Type in Comerica Park Detroit Michigan as shown or your desired location.

Figure 2: Comerica Park – Detroit, Michigan

01-Comerica Park

AutoCAD will now come back with the results and our location has been found. Drop the marker will place the location in the blue 1 as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Drop the marker in AutoCAD

03-Comerica Park1

Next we move to the final step which is extremely important as we need to set the coordinate system for our map and or project. For this location we will use the Michigan East Coordinate System.  If you do not know the coordinate system you can use the standard UTM coordinate system which can be found in the list below.

Figure 4: Select your coordinate system

03-GEO Coords

Hit next and you will be prompted for a location, hit return twice once for the location and next for the rotation angle. These will both be determined by your coordinate system. My map of Comerica Park is displayed as a georeferenced image within your drawing.

Figure 5: Image displayed in AutoCAD

05-Tiger Stadium

On the Geolocation tab of the Ribbon you now have several options for your map. You can edit the location which in some cases may be necessary if you have an incorrect coordinate system.  Reorient the maker and Remove the Location are options as well. At times I will remove the location after I complete a project and I no longer need the map for reference. If you are signed in to Autodesk 360, you can change the resolution of map images, modify their extent, adjust their opacity, or update them to the latest version available on the online maps service.

One last thing I would like to cover is since AutoCAD 2015 you can now capture the area and put a static image into your drawing. Note: This option is available only if the current view is plan view of the WCS and will be shown prior to the AutoCAD 2015 release.06-Capture Area

You can capture the area by selecting the Capture area button shown above. You will be asked to select two points to specify the rectangular area. The map is captured to a map image and placed over the online map. The second option is to capture the viewport which will capture viewport button.  This will capture the current viewport area and place on a static image on the screen.

Figure 6: Map area options

07-Capture Map

You will now be able to print the image and keep in your current drawing file. Remember saving back to AutoCAD 2014 or below will just give you the proxy outline and no image. You do not have to be logged into AutoCAD A360 to view the static image. This is an improvement in AutoCAD to have the ability to add images which are georeferenced into your drawing.

The following video has been uploaded to demonstrate how to use the online map function in AutoCAD


From → CAD Tips

  1. Sergio Nieto permalink

    To integrate Google Maps, OpenStreetMaps, … in AutoCAD we use Spatial Manager for AutoCAD. It allows us to establish dynamic background maps in AutoCAD that is updated as we make view changes and captures can be made to embed them in the DWGs (as an external image or as an OLE object).

    I hope this helps

  2. Useful information. Lucky me I found your site accidentally, and I am stunned why
    thiis accident did not came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

  3. Thank you! for instruction adding aerial maps

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