How to Learn AutoCAD on Your Own? (Here’s How I Did it)


I know very well that trying to learn AutoCAD on your own can be a very daunting task, I was at that point once in my life.

I am currently an architect, almost two decades of my life have been spent using CAD programs, having AutoCAD as a base, not that I am such an old person, let’s say I started studying at an early age.

In one of my job experiences, where AutoCAD is used as a base program, I was nicknamed “the guru”, LOL, I taught them many new things about the program, and I also taught classes in local schools, but I have a secret.

My secret is that I learned AutoCAD on my own, well, it’s not a secret anymore because I’m telling it on the internet for everyone to read, and also no one had asked me how I learned AutoCAD.

I have never taken a certified course or anything like that to learn how to use the AutoCAD program, so you can definitely learn how to use it on your own, there are currently many free resources available from where you can get started.

If you are interested in learning how to use AutoCAD on your own, I will tell you about my experience, what was my process and the important factors for you to achieve it.

Why would you decide to learn AutoCAD on your own?

Well, there are several reasons why you can decide to learn to use AutoCAD on your own, but as I am focusing this topic on my experience in my beginnings as a trainee, to serve as a guide, I will tell you my 3 main reasons why I decided to learn to use the program on my own:

  1. I had no money
  2. I had no money
  3. I had no money

I wish that was a joke, but I decided to study architecture, one of the most expensive careers, my family did not have enough resources so I had to work at night to be able to afford it.

I don’t mean to make a drama movie out of it, but I really had to fend for myself to do a lot of things.

So I had neither time nor money, and by that time there were many AutoCAD courses available, but they were quite expensive, so I didn’t even think about taking a course.

What I did have was a computer and internet access and that was all I needed to learn, of course, apart from the decision and willingness to do it.

What do you need to learn AutoCAD on your own?

I previously mentioned what you will need to learn how to use the program on your own.

A computer, can be a desktop or a laptop, personally, I used a laptop for the ease of mobility, but a desktop gives you more power.

Although initially, you will not need a lot of power to use the program, as you should start by learning AutoCAD 2D, it is simply lines on a background screen.

Thank God AutoCAD does not require a computer with very powerful graphics to work, although there are laptops and graphics cards especially for CAD work.

As for example the current laptop I have, is a workstation with a Nvida Quadro card, I really got it by pure chance, not because AutoCAD is a very demanding program.

But if you really want a specialized computer to use CAD programs I recommend one with a Nvidia Quadro card, although you must be willing to “give an eye of your face” in exchange.

You will need an internet connection, this is basic, and in fact, due to the large amount of free information on the internet, I would rather pay for the internet than pay for an AutoCAD course.

In YouTube, you will find many videos to learn for free, if you want to get guidelines I will tell you later in a summarized way what you should learn at the beginning, although the basic free courses that appear in YouTube are already very well structured.

You are going to need time and dedication, I know this is too obvious to mention, but believe it or not, many people overlook things that are too obvious and simple.

If you want to learn, dedicate at least an hour of your day, even less, it could be up to 15 minutes a day if you are too busy, believe me, AutoCAD is a program with a lot of depth, but the basics are very easy to learn, you will not need too much time.

Are there any special skills required to learn AutoCAD?

You will not need any special skills to learn AutoCAD, but I must tell you, if you are familiar with the use of computer programs you have a big advantage.

By this I mean, if you know how to turn on, turn off a computer, use the mouse, know how to open the program, how to install a program, etc etc.

Wanting to learn AutoCAD and not knowing how to use computers is like wanting to learn how to draw and not even knowing how to write.

Believe me, many people want to learn how to use computer programs and do not know how to “use the mouse”, that is another process if you know the basics of computers you have a step ahead.

Something else you should take into account, in my particular case my native language is not English, I always told my AutoCAD students to forget about using AutoCAD in Spanish (Which is my native language).

If your native language is not English, I recommend you to try to learn basic English, and do not use AutoCAD in translated format, trust me, you will appreciate it later.

AutoCAD will not be the only CAD program you are going to use in the future, you will be thankful if you master the English base, all CAD programs handle similar commands and uses.

Where should you start to learn AutoCAD for Free?

When I say where you should start, I will tell you which places will help you learn the basics of the program on your own:

YouTube: It’s an online university, you can learn practically everything on YouTube, channels that teach AutoCAD for free there are many.

AutoCAD forums: Actually, in my learning process I didn’t go to forums, but when I had problems with the program and I was looking for help on the web I always found answers in forums.

Program help: if you press F1 in AutoCAD you will find detailed help on how each of the commands works and many more details about the program, it is worth spending time on.

Peers and colleagues: Sometimes the best way to learn is to watch other people doing things, look at the working methods of other colleagues, ask questions and be curious about the functions of the program.

As for the processes, I recommend 100% that you start by learning the program interface, where the menus are, what they are for, what functions each menu has.

It is so basic and essential to learn the program interface that it is regularly overlooked by many, and it is really important to know the interface.

Especially because sometimes the bars and menus can be unintentionally hidden, and you will need to know how to put everything back in its place.

After the interface what you must learn is how to use the drawing commands, especially the line.

The line is the body and soul of AutoCAD, you will see yourself drawing lines all the time, it is the most basic, learn everything about lines, how to make them, how to edit them.

For my part I can tell you that the commands I use the most in AutoCAD are line, offset, copy, trim and extend, believe me, I can design you a house with those commands.

One last tip, go slow to learn, don’t try to learn too many things in one day, you might feel overwhelmed and forget everything the next day.

It is more practical to spend a little time each day and learn one thing well, or two things about the program, the next day practice what you learned the day before and continue with something new.

The problem is that if you try to learn too many things together on the same day, it is very likely that the next day you will forget them, so practice what you learn and it will stick in your mind.

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