Scale and Measurement in Concepts 5

The first steps in creating a successful design plan are 1) setting your project’s scale, and 2) applying accurate measurements. You need to not only visualize your plan well, but estimate and purchase materials to build your final design. Concepts 5 has a few improved workflows over previous versions, so here is how you go about setting your scale and applying measurements in this version.

(The very nice Concepts manual has this and other Precision topics outlined in detail, as well. If you’re using Concepts 4, you can read how to apply scale and measurements here.)

Scale

Scale is a multiplier that defines how big an object is in real life compared to its size on the screen. Standard scales for house plans, for example, are 1/8 in or 1/4 in : 1 ft imperial (in the US), or 1 : 100 metric (everywhere else). This indicates that 1/8 in or 1/4 in on the plan equates to 1 ft in reality. Component drawings might be 1 : 20 or 1 : 5; gaming models are popularly 1 : 72. For smaller objects where details matter, a scale of 1/2 : 1 allows you to see the design at twice the size.

Setting a Popular or Known Scale

If you already know the scale you’d like to use for your design, open the Settings menu (the gear icon in the top status bar) and find Drawing Scale under the Workspace tab. Here you can easily select one of the standard ratios or enter your own scale. Choose from a shortcut, tap an entry field to bring up a full list of options, or just type in your units. Remember to set the corresponding unit types beside the numbers so your proportions are correct.

Next, head down to the Units section, right below Drawing Scale, to choose your unit setting for the drawing. This assures that the unit displayed beside the measurement on canvas reflects your scale metrics. (Note that since this sets the units for the entire drawing, every tool and guide will reflect the metric… this doesn’t mean your tool presets have changed, they’ll just be displayed with the new unit.)

Drawing Scale and Units options in the Settings menu.

When you exit Settings and open your Precision menu on the canvas, you’ll see your new scale ratio beside the Measure option. From here on out when Measure is active, all of your measurements will reflect your chosen scale regardless of zoom levels.

The Precision menu with Measure active.

Setting an Unknown Scale, and Aligning a Plan to your Screen

If you don’t know the scale you’d like to use but want to accurately reflect its real-world components on screen, or if you have imported a plan and want to align it to a particular scale, you can do this easily, too.

1. To tie your design on screen to its real-world counterpart, it’s important that you know one real-life measurement of your plan. Check your plan for an already-noted measurement, or take out your tape measure and find an exact measurement of one wall, door, lot line or deck length. Jot it down on your canvas to remember it.

With an infinite canvas, you can write anywhere and still have room for your plan.

2. Import your plan as a photo or PDF, or sketch the plan up on your canvas.

If you import the plan as an image or PDF, it will appear in its own layer default with automatic layering. If you’re in manual layering mode, it will appear in the current layer. (Sharing as an import for illustrative purposes, but this plan was drawn entirely in Concepts.)

If it’s a complex or colorful image, we recommend you tap the image layer and set the opacity down to about 40% so you can see your sketching and measurement tags clearly on the plan.

3. Tap the Precision menu on your canvas. Find Measure from the options that appear, and tap it to activate it.

Activate Measure.

4. Now find the Line guide in the Precision menu. Beside the Guide option, you might see an arc or other tool; tap it to display the rest of your choices and tap Line. (By the way, if something is selected on your screen, you won’t see the Guide option. Just make sure nothing is selected.)

The Shape Guide options. They all work with measurements, the same as with the Line guide.

The Line guide is Concepts’ smart ruler. Besides helping you to draw straight lines, it takes live measurements of the lines you draw when Measure is active, and allows you to customize its length.

Activate the Line guide and double-tap the crosshairs at the center to contain the boundaries of the line. This keeps your drawn line to only what is between the handles, handy for keeping your measurements exact.

Contain the boundaries of a drawn line by double-tapping the cross-hairs at the center of the guide.

Now align the handles on your plan to the same segment of wall or other length that you measured in real life. The measurement on the guide will not be the same as your real-world measurement yet — that’s okay.

My real-world measurement was the depth of the counters in the kitchen — a standard 24 inches. I’ve lined up the handles of the line guide to the counter in the plan.

In my case, the plan lines neatly to a .5 inches, but yours might be different. That’s okay, you don’t need to go through contortions to line it up just right, the app will calculate the scale regardless of perfection. If you really don’t want a row of decimals, though, you can tap+hold the measurement tag and enter in an exact length.

5. Tap the ratio beside Measure in the Precision menu. It will say 1 : 1 unless you’ve assigned it a different value in a previous drawing. A popup will appear with your Workspace settings at Drawing Scale and Units. (You can also access this menu by touching the Settings gear on the status bar.)

You’ll notice the values under Drawing Scale have been filled in with the current length of the Line guide, according to your current units, scale and zoom level.

You’ll see the ratio is still 1 : 1, but the “0.5 in” value in each field is the same as the measurement aligned to the counter on the plan.

Now take your real-world measurement and enter it into the second field, and tap anywhere to dismiss the menu.

Ignore the first field, and enter your real-world value into the second field.

When you look at the ratio beside the Measure button on the canvas, now, you’ll see a new ratio, 1 : your-new-calculated-value. The .5 inch tag now reads 24 inches.

The ratio is now 1:48 inches, and your measurement now reads 24 inches.

What this did was match the line length on screen to the actual value of the line in real life. Half an inch on the plan is now the same as the 24 inch cabinet depth, or 1 inch : 48 inches. From here on out, your scale will be the same in your drawing regardless of zoom level, or how much you shrink or expand the Line guide.

The Short Version

Got it? Here’s the recap:

1. Have an accurate measurement of a real-world dimension on hand.

2. Import your plan.

3. Tap the Precision menu and activate Measure.

4. Activate the Line guide and double-tap the handles. Align the handles to the segment on your plan that corresponds to your real-world measurement.

5. Tap the ratio beside Measure in the Precision menu, and enter your real-world measurement into the second field. When you exit the overlay, you’ll see the new scale ratio, 1 : your-new-calculated-value.

Great. On to measurements.

Measurement

Measurement Tags

When working with Measure active in the Precision menu, any line you draw will have a measurement associated with it, whether you drew freehand, with the Line guide or with any other shape guide. These measurements reflect the current scale and units of your drawing.

Now that your measurements reflect the scale of your plan, you can start applying measurements to your drawing. If you tap a measurement, it will “stick” to the canvas as a floating tag.

If you didn’t apply the tag to your satisfaction, a tap+hold will select it so you can delete or move the measurement. You can edit the measurement by tapping its alter-ego (“L: x”) in the status bar at the top of the screen (visible when a measurement is selected).

You’ll see as you line up the guide with other elements of the plan that they reflect accurate dimensions of the plan’s real-world counterparts.

Adding measurement tags to the plan — they’re all accurate.

To apply the same measurement to other locations, it’s helpful to turn the Scale button to “Off” in the selection popup at the bottom of the screen, then move it to its next position. That way you don’t inadvertently change the measurement by pinching with your fingers when you rotate.

Tap the Scale button on the selection popup to “Scale Off” so the measurement stays the same when rotating or moving the guide.

Alternatively, you can turn the Line guide off and select the tag using Item Picker, duplicate it and move it like any other line.

Customizing Measurements

If you want to customize your line length, tap+hold the measurement tag on the Line guide and a custom entry screen will appear. Enter in the length and units, and exit the overlay. You’ll see the line has updated to the dimensions you entered.

You can also edit a measurement by tap+holding the “L: measurement” in the status bar, visible when you select a measurement.

1. Tap+hold the measurement tag. 2. The custom measurement overlay appears. 3. Enter in the new length. 4. Exit the overlay and find the adjusted value.

Drawing with Measurements

When drawing with the Line guide, Concepts keeps track of the distance you draw from the point you set your stylus onto the paper, to the point you take it off. (Note that if you backtrack along the same line, the measurement will continue adding to the total, it doesn’t subtract the distance.)

If you want to draw a straight line as though using a ruler, you can draw with the un-contained Line guide and it will measure the line’s real-world distance as you draw. There is room for error this way, the accuracy depends on your own accuracy when lifting the stylus, but if you’re just trying to get a feel for the distance, this works great. You can always adjust the line afterward by selecting and changing the value as explained above.

Active real-world measurement with the Line guide.

A better option for drawing to exact measurements is to contain the Line guide by double-tapping the crosshairs, then tap+hold the measurement to set it to a custom length. When you trace the Line guide from one end to the other, it will reflect the measurement.

Drawing a line to an exact measurement.

Exporting with Measurements

Ready to export your plan? If you want to show your measurements in the final export, make sure Measure is active to capture them in your image or PDF.

Exporting an image or PDF with measurements.

If you don’t want to show them in the export, just turn Measure off. The measurements will still be there when you turn it back on.


If you have any questions about applying scale or measurements in Concepts, please ask in the comments, I’m happy to answer them for you.

If you have other questions or feedback, or if you’d like to share your plans with us and totally make our team’s day, tap Ask Us Anything on the Help page in-app or email them to concepts@tophatch.com. Good luck with your designs!

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By Erica Christensen — writer | illustrator | designer at TopHatch.