Liquid Carbon (liquidcarbon) wrote,
Liquid Carbon

Chemdraw: drawing tips.

  In comments on Kutti's screencast #1 I said I'd make one with some ChemDraw tips. I've just opened ChemDraw Help section and found it unnecessary. But I have an impression that not all people have ever considered reading Help in such a clear and easy to use program as ChemDraw, and possibly missed something interesting, that could let them draw faster. Though I knew all the hotkeys (I discovered them myself), I learned about some tools I didn't know about, for example, Join tool. So, I suggest everyone to read "Advanced Drawing Techniques" and "Hotkeys and Shortcuts Quick Reference". For starters: you will going to read there about atom labeling and changing bond type by pounding on the keyboard when hovering the mouse over an atom or a bond, respectively.

  What do you do first after you install ChemDraw? File > Preferences > Open/Save > Default Style Sheet. Right, change the default template to ACS template (ACS Document 1996.cds), because "New Document" template sucks, with its tiny captions and huge bonds. I always draw at 150% magnification to better distinguish between "bond" and "atom" hotspots. I wouldn't call the ACS template ideal, the captions are actually too big. Compare these carminic acid images in Wikipedia and in the screenshot below, drawn in ACS template. See, sometimes you have to play with atom labels size and bond lengths manually — that's fine, just try to keep the document in one style. Actually, their picture looks a bit like Verlag Helv. Chim. Acta Document. This screenshot also shows my ChemDraw workspace, only, of course, I draw in maximized window.

  But there is something that ChemDraw Help is hiding from you. If you use a hotkey to label an atom and press another key within 1 second, you'll start to type in an atom label in a usual (edit atom label) manner. This feature allows you to rapidly introduce "long" functionalities, like a carboxylic group or a protecting group or whatever you have on your mind. This option is absent in ChemDraw 8 — the biggest difference for me between the two versions I've used — ChemDraw 8 and 10.

  What ChemDraw really lacks is the hotkeys for switching between different drawing tools. If I could quickly choose between lasso, marquee, bond, text, arrows and polygon tools, I'd be quite happy, and ChemDraw would be a couple of steps closer to the perfect drawing software for chemists.

  Finally, I'd like to offer a small pissing contest. It takes me:
    • 30 sec to draw THC
    • 38 sec to draw Penicillin G
    • 82 sec to draw discodermolide
  What about you? The compounds should be drawn with all stereochemical information and in the same general style (bond angles, side chains positioning) as in the picture below.

Tags: advice, drawing, fun

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