I finally got it to work.
It is a fairly involved and non-intuitive procedure:
1. Define the page properties before adding the Space shape. It will inherit the units when placed, but will not change if the page properties are changed.
a. File | Page Setup….
b. Drawing Scale | Custom scale | 1 in = 1 in (or whatever) but not No Scale (1:1).
c. Page Properties | Measurement units | Inches (or whatever).
2. Create the target shape whose area is to be calculated.
3. Have the Size & Position panel open.
4. Drag a Space shape to the page. It defaults to 10’ x 10’, so it will be huge for regular pages.
5. Resize: Drag the edges or change the dimensions on the Size & Position panel.
6. Change the units: Right click | Set Display Options… | Set the Units and Precision at the bottom
7. Get rid of the “Office” text: Right click | Properties | Clear the Space use field.
8. Shrink the Space shape so that it can fit entirely within the target shape (and free of any cutouts).
9. Fit the Space shape to the target shape: Right click | Autosize.
a. If the Autosize pop-up appears (as it usually will), click on the target shape without closing the pop-up.
b. Verify that the target shape is selected.
c. Click OK.
d. The Space shape will expand to fill the target shape and the area is displayed.
10. The Space shape can now be moved, deleted, copied, or resized. It is not attached to the target shape and the target shape is not
This method seems to work on any closed shape. I used it on an outline I made of a train engine using the like tool with about 100 segments. It took 20-30 seconds to calculate the area.
It works with cutouts. I created a 3”x3” square with a 1”x1” square cutout using fragment. The Space shape reported 8.00 sq in.
Thanks, wapperdude. That was a fun way to spend Thanksgiving.
PS: Before I had this Space shape method, I was using rectangles and triangles with a field set to display the area to estimate the area of the target shape.
In method 1, I created a rectangle around the entire shape. Then I created little rectangles around the cutouts. Where there were irregular edges, I just estimated by eyeball trying to have as much image inside the shape as cutout outside. I'd then add them up and subtract from the total area.
In method 2, I crated little rectangles around the image "pieces" working around the cutouts.
Interestingly, all three methods gave the same answer to within about 1-2%. For complicated shapes, the little rectangles is simpler and quicker.