Friday, February 13, 2015

In memory

So much of this blog and my youtube channel have been focused on the Autocad Architecture Roof Object that it seems appropriate to share my sadness and pay my respects here.

Obituary placed in the German newspaper
Sergej Alexandrow, the clever programmer & mathematician who created the ADT/ACA roof object has passed away.  My friendship with Sergej was only online, having hatched a plot to discover who he was and possibly get in touch with him (after a tip off) with the intention of discovering more about the roof object. I'm in Australia! Far away from where all things happen. Sergej was Russian born and moved to Germany as a programmer and was then contracted to Autodesk in the U.S. where he worked on the very first version of Autocad Architecture, then known as Architectural Desktop, specifically engaged to create the Roof Object tool. He may have even worked on it's predecessor which was some basic tools for Architectural work within Autocad.

Flexibility of Spirit's Roof Object tool
After working on the initial release of ADT1, creating the Roof Object, he seems to have been released and returned back to Germany where he worked for Softtech on Spirit, another architectural package where he repeated his creation anew and improved it's versatility. Indeed he revealed to me that there is extra code (in his ACA version) that is turned off (at the last minute due to concerns about stability) that allows dormer windows and 2 roof objects to interact.  Autodesk had turned it's back on the idea of improving the tool after ADT1 and instead created Roof Slabs which are singular objects for each plane of a roof and no relationship to other Roof Slabs. Such a pity that such a poor decision was taken. The RO is a very clever tool and invaluable for architectural work automatically solving hips and valleys.  Roof Slabs on the other hand are awkward and without any inter-relational ability but they do have some flexibility.  The RO has never been developed further since ADT1.

Sergej was a proud father of the roof object. I had unknowingly conversed with him earlier on news groups about the RO where he anonymously posted on comments about the tool. He was only too glad to add to my knowledge of the tool and excited about the prospect of updating and improving it for a future release.  I'd given him my long list of what it would look like.  He was very appreciative of my video series on youtube that allowed people to see it was actually much more capable that is at first evident.  I even discovered several tricks that he did not know of.  He even then created his own blog to demonstrate his new tool's flexibility.

We were on polar ends of faith and had some vigorous, robust discussions about the existence of God and the meaning of life.

Around 6 months after my last email conversation with Sergej, a programmer from Autodesk emailed me to say he had heard some news.  Sergej seemed to have suffered a heart attack alone in his home after having gone out dancing.  I know he enjoyed dancing and travel, having sent me many photo's on cruise ships and European cityscapes.  No family were known so his employer, Softtech Gmbh were kind enough to take care of his funeral.  "The burial was held on September 15, 2014 in Neustadt an der Weinstraße. He was placed to rest underneath a beautiful tree in the cemetery, and a headstone has been placed to honor him as an individual. Following his death, an obituary was placed in the newspaper" (picture above).

RIP my friend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vectorworks 2015 announcement and sigh! ACA

Here's an impressive presentation for Vectorworks 2015 showing some great features.  Some like Curtain Walls ACA has had for years but others like walk-throughs look much more impressive.  It's named 2015 because it's being released just prior to the year 2015 unlike Autodesk which pretends to release next years software a year earlier and instead gives you software at least 5 years behind, some parts are back in the 90's.

Interesting that at 23 seconds in it shows you an intelligent graphic way of using the numbered keypad to quickly select views  and animates the changes in view on screen called transition animation.  I showed how to use lisp to do this when I started this blog.  See it again here under the sub heading View Direction. (I could never figure a way to graphically illustrate this cool tip).  Of course we now have the view cube in ACA but I still use the numeric keypad, just like I mostly ignore the ribbon.

ACA has had it's strengths and still competes well but without continued improvement especially in the weak spots like walkthroughs but without continued real improvement it's just getting old.  I for one doubt I will ever trust Autodesk again with my time. Personally I am much done with learning something unless it's going to be productive (make me money!) and I have spent considerable time on each upgrade not spending time learning great new tools and tricks (because there are none) but trying to learn workarounds for new major bugs that have been introduced.  It's sad when the biggest items introduced into new releases are faults in the software!

Here's a screen grab from my walkthrough using Autodesk Designreview tool. I can simply export it from ACA as a .dwf, open in Designreview and take a rehearsed walkthrough and capture the screen as a movie, post on youtube for clients to review. Problem is, half the time the export fails for no given reason and the result quality is about level with the games I was playing in the 90s and the controls are terrible, requiring extra limbs and the dexterity of an octopus. Have you seen flowing water rendered live in the latest games??

Now I do know that Autodesk released a new product that can do quality renders, swap materials and walkthroughs.  But 2 things were evident.  The quality still looked out of date and there didn't seem to be ANY entourage componants to the package.  ie. no trees, plants, cars, people.

Back to Vectorworks (now under the same ownership banner as ArchiCAD), at 1:28 they show a level constraint system that automates heights. VisionRez accomplished some of this with their add-on package to ACA with cabinets etc.  This is really a must in 2014 software.  I have been mulling over in my mind how I can do with with software (lisp?) but a hard coded solution would be great.

Smoothing mesh objects display. ACA still renders with tessellations visible. Max has tools to smooth angles of a certain number (ie, smoothing a curve approximating mesh) but with Autodesk we are caught in their protection of each product niche and so tools are held back from Autocad rendering so you will still buy Max.  Understandable but it's not serving the customer - we are way down the list of importance for Autodesk.  I recently started trading and saw their stock price had fallen to the low 30's and was tempted to buy. I would like to get some joy from Autodesk and I knew they certainly look after their share holders.

Vectorworks seems to have some new site working tools, something which is actually present in ACA but are like a pick and shovel, not a drill and bandsaw.  ie. they can do the job but you don't get the idea that they are specifically designed for the task.
You can use Mass Elements (using the DRAPE command) and then massgroups ( a command they continue to hide from the ACA interface unless you have one in the drawing already) to take the survey and turn it into a 3D site and then cut chunks from it using "Massgroups & additives and negatives" to change the shape.  You can use the same to create more complex roof shapes.

This is what I did on a recent project to model a steep site for a pool desk and outdoor area so we would have a firm idea of how the levels would actually work.  Using this technique, you always have the original slope untouched and can edit the cuts and fills as required.  However it is always a 'basic hammer tool' and never has any real intelligence you expect from a aec package. It cannot then tell you how much cut and fill etc.

Here's a pic of a quick scheme for a dam I created and posted somewhere to illustrate how to use MASSELEMENTGROUPS to alter terrain without actually altering the original terrain. ie. Once you have created the terrain using the DRAPE command on your contours, you can then add a ME box as a negative shape to cut out the dam shape. The water of course is just a big box that is created to fill the entire model (not close to the edges though) so that it looks like it 'fills' the space to level, dam & river.  Again though it really only serves as a make do for quick illustrations.  I can't calculate how much capacity the dam has except to run the measurements of the cube I use for a negative and deduct how high it (it's not visible here) stands above the (high) waterline.  Having said that, 20 years ago I am sure an engineer would have loved these types of tools.  But, it is 2014.

I've used Autodesk Designreview to create video walk throughs and quite frankly the quality is embarrassing. But that's the thing with Autodesk.  Rather than take a main product (like ACA) and develop it fully they would rather spend millions on a niche product, spend time with it, release it for free and then loose interest a couple of years later. Any time spent learning the product becomes wasted time as they've moved onto the next bright idea like a child with AHD.  I don't want to spend my life learning your next bright idea software package.  I need to earn money to support my family and our dreams.  It's why I stuck with ACA and never 'upgraded' to the 'sweets' er.. sorry, 'suites'.  I'm sure there is something useful in there but all I saw was paying more money to spend many hours learning a new software package so I can do what I do now.  No thanks.  Hence the learning about the stock market.  I want to work for me & mine, not Autodesk.

As my teenage son takes over my pc and starts shooting his mates online I drool over the (realtime rendered) visuals that look at a glance like photo quality movies. These are games obtained for well less than $100 and they often have tools to create your own environments.  I've dabbled at times with the idea of importing models into Far Cry's CryENGINE environment so my clients can wander around enjoy gardens moving in the breeze, water flowing (no weapons) but my brain is swamped because ACA's WYSIWYG (1978) paperspace view no longer works in 2015 (finally fixed).
Here's a scene from Crysis and don't get put off - the buildings are supposed to look decrepid, it's part of the ambience of the game. This level of rendering, lighting & texturing is available and common in games today and some have probably passed through Autodesk software and remember! this is live realtime playtime rendering. It's a screen grab.  No sitting for minutes or hours waiting to see if you missed modelling something.
Imagine if we had access to this power of presentation somewhere in Autocad / ACA?  Why not? Now I understand that CAD programs are much more accurate and operate differently but really, come on (aussie expression). It's only software.

In many ways I can see that Vectorworks is still catching up to ACA.  Had ACA development continued it could be a very strong package.  As always, the strength of Autocad (ACA) is it's flexibility and the weakness of Autocad (ACA) is it's flexibility.  Sometimes you just want to be told what to do and not have too many options but power is well... power.  But it does seem like for several years now, much more so with ACA, they have just played with the interface and the colours or given you yet another flawed way to do what you could do before.  Little to no new real functionality. Certainly in ACA.

So .... yes I am still here.  Many have picked up on my tips on the Roof Object and just maybe, one day, just maybe Autodesk will spend the money on upgrading this brilliant tool. The video's were a great way to illustrate lots of good stuff in ACA.  Many great tips are still in my head. Maybe some can still leak out.

Hope you are having a rewarding and productive day.

cheers

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are you up to date?

Thanks to friend Chris for a link to an AUGI page for updates to ACA back to version 2010

http://www.augi.com/library/heads-up-october-2012#AutoCADArchitecture

Contains the very welcome link to ACA2013 Service Pack 1 along with other updates to ACA, Autocad, Civil, Revit, Inventor and 3DSMax.

Some info on ACA SP1 from David Koch.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Roof Object Tips & Secrets Video Series Now on YOUTUBE

After a ridiculously silly time delay I've finally put up a video series on the roof object.
If you are doing residential work I sincerely believe these tricks will make your work a lot easier!

These video's are a must see!!


Here is the link to a separate blog page dedicated to the video's on the Roof Object tool.  
You can watch there or just click on the YOUTUBE video link inside the video itself near the lower left and it will open youtube itself. 
Under the video on youtube is my YouTube Channel with this and other series.
Or here is the link to the Roof Object Playlist  (link fixed)


In the video's I show you not only the basics in using the Roof Object but SECRETS hidden since it was first released.  Some tips from the RO creator himself.  Some even he didn't know!


The basics
  1. How to create a Roof Object from the Ribbon
  2. How to Create a Roof Object from the command line
  3. How to create a Roof Object from a Tool Pallete
  4. How to create your own Roof Object Tool with your own custom properties
  5. How to add Gables different ways
  6. How to alter the slopes of each edge or all.
  7. Projecting a wall to the roof line.

But wait there's more! What are the secrets never told (except here) for the Roof Object

  1. How to add vertices to the Roof Object                                   (yes we can!!)
  2. How to edit the Roof Object after creation.                              (yes we can!!)
  3. How to get the Roof Object to overhang itself.                         (yes we can!!)
  4. Common issues that will have you stuck.
  5. Alternatives to Exploding into dumb roof slabs
  6. Cutting Holes in the Roof Object  (Dormers, Skylights)          (yes we can!!)
  7. Complex Roof assembly like adding a turret to a corner        (yes we can!!)
  8. Easy calculation tools for setting heights/distances right there in the RO tool
  9. Create edge styles for eaves, gables etc.
  10. Some practical samples of complex Roof Object problems.
Do you want to create Renderings of your projects to sell the deal to the client
  1. Creating tools to quickly decorate the Roof Object for rendering.
  2. How to apply materials quickly and efficiently for residential work.
Challenge.
If you have a complex roof that you would like to see done in a video.  Let me know by sending me a link (dropbox?) or you can place a comment with your email (I wont post) and I will email you for contact.  UPDATE: I have now created the above roof in no 14 of the series

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MultiLevel In 1 File Series on YouTube

I've uploaded some quickly produced video on my Maverick Method of constructing multiple levels in 1 file.  Done late into the night so I can hear myself fade to a whisper to ensure my wife doesn't spoil my foray into a media career for waking her up!

As well as MY YouTube channel itself I have also a side page here to list the video's available.
The Playlist for this series seems to mess the order up.

At the moment the sample file and lisp is only available by posting a comment here WITH your email (I will NOT publish and have not) and I will email to you.  Perhaps soon I will post them somewhere that you can just grab them anonamously.

cheers

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I've gone YouTube

I've finally got a video up on my youtube channel, intended to be the first of a number to explain my idiosyncracies and the method behind the madness in the way I use ACA. 
A few ideas are planned but this first one takes a light dive into explaining my Mult-Level in 1 file approach for residential and small commercial projects.  Sorry I did spend a little too long on my pretty picture but it is just an intro!   Let me know what you think.

On googling my blog I came across this interesting link placing my site in the top 2 million for the UK and in the top 19 million in the world.  Haha!  I guess there is a lot of people in the world so I should feel good about it but I do think they may be over estimating it's worth.  Apparently most visitors are from Turkey so welcome to you all.  Once we fought but now the best of friends hey - we have an important history together.  Hopefully you can understand my accent on youtube.
It's great to see despite not being able to blog much lately it's still of value to some.

I should also mention AU - Autodesk University which has just begun.  If you have subscription it's free and there is a number of previous year classes that can be accessed which are still very relevant. I've just downloaded recorded movie files & pdf's for classes on Rendering in Autocad to see if I can pick up any good tips as well as Advanced Modelling etc in ACA.  Don't forget that you can get benefit from some AutoCAD classes as well as ACA.  Might have to wait for this year classes to be uploaded.  I did try to partipate in a live class last year but the lag and the timeframe (early morning for me) saw me falling asleep in class.  The opportunity to be able to download previous year class video recordings is a fantastic learning opportunity.  They are BIG files but well worth the cost (free).


Wednesday, July 20, 2011



I'm liking that the ACA master himself is getting into rendering inside ACA and I am looking forward to learning further how to get the best out of the system.  Archidigm has a new post of a very nice internal render on his front cover.  My feeble attempts at internal renderings are humbling but I would like to get there.  I notice his furniture featured which is available as content at a very good price. 

He's also written another article on rendering materials across X-Ref's and some of the problems you have.   He notes that RMats work a little differently than other objects.  When you bring x-ref's together for the purpose of rendering a model, all the materials are brought into the file and become part of that file.  So you can then alter the materials in the host file unlike for e.g. a wall style which needs to be edited in the original file, saved and reloaded.  Unload the xref and the materials remain (unless purged). Update the material in the original file and the material is NOT updated in the host file unless it's deleted and then reloaded by reloading the xref.  These complications are why I like working in a 1 file approach.  Recently pulled my 1 file model into another file just to do the render (as it was after doing the CD's) and I certainly confirmed the simplicity of my approach as I encountered the problems Odin addresses.  However if you require a team to work on a project together then splitting the file using the Project Navigator can be a good idea despite the drawbacks or you may just like breaking the project into manageable pieces.

I like his pick of how many steps it takes to swing a door in Revit.  Not knocking Revit overall of course but it's nice to see that ACA still has the ascendency in some areas.

Anyway just thought I'd post to let you know I am still alive.  Barely breathing but still kicking.



Sunday, March 20, 2011

Do you believe in ghosts?

Here's my ghost story!

This is something that I have had occur over the years from time to time.  ADT2005, 6, ACA2009 and 11.    I have strange issues occuring with walls mysteriously not cleaning up properly and strange interference from unseen (wall?) objects.  I've called them 'ghost walls' as they aren't there and won't show in any view or display rep even Diagnostic whiich should show something.  I believe they are 'deceased' walls having been killed (erased) but they just don't want to go!  Have they unfinished business? 

I've tried deleting everything from the drawing and the purging the styles using the sweep tool but some styles won't go!  Reading autolisp tutorials I've read that you can query the database for an object and see if it's erased and if it's still present in the dwg database even though erased.  I gather this is for the undo options where items deleted can still be restored if you undo your previous actions.  However I thought this was until you close the drawing and I would have assumed this information is lost forever.  Or so I thought.  Perhaps they don't want to go and come back to haunt my drawing.

What's interesting is that the purge styles function in the style manager (broom) would not purge lots of styles & objects and the purge function would not remove lots of empty layers.  It's like a complete breakdown in the functions.  Thinking I might learn some new useful information I went thru a copy and LAYDEL each layer. (I draw a line on that layer so I can select the layer).  This had the interesting effect of then allowing the Purge Styles to work and Purge on blocks as well??  At that point my Ghost walls had appeared to have 'gone to the light' and I no longer had my cleanup issues.  Some aecmaterial definitions hung on perhaps attached to the blocks still resisting.

I copied my square outlines from the picture file you see here and posted them back into the file I copied to use as a template thinking that they were going to coincide with the previous project walls but they didn't.  Not quite anyway.  Maybe this is a good reason to start from a clean template!

So I'm not sure what I learnt. Not about to delete all my layers from my functioning drawing though I suppose I could WB all the info out and then purge and then bring it all back in and see if that works the same. (I would loose the x-ref connections to the aecElevations).   I had just moved it all to the left away from the ghost walls and the issues go away.  I just can't draw in THAT space.  Hey it's haunted!                 So....

Do you believe in ghosts?

part 2
Well as it turns out, as I was showing my younger workmate my haunted drawing, he pointed out that my Isolate Objects globe was red!  After unisolating objects it turns out that on grabbing a previous drawing as a template, I had certain portions of the drawing hidden and brought it along into my new drawing.  So the hidden walls were causing the cleanup problems!  
Or were they?  After removing all the now unhidden but unwanted drawing portions I still had cleanup issues! Sometimes advances in technology just get too fancy! 

I wonder if this is the answer to the issue I've had over the years from time to time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Structural objections !

James sent me a bunch of Structural Members he's been playing with that look great except they're not really structural members!  In the great spirit of not accepting a 'tool' for what it is but exploring what it could be James has used SM's to create excellent 2D detailing tools for those repetitive items.  In case you ask the obvious question "what about using the Detail Componant Manager" which is designed to do this, it's not set up with australian  details and there has been no Australian issue like the UK version.  We'd have to customise the database and then learn how to upgrade and maintain yet another Tool!  But yes you could use the DCM :-)


I've been tinkering with Dynamic Blocks to do much the same thing but there is a real advantage for an ACA'er using Structural Members.  The more you use a tool the better you are in applying it and SE's can be very handy in virtual construction.  For e.g. Structural members are great for creating a steel beam, adding end plates and the repeating cleats at set distances.  So essentially the tool can also be used for 2D work in the same way.  
The disadvantage is that blocks can't be rotated or mirrored so you basically have to create the block in the orientation you want to insert it.  However in the case of the roofing purlins in the example shown, the whole SM is simply rotated to the pitch so the purlin block would be inserted as though flat anyway.  Here's a bunch of wall styles SM's.  Constant materials like wall cladding are componants of the SM.  Periodical items like studs or hanging straps are added as blocks.
So you end with dynamic detailing componants that will stretch and add components automatically!  You do need to know when to create a separate style as in the window sill illustrated here.  It's attached to the window instead of the bricks.  Sometimes things get TOO complicated and besides, separate components gives you extra flexibility.




I hate fiddling with those repetitive sheet profiles.
James, having done much more commercial work is good with SM's.  Myself I still struggle to understand why I must create a pier base sideways to get it to insert properly.  But the more I use any of the tools and 'get' how they work I get increased productivity in knowing just how to use a tool, where to use it and when it won't do.  I can model most things very quickly now because I understand what tool to use and how to use it effectively.  Doing what James has done with SM's is going to teach you a lot about Structural Members


So I might as well share with you some of James' other  tricks.


I blogged an option for displaying Vertical profiles mainly for the purpose of rendering but James showed me a better way using a curtain wall, with only Profiled Mullions showing, in the shape of the sheeting. CWA's can have their roof or floor line edited-in-place for easy matching to a building shape and the profile follows suit.  The curtain wall might contain other componants but here it gives flexibility for the sheeting alone.  This is a good quick way of get vertical profiled sheeting into your model. Through components you could control different display for different display reps. ie. this for 3D, just hatching on another component for aecElevations.


Here is a wall style James developed for use in large commercial projects.  Adding components for sheeting, insulation, cladding and each expected purlin and then adding a sweep to each purlin component you get a detailed wall that will section, elevate and off course display well in plan.  Being a wall it will cleanup, has roof & floorline edit and the subsequent purlin components will appear as your height increases.  Higher wall this time?  Add (copy) some more purlin components in your wall style, add sweep and you're done.  If your wall is low, the higher purlins don't appear. 


Hope that helps stretch the paradigm a little for ya!





Friday, February 25, 2011

Drawing Properties

I described here how we use the drawing file custom properties for our 1 File for Multistorey to store the project data which is automatically grabbed by the title block and cover page.  Well an email to support (subscription is useful for something occassionally) turned up this link and an excellant autolisp file that can bring a preset list from a .cvs file right into the drawing custom properties ready for you to add the project data to.  (There are 2 lisp files posted at this link.  I used the first issue for .cvs files.  The 2nd amendment looks for .xls files but it didn't work for me).

Commands impdwp, expdwp and clrdwp import, export or delete (clear) drawing properties. Once you have them in your template they can just be updated for the next project but if you already have a project and want to bring the data in, here is an easy way to do it.

Been to Archidigm lately.  They have released a new ACA door style set and checking out his windows and the many display options to get detail quickly and efficiently is impressive. He has video's of his street kit in action.   And don't forget his intensive Development Guide.  Purchasing one of Odin's products get's you access to his classroom and there is a treasure trove of info available for your ACA obsessing delight.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Doing it by the Book NOT

As a user since ADT3 for must be 6 or so years it's only in the last couple of years that I have hit an upper air stream in terms of productivity increase with ADT/ACA.  I feel that I have finally 'got' how it works and more importantly how to work it.  That includes not doing as I am told.  Well not always.  We all use this product for lots of different types of projects and the requirements of a hospital project have very different demands to a 2 or 3 storey residence or a back room extension.  The product is really developed with the hospital in mind but my work is mainly residential.

Here's some ways I have NOT done it by the book:
  • Development of a 1 file for multistorey approach using custom (simple) autolisp programming, custom layer standard.
  • Developing my own simpler Layer Key Standard with many less layers.
  • Practise that avoids dependance on the 'latest' interface such as using keyboard commands rather than point and "oh where is it this time?" click chase the ribbon.
  • Return to solids rather than MassElements for modelling certain one off library elements.
  • I've abandoned aecSlabs in favour of using aecSpaces.  They are so much more easily edited.  They don't have edge styles though but they do have componants and can be rendered.  I do still use slabs but not mostly.  Unfortunately spaces stretch oddly, if you 'grab' their centre point the whole space moves instead of stretching as the old area objects did.  
  • Getting to know the Roof Object intimately and understanding what it can do and not converting to the slow, less intelligent, cumbersome Roof Slabs.
  • Just knowing all the ways that won't work and the ones that will and knowing how far they will work so I don't have to fiddle.
So I thought I'd share some experiences that were successful and simple and worked.  They may or may not work for you in your situation but might be worth considering.

example 1
I don't use the Project Navigator for small projects and will build multilevel projects in the one file.  However one advantage of the PN is in regenerating elevations without getting unwanted elements added in (like text) and having any new modelling elements automatically being part of the selection set (when the file is saved and the X-ref is reloaded).  So on certain projects I may create a 2nd file to X-ref (overlay not attach) the model file into, set up the elevations including room elevations, sections etc and x-ref that back into the model file to complete the set of drawings.  The advantage is the 2nd file will have all the right layers turned off and on so only desired elements are captured in the elevation (like in the PN) and also once the x-ref is selected, any new elements added to the main file are automatically selected for the next refresh or regeneration of the aecElevation.  You can do all of them at once!  You can x-ref in the model several times, renaming each instance if you want to set it up in different layer configurations for different purposes.  A section or internal room/cabinet layout may require different layers than the elevations.  Changes to the model file need to be saved, and the x-ref's reloaded in the Elev file, saved and then may be reloaded back into the main file if that is where they are inserted onto a sheet.  Another advantage is the aec elevation/section objects are not in the main file in your way. When x-ref'ing the Elev file back into the main file, only the required objects are shown, the unwanted portions are x-clipped out. BTW 'overlaying' and not 'attach'ed means the x-ref will not travel with the file when x-ref'd to another file.  Here that would cause a circular reference and won't work.  If you organise the Elev drawing space as you want it, you only need to x-ref it back once into your main file for correct placement ready for the sheets (already set up in my tabs from the template drawing.  This means all the drawing sheets are in the one file.
In the above 2nd file (Elev), layers are not really important, only where you need to sort items like in a floor plan that is displayed several times in different ways as a working floor plan, sketch plan, reflected ceiling plan, electrical plan, landscaping plan, site plan, roof plan, rafter plan, ceiling timber plan etc. so I often simplify the numbers of layers I use.  Using .stb plot style greatly helps this.   Having a seperate file does allow some multi-user access to the one project if you need that.

example 2
I recently modelled 4 single floor units in the one file (lets call it SITE drawing). That file was then x-ref'd into another file(s), clipped down to one unit (per file) and the full drawings for that unit produced in that file.  The benefit I found in this method was that altering an aec style updating all references as it was all in the same (Site) file.  (On larger projects you can use project standards but this is an extra process and is not on the fly).  As the complete model was in the main file, there is only one reference of the model and coordination was automatic.  I wanted this fine coordination as I was also using the file for rendering and exporting to 3DWF although that is a pretty dissappointing option at this point but I wanted to experiment with it and wanted to keep it all together.  Rather than a seperate file I like to keep the file always at a ready to be re-rendered at any point rather than having that as a seperate file.  This keeps all the documentation side out of my modelling file for rendering.   I am about to use this method on another project of 10 small single storey homes as it was quite efficient. 

Don't forget there are lots of ways to work on one area of your model (as opposed to having to split it up into x-ref's).  Using Layer Isolate or the the object isolate tools are good ways to get data out the way quickly.  Available on a right click is the Isolate Objects tools.  You can hide lots of components you don't want to see for a while even if their layer gets turned on.

Anyway, don't think that the method presented as THE way is always the best way.  Not that it's usually the wrong way!    Sometimes it's just the long way.

Cheers

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Free Tree Downloads

If you are into rendering in any way you may have seen Xfrog.com which offers a tool for creating and editing trees and plants.  Well they have just released quite a portion of samples for you to try out.  Among the strange list of download options for max, maya and terragen you also have the old 3ds format for 3DStudio which I think is now a defunk product.  Using the 3dsin command, these tree files (oops see below) can be brought into AutoCAD for rendering.   Each zip folder downloaded contains a number of 3ds files along with bitmaps (tif) for leaves, bark etc to be applied to the tree. Whilst the tree is modeled, the leaves are a single face for a bitmap to be applied. 

There are some tricks to getting the 3ds file into AutoCAD though.  It seems it can't handle so much data (another memory handling problem?) and so you are best to load portions of the info at a time.  But oh dear in trying to test this thru my ACA2009 crashed each time trying to bring the file in. So I loaded 2011 which can save the files down to 2009 (for non ACA items) though I am wondering what the translation does to the material definitions.

FAIL again.  Crashed every time with xfrogs 3ds files?  I had loaded a couple earlier so perhaps I need to reboot.  I'll report the problem with xfrog and see if they offer any solution.

If you get past the crashes, and the load fails, try loading without leaves and roots. once imported, do it again and this time load the leaves (do you need the roots?).  I have a technique for simplifying the number of materials so I might not assign any material, using my own oft repeated material (e.g. Leaf1). In this case the leaves are just a square face and require the leaf bitmap to look somewhat realistic so I might include materials. I also don't allow multiple layers and put it all on layer 0.

Anyway, until I get it successfully loaded I can't post a picture of what you might expect.  If I do I will update this post with a sample pic but it's all there on xfrog's site.

er...happy rendering