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most basic of basic problems with VW 3D functions

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Maybe I am the only person with this problem but I find the 3D functions of Vectorworks to be far more complicated and difficult to learn than exact same functions in Autocad. I wish Nemetschek would improve their manuals or provide better assistance in the help section. I know I must be doing something wrong when after hours of trying I cannot make a 3D object snap to the vertex of another object. With Autocad I could teach myself the basics of 3D in one night and create a decent model that can atleast communicate some sort of idea. I can't do anything after quite a few nights trying to teach myself 3D on Vectorworks. To begin with I would like to snap on points on a referenced base plan to create extruded rectangles off of existing geometry. All layers have the same elevation and same projection settings. I know this couldn't be how it's meant to work but feel there's some arcane secret I can't figure out. I trust no company would design CAD software where things are just meant to be approximated and positioned by eye. I was hoping to learn something more accurate than Sketch-up but so far this seems even worse. Does anyone have any fundamental advice or had similar problems ? Thanks.

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I'm having a hard time finding the problem you are having through the words. Is it that you cannot draw another 3D object from a snap point along another 3D object?

Are the objects on the same layer?

Do you have the Snap to Edge Points constraint turned on?

(This is a setting in the Snap to Object constraint. Double click the constraint and checkmark Snap to Edge Points.)

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Here's the basic rule: An extrude's "z" height will ALWAYS be perpendicular to the plane of the screen. In other words, if you are in TOP/PLAN view and draw a rectangle then extrude the rectangle, the extrusion height (or "z" value) will be seen "straight on" in a FRONT view. If, on the other hand, you start out in FRONT view and perform the same actions, the extrusion height will be seen in TOP/PLAN. Taking this a bit further, if you start out in an isometric view you will end up with a complete mess!

My two cents for working with simple 3d forms (like extrudes): 1) Make sure you are in "straight on" view (eg: top/plan, front, back, sides. NOT isometric) 2) Draw the PROFILE of the shape to be extruded. 3) Run the EXTRUDE command. 4) Change to a view that is perpendicular to the original view (eg: if you started in TOP/PLAN, change to FRONT) 5) Move the extrude up or down to place is accurately in 3d space.

Also (and this is CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT): All extrudes in VW's use the ORIGIN as their bottom. In other words, when you create an extrude in TOP/PLAN, the bottom of the extrude will sit at Z=0 (for any given layer). The same applies to extrudes created in a side view. You will need to go to TOP/PLAN and move the extrude along the x and y axes to properly place it in 2d space.

Hope that helps!

Edited by CipesDesign
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Thank you Peter. Very helpful.

That is basically what I did in ACAD, but I thought that Vectorworks would be more sophisticated.

Somehow, I got the impression that I could draw 3D from an iso view. That's what the user guide seems to indicate when they illustrate the extruded rectangle command (and other 3D commands as well).

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Somehow, I got the impression that I could draw 3D from an iso view. That's what the user guide seems to indicate when they illustrate the extruded rectangle command (and other 3D commands as well).

Trying to draw a 3D rectangle to an object from an iso view does produce "screwy" results. Drawing a 3D poly is a bit more predictable but not exactly intuitive for me. Suffice to say VW is no SketchUp in this respect.

Having said that; drawing shapes via the Data Bar from their orthogonal views and then extruding gives much better control over their size and shape and is simple and easy.



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Contraption you say?!!

People laughed... they said it would never work. They said I was a fool to toy with forces I didn't understand, but they were wrong! Wrong I tell you!

You'll be sorry.... you'll all be sorry you doubted me. When the time comes, and my new friends land, things will be different! They've promised me that I will be Emperor; and I will control the sector with my new device.

The Solar System will be MINE and you will be my slaves! BWAHhahahhaha!

Kind Regards,

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Extremely elegant speaker systems!

Did you build the crossover networks yourself? They don't look like stock items. But if so, then you must have built the woofers, too, since their nose cones match the crossovers. Or maybe you bought woofers and just added the nose cones?

In any case, a formidable accomplishment, both electronically and visually.

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The crossover is the thing that separates the high and low frequencies in the electrical signal, so that the tweeter and woofer get the appropriate input. It's the brain of the speaker system. In most speaker systems it's hidden inside the body, like some guilty secret, but Nicholas chose to articulate it, mounting it on top and making it look very brainy. These speakers look like they would follow you as you move around the house, waiting for verbal instructions on what music to play. They would have been a nice addition to the movie "Brazil".

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Brian, to round back to your question, I suspect that the problem you are having is with the manual, which tends to be terse and a bit breezy with respect to exploring the complications that are actually fundamental to the operation of the program. Having worked in 3d in both VW and ACAD, and a bit in Rhino and SketchUp as well, I'd say that VW is no more difficult to learn or execute than the others. And it has definite advantages over both SU and ACAD, but doesn't have the NURBS power of Rhino. VW's great advantage, and what makes it different (and what you seem to be having some difficulty with, as it is fundamentally different from ACAD) is the hybrid 2D-3D environment. In this world you have 2D and 3D simultaneously on the screen, and can snap to both. They relate to each other in that respect, but you have to keep the concepts separate.

To snap accurately to a 3D object, choose the 3D selection tool (very important!) and choose a point of view so that you are snapping to one, and only one, possible snap point. That means looking at a orthogonal rectangular prism from some isometric view, rather than from plan or elevation. Use the orbit view tool to get exactly the right angle on things.

Use Working Planes to get the 2D-3D worlds to align in a way that is useful to you. The great advantage here is control and accuracy, and the ability to use 2D objects you already have to create 3D.

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I think the problem that's being referred to is VW's rather ambiguous 3D cursor, and the fact that the 3D Rectangle tool snapping doesn't make much sense.

Say I want to place an extruded rectangle on top of another extruded rectangle.

Try this:

In Plan view make a rectangle and extrude it.

Go to an Iso view.

Select the Extruded Rectangle tool.

Go to the left rear point of the top plane of the extrude. The smart cursor will say "Point" at the top corner, but you'll notice that the little dot is at the corner on the bottom plane (meaning?? ). You'll note also that the little dashed isometric 3D markers are not apparently aligned with anything in particular. Click at the top corner to lock that first point.

Now take the cursor to the other rear top corner of the extrude till it says "Point" again. Again, the dot is at the bottom, but it will now snap to the top corner. Again, the dashed iso cursors are indicating.....something.

From here you (that is: I ) would expect the extrude to be able to be made co-planar with the existing extrude, but the remaining click to finish the new object is stuck on the ground plane and the resulting object is always "screwy" with respect to the original extrude.

Simply put, the extruded rectangle tool will only work "reliably" on the ground plane, and even then you don't seem to be able to make something a specific size. Very "last-century". Not very "3D"

Now contrast that with SU's 3D cursor system and 3D manipulation of polygons. That's how it "ought to be".

That's why I recommend to Brian and David forgetting the 3D poly tools. Draw in orthogonal planes(including custom working planes) where you can control things easily, then extrude.




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Nicholas says: That's why I recommend to Brian and David forgetting the 3D poly tools. Draw in orthogonal planes(including custom working planes) where you can control things easily, then extrude.

It's a relief to know that I'm not going crazy.

Do you ever get to the point where you can design in 3D without making preliminary sketches on paper for visualization?

You know, the "what-if" approach, which then can be changed back easily to a previous model? I was able to work in 2D AutoCad this way, not quite in Vectorworks and not at all in 3D.

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Thank you for your vote of confidence on the speakers. I think I'm brilliant, but it's so hard to convince others. ;-)

As far as 3D design goes (furniture for me) I still use paper and clay, but rarely these days. I usually start with a mental picture and go straight to modeling. However, I always work from orthogonal views first. Perhaps this is because I "grew up" with 2D hand drafting, and subsequently spent many years doing commercial sculpture, but I can mentally translate easily between the conceptual 2D and 3D views.

Teaching Drafting and CAD to design students, it's quite obvious that mental 3D visualisation, and the translation of that to 2D is not something that is inherant. Some are better at it than others, but everyone has to learn it. (Despite being brilliant) I have an old book of drafting visualisation exercises, and I'm durned if I can interperet some of them into 3D objects.

On the other hand, the 3 days a week I do designing children's playgrounds (which is pretty well all 2D) always seems to start with paper and pencil (and a lot of rubbing out).


Edited by propstuff
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quote: ...design in 3D without making preliminary sketches on paper...

Yes, in Sketchup... from almost the first day that I started using it. I do it even while discussing a design with someone else, and while studying details for construction drawings. I haven't used tracing paper in 4 years.

I used to enjoy hand sketching, and cardboard modelling, too. But it's easier in Sketchup, and I'm lazy. Trying to design a building with 2D sketches now seems painfully difficult.

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Nicholas says...I'm durned if I can interperet some of them into 3D objects.

I remember taking an analytical geometry class many years ago that required such visualization. I could sometimes get the picture for few seconds, and then I'd lose it.

...subsequently spent many years doing commercial sculpture

This explains the sculptural speaker design.

jan15 says...I used to enjoy hand sketching, and cardboard modelling, too.

It's too bad that modeling isn't as popular as it once was. People are much more intrigued by a scale model than a 3D computer model. I read that Frank Gehry starts with hand sketches, then goes to models, and then to CAD.

I had hoped to do sculptural models (I love geometric abstraction) for display only, and use CAD for the initial design. It's probably outside of my talents.

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Nicholas, I believe the dotted lines represent the coordinate system of the working plane, or in the case of the orbit tool the rotation coordinate system.

With regard to the extruded rectangle and polygon tools, I don't really use them. If you are creating an extruded rectangle and click on a vertex, the secondary dot shows you the axis along which the extrusion will take place. Second click sets the height, and the third click the opposite corner of the rectangle base. If you don't snap to an object for the third click, VW places the opposite corner of the base on the ground plane at the point "apparently beyond" the cursor location. Since this tool can produce a skewed and extruded rectangle, it's not aptly named.

Not much help, and I don't know how useful these tools actually are. Except for certain NURBS configurations representing streets and sidewalks and handrails, I've never been stumped trying to create what I want using the 2d/3d system with working planes, and the extrude-along-path tool. Frustrated at times, yes.

Having used SketchUp a bit I can see how attractive the interface is, but I wonder if it can achieve the same control of dimensions and accuracy that you can get with VW.

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I haven't noticed any problem with dimensional accuracy of straight line geometry. But there's a huge problem with curves, which Sketchup simply can't draw. It draws straight-line approximations, which can become a nightmare when you try to do anything else with the circle or arc or extrusion thereof. When importing to VW, you have to re-draw any curves and anything that intersects them. And forget about any kind of irregular curve.

Another problem when importing is that Sketchup's 2D DWG export files have all their lines broken at every intersection, so you get millions of unusable tiny lines. There's an Autocad "Express Tool" called "Overkill" which fixes that (joins all the tiny lines into long straight lines), but I don't know of anything like that in VW.

I don't know what happens with 3D imports because I'm too lazy to learn 3D CAD. Since you obviously aren't, I would guess that you're better off staying with VW 3D, or at least moving to it early in the process. Sketchup is quick but messy.

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