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simple models in version 12


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AS a new user I am attempting to explore simple model making but all the instructions I have read and/or been told have failed me. The method I have been trying (it looked simple enough during the demonstration) involved creating a viewport (and new corresponding sheet layer), then creating a layer link of the two simple floor plans I had created, the adding a roof, then setting the 3-d view, then using the visualization tools to select an appropriate view. Someowhere in there were supposed to be access to tools that would allow me to select rendering tools, light sources, ground planes etc. Are there ten (or more) easy steps to a simple model?


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Create your layer links in a single Design Layer, not in a viewport. You actually can't create a layer link anywhere else. This is your model layer. Add lighting (in a separate layer is okay) using View -> Lighting -> Set Layer lighting and sun. Create a ground plane (usually in a "ground" layer and again linked into the model layer). Pick a point of view in one of several ways (use the numeric keypad to get standard isometric viewpoints). Pick a rendering mode. Done. If you want this in a viewport on a sheet layer, View -> Create Viewport.

You skipped a few steps. I don't know where you are getting your training, but I would suggest taking a look at the manual.

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thanks, I'll try your method tomorrow. I have gone thru the manual as well as searched the v12 upgrade companion...but frankly, a lot of what I've read seems to be headed down a more complex/complicated path than I'd like to travel. As an Autocad user I'm having a tough time making the transition to the vectorworks process. I was excited to hear about the easy 3-D capability of Vectorworks - something I never mastered in Autocad (simply drawing/creating elevations "by hand") What I would like to be able to do with Vectorworks is create some simple 3-D images in order to convey massing & roof ideas to clients when designing small additions. A 3-d image would do a great job of explaining the somewhat complex roof solutions that are often needed. I appreciate any advice or shortcuts you can offer. Thanks

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Yes, the process can seem complicated. But if you have your first and second floor done, the method I gave you will work very easily. Jonathan is very knowledgeable, and has great experience conveying how to work with VW. The VW manual tells you how things work, but doesn't necessarily give you step-by-step methods for doing things in a practical way.

Just be aware of the "layer z" setting. It adjusts the layer links so that the second floor will be higher than the 1st floor. Or, alternatively, you can create your second floor with layer z = 0 and just elevate the walls to the desired height. That's the way I work. Either way, when you assemble the model on a single layer using Layer Links, everything will come in at the correct height.

PS, didn't mention this, and it should be obvious, but it never hurts to be explicit: if your lighting is on a separate layer, you need to "layer link" that in as well if you want to view the lighted model via its design layer. Set the general lighting for the model layer to get an overall lighting effect, the "sun" should give you shadows and greater light on surfaces facing the sun.

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Have you tried the Stack Layers command?

If your floorplans are registered in the X/Y axis in Top/Plan view and you have your Z values set correctly, Stack layers should automatically show you the layers correctly when viewing in 3D.

Z values are the key here. Check your Layer Z values in the Organization Pallet under the Design layers tab. If you set your layers so that their Z value is the same as the floor elevation for the floor plan, then be sure the walls on that layer have a Bottom Z value of zero in the Object Info Palette. (assuming that the bottom of the wall is resting "on" the floor)

Be sure the layers you want to view are made Visible in the Navigation palette and that you have your layer options set to show other layers (ie. Show/Snap Others).

Select Stack Layers from the menu and switch to an elevation or isometric view.

Once you get it to show, play with the layer Z and the wall's Bottom Z values to see how they affect the model. This should help clear things up for you about those relationships.


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I agree with boxjoint -- stack layers is a really neat tool and it eliminates the need for layer links. An extra bonus is that you can gray out certain layers, like maybe the roof, so that you can look down into the space and still rotate and manipulate your model during a presentation.


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Not exactly true... There is a new set of 'preferences' for Stack Layers [find it in VIEW>STACK LAYERS OPTIONS]. With "display 2d objects on active layer" toggled "on", one can in fact use 2d tools while stack layers is active. Obviously this is a mixed blessing in that any 2d object already present might (usually does) block one's view of the 3d Stack beyond. However, with careful use (eg: no 2d data on model layers) it works well and removes the need for Layer Links, at least to perform this particular function. PC

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VectorWorks 2008 has the stack layer options. i can?t see the options in VectorWorks 12.5.

i still don?t think that stacked layers remove the need for layer linking. In my architect manual I use a design layer viewport instead of a layer link and it worked much better. you can crop the viewport, so that you don?t get bits that you didn?t want and you can turn layers on and off when you feel like it.

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Pete, those type of Design Layer Viewports are intelligent Layer Links. ie Layer Links that can be managed by switching the visibility of the Layers and Classes. They can also be cropped, though that feature is only really useable on static Design Layer Viewports - ie. ones you don't want to rotate.

Design Layer Viewports are a significant addition to VWs capability. There is a new movie on it here: http://www.nemetschek.net/training/library.php?movie=2008movies

For me Design Layer Viewports are the gem in VW 2008. It is a feature that people will only begin to appreciate once they start using them and realise how powerful they are.

Edited by mike m oz
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Mike, I agree. If we can just get the conversion from legacy files to work properly (i.e., multiple links can now be consolidated into one VP with multiple-layer visibility, but the converter won't do that).

We asked for better management tools for layer links some while back, and though the 2008 literature doesn't seem to trumpet it, this is just what we got with Design Layer Viewports.

I'll be really interested to see how Stack Layer Views stacks up against Design Layer VP's as a way to explore and work with a 3d model.

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