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3D rotation...is it really that hard?

Leif Dixon

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I've been using Vectorworks on and off for 4 years (since version 12, and upgraded twice to v2009) and still have yet to find a good solution for what I consider an absolutely basic need: raking trusses.

Vectorworks will not allow rotating 3D objects on the X or Y axis; I understand that I can change the hanging angle of my truss...but that does not allow for raking trusses with instruments attached. And if I convert a truss to a lighting position (so attached lights move with the truss), the option to change the hanging angle disappears.

I think it completely reasonable that I should be able to grab an entire truss--or multiple trusses--with lights attached and rotate them around any axis. When I was using AutoCAD (before converting to Mac in 2005) this would take less than 10 seconds.

As best as I have been able to determine in Vectorworks, the only way to accomplish a the task is to change the hanging and rotation angles of each truss, try to line them up at their junctions, and then adjust the 3D rotation & X/Y/Z of each light that is supposed to be attached to a truss, a daunting task... especially when I am needing to create a handful of different options to present to the client. AND frustrating considering how bloody easy it is in AutoCAD.

Please somebody tell me where I've missed the boat.

Many thanks.


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I agree with you on so many levels. However, I have been able to make a little work around to your problem. A few things first, This is a real quick and dirty way of doing it, and it only works if you are not exporting it to a visualization program.

Okay. First thing I do is Draw out all my lenghts of truss that I am using in a structure. For example, I want to draw a tilted circle.

Draw a circle truss in the normal plane. Highlit the enitre structure, then, Modify > Convert> Convert to 3D Polys. Then I will insert one symbol from each type of fixture I am using. Again, repeat the modify steps for them. Then hang them on your truss where you want it.

After the lights are hung and your basic geometry is drawn,Select all the lights and truss and Group them. You can now rotate in any direction you want.

If you want to take it one step further, you can Create a symbol of the Lights after they are converted to 3d polys. This way you can use them later on. Also, it is still possible to attach a light record to these once they are symbols again.

If you need a plan view as well, your best bet with this is to simply create another layer with standard symbols in them (unless you are okay with a wire frame plot) The plus side is as a 3d poly, you still can open GL and or renderwork the unit.

Hope it helps a little bit. My heart goes out to you. All I want to be able to do is hang a light in any orientation quickly and easily.

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