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Lines, Line styles & Sketch Options


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I am a set designer that has used Vectorworks on an off for 10 years. I usually still draft my designs by hand and only use Vectorworks if I need to build the set in addition to designing it. The only reason I can attribute to having a foot in both worlds is that Vectorworks does not seem to have any way to powerfully control 2D lines. It seems a little ironic that lines are the bedrock of drafting but the control of the line is very difficult to achieve in Vectorworks. Am I missing something? I have a few related questions:

1) Is there a way to customize a line weight to do something like build up at the corners? (this is a critical form of communication in my drafting and the rendering/sketch options is far too rudimentary, even in 2012)

2) Is there a way to give a line some of the creative freedom seen in Adobe Illustrator? (the thickness and dash styles are quite stale)

3) Is there a way to get a line to interpret pressure sensitive data like a brush in Adobe illustrator? (artistic detail could be communicated powerfully with a brush type tool)

4) The various rendering options do not give custom control over lines. Plugins like doodle and squiggle are not powerful enough either and in some cases are not very stable. Moving back and forth between illustrator and or photoshop is not worth the effort (might as well draft by hand.) 3D is stiff and not practical for quick moving designs. Is there some other option here that I have not considered?

Thank you!

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Hi brave,

Welcome to the forum. While there is significant control of lineweights, styles & colors for drafting there is no variable line-weight in VW, and the Freeform tool isn't going to give you the control, fluidity of effect you need.

The only approximation will be found under the Rendering>Artistic settings which do provide tapering lines but the level of control is probably not what you're looking for and you have already explored and rejected these.

Finally, the sketch style does give significant control over wobbliness, overstrike etc - but again, not the sort you'll achieve in a raster program like Photoshop.

In VW2012, if you do achieve a Rendering setting that gives you the look you like it can be saved as a Render Style and easily be reused.

Perhaps pressure sensitivity will come to VW down the road but I'd be surprised if that was within commuting distance.

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You could use--if you have v.2012--Artistic Taper Thick Black, then add a wash image behind it, if you like, and turn on an HDRI background just for fun.

I personally much prefer to explode* my model and clean up lines, changing weights to suit me, and perhaps this is, in part, what your asking about.

Your question though, had to do with display-type renderings, not something you do on the fly, right? Open GL is the one to use when developing your model. Almost all other modes require a wait. If you want ultimate line control, print your model in Hidden Line and use transparent paper and get out your watercolors and brushes and give it a personality all your own. Or maybe turn all lines to a light dash, print on water color paper and use a water-soluble printer ink that dissolves when painting over.

To see an example of Artistic Taper Thick Black, go to:


and click on image 6.

*The topic of exploded lines is too large to get into here and in fact there are good reasons to try to not do so since it goes against NV Best Practices. In my personal practice I find that the high time-overhead of classing everything, together with completing the model beyond what is needed takes more work than I'm will to commit.

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Thanks for the welcome to the community, and the many thoughtful responses.

I believe that I have tried all of the tips that folks have noted but cannot achieve results I am looking for.

For clarity, VW seems fine for creating a color perspective sketch (though I currently use Sketch up for this.)

Drafting 2D plans is the issue, and this is where I do most of my drafting. I have enclosed images of my drafting to perhaps illustrate this better. On the enclosed drafting of the ?toaster stand? you will notice that I find it important to build up the corners. I also add some lines to denote shading. Both of these are often critical, especially in more complex objects when the artistic feel needs to be communicated, but when scale is also critical. As for the other enclosed image of the drafting with the trees, this shows a very different example of a case when I need to quickly draft organic sketches, which are also to scale. In short I have been using VW for ten years; about half of the time the drawings are purely technical in nature and VW is ok for that. The other half of the time they need an artistic feel and it is easier to draft these drawings by hand. I?d love to get rid of the drafting table and use VW for everything but I?m not sure how.

So my questions would be:

#1 Can I create lines in 2D that have variety in width, especially at the corners, yet when printed are very accurately read to the center of the line with a scale rule? View/Rendering/Custom Renderworks Options often loses a reference to center and therefore loses the precision of reading with a scale rule.

#2 Can I create lines in 2D that are custom like Adobe illustrator and can register pressure sensitive data from a pen tool? These lines could give perhaps give me the effect of shading (as in the enclosed image of the ?toaster stand?) or the power of organic lines as on the enclosed tree image.

#3 Are there plugins that exist to help me add precise artistic lines, as described above, to 2D drafting?

Many thanks!

Toaster Stand


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