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redl

3D urban modeling

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Hi !

I work in an urban planning office in Switzerland and VectorWorks is our main tool. We use it for quite a while and are satisfied with it as long as we work in 2D.

However, we are now wanting to use the 3D capabilities of VectorWorks (2010) to do some modeling (DTM + very simple buildings consisting of stacked parallelepipeds).

I almost want to cry seeing how bad VectorWorks is in doing such a simple task. It is bugged, slow and feels terribly out of date.

1) It seems not possible to have simple extruded polygons which display in plan view AND in 3D view with a solid color. I found out that the "floor" tool does it, but it's a pain in the *** to use. (you have to create it from a polygon and then run a function, you can't move it's points nor split it without viewing it in "group" mode where all other objects are not visible, etc...)

2) The section tool is a bad joke.

There is no way to choose the style of the DTM in section ! You can only choose its solid fill color...

When you explode the section viewports, the section disappear...

Copying sections is a total mess since it duplicates the section mark on the model layer (actually on a random layer).

You have to reconfigure every new section manually, because copying attributes does not copy the attributes, but resizes and inverts it !

You can't rename a section.

3) Viewing the model is ultra-counter intuitive in perspective. I didn't manage to find my model !! You can't zoom on selection...

So I can look at it only in axonometry, which makes it almost impossible to use to have a "in site" feeling. I thought that was the main purpose of a 3d model !

4) The 3D display is very laggy. I opened the same terrain in several other tools (autocad, cinema4d, sketchup), and it was totally fluid in all of them. The DTM takes ages to regenerate, even if you only change a minor display element (like a stroke color).

5) The is a very good function which allows to create a terrain section and showing the new and old terrain shape, but impossible to display the buildings on it, which makes it useless. You also have to delete the results and rerun it for each change on your DTM.

And so on...

Well, all this to say I'm not happy at all with VW and it's 3D tools. There is a LOT to improve.

It's quite a pity, individually, each function works quite well, but even after a few days of trying and reading on internet, I haven't been able to make my workflow fluid. I feel like I'm using a program coming from the age of the punchcard...

I'd of course be very glad if someone has some tips to improve my workflow.

Best regards,

Olivier

Edited by redl

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Olivier, unfortunately the lack of complete exhaustive 3D BIM WORKFLOW training tutorials is why, in my opinion, Vectorworks is so hard to learn. Individual video clips on individual tool functionality as they have been doing just leaves us, the end user, a BIG puzzle on how we can potentially assemble them to make a common everyday use workflow in each of our design specialties.

That in my opinion should be the software manufacturers responsibility to share their conceptual vision as I think we have enough with trying to remember all the possible commands.

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Oliver, first of all it's great that you are finally using VW's 3d modeling. Here are a couple comments: 1) You are using a 3 year old version of the software (2013 was just released) and there have been some improvements. Notably, and in regard to your #1, we can now create a 2d/3d Hybrid Symbol from any 3d shape, and it's pretty much automatic. And for what it's worth, you can (for decades) make a Hybrid Symbol quite easily (see the Help for more info). Also, you might consider using the Massing Model object for this purpose. Further, Floors are not really a pain. You can Add/Clip Surface to/from any floor object... As to your #2, Sections are work any way you slice it (pun intended). I always start with a VW's Section Viewport and then add graphics in the Annotations... Perhaps others have additional suggestions... Your #3) Try using the interactive viewing tools (e.g.: walk-thru, flyover, translate view). They work in Open GL (but they do require hardware that's up to speed to operate smoothly). #4) What OS are you running? What are your hardware specs?

Above all else, I would suggest that it's unrealistic for anyone who is new to 3d modeling to think there will be no learning curve. Get as much help and training as possible. It will help!

I use 3d in VW's and although it isn't perfect, it sure beats doing it the old school, by hand way!!

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hoi, oliver.

we are in a similar situation. i started using vw 2010 for 3d when it first came out. the company has used it over a longer time frame for 2d, which it does very well. in our opinion, 3d is another story. and i speak from the perspective of using other programs, starting with 3ds in the 90's.

one of the attractions of vw is that it strives to be an all in one program. but, i think that's also a big problem. it can't do everything well, and it doesn't. now on our 4th version of vw (and 2013 is better than 2010, but don't expect too much), i am looking into other programs. bottom line is that you can't rely on one software application to do it all. we are going to be doing more modeling in sketchup; trying a demo of cinema 4d; and following the beta testing of rhino for mac. i see vw continuing to be in the mix. but, we don't feel we can continue to rely on it as much as we have.

vw is starting to recognize this themselves, as over this three year period, they have included more import and export capabilities. this year they added rhino.

cheers,

ray

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ubbthreads.php?ubb=download&Number=8038&filename=Building shell + DTM.png

1) It seems not possible to have simple extruded polygons which display in plan view AND in 3D view with a solid color.

Use the building shell tool instead. See attached image.

This tool is great for what you are trying to do.

2) The section tool is a bad joke.

There is no way to choose the style of the DTM in section ! You can only choose its solid fill color...

There is a bug related to this, the section of the DTM uses the documents current attributes. See image.

Copying sections is a total mess since it duplicates the section mark on the model layer (actually on a random layer).

You have to reconfigure every new section manually, because copying attributes does not copy the attributes, but resizes and inverts it !

You can't rename a section.

You copy sections by copying the actual section viewport.

The visibility of the section line/marker can be set through the button on the object info palette.

The attributes and parameters by selecting an instance and setting it like any other object.

Changing the path of the section does reposition the section viewport.

Attributes can be copied with the eyedropper tool.

You can rename section viewports, like any other object, on the data tab of the object info palette.

3) Viewing the model is ultra-counter intuitive in perspective. I didn't manage to find my model !! You can't zoom on selection...

So I can look at it only in axonometry, which makes it almost impossible to use to have a "in site" feeling. I thought that was the main purpose of a 3d model !

You can zoom on page and on objects. The zoom on objects zooms on all when nothing is selected, otherwise on the selected objects.

To get a good 3D 'in site' view, use the 'set 3D view' command or a renderworks camera.

4) The 3D display is very laggy. I opened the same terrain in several other tools (autocad, cinema4d, sketchup), and it was totally fluid in all of them. The DTM takes ages to regenerate, even if you only change a minor display element (like a stroke color).

This just depends on your pc, complexity of the dtm, render mode, .... Try using wireframe when modelling when your pc can't handle other render methods to model in.

5) The is a very good function which allows to create a terrain section and showing the new and old terrain shape, but impossible to display the buildings on it, which makes it useless. You also have to delete the results and rerun it for each change on your DTM.

I know it's a workaround, but you could create two section viewports on each other, set the dtm on old, render the first section, set the dtm on new, render the second section. If you set the parameters of the section viewporst correctly, you should see both old and new with your buildings.

...

Or you could create a file for your existing dtm, where only your dtm is in, then reference this into your main document, and then you'll have both. (I use this methed for all my remodels, dtm and buildings).

Don't get me wrong, but it seems that you have a lot to learn about VW. Don't blame the software for not knowing things. I do realise that VW has a steep learning curve and that users need to know a lot of things like existing bugs, workarounds, ... before getting good at it.

Feel free to ask further questions.

Edited by DWorks

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3) Viewing the model is ultra-counter intuitive in perspective. I didn't manage to find my model !! You can't zoom on selection...

So I can look at it only in axonometry, which makes it almost impossible to use to have a "in site" feeling. I thought that was the main purpose of a 3d model !

This is very true and there has been a lot of complaining about this and finally in 2013 they have made the perspective view usable.

- For the time being all I can advise you to do is keep the center of your model on the 0,0,0 (origin of your drawing) then it will always appear (at least partly) in the perspective window.

- Another way to 'find' the model in the perspective window is to toggle views i.e., if you have created a perspective window and the model is not visible hit the 1,3,5 or 7 on the number pad, sometimes this helps.

-The best solution though is to forget the perspective views and use camera views, these are much easier to set up and edit to personal demand. (However this requires you to have Renderworks.)

ubbthreads.php?ubb=download&Number=8042&filename=Sk%E4rmavbild%202012-09-27%20kl.%2008.30.15.png

Edited by Vincent C

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Thanks for all your answers ! I wasn't expecting that much since my post was a bit aggressive ;)

I read all of them, and it helped me a lot. It's still not perfect, but I can get a bit more of my model.

I'm still stuck at something : I'd like to draw altitude markers on my sections (for instance altitude of the building's roof). But the section's annotations coordinates seem to refer to the paper space instead of the model space.

Is this possible ?

And here's feedback about your tips.

Also, you might consider using the Massing Model object for this purpose. Further, Floors are not really a pain. You can Add/Clip Surface to/from any floor object...

Use the building shell tool instead. See attached image.

This tool is great for what you are trying to do.

So, I can choose between the floor object, where I can add/substract surfaces (which is didn't know and is nice) but not edit the points in context, and a building object where I can move the points in context but not add/substract surfaces.

There is a bug related to this, the section of the DTM uses the documents current attributes. See image.

I've read about this bug, but here it does not act like this. The sections keeps the same color, no matter the current attributes. And if it's a known bug, why hasn't it been fixed ? Didn't we pay for our software ?

When I set my DTM to be only a triangular surface (and not a solid mesh), the section displays with a small fill which makes it ugly and unprecise (see attached file).

When I set my DTM to be a solid, I can't see my underground floors anymore.

The only solution I found is to decompose the DTM in 3d polygons. Then it works well (and is faster), but I loose all the parametric aspects of the DTM (or have to manage a copy of the DTM).

You can zoom on page and on objects. The zoom on objects zooms on all when nothing is selected, otherwise on the selected objects.

To get a good 3D 'in site' view, use the 'set 3D view' command or a renderworks camera.

Here, the "zoom on page" zooms on the perspective square, and the "zoom on objects" don't do anything at all in perspective. (works well in parralel projection though).

- For the time being all I can advise you to do is keep the center of your model on the 0,0,0 (origin of your drawing) then it will always appear (at least partly) in the perspective window.

Another good tip, but changing the origin would make me loose the benefit of being georeferenced. My drawing is based on surveyor's data which is subject to change.

I overlooked the "set 3d view" command which helped me finding my model. I can navigate with the walkthrough tool, but it's not very practical since the model is very slopy. Isn't there a "fly through" command ?

#4) What OS are you running? What are your hardware specs?

I'm on Mac with a 2 years old iMac.

On this point, you have to admit VW IS slow. I loaded the same DTM in sketchup, it took quite a long time to build, but once built, I could move the section through the terrain in real time.

Above all else, I would suggest that it's unrealistic for anyone who is new to 3d modeling to think there will be no learning curve. Get as much help and training as possible. It will help!

I use 3d in VW's and although it isn't perfect, it sure beats doing it the old school, by hand way!!

Don't get me wrong, but it seems that you have a lot to learn about VW. Don't blame the software for not knowing things. I do realise that VW has a steep learning curve and that users need to know a lot of things like existing bugs, workarounds, ... before getting good at it.

I am quite computer savvy and I have a very good knowledge about 3D and CAD programs (I use a lot cinema4d, archicad, sketchup, ...).

And I know VectorWorks quite good now (the 2D aspects). Still, the 3D functions are really cryptic, old-fashioned and hard to grasp.

Of course it takes some time to get good at any program, but in this particular case, I don't think the learning curve is justified by the capabilities of the program. It's just old-fashioned and counter-intuitive. You can't blame the user for that... It needs a serious refresh.

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Most of your complaints have been pointed out to the people upstairs time and again, e.g..

http://techboard.vectorworks.net/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Main=35746&Number=176006#Post176006

Perspective view, the walk through tool, 3D navigation speed are some of the items that have been taken care of in the latest release........

patience is a virtue :sick:

Edited by Vincent C

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and a building object where I can move the points in context but not add/substract surfaces.

You can add/substract shapes from the building object to make holes. Just tested it.

When I set my DTM to be a solid, I can't see my underground floors anymore.

You can create two section viewports on top off each other, the back showing the dtm, the front the rest. Just set the class/layer visibilities for each viewport.

On this point, you have to admit VW IS slow.

Depends on many factors, but VW is kinda slow on the more complex documents.

And I know VectorWorks quite good now (the 2D aspects). Still, the 3D functions are really cryptic, old-fashioned and hard to grasp.

Of course it takes some time to get good at any program, but in this particular case, I don't think the learning curve is justified by the capabilities of the program. It's just old-fashioned and counter-intuitive. You can't blame the user for that... It needs a serious refresh.

The result of adding stuff without making sure it fits the whole program.

VW did become a mash up from many things. For example: some objects like the railing tool can't have other fills than solid, ... . VW really need to integrate all of it's stuff more, number 1 reason why I think the new auto hybrid is bad. It just had to be added functionality to the already existing symbol, because I know for sure that 90% of the time, it will be used in symbols.

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