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Jim Smith

3D Modelling to Working Drawings

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I've been experimenting with 3D Modelling to produce Design Concepts and I'm not really satisfied with the result & have gone back to sketching. Firstly is the "time on tools" aspect, as I find it a frustrating experience and not at all as straight forward as I feel the interface should be. The real stumbling block however; converting what I've made into usable Vectorworks objects; i.e. walls, doors, windows etcetera. I have used the Extract command for example on simple rectangular wall faces & the created walls from the extracted 3D Poly are never correct.

 

Is there a workflow that allows one to go from one technique (3D poly's  & NURBS)  to another (VW PIO objects)? Is this even possible or is a 3D object just that, a reference to start  the documentation process from?

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I would take a look at solid modelling, Extrude, Push-Pull, Add/Subtract, Deform etc to get the massing right, 

Then extract 2d Polys via Create Contours, Convert to 2d Polys and use these to create walls.

 

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Thanks bcd, but that's the process that I'm following.

As I say the interface for much of the 3D modelling tool sets are not really as straightforward, or user friendly as the rest of the programme is. I'll cop to my lack of time on tools; I've used these tools many times over the years, but I don't make use of them daily, so it's not second nature.  Extracting a 2D poly from a Face that has openings representing doors and windows results in a wacky mess, while a 3D Polygon extracted from the 3D object doesn't result in either an accurate or useable wall; at least at this point. Doors & windows even with some kind of generic openings don't get created so there's that.

I get that one can't just draw an amorphous 3D object then have VW spit our working drawings but it seems to me though there is a step missing. VW isn't as fluid as Sketch-up in working up concepts, but it would be worth skipping using SU, or our concept sketches, even given the limitations or the 3D tools'  interfaces if one could use the information without having to basically start a fresh. 

I'm not finding any info on this in Help or Service Select, but I may be missing something. 

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I'm not sure I understand your reason for not using Walls, Roofs, Floors, etc in the first place. Is it because they don't feel "free" enough, like hand sketching?? Or is there another reason?

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I guess that's at the root of the exercise. We don't want to get hung up on wall assemblies & window & door styles at the beginning of a project, when we don't know what the shape of building will be yet.  I know that many programmes, including VW are allowing one to work in a 3D view, a la, SU. Also having a "light" mass model file allows for a much faster refresh. One of the other things I've noted is something we struggled with some time ago; we can draw a 3D thing that represents a wall at an 15º angle, but the Wall tool makes this somewhat difficult to execute. 

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I find it's fairly easy to design in 3d in VW.  I guess it depends on how 3d you need your 3D to be.  If you are doing blobs and sculptural Zaha Hadid type stuff, you might want to work in a slightly more user-friendly 3D program and import solids as you need them.   Rhino is great with curves or Sketchup is great with textures and very basic massing. 

 

If you are doing something a bit more space plan / program driven, there are a bunch of ways you can work.  If I am doing detailed test fits, I organize space objects in plan and play with all the boxes.  Under the AEC command , I  then create walls from spaces.  Or you can trace with walls.  Your spaces can also be thought of as extruded boxes that can stack.  That can help you do generic massing models that directly relate to the program.  And you can quickly create space lists.

 

If you prefer working with walls,  you may want to start by making them all generic:  exterior 12" [30.5] and interior [12.5].  Start with any wall, delete all the components, until you can adjust the width directly in the object info palette.  I like working with walls because they join, and move together if they are joined;  you can build specificity into them as you need to.  Throw a couple of floors, doors, roof races, or slabs, and you can do something that approaches a building. 

 

VW is cool because you can always import the sketches, PDFs or whatever and model with them/over them. (Be sure to delete after a certain point because they will slow down your model)  We use a lot of hybrid techniques where we might have hand drawn site plans mixed with 2d-3d linework.

 

The solid modeling stuff is a little less intuitive, and it doesn't always look great in plan.  I tend to use it for more fine-grained design, or special sorts of objects that are not so generic.  Attachments, details, clips, etc.  But a lot of folks on here tend to use this technique for everything.  Since I am always looking to document as I go, I prefer my 2d work to look good.


Anyway good luck and have fun.  And if none of this works, do what gets the job done.  The program is only a tool. 

 

 

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I always work with very simple un-styled walls. I do usually define Exterior and Interior, both by thickness and textures. I can move, duplicate, rotate, etc. very quickly. Walls with components have always been too complicated (and require too much upkeep) for me. And in reality, the plan view of the final CD's looks just like that. The sections are where I go to define actual assemblies, and I generally draft all that "manually" over a section VP. The elevations can be almost entirely created from a simple model like this... 

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Thanks for your thoughts! We share a lot of the techniques mentioned; it all depends on the project. I was re-reviewing on of Johnathan Pickup's books on 3D modelling after a discussion with a colleague & he does a lot of preliminary work in SU then imports into VW & he kinda challenged me to show how to cut out the SU stage and do the CD in VW. I'm getting mixed results. I'll post later what I think would make an improvement to the work flow... and win the bet with my pal!

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If you look at the youtube video of Richard Meier's Church it's pretty inspiring. 

 

There are some things in there I was not previously appreciative of, like the surface array tool. Now that I understand it from this video I see all sorts of applications.  But I would think that for a project like this, there would still be some sort of sketch prior, unless you had his groundplans and elevations to work from.  What's the harm in sketching quickly to get an idea on paper first?  These days with a smartphone as a scanner, you can transfer the working idea to the screen pretty quickly. 

 

 

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Here's another example of a massing model... this is all extruded elements at this point (except for the curtain walls).  Lots of stuff is NOT worked out but it gives an overall impression of a building.

 

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 11.12.34 AM.png

Edited by Wes Gardner
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I also kind of like to do this, where the building in the center is a "real" project and the surrounding buildings are just extruded "entourage."  But I think Jim, you mentioned sketching...I think this is something we'll always do...

 

Gallery_196x_and_Entourage.png

Edited by Wes Gardner
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7 minutes ago, CipesDesign said:

I especially like the horse! 

 

Ha me too. I remember seeing drawings from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where the scenic designer included cows on the plan outside the theatre......

 

KM

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My office is getting caught up on this too.  They do not want to use the wall tool because they do not know what the assembly is yet - and they do not want to get bogged down.  So instead - they draw lines that are 6" apart.  It is a conceptual hurdle we have been working to get over - that you can draw generically with the "Smart Tools."  I find this really baffling, but it is pervasive.  

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@Tom KlaberHi this would appear to be the old adage that its hard to teach an old dog new tricks and they wont learn. Why draw 2 lines 6" apart when with one stroke you can draw the 6" wall that allows you to place in the doors windows and the wall has height. I guess I am preaching to the converted here. Its a mind set, get them to stop thinking of the lining etc and just draw a wall with no components etc You can always change the wall to a style later. If they are after a concept draw a box and not walls. I understand their Luddite mentality i see it all the time.  " ill just use sketchup its easier. But hit them with the " you draw it once like this and someone else has to waste TIME which is MONEY to the boss and they will soon see that why draw it twice. , at least get somersetting drawn with real walls etc. Aim at the top (the Boss) its costing him money, unless he is running a charity I am sure he will see the reason and bash them around the ears.If its a big organisation and these guys blend into the background at mid level management you may have problems but aim at the one who hold the purse strings.

They need to sketch in the computer its just a different type of pencil, but pedants will find it difficult with anything in life.

Well that's my rant over with.

 

Good Luck, its not easy.

Edited by Alan Woodwell
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Just set up a Wall style that mimics the double lines they're used to. From the RM double click it and away they go.

In fact set up a family of such simple walls. The immediate beauty is that the corners will auto-join, windows & doors will auto-insert.

Edited by bcd
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I prefer to do mass models by boxes.

Extrudes or Generic Solids after being manipulated by OIP or Push Pull.

 

But of course, with a little basic Wall Styles, Slab Styles and Story settings,

it would be as easy and fast by using the Wall Tool by new rectangle mode.

Which means everything is completed already and you just do some final

geometry translations, Style replacements and fine editing - done.

 

But I don't want to see those details at that stage - so I prefer boxes :)

Edited by zoomer

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It's not always feasible but one way to encourage efficient use of tools throughout a project is to have the same people working from concept through to completion. 

 

The biggest hurdle in my office, and I suspect many others, is getting the director (who starts most schemes at concept stage) to use workflows and tools that make the later stages more efficient.. But it's very difficult because old habits die hard, it's difficult to discipline your own boss, and it's he is never involved in the modelling of the project later on down the line, so therefore has no personal experience of examples of workflows that speed things up in the later stages.

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Again very grateful to be a one-man shop. Of course it has its downsides too. But determining my own workflow is so nice... 

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So I think the process needs a little work to achieve a seamless workflow; & no, I'm never leaving my pencil behind, but I was to have more fluid process. Here's what I'm getting at:

 

If one works like SU in 3D with shapes, one may arrive at a BOX that's starting to give an idea of the concept and that BOX may then be made into walls that then supports the Door & Wall PIO's. Good, but not great. Often in both SU & with paper & pencil one toys with Doors and windows and often their placement is key to the harmony of the BOX and the box changes shape. So if one were to add openings with the Push Pull Tool, the result may be satisfactory but the technique then fails when one converts the BOX to Walls. 

 

Here's a Box 9m high with door & window locations that have been Solid Subtracted 150 from the Box. I have a simple file with three, 3m high layers & when I convert the Model to Floor Plan you can see the results. So my point is this: To compete effectively with SU one needs a way to draw 3D shapes that have the genesis of doors windows & possibly roofs, included in the Model and that Model needs to be able to be converted to a floor plan. Right now, as far as I can see there's still too much to & fro.  As an interim step if I could get Walls, same size as the door & window shapes as result of the Model to Floor Plan process, this would be a something one could use as a "helper" to actually place Doors & Windows. I guess I could use a Wireframe view to see both the Model & the Walls at the same time & then place PIO's. That does seem like a work-a-round and not the kind of seamless technique I was hoping for.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 10.20.28 PM.png

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 10.22.02 PM.png

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 10.22.44 PM.png

Edited by Jim Smith

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I hope I can say this without seeming to be judgmental, or eliciting that from others... VW's is not SU, and neither is a pencil (although I have sometimes called VW's a $2000 pencil). It appears that in your preferred process SU will be a more efficient tool for early stage idea modeling. But I still think you might be missing the dynamic beauty of working with simple walls, floors and roofs. And especially as these can then be retained and refined over the course of the design development (and working drawings). 

 

To further explain my process: I generally start with 2d shapes as definers of spaces, then use them as (actually aligned) guides for placement of walls. I duplicate walls a lot, then drag, rotate, etc. This is very fast (at least for me) and allows me to pretty quickly see the building take shape in 3d. Of course VW's also has the ability to use "Spaces" or "Polygons" from which to directly create walls. While I'm sure some users like this, it's not quite tactile or free enough for me...

 

Every tool forces us to use it a certain way. Have you ever tried to use the back of a screw driver as a hammer? Or tried to cut a steak with a spoon? VW's and SU are both intended as design tools, but they come at things from opposite sides of the problem. I would challenge you (and others) to spend one morning, or whatever, using simple walls, floors and roofs to rough out early concepts. Just for kicks. Or just continue to use both tools and be happy that we have a choice. 

 

Ultimately what I think is that VW's will never be "like SU" because its basic premise and structure are not not that. And visa-versa.

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I don't really use walls that much because of the type of work I do. I do wish I could insert PIOs (doors, windows, skylights, custom objects etc.) into solids objects I created. I think this would make VW way more powerful. Maybe its a container objects like the Subdivision object that I drop my custom geometry into and it allows for PIO insertion (doors, windows in vertical surfaces and skylights etc. in horizontal ones). Then I could make any geometry I need to and inset PIO objects into various surfaces. In the massing model example above the "box" could just be a cube if this were possible.

 

Kevin

 

(Added to the wishlist)

Edited by Kevin McAllister
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