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Ellen 7

Drawing 2d shapes to 3d extrusions

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Hi all, 


I'm a relative beginner in Vectorworks, and after drawing several 2d drawings/ modifications, this is my first model in 3d. I've extruded several objects from the ground plane, and I would now like to cut through the extrusions by drawing simple shapes on the face then push/pull and subtract the solids. However, the 2d drawing instantly snaps to the ground plane/ or the working plane, rather than the object itself. The object snap doesn't change this, and I've resorted to setting working planes on every surface, but I'll bet there is faster way to bypass the planes and snap to the objects (all the object snap option are on in the smartsursor settings, but doesn't snap to 3d object)


This sounds like such a simple problem but I have tried numerous snapping/ preferences settings and haven't fixed the problem. Any advice would be most appreciated!

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You need to go from Layer Plane, forcing to draw everything on XY Plane, to Automatic Plane.

The Shortcut to switch Automatic Plane on/off should be "#"

(german keyboard here)

or by dropdown in top tool bar.


As Mike said, it is worth to examine the help files for that and there should be illustrative Videos.


If activated you can draw 2D geometry directly on your 3D Geometrie's Faces.

After completion the 2D Face gets marked in red and by pressing "ALT" you can Push/Pull the

surface in, to subtract or out, to add.

But you have to try a few times as there is a strange timing when you have to press "ALT" and when not :)

There are also Videos that try to explain that.


If you missed the red marking and its Push/Pull option,

you can also do it later by using the Push Pull Tool, I think its the 3rd Mode needed.



Edited by zoomer

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Thank you Mike, Zoomer, and Gadzooks for your advice! I have tried the automatic working plane using the '\' on a UK keyboard, and it does work for a few steps, then a '"Automatic working plane not available in current context" appears when I try to do it again. However, I have found that I can draw using the 3D polygon for most of my design. Thanks again!

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12 minutes ago, Ellen 7 said:

'"Automatic working plane not available in current context"

This message should only appear if you are in a Top/Plan view and actually makes sense. If you are in a Top view or any other view for that matter then you shouldn't see this message. You will also have to have a tool selected before using the "\" key

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57 minutes ago, Ellen 7 said:

I have found that I can draw using the 3D polygon for most of my design


This will inevitably hold you back. It gets the job done for the moment if you're under pressure, but when you have more time you'll find learning an extended skill set will reap rewards in your productive time.

All the best for the learning curve. Don't be put off - with Vectorworks its not that steep before you are really happy with your creations. (Psst!, We're all learning still) :)

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Don't forget that 2D and 3D polygons have quite different (editing) options and you may miss them later.


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5 minutes ago, zoomer said:

Don't forget that 2D and 3D polygons have quite different (editing) options and you may miss them later.



My personal preference is to use 2d Polylines and 3d NURBS curves unless there's a specific reason to use a 2D or 3D Polygons......




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Oh, sorry, for me everything 2D is named Polygon.

I was currently thinking about just rectangles which offer full 2D manipulation options.

I think 3D Polys are much easier to draw in 3D Space but find working with 3D Polys

a bit more tedious and limited.

On the other side you can assign materials to them which 2D Elements can't or export

these to C4D/FBX and those things.

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I have to say I remember struggling with the way Vectorworks handles drawing 2D and 3D geometries together for a while. I've found there are some tools that make this easier, including the set working plane tool. It seemed faster to record a quick video, but you'll have to forgive the audio, I was just using the Macbook's built in mic.


Hope it's helpful!



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