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Keeping file size as low as possible

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I am looking for some tips on keeping file size to a minimum. I recently made a model to produce some renders and the file got up to 800MB. The file did have a lot of SketchUp Warehouse furniture which I assume doesn't help.


Just wondering if there is any guide for keeping file size low/as low as possible to make sure i'm modelling/rendering in the most effective way.




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Generally, a lot of the VW file size comes down to 3D geometry and how it is constructed and texture image sizes, as well as group usage and Marionette objects if on older versions.


Using SketchUp files can easily balloon file sizes, as objects will come in as a collection of 3D Polygon objects.  Especially shapes with curved edges like cylinders and spheres can be HUGE because of the way SketchUp builds that kind of geometry, as a surface with a lot of facets.  On an exhibit that I worked on, one of the designers opted to build everything in SketchUp since they were more comfortable in it.  They modeled this big playground object made up of multiple tubes that kids could crawl through.  Upon import, it was turned into an object with literally millions of 3D polygons, so the project went from 12mb or so to 600mb just by adding that component in.  Generally, I would discourage using too much from the SketchUp Warehouse and doing your best to avoid any mesh objects (such as DWG imports).  If you can, try to recreate the SketchUp objects using the native VW 3D modelling tools.  One quick-ish solution is to also select all of the 3D polys that make up an object, then run the Model-Add Solids command to convert them into a Solid Addition object, then convert that to a Generic Solid using Modify-Convert-Convert to Generic Solid.  This can wreak havoc on any texturing work that has been done, however, as texturing and of the Solid objects can only be done on the entire object rather than individual faces.


The best way to keep file sizes small in terms of 3D modelling is to try to keep objects in as few pieces as possible, and to drive primarily with extrudes and sweeps.  If you want to have an extrude with a hole in it, try to find a way to have the hole in the polygon that makes the extrude rather than using a Subtract Solid.  Be economical with model boolean operations, try to avoid having a Solid Addition nested in a Solid Subtraction nested in a Solid Addition, try to get all of your additions in a single step and all of your subtractions in a single step.  Once you're done modelling an object, convert it to a Generic Solid.


The other thing that can balloon file sizes is high resolution textures.  Take time to consider where the texture will appear in renderings.  If it's a little background element, you won't necessarily need a full size 300dpi image for the texture.  If you load in images into your resource browser outside of their textures, you can scale them by right-clicking the image and selecting Edit Image Attributes.  I try to keep textures to using images of around 1mb when I can.


Other little tips to keeping drawing sizes smaller include reducing the number of groups vs. symbols.  Symbols require very little in terms of memory allocation, so I'm a big proponent of using them over groups, but I've worked with plenty of designers who prefer the ease of grouping things instead.  Not only do you miss out on the benefits of symbols such as the ability to quickly edit all instances, count instances, attach records, and the major advantage of hybrid symbols, groups also take up more memory.


If you are using a version prior to VW2020, Marionette objects could also balloon file sizes.  Each object would have its nodes individually set in memory, so having many instances of complex Marionette objects could triple the file size.  Starting in 2020, they were able to optimize Marionette so that this was no longer an issue.


With that being said, they have made a lot of optimizations over the last couple of years to reduce file sizes.  I primarily drive VW2019, and it amazes me when I move a file over to 2020 or 2021 and see how much smaller it is.

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Anything you bring in needs checking before you import it (or run a sep file for cleaning). I recently got a surveyors file that was overly large altho' it only had a 2Ha TIN in it. They'd built it on a default template that had 900 layers in, mostly empty but they sure added up.


NEVER draw at a finer detail than you expect to show. That goes for mesh sizes as well as Jesse explains ^


IDK about later versions but earlier vw puts image data that is outside the VP into the file = HUGE pdf's, I put each image in it's own class and life's much happier. Sometimes I degrade aerials using an oil or watercolour filter (use PS, Gimp, Imagemagick etc) to simplify them and get the size down. Hyper-real doesn't always aid understanding and it certainly doesn't make for < files!


and yep as Jesse says above, symbols; if you have >1 instance of something make it a symbol (including labels).

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I agree with all posted above.


Main reason for large File Size :


1. Mesh geometries.

Like from IFC or Revit imports, or using unnecessary complex

Library Elements like Plants and Furniture, ....


2. Image Textures

As somehow VW decided to import and save them inside the

drawing file.

So when you purge your file and it doesn't get as small as expected,

could be that you have still tons of textured RW Materials assigned

to Classes, so Materials and their Textures are still in use and

won't be purged.



Basically you need to do a lot of standard VW Modeling to reach similar

File Sizes like from both 2 points above.

But of course it is a good idea to care about geometry creation :

- make use of Symbols for any object that appears more than 5 times in drawing

- Make use of "nested" Symbols instead of duplicating whole large Symbol Assemblies

- try to make as much Boolean Add/Subtractions already in 2D before extruding

- avoid Mesh imports or clean up or redraw with Solids

- delete Modeling History when no more needed, Convert to Generic Solid

- ....

Edited by zoomer
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Another thing is to split your file in two: one for just your design layers/model, and the other for all your sheets and sheet layer viewports. This doesn't necessarily reduce overall size (in fact it may be bigger overall) but it keeps your working/model file as small and nimble as possible.

Edited by Christiaan
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7 minutes ago, Christiaan said:

Another thing is is to split your file in two: one for just you design layers/model, and the other for all your sheets and sheet layer viewports. This doesn't necessarily reduce overall size (in fact it may be bigger overall) but it keeps your working/model file as small and nimble as possible.

Apologies if this is an obvious question but how do you do this? Create viewports in one file from a model in another file...

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Yes, exactly. For the sheets file, you just reference in your model file using the Layer Import option. This creates a copy of the design layers and you can create your sheets from there.


Vectorworks has made this workflow even better with the ability to copy and paste viewports across files now too*. So you can start with a viewport in your model file and copy it to your sheets file when you're done** (and vice versa). You might want to do this, for instance, because Edit Section In-Place only works in the model file, not the WGR file.


If you have a big project you can break your sheets file up into multiple files too, grouping them into plans, sections, etc. Or even break them up into one file per sheet if you're following BIM procedures to the T.


* Even better again would be if they added delta updates for WGR files.


** There is currently a bug you need to be mindful of that crashes Vectorworks if you try to copy a viewport over with grid lines. Workaround is to turn the grid lines off in the viewport before copying it.



Edited by Christiaan
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@canthony - be sure to also run the PURGE command. This will get rid of any extra resources that you don't need.  i.e. if old symbols/textures/etc. are still in your resource manager but not in your drawings, these will count towards file size - Purge will get rid of anything that takes space but isn't in your drawings.  It shows a list of what you have and you can choose what to purge and what to keep before deleting anything.

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