Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Convert To Lines #3

In this issue:
Editing polygons/roofs
Editing wall heights
Observations of a New VectorWorks User

Greetings from the Seattle Vectorworks User Group! Our next meeting will be on October 20th, a Wednesday, and we’ll go from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. at the Seattle Central Community College Wood Construction Center lecture hall.
The Wood Construction Center is located at 23rd Avenue South and South Lane Street. Parking is available in the gated lot off South King Street, one block south of Jackson Street. The lecture hall is the building directly adjacent to the parking lot at its south side.
Topics? We have a goodly number but what we really want to do is to key on whatever topics you would like to cover. E-mail myself or Jack McKean with suggestions. Title your message “Vectorworks Suggestions” and send to:
We had a good turnout for our September meeting where we talked about editing polygons, 3D polygons and roofs. Jack showed a terrific medical sling designed for transporting injured people which he designed using the 3D Powerpack tools within Vectorworks and Poser.
Here follows a recap of the polygon editing process plus I’ve included a letter taken from the Vectorworks Listserve which you might find interesting.
Having editing knowledge is important because anytime you have something with volume--a bracket, a floor or a roof for example--you will want to change its shape at some point. (If you haven't tried creating objects in 3D, read up on the Extrude tool, the Create Floor and Create Roof tools.)The following describes the editing of a roof but contains the information needed to edit most 3D shapes.
Once you have created a roof with the automatic Create Roof tool you may find that you wish to edit it beyond the capability of the choices available on the Edit Roof dialog box. Ungroup the roof using the Ungroup command. What remains are Roof Faces. Mark out the outline of the needed change over the roof face you wish to modify using 2D lines, loci or whatever. Copy (not duplicate) these markers. Now select the roof face and click on Edit Group. You will be taken to a NEW editing pane although it will look much like the window you’ve just left. The roof info (rafter depth, birdsmouth, location in space) will have been logged, then removed. The result is a bare 2D polygon ready to edit using the 2D Reshape editing tool. This process works the same for other 3D polygons except for walls.
Before you begin to edit within this new pane, use the Paste In Place command to get your markers to show up atop your polygon--they will land just as you had placed them back in your main drawing window. Edit the polygon to fit these marker guides. Delete the markers. Hit the Exit Group button on the upper right hand corner of the editing pane and your are back in roof land.
I try to stay with the automatic roof tool as long as possible since it gives me so many options to adjust. But at a certain point, I bust up the roof to do the more unique editing plane by plane.
Some key points:
•Walls cannot be edited in the manner described above. Change the vertical shape of walls using the 3D Reshape Tool.
•If you are attempting to edit a rectangle or square and you can’t seem to change its shape, you may have created that shape using the Rectangle tool. Convert this shape to a polygon using Convert to Polygon command then use the 2D Reshape tool from there.
•Rather than using the Edit Group command or the keyboard shortcut, just double-click on the edge of the volume needing editing and you will be taken to the editing pane.
•If you overlay another polygon onto your primary polygon (or Roof Face) for editing, rather than moving the primary poly's vertices one by one to fit your pattern, try selecting the primary polygon and the editing shape and subtract one from the other via using Clip Surface thus cutting away the unwanted roof shape in one action.
•There was one additional command I didn’t demo at our September meeting and that was the Align Layer Views command. Let’s say our roof (or any other object) needs to be edited in relation to a wall or other 3D element but said element resides on another layer. Once you change the roof to a Front View to better mark the area needing editing, you lose view of your other objects which are still in Plan View and not Front View. Click on Align Layer View in the Menu Bar and the wall will swing into alignment with the roof letting you see both together. I find the Align Layer View tool indispensable .

Back to the topic of getting your input. Please write us back a short note on what you think might help you.
I’m very curious if any of you struggle setting up your projects, wanting more information on how to use Layers, Classes and Layer Linking. Which tool do you use to set up the height of your model elements? Do you use Model Setup and if so, is it the greatest thing since the squeezable ketchup bottle or does it seem to impede your progress?

And now that letter.

From: John Martens
Reply-To: VectorWorks User Discussion List
Date: Saturday, October 2, 2004 10:54 AM
Subject: OT: Observations of a New Vectorworks User

I am a one-man operation and have been working in Vectorworks Architect (PC)
for approximately a year and a half. I had no familiarity with the program
when I started and have had to learn it on my own through various books,
tutorials, and mostly struggling by doing. I have been on this listserve
for about six months, and I would like to share some of my observations.

Learning Vectorworks: I started out with the Vectorworks tutorial CDs and
found them rather helpful but problematic in that many of the operations
performed on the screen were done so quickly that I missed critical steps.
If one would be able to slow down important phases and speed up the obvious
ones, I would have had a much easier time with those CDs, but I found that
playing those parts over and over became tedious at best.

Reading the manuals, of course, was very helpful, but studying 700 or 800
pages simply is not practical when you're also trying to keep your work flow
moving. I found the Tom Bear book a worthwhile $25 investment, if nothing
else to give a different perspective in a reasonably concise manner.

This listserve has become an extremely valuable part of learning this
program. Since I am a one-man operation and frankly have no one else to
talk to about this program, the everyday human commentary from this
listserve has given me the real world perspective which was almost
impossible to get out of the books and tutorials. It is also very
gratifying to see a community of users who are willing to take their own
valuable time to help one another!

The biggest breakthrough, however, for me has been finally loosening up my
wallet to shell out for Jonathan Pickup's two indispensable tutorial
volumes, Essential VW and VW Architect Tutorial. Jonathan's approach is
limited to an architect's perspective on producing production drawings, and
unfortunately that may render it inappropriate for other users, but that is
the huge advantage that it gives to those of us doing architectural

As we all know, there are many different ways of doing each of many
different things that VW is capable of, but when you are doing one
particular type of drawing such as architectural, there tends to be a best
way for each of those processes and that is the one that Jonathan recommends
and presents. Rather than getting lost in the minutiae, he focuses on the
big picture and takes the user carefully and concisely, step by step to the
end result. Given the extent that I value my own time and the amount of
time these two volumes have saved me so far, the cost of them is minuscule
and I only regret that I did not start out from day one with those volumes.

Working in 3-D: I know that a lot has been mentioned on this listserve about
the pros and cons of working in three dimensions, but I would like to add
one major point. As architects or designers we are trained to think in
three dimensions while we typically work in two. Sitting over the drawing
board, we work in two dimensions but are constantly thinking about the
three-dimensional implications of what we are drawing, and we usually
anticipate these relationships correctly. On the other hand, for all the
efforts we put into that, I do not believe we are capable of anticipating
every relationship, every proportion, every intersection. How many times
have we gone to a job site and wished we had proportioned that soffit a
little differently or lowered that ceiling plane in that one area, or
realized that the back of that half-wall could've been detailed a little
better? For me it has been a startling improvement to be working in three
dimensions and being able to step back, walk around, or look up or down at
some complex intersection in order to resolve it more appropriately. The
bottom line is that working in three dimensions makes us all better
designers, and isn't that what we are supposed to be anyway?

Plug-Ins, extra tools, etc.: I have also been amazed at how useful the tools
and commands found on sites like VectorBits, Vector Depot and the many other
great web sites have been. Again, I am amazed at the spirit of sharing from
the creators of those many tools who offer them for free. Among the tools
for purchase, I have found Matt Panzer's recent viewport tool to be
outstanding, a great timesaver and real bargain. It works like a charm and
has saved me hours and hours of time, particularly in being able to take
files started in Vectorworks 10 and work on them in the much improved
Vectorworks 11. With it you really can transition a file from one program
version to another.

Vectorworks 11: Hallelujah! I have been working on a large project that has
a very irregular roof, and every time a wall is added or changed I had to go
through the laborious process editing it point by point to the roof. What
was a less than perfect process that could take as much as a half an hour
can now be accomplished precisely in one click with the "fit walls to roof"
command. And then there are viewports, which granted can be a painful
paradigm shift and not always the easiest to grasp at first, but for me once
I was able to make the mental shift has become another invaluable
improvement. And the many other touted improvements I find to be real
improvements, not just the typical marketing hype..

Anyway, I hope this is not too long-winded for you all, but hey, as I said,
I have no one else to banter with and I hope these thoughts might be of
interest to some of you. Keep up the good Vectorworking!

John Martens

One can enroll onto the Nemetschek Listserve by going to
Hope to see you again in October

Tom Greggs

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