Tuesday, July 04, 2006



In this issue:
Reasons to go 3D
Making a 3D rockery
Finding out about the Split tool
The Art of Perspective Drawing

Hello northwest VectorWorks Users! Our next Seattle VectorWorks User Group meeting will be held on April 20th, a Wednesday, skipping March entirely since the Seattle Central Community College will be closed for spring break in the latter half of this month. When we meet again, we’ll be focusing on 3D from an incremental point of view. (If you are way into 3D, skip down to the tips section at the bottom.) Expect another e-mailed meeting reminder much closer to that date.
3D is a visible proof that your figures add up. Or not. Do the assembled elements of your design fit together? Will the beam poke out through the roof or fit correctly when seen in left-front isometric view? Do you need to prove that your structure meets a complex zoning code which factors in different grades on each side of the building?
Many of you have heard me talk about putting the “pretty picture” at the back of the process for the sake of being able to see how things fit together and I think most of you who are new to 3D may find real value in thinking about creating lines and then, later, adding color and texture. Even interior designers may find value in converting 3D views to lines and adding color from another source than VectorWorks, especially now that the sketch feature has been added to VW 11.5. Later, as time allows, learning to add lights and textures from within VectorWorks will bring another kind of drama to their designs.
But the devil (read “money”) is in the details and this is the main reason to learn to do parts or all of your projects in 3D. Money gets saved when you discover an error that would have slipped by with no 3D model and the visible double check. The builder’s estimator and superintendent come to the party more quickly when they can clearly see your intent and so assign a cost. Your 3D illustration keeps them from cutting corners around the plan or starting assembly from the wrong corner or from just not seeing the detail. At the end of the day, when you’re tired, VectorWorks’ 3D tools will give you a creative energy boost empowering you to take banding details a little farther than your first idea or two and this will hopefully remove the problem of having to run to the project in emergency-mode. It’s all about the money.
OK, you say, but what about all the time it takes to set up and manage 3D? I would reply that for every hour that you spend setting up your work for 3D, you gain the time back when you draw your sections and elevations since we need only measure up and set the element once. Every other view will have those lines in the correct location saving having to place them one by one. Imagine your typical process of creating elevation drawings. What if you spent your time removing lines, having to only rarely add them? That’s a timesaver.
If you do get to the stage of producing “pretty pictures” I certainly won’t respect you any less however I may ask you to share some of your knowledge with the rest of us on how you typically set up your models.
But what did he mean by the “incremental” comment at the top of this piece? That’s the art of knowing just enough to solve a problem or two by using VW’s 3D tools. I expect, in our next meeting, to show you a number of ways to move toward that goal.
Some tips:
If you are a landscaper and want to draw rocks for a rockery, a simple way to do this is to extrude a squarish rectangle, give it a solid fill color and extrude it approximately the same depth as one of the other dimensions. Then go to an Orthographic view (View/Right Isometric for instance). Use the Split Tool in line mode to cut off random corners. Rotate the block and split off more until you get a rocklike object.

The Split Tool resides on the 2D Object palette and you can read about the several types of objects it can edit by going to page 8-29 in the VectorWorks V11 User’s Guide or by going to the Help file and clicking on What’s This, then clicking on the Split Tool icon. This Find Info tip came from Patrick Higgins and was borrowed from the VectorWorks listserve.

Everyone most likely uses the keyboard to cut, copy or paste and probably also uses keys to activate Duplicate, Rotate, Nudge and Join. But what about getting the 2D Reshape Tool up quickly or the Active Only (Layers) command set to clear away the clutter of other visible Layers through use of the keyboard? There are a LOT of keyboard commands available to you. Adding a handful to your bag of tricks could save you some real time over the course of a year.

To find the shortcuts list, start up VW and go to the VectorWorks Help command and type “Keyboard Shortcuts” (w/o quotes) into the Search box . The Print command will generate a five page list of timesavers.
The Art of Perspective Drawing was a Grumbacher Library publication from 1968 and was composed entirely of works by the illustrator Simon Greco*. I met and befriended Simon late in his life and he gave me a copy of the Perspective book (which described the principles of perspective drawing) plus a large print of one of his paintings done for Trans World Airlines showing their pride and joy, a propeller powered airliner, skimming the skyline of Manhattan. Greco created a superb painting in 3D and I doubt you’ll see the like of it again. I’ll bring my print of this work to share with you at the next meeting of the Seattle VectorWorks User Group.

Tom Greggs

*On the flyleaf of the perspective book is this note:
“Mr. Greco, a noted teacher, painter and illustrator, is well known for his work in connection with the Life Magazine series of the Epic of Man. Originals of his commercial commissions are in the collection of the U.S. Naval Academy, The Smithsonian Institution, The American Museum of Natural History, Adirondack Museum and Betsy Ross House. As a fine arts painter, his work has been exhibited at the U. of Pennsylvania, the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum and many others.”

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