Saturday, April 19, 2008

Convert to Lines #29

Serving the Seattle VectorWorks Users Group and Northwest VectorWorks users.

An archive of past newsletters can be found at

In this issue:
• April’s meeting date and time
• Applying custom paint colors to walls
• Strategies for creating and storing standard details
•BIM explained, simply
•Lots of Misc.

Greetings VectorWorks users!  Join us Thursday, April 24, 6:30 to 8:30 PM for the last User Group meeting till fall. We’re going to cover two of the topics discussed within the newsletter but with the benefit of a much more thorough live walk-through. We’ll look at Workgroup Referencing for the individual, applying custom colors to walls as well as applying wood textures to doors. We’ll also want to share your ideas with the group and help with any questions you might have. If there is time left over, perhaps we’ll look at a backdoor method of using Section Viewports, as detailed later in the newsletter.

Our meeting will take place at the Seattle Central Community College Wood Construction Center lecture hall. The hall is located at 2310 S. Lane St. (intersection of 23rd Avenue South and South Lane Street). Parking is available in the gated lot off South King Street, just one block south of Jackson Street. The lecture hall is the building directly adjacent to the parking lot at its south side. Walk up the wooden side-ramp to the second door.


I had a client tell me they wished to have the same color of their old home applied to the new one which I’ve been designing. The original had been done in Benjamin Moore Texas Leather. To begin the process of applying custom colors, draw a wall or walls. Give them a siding using the Object Info palette under the Render heading. (Make sure you Unstyle the wall via the Object Info palette which unlocks its original library siding or color type.)

First you’ll need to use the Resource Browser to import Textures_Exterior Finishes from your VectorWorks folder. Use the Add New Favorite Files command on the top of the Browser and look for Libraries folder, then Textures, then Textures_Exterior Finishes. Once imported, scroll down the panoply of images. (Make sure they display on the Browser as Thumbnails, not as List.) You will see among the garish tones available to you, various white siding types. Choose one of these. Drag the image onto your wall. Once imported into the file via this dragging action, you can then use the Render side of the Object Info palette to attach the new white siding type to your wall. At this point, we should apply the Texas Leather tone to our siding sample.

To do this use the Object Info palette. Just adjacent to the siding’s name is a triangle. Click it and choose Edit Siding 10 White Resource (or whatever siding type you’ve chosen). Click on the edit button on the next palette adjacent to the Filtered Image radio button. The following dialog box, called Filtered Image, shows a pull down menu bearing a white color swatch. Check the Use Chosen Color just above the swatch. Pull the swatch down and you’ll see a typical color chart but with a small grid of color up in the right hand corner. Click the grid and the next box up--the Pick Color palette--shows a variety of commercial paint family choices on the left. Choose one. On the right hand side, choose a color from your selected collection. Click OK. Your siding now has a lovely new color on one side or another. On the Object Info palette, select the various sides to apply your new siding type. You may want to apply None as the color texture to the interior wall or at least until you have a better plan. You can also save and apply a new name to this siding type if you wish by using the Duplicate Siding 10 And Edit command in the OIP. Render all using OpenGL which has the benefit of being fast.

My client picked up a fresh-off-the-printer rendering today showing his new home done up in Texas Leather. Very cool.

Remember my earlier mention of the “garish” other colors for siding types--colors no one outside of Greenland would ever use? Those should be considered base colors onto which you can add a tint and thus arrive at your intended mix. Gray colored siding would also work this way. Now, with the advent of so many premixed commercial colors, these older primary tones are not your only choice.


What’s the best way to create and store plan details? In reading the NNA Tech board, Travis suggest that details be kept in a separate folder from the file you are working on. When you need a detail, you link to the folder>detail using Work Group Referencing. Once the detail has been brought in, you may then opt to break the WGR link which will allow you to tweak it to fit your specific situation. Breaking the link also ensures that you don’t apply new elements to your stock detail. After you have enough updated details, you may wish to place them into the Details folder for the next job.

You can do something similar when bringing in DXF/DWG files. Into a separate file, import the DXF detail. This keeps the AutoCAD classes from otherwise cluttering up your nice, carefully laid out set. Using WGR, link the DXF page back into your main file. The two hundred A’CAD classes remain in your referenced file, not your working file.

As far as creating details in the first place, create a Design Layer Section Viewport on a fresh design layer, then trace over. Ah, but you say that sending a Section Viewport to a Design Layer is not allowed in VectorWorks 2008 (If you knew this, go to the head of the class). I know a secret way of essentially using a Section Viewport as an updatable base for overdrawing and I’ll show you that method at this upcoming User Group meeting.


What is BIM? I’ve looked at various places around the web and read the White Papers on the subject at NNA and remained generally confused. I finally found this straight forward, jargon free comment and thought it worth passing on.

The author, Matt Dillon San, is an AutoCad guy but he keeps his biases pretty well in neutral. Here is one quote from the article that I found interesting:

“With Building Information Modeling, anybody who is contributing to the model will need to have a good understanding of how that building really fits together. The need for 2D drafters will become more and more a thing of the past. At the same time, architects who in the past may have shunned CAD and similar technologies will have to become more comfortable working in a digital world. Additionally, you may find that your current CAD support staff is inadequate to handle the expanded needs of an office involved in model-based design. “

Hey, no pressure, right??


Miscellaneous tips:

Watermarks can be easily placed onto drawings in VW 2008 by making an object--your watermark text or grouped line work--and giving it a reduced opacity. Type some text and enlarge it. On the Attributes palette you’ll see a radio button showing “100%”. Click the button and, on the next palette presented, simply move the slider down to a shade that works for you. You can also place your faded object into a class such that it can be turned off when appropriate. Another option is to set opacity values on any layer. Use the opacity slider to lighten all objects placed within. You’ll find the slider for Layers on the Edit palette of the Navigation palette.

Google posted a new “advanced” search engine that allows you to find Sketchup-made models in Google 3D Warehouse. This may be handy for importing specific appliances into your VectorWorks layers.

I’ve mentioned BIM. Google may be defining BIM on a macro, environmental level with their program called Google Cities in 3D which allows anyone to create Sketchup buildings matching existing city buildings around the world. Imagine visiting virtual Hamburg Germany using Google Earth, to view neighborhoods and, perhaps in 3D, the very building you’re considering for your lodging. Take the 3D tour yourself!

Vectortasks is a site that offers seminars and private tutoring by L.A. based Pat Stanford and Dan Jansenson--two celebrities in the world of VW. The site has a few free movies on how to use VectorWorks. Short but sweet.

Our next Webinar should be available for download next week. “The topic will be 2D to 3D. In this demonstration you will learn the secrets of converting your 2D drawings into 3D models.” If you have not yet gotten the player for either Mac or PC, please contact me.

Polylines can’t be combined into a solid. Polygons can. If you draw two polylines with the second touching the end points of the first polyline, Modify>Compose and extrude, the object you end up with will accept no fill and will look instead like a fence. Do the same with two polygon lines and you will wind up with a solid object.

Try to use Saved Views more often in your work flow with the intent that you be returned quickly to key layers or 3D elevations. If you add or change classes, these won’t update to your existing Saved Views so get in the habit of updating (resaving) Saved Views when changes do occur.

Under Modify>Tile or Modify>Hatch, you can fill a closed polygon with one of the textures that you might apply to a patio or other surface such as a countertop. These are intended to be 2D fills but you can convert them easily into 3D. Just select the hatch, ungroup and, under Modify>Convert> Convert to Polygons and then extrude. The Hardscape tool in Landmark will give you many more editable, textural options and will also provide an extruded slab if asked. Julian Carr provided this tip via the VWks Listserv.

OK, I’m done. See you Thursday!

Tom Greggs
Office (206) 524-2808

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