Serving the Seattle VectorWorks Users Group and Northwest VectorWorks users.
An archive of past newsletters can be found at
Video tutorials can be found at
To contact me, please write firstname.lastname@example.org or call (206) 524-2808
In this issue:
• Next meeting time and place
• New video tutorials available from NNA
• Learning credits (CEU's) now available
• Various VectorWorks tips
• Misc links
• The Recipe within the Recipe
Hey everybody, welcome the new year! Things can only get better, right? Let's bring our positive energy together for a meeting February 3rd, a Wednesday, between 6:30 PM and 8:00 PM at 7001 31st Ave NE located just east of the Roosevelt District. If the technology gods smile on us, we will be watching one of the new NNA videos called Key Concepts. It is an hour long and so should deliver a lot of bang for the buck especially considering that we get to see for free what is otherwise a $25 debit on anyone else's charge card. We'll also cover any of your questions and have a few goodies to give away too.
Bring a beverage or snacks but only if you are so moved. If you come directly from work, we'll have enough goodies to tide you over. Here's the Google Maps URL:
An RSVP appreciated but not required.
Webinars from NNA
NNA has recently provided a variety of new tutorial Webinars at $25 each, repriced down from $75 as of a couple of days ago. As noted above, one of them will be made available to our user group. To view the complete list and showing times, go to this URL:
As time goes on, video webinars or tutorials of all kinds can only increase in number. I believe the way these are handled and presented will have a great impact on all providers of CAD. Further comments can be read below under The Recipe Within the Recipe.
CEU's from NNA
For the first time, NNA is providing learning credit classes for those in need of continuing education units. Below are two classes from the NNA website:
Creating Sustainable Sites Using Computer Aided Design (CAD): 2 LA CES or 2 APLD CEU
CAD programs in general have the ability to extract data from simple geometry, such as lines and polygons. However, with the right software tools you are able to create, model and present within one application, as well as analyze, report, and select materials more appropriately. The intuitive processes mentioned in this session will address the ‘Areas of Focus’, such as soils, hydrology, vegetation, materials and human well being, as proposed in the latest Sustainable Sites Initiative Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks – Draft 2009, Copyright © 2009 by the Sustainable Sites Initiative. All Rights reserved.
1. Understanding each the 5 Areas of Focus as proposed by the Sustainable Sites Initiative
2. Learn how purpose built site analysis tools such as Digital Terrain Modeling (DTM) and GIS file integration can make conceptual and preliminary site plans easier.
3. Learn how tools such as the multifaceted Landscape Area Object; Site Modifier Objects; 2D/3D Plant Data Objects; Plant Database, Solar Animation, Custom Reports, and many others can be essential tools in meeting the expectations of a sustainable site.
Time: 2:00pm EST to 4:00pm EST
Register Now: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/393763547
BIM In Perspective: 1 AIA CEU
Join us for this “big-picture” presentation about Building Information Modeling (BIM) and its historical and technological precedents. Learn how BIM differs from CAD, how BIM affects the design and construction team, and the implications of BIM for the design and construction process.
[A certificate of attendance will be provided, if requested, for those not affilliated with AIA]
Learning Objectives of Program:
1. Describe some of the historical precedents for BIM
2. Motivations for why architects would want to use BIM in their practice
3. Compare and contrast between a "CAD workflow" and a "BIM workflow"
4. Describe the meanings of the acronyms IPD, IDM and MVD
Time: 3:00pm EST to 4:00pm EST
Register Now: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/371052395
Various Vwks Tips
• Checkout the Model to Floorplan command which converts a 3D solid model into a walls, etc. in one go. This might be helpful for those importing models from another program such as SketchUp. From Vwks 2010 Help:
If a solid model has been used to develop a massing study, Vectorworks Architect can extract information from the model to begin work on the floorplans. Specifically, gross area polylines can be created automatically for each building level directly from the solid model with the Model to Floorplan command. A stacking diagram can display the sum of the areas of these polylines, which makes it easy to determine the amount of floor area provided by a solid model before creating the floorplans. In addition, exterior walls can be created automatically. If the model changes after the polylines and walls are created, run the Model to Floorplan command again to update the polylines and walls.
Tip provided by Vincent C, NNA Community Board
• Use World Z for origin of textures to get bricks, siding, etc. to get them to align across walls, something that has frequently frustrated me when adjacent areas won't align. To find the appropriate checkbox for World Z, select your 3D object, apply a texture then go to the Object Info Box and click Textures at the top of the palette. Objects, selected and with textures applied should trigger the inclusion of a check box found toward the bottom of the OIP Textures palette. Check World Z and your various textures should align. See additional details under Vwks Help.
Contributed by Michael Sipes, Community Board
• This brief solids primer is a must-view for newer users. To see this, locate the first post of the thread and download his zaha shapes 03.vwx which is designed to work with Vwks 2010. If you use Vwks 2008 or 2009, a link to those files can be found further down in the sixth post.)
From Michael Young, Community Board
• Here is a suggested workflow for Vwks 3D models taken INTO Sketchup for textures and colors:
We use a combination of Vectorworks, Sketchup and Artlantis (for final rendering) What we have found is that in Vectorworks you can relatively quickly generate the geometry for building elements particularly doors and windows that you could model in Sketchup but would take far longer. So our workflow goes:
1. Create base model in Vectorworks
2. Export to Sketchup to apply colours and materials. We are not fans of Renderworks and find the images that we get from Sketchup are preferable. We also finish off some of the modeling in Sketchup as it can be quicker and easier to do this.
3. If the occasion and project demands we then export the Sketchup model into Artlantis and/or Piranesi for adding lights and high quality rendering.
4. Finally we export to Photoshop for formatting the finished images.
Sounds cumbersome but we find the above process is an quick and efficient workflow
By Eoin R, Architect, Dublin, from Community Board
• Move along path animation video tutorial
• Creating a custom color palette, in this case a color from Kilz paints:
You can create your own custom color palette by using the magnifying glass of the Standard Color Picker and selecting any color sample off of your desktop.
To create your Kilz paint colors. Go to the Kilz color web page and set it so you can see it in the background while you have VW open.
To create a custom color click on the color box on the Attributes Palette.
This opens the Color Palette of what is active in your drawing.
Click on the Standard Color Picker (color wheel) at the top to open the Colors Palette.
Click on the magnifying glass icon (at the top near the color sample bar) and go to your desktop to pick a custom color sample. This color is now activated and in your document. You can save these samples in the row across the bottom for future use if needed.
If Kilz is a brand of paint that you tend to use for most of your set design you can create your own library of color samples by clicking on the Color Palette Manger (wrench and pencil) to create a new library of colors that can be named with the paint color number and then accessed in the Pick Color library by going through the steps above for each and every color... A lot of work but worth it once done.
From Brian Hores, Co-chair Boston Vectorworks Usergroup
• Animating a movement through a model has always confounded me. Here is a video that makes understanding the process astoundingly simple:
•Check out these baseball stadiums—in their original configurations—designed and displayed in 3D renderings by Thomas Woodman using VectorWorks as his only tool. Very impressive!
• Watch Captain Sully Sullenberger land his jet on the Hudson river in this CAD modeled and rendered video.
• VectorWorks 3D models can be imported into two lighting analysis programs for extended lighting analysis. From the Visual 3D website:
The Visual Professional Edition is a comprehensive lighting analysis tool designed for demanding interior and exterior applications. The Professional Edition combines an advanced 3-D interface with the latest advances in radiosity theory to provide efficient and highly accurate analysis of complex architectural spaces. A unique approach has been taken in the design of the 3-D modeling environment, resulting in an intuitive and powerful design experience.
Watch Getting Started video under Fundamentals
If this ingreges, see this alternative software called DIALux
The Recipe Within the Recipe
Cookbooks can be irritating. Yes, you're given a list of ingredients—the essentials—but rarely the knowledge of which combination really puts a dish over the top. To get that info requires time and experimentation. It's not enough to simply read a book. One has to understand a finer level of finesse, of combination and maybe timing. This second level of insight I call the recipe within the recipe. In regard to using VectorWorks, the best way I know to get that kind of insight is via video tutorials; the best way yet invented to learn VectorWorks, as I see it.
NNA has video tutorials on their website which fulfill various functions. Below is a link to New in 2010 videos:
These are helpful but ultimately intended as a brief introduction to Vwks and therefore more of a sales tool. Still, they're worth watching if you haven't viewed them yet.
There is a new set of videos—webinars—available from NNA and these can be found here:
These are pay-to-view. I haven't seen any of them yet so can't comment on their quality except to say that they are more about process and this is important since the Help* file within VectorWorks tells you at the outset that the Help system is not designed to give you a process-based understanding. Individual cost as I've previously noted $25 each.
Jon Pickup has two video tutorials (for both V. 2010 & V.2009) called Movie-Based Manuals. Look at Guide to Productivity 2010 at $135. Playing time not listed.
Of course, by now you know about my own several videos. Their URL is posted at the top of page 1.
In my mind the best video tutorials are informal and loose. It's OK if they take forks or digress as needed to make a point. Rigidity in format is acceptable but tends to miss opportunities to relate context which is a key process of learning. Understanding context, especially in a big program like Vwks, is huge.
In a perfect world, these videos would cover the whole spectrum of VectorWorks, be easily updated as tools evolved, give newcomers, journeymen and advanced users each a different fork of understanding. And they would be free. (NNA took a big step in the right direction when they substantially revised the cost of their webinars.)
In my opinion, the goal of learning videos first and formost would be to give new users the confidence to know there would be learning content waiting for them, on hand when they might need it, and so give them the confidence to buy the program against all other CAD competitors. If there's no sale in the first place, there will, of course, be no upgrade sale down the road.
As regards free, I would argue that free has a function—sales—and if that function becomes a generator of income, as I contend, the outcome is more money into NNA's coffers and not less. Online tutorials are the greatest of sales tools. They bond the user to the future.
That's it for now. Thanks for flying with Convert to Lines.