Monday, December 15, 2008

aecRoof Object - Part 2

(Hint : If you have trouble seeing my pics - you can right click on them and select "Open in other tab" and it should open as a larger image).

I'm not going to repeat the basics that are found in the AutoCAD help or the tutorials. I want to focus on the extra tips for use here in Oz (and anywhere else :-) Here I am going to focus on creating a Gablet (dutch Gable to some) (Gablet-UK) plus a couple of other tips including adding infill, the barge board and dealing with the overhang (underhang?). The methods here can be used for creating other roof shapes such as a Dutch Gable.. Roof types with 2 constant slopes like the 'Pizza Hut' roof or the 'Mansard' (or American dutch gable,) the flat top roof with a skirt around are better created using the 'Double Slope' option in the Properties Pallete.

Create your rectangular roof with a hip end. Select the roof object & right click. Choose 'Properties' and on the tool pallete select 'Edges/Faces'.
(Note: This dialogue box shows the roof object tool's incomplete nature in several ways.) If you want to change the whole roof pitch DON'T do it here. You can only change one at a time.
Do it on the properties pallete under 'Slope'. You can however change overhangs 'en masse' by selecting one, several or all of the edges using Windows standard Control or Shift key options.
Now the lower panel shows a slope per selected edge and if you select multiple edges the lower panel greys out. Let's cancel out and get back another way so we know which edge we are editing.
Hint : If you can't change the slope in the properties pallete then it's possibly because you have edited an edge and added an additional individual slope so make your broad changes first before editing edges.
Cancel out and again select the roof again. Right click and select 'Edit Edges' and choose the right & left edges. Where-as before the dialogue box showed you all 4 edges, you now only have the 2 edges you selected. Select the first edge in the top panel and then click below the last entry in the 2nd panel under the 'Face' column. You have now added a 2nd plane for this edge. It will have the same slope as the main roof. Click in the slope column for this 2nd face and change the slope to 90 (vertical gable face). Now in the height column enter the height from the pitching (not eave) edge back to the face of the gable. I find this hit & miss but I get it eventually. (I'm sure you could do it mathematically.) Your height may be above the ridge so your gable may not show up. Adjust the height until it does. You now have your 'Dutch gable'. A reverse Dutch Gable can also be created by reversing the slopes for the 1st & 2nd slopes. i.e. A gable chopped short with a hip over.

Here is the dutch gable, used in the post war homes around here and every now and again copied today, but not often. Very easy to set up. Here I've easily adapted a curtain wall to act as my gable infill as the battens suit the repeated spacing. I had to give the CWA a tiny height and lower the baseline below the roof pitching line so I could right click and 'Roof Line /..." edit roof line and project into the shape of the gable roof.. The green barge on both sides of the gable is the SAME roof object. Adding a 2nd 0 slope at the same height as the main reverse dutch gable made the barge top section disappear where the gutter is. If I repeat this 0 slope on the other side the barge appears flat across this section. Interesting! Nice to have an object work with you but it's taken me years to learn these tricks to use.

Now gables look better with an overhang so how do you do that (remember: The OOTB roof object will not overlap itself). Here's my best work around. Create a small section of roof (object) with slope to one edge and 90 slope to the other three. Position and shape it as the roof section that is overhung. i.e. the 2 side edges at 45d to align with the hips. In an 'isoview', align the new section to the existing roof. Make sure your roofs 'Edge Cut' are set to plumb (properties pallette).
The only drawback to this solution is a line on your aecElevations from the model but it's minor and you could pretend it's the flashing line for the gable wall over the roof sheet below.

Tip: If you have hatching to your roof material, setting the material hatching orientation to global will ensure the hatching to both objects align for your elevaiton.
Tip: Generally I position (in iso view) a wall style at the back bottom edge of this item, give it a very small wall height (10mm) and project the wall into the main roof object to create my gable infill. This peculiar wall style might have a frame & cladding componant so that I can apply a profile for the cladding. Note: If your gable wall is too high it will fail to project being taller that the lowest portion of the roof. It must be all below it (hence the 10mm height & bottom edge).

What about the Barge?
Gutter & fascia are taken care of by my wall style. But what about the gable end barges? I use another roof object! Draw a roof 50mm wide, set slope as per main roof and edit back & front edge slopes to 90 degrees. Ensure your roofs 'Edge Cut' are set to plumb (tool pallette – wish that was default!). Many use structural members and they have their strengths (getting quantities) but if you don't need Q's then the roof object is easier to adjust quickly because it maintains it's slope when the overall size is adjusted to suit different width. (It would be great if you had the edge option of 'Flat' along with 'Square' and 'Plumb' but as this is only for 3D and the unwanted portion of the barge dissappears into the roof then I am unconcerned ). Set your barge material on the first one (remember – no styles) and then copy around, adjusting as necessary. Remember to adjust the width in plan view and place using snaps in an 'isoview'. As the slope is set in the roof object it will keep that slope as you adjust the width - which is why I use them rather than a structural object. Update: You can use this option but I now use a structural object to get more detail for rendering.

Tip: Once you have built this 'circus', you can use an object anchor to tie it all together.
aecobjectanchorattach (alias to AOA or something simple).
Object anchors are cool but they can cause unexpected behaviour in connected objects so keep an eye on them.

To get around the aecRoof Object's limitation WRONG of not being able to overhang itself UPDATE you can split the roof as I've done here. This takes a little planning but I've simply traced the main roof around the valley connection to the raised roof and given those valley edges a 90 (vertical) slope. Because the raised portion is a seperate roof object it can overlap as required.

Tip: When in the initial design phase, don't worry about untidy roof's if you have several roof objects overlapping. They won't show on your model or elevations as they will be inside the roof. That way, rather than convert to slabs, you can review the overall roof and perhaps replace it with one or more aecRoof Objects when the time comes to do documentation.

Again I prefer to use a roof object. Like the gable overhang infill trick above, just isolate the slope to 1 edge and you can wrap around a main roof (wall). Of course without the ability to add vertices, make one mistake and you have to do it all over again. WRONG!
Tip: Create the roof with a 90 slope then edit the edges you need to slope. You will be editing less edges.

Roof hips for metal roof's Update: You can use this option but I now use a structural object to get more detail for rendering.
Here again I've found the Roof Object to be simple and versitile. Only necessary if you render or like your elevations to look complete rather than basic. Not having styles is a drawback but if you make the first one the correct setup and copy it around it's okay. These can be tricky and are fragile. You have two bottom edges with the roof slope on a 6 sided object. The other edges are 90 slope (vertical). Make the thickness around 5 to 10mm and sit on your main roof. Make the ridges thicker and they will sit above the hips like they do in real life. Ok I've also added a 50mm round structural object to get roller ridge capping which costs more but is much better looking.

There are a couple more small tricks to using the roof object successfully and I will try to be prompt in providing those secrets shortly.
Now why would you do all this and not switch to slabs? Well I'm just showing you the options 'is all'. Simpler roofs don't need the slab and it's easier to manage one object (KISS). The hips stay aligned to one another.  Be free to continue using slabs if you have them mastered and are happy with them. If you want to stretch an edge and want to see the rest of the roof adjust automatically though, you may want to revisit the roof object.

Best to ya (Now when did I really post this one? :-)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

aecRoof Object - Part 1

Can this tool be used for anything more than sketching? It's promoted as just a preliminary tool to map out the basic shape but I use it all the time right thru to CD's. Most of the roof's I do are reasonably simple and you may need to convert to slabs for complex situations but don't count out the simple roof object from being able to do the job. You can't cut a hole out for a dormer (update-Option) or chimney (can't remember when I needed to), it can't overlap itself (as in overhang a lower roof) (wrong - see update) tricks and it's edibility is poor (update- WRONG) but I find it can do for a lot of the work I do and I think a lot of the work for Australian roof's.

Here's a couple of articles on the Archidigm site that illustrate some techniques for creating roofs. Check out this great article on the roof object (I think before aecRoofslabs existed) that Odin wrote based on ADT1 (07/99) and another article. Unfortunately Adesk has never felt that an obscure architectural item such as a roof deserved further treatment.

It seems the guiding wisdom is to convert to slabs and I think because of that the roof object has not been fully explored.

If you are doing mostly residential work, then check out VisionRez's roof object (here compared with the ADT roof, and see what a roof tool should be. It will make your life much easier but unfortunately does not doGablets (Gamblets-UK) like I demonstrate below. VisionRez has some downloadable video's that can be helpful in creating roof's. Most though refer directly to it's own (great) roof tool) but there is some mention of the ADT tool. On reviewing VisionRez's superb rendered images I was struck by the fact that there wasn't a single Gablet (Gamblet-UK) roof. It seems the US just don't do it. But here in the west it's a very common feature (out of fashion at the moment but still used). This is easy to create and adjust using the roof object but it's not obvious so I'm going to show you how with the Roof Object in ADT / ACA.

So to the Roof Obect. You just have to treat her gently and you can get some use from her. Together with my eaves object (wall style) seen in my post here, you can have a simply created model ready to produce 'anatomically' correct renderings, aecElevations and aecSections that you won't need to explode or adjust further.

Some points that hamper the Roof Object that do keep it from being a complete tool

  • The roof object is treated as a sketch tool and does not have styles. Adding aecMaterials would be done globally or per object over-ride. (This affects how you go about a project. Get one right and copy it around otherwise you will have to change each one.) Update: In ACA2009 you can now use MatchProperties to copy display overrides from one roof object to another which makes the above 'hamper' no longer much of an issue at all.
  • You cannot add vertices after you have created your roof. If you need to, you will have to re-create from scratch. (Good practise!) WRONG - see my update in Part 5!
  • Tthere are a small number of situations where it goes haywire. (such as a slightly out of square perimeter). Solution - draw accurately!
  • It cannot overlap itself. This affects dutch gable overhangs and roofs that turn on themselves. VisionRez's roof can do this. WRONG! Let me show you how to do it with the ACA roof!
But what CAN it do? Let me pitch it's good points!!
  • Being a complete object it will adjust each plane when you adjust another. I like that. You can add gables, dutch gables & gablets after the fact. Rather than using an edge style to a slab, restricting my gutter & fascia to the same colour, I can use my 'gutter wall style' . This also allows you the flexibility for you gutter path apart from your roof.  Automation is great but it can be painful when it doesn't work for every situation.
Here's a sample of a roof modelled using the roof object which will NOT be replaced by slabs. i.e. This is for the full CD's. As you can see it can do a some complex roof with limitations (update-much less than I thought). Note that the verandah's are 2 seperate roof objects. There are 3 roof objects shown here.

Ok for Part 1. Click here for all roof posts

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Window Frames

Here in Aus we have a strong aluminium window frame industry and when you try to add a run of the mill XOX window in ACA you are left pondering. How about a XOX over XXX or maybe a SFS over FFF. Lately I see lots of FFF over FAF or even FFFF over AFFA. Now if any of this nonsense means anything to you then you may benefit from my recent post.
Firstly, you may try using DoorWindowAssemblies but they look different to std windows, you can't add sills and headers the same way and well, they just feel over the top. If you do commercial work then dive in because DWA's are the go but for residential, it just feels that it should be easier. One big ticket item for me is that you can add a manufacturers standard sizes into the window style but you can't do that with a DWA. It just makes it easier to size windows.

The file is posted here. And yes it's the wrong place!! It should have gone in the adt.content.

Now I don't consider these finished but someone asked about this idea and I haven't revisited it for months. So I thought I'd post them and see what you think.
If you have any extra tips to improve it please let me know or if you add some styles we can share with everybody. So check it out and let me know what you think. Hopefully the file itself holds enough info.

ps. wow! I missed September. Thanks for coming back. I finally reinstalled windows, ACA09, etc etc and have my desktop back :-)

The windows are based on Stegbar's Std cat. Sliding windows but they could be adapted for Awning and casement. They will elevate like an OOTB window with arrow for sliding direction. The idea was that you could mistake them for OOTB objects. There is also DWA's in the same file that are along the same lines. But .... the file is a WorkInProgress so excuse the mess!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hatching in ADT/ACA

Are you still using the regular hatching command in ACA/ADT?  Struggling with it's decisions what to hatch and what to leave out?   James shares a great tip that I've been using as well.
"On the whole hatching thing, I have taken to using AECpolygons. These are preset with the correct hatch scale, layer etc and you can easily add or remove verticies after placement. Attached is a 2007/2009 file with the AECpolygon styles I mostly use. One thing they have fixed is the background mask option in the style."  This bug is discussed by Archidigm here.
Use your Control key to add vertices (click on the centre dash of a side), further Control clicks will cycle thru options of extend, break for new vertices, curve and offset.  Once you get the hang of it you will never go back to using hatches again.
You can also convert a regular hatch into an aecPolygon.  Right click on the selected hatch and choose 'Generate Boundary'.  You now have an aecPolygon to play with.  AecPoly's are style based so it's easy to swap from one style to another.  Use the aecModify tools available on your right click to make quick alterations.  Unlike slabs which require a PLine to cut along, poly's are easy to edit on the fly. (As are Spaces).  It seems to me different teams with different programming ideas!  I like poly's better.
You can also right click on a poly tool on a pallete and select convert pline.
The great thing about using intelligent aec objects rather than simple hatches, apart from the ease of placing & amending them is that you can then gather the data to use for quantities.  If you create a style for paving, tiling, lawns & garden beds, you can get instant feedback on the area and attach a price per m2.  Property sets and schedules are a whole subject in themselves and the best I could do is send you to the schedule mastro's (Architect David Koch) website and his detailed pages.  Like most things valuable, scheduling and property data sets take a little mind bending but once you 'get it' it's a powerful resource of instant updating feedback.

Robin Capper comments "Like you I tend to use AEC poly's rather than hatch, would entirely but they can't do gradient fills :-(  .   The also make great mask elements as Steve shows in this post;"
Using the poly as a masking object will cause it to ignore your hatch settings just in case you were wondering!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


CAD (or BIM :-) can't be all hard work.
My kids were making their mess all over my Home Office drawing up their castles so I had to go one better.  I love the Edit-In-Place of walls tool to easily add profiles, the ability to use a profile for windows (just turned off the frames) and my beloved roof object (love-hate).  There are circular staircases inside too!  It's great when you don't have to worry about the accuracy of the end product.
This was rendered in ADT6 and munched in PaintShop Pro5 all very quickly of course.
I am trying to render another project in ACA9 but it just disappeared so I tried (again) to apply sp1 but it won't accept my DVD as a valid installation package - go figure!  So I copied the DVD to a folder on the hard drive but it's still "not valid".
Sigh!   I think I'll go back to my castle.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I mentioned in the last post about using EntRef to make a copy of all your frames in the drawing and lining them up elsewhere for use in a schedule.  Of course this won't work across drawings but would have to be in a one file approach, which of course ACA is designed against.  I am working on a nice project of a two storey office using tilt-up concrete walls and I intend to explore the possibility of using the same technique for creating a schedule of the concrete wall panels.  Maybe I can even make an EntRef of the schedule tag on the floor plan or see if the tag will work on the EntRef.

Or  maybe I am too busy to go to that level of detail and will have to outsource to someone with more time.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

More ACAD tips (updated)

Here's some tips that James has shared with me to pass on to you.

EntRef - Ever heard of this one? Nor had I and it's not documented. It's kind of a cheap block. It can only contain 1 item, Acad OR ACA. It doesn't have a name but you can create an object and copy it around. If you move the original, all others will move. If you alter the original, all the copies will be updated. Archidigm shows a possible use for the EntRef command here. (It's copying a downpipe around the building).  You could use it for a text item that is repeated.
James, I had a quick play with an ENTREF of a window for the purpose of creating a window schedule and it seemed to work. The copy is not added to a schedule as it is recognised as a copy of the original, not a seperate frame. My schedule is set to automatically add frames and I also tried to add it manually. The EntRef updated in size when I changed the original but the dim's don't auto-update. Possibly you could construct a schedule and bring the EntRef in for the graphic but I could not block *1 the EntRef for auto insertion but at least there is a connection. The copy did not need the wall to anchor either. mmm... perhaps some possibility there for further exploration.

*1 Did you know that schedules in 09 can include a block!

"How about EATTEXT for an attribute extraction tool , which has evolved over the yearly releases. It's a really useful tool to count blocks within a file, have that count placed in a table and have the table linked so it updates. e.g. you can use this tool to count the number of toilets and handbasins in a drawing and tabulate it. It has gotten better in 2009 as you can also add to the table other automatic information (location, rotation, scale, length etc)"

Another great tip is SuperHatch, part of the 'express tools' set. (You are using the express tools aren't you?)
"If you have an area to hatch with a non-standard pattern, you can use a Superhatch. SH can use a selection set, a block or xref created previously, a wipeout? or even an image!
Try it out for an unusual floor or roof tile pattern.
Be careful of the size though as a complex hatch could make things slow down.

Have you used the aecModify tools available on your right click.  FAR more powerful than the standard commands of trim array etc. You can trim out areas of a hatch, block or whatever without having to explode them. With the AEC array you can choose an option to place x number of objects between 2 points and the software works out the spacing.  You can use the AEC merge command to join 2 hatched areas (acad hatching.and aecHatches and aecPolygons but not aecSlabs).
Do you use your 'Select Similar' option available on your right click?  Excellant tool along with the quick properties.
Thanks to James for sharing those. I have some more of his goodies to share soon.  A lot of the blog web sites are discussing the latest additions to v09 but these are all available in v06.  So try them out.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Using Landscaping Objects Acad 14-2009.

There were some of us who were actually using the rendering tools in ACAD2006 (ADT6) or previous who felt neglected when it was all gone in the '07 release. Suddenly my whole efficient method of working on 3D's was gone. Not that it was all a bad thing as it's great to have an updated rendering engine (based on Mental Ray in Max) but my process no longer works in the new versions and I need to re-setup. The old engine, whilst it could do the job, is not at the level of the high end renderers, but it did a reasonable job quickly and efficiently for a fast turn around, rapid alteration and re-render which is what I need.

Of course the Biggie was not the rendering, which was replaced by something better, but the lack of any landscaping tool. I brought in my old LO's into 07 and they displayed and though they did render it wasn't properly and they did not 'face the camera'. So I was very excited to see that later releases have enabled the OLD landscaping objects (LO) to be used in the new engine, but as you have no landscaping creation tool, you have to create them in version 06 or previous. It doesn't have to be ADT as this is all AutoCAD stuff. So I thought I would share my tips on their creation and use, if you are still using v6 or prev. OR if you would like to bring them into ACA8 or 9. I am suspicious that v8 needs the service pack for the object to face camera but I'm not going to uninstall sp1 to find out.

Note of thanks: There is no mention of this improvement from Adesk but I assume that they did some work to allow this to happen so my thanks to whomever did the tweaks necessary.

There is also a good option to download the free RPCcreator from Archivsion which will allow you to create your own RPC objects from your own maps as well as have access to their large library. It's based on it's big brother, to be had for a price. I became obsessed with making my own maps so I have many that I wanted to use. I tried the RPCcreatorFree but I was impatient with the long process to create and was concerned about the hard coding of file paths but I could be wrong on that.

Anyway onto revealing some tips.

I have all my maps in folders (duh) organised how I like. In AutoCAD each folder path MUST be entered under OPTIONS- FILES-Texture Maps Search Path. It's important NOT to allow Acad to save the search path in the LO. as it hardcodes it, preventing you from altering your folder structure. Going to another office will 'break' your LO if the paths are different. I have set up several times over the years and if I decide to re-organise where and how I sort my maps, I don't want to break my LO. (See image below)
You might choose to group them in folders, ie. Tree, Plant, People, Stone, Roof, etc. (I have my general textures with my LO textures) so you will add each folder to the search path.

Here are some great resources on rendering and the landscape tool in the OLD engine from Archidigm. 1,2, & 3 . Always great tips from Odin!

In Acad2006 or previous use the Render toolbar or type _LSLIB and you are ready to create your object. DON'T use the the 'find file' button. Instead open windows explorer to your texture maps. Select your map and either right click and select rename or slowly double click and whilst the name is selected, CNTRL-C to copy the name. Now paste that into your 'Image File' space in Acad. If you do use the find file (why would you?) once you have selected the file, remove (cut) the file path information just leaving the file name itself.

IMPORTANT: If your name won't stick it means your file search paths are not set properly. Having this in place will give you flexibility to change in the future and SAVE YOU TIME. Cancel out and add your map folder to the search path.

I name the LO the same as the jpg as it's easier to find. This name appears on the object when you are working in Acad so you know what it is. Tree1 is not as helpful as JacarandaTall so name your jpgs carefully and logically. Too long a name is also not helpful. You can see the code on my name which was before I found out about not coding the file path LS= landscape, Tre = Tree. If you use Windows folders to group like items then you don't need to do this, you just have to add each folder to your file path. (Did I emphasise this?:-)

You can use a variety of bitmap formats for LO's (& textures). Jpg's are efficient size. PNG's will display transparent when making a movie but the quality is so bad that you probably wouldn't worry about it. .png's are good for maps you place with Photosomething after rendering as they can carry transparency so you don't have to remove the white/black as an extra step.

Tip – DON'T use the library tool to insert your trees (except once). It's clunky and awkward. Instead insert your created LO's into a .dwg file and have them ready to cut & paste. It's much quicker, you can see what you are choosing and you can see them all at once. I have a file for Trees.dwg, Plants.dwg People.dwg etc. When you open it, select shademode and all your maps are visable (love to see RPC do that). Here you can size them to scale so that once you insert them they don't have to be resized (could be a metric issue as they are always too small using the inbuilt tool even at 100 scale). You can see in the adj. image there are blanks for some LO's. It's where the file path has been hardcoded and the map has changed location OR I have renamed the image along the way.

You could also arrange them on a predetermined layer if you wish. ie. Trees, Plants etc.

Tip: When positioning your LO, have it in shaded mode and you can 'place' a tree correctly in the ground (not floating). Very handy where people need their feet to be on the path etc.

In my working process of rendering inside ADT6, I have to work around the issue of not being able to render materials in X-ref's. So I had to 'map to a colour' anything that required a material or avoid X-Ref's. However, LO's do perfectly well across an X-Ref so I set up a landscaping file to hold all my trees and 3D cars. This means I can load it at anytime and run a render quickly after changes and not have a different file for CD's or Renders. So I only make changes once. Once the render process is finished, unload the landscape file and continue on. A client makes a change. Make the change, reload landscape x-ref and re-render and very quickly you can have a response. Have model layers seperate from any annotations or detail drawings also helps. I grew very impatient with the slow unresponsive Viz-Render link process so I am excited about the new engine and the potential to do everything in the one program. Maybe you have time to play around more than I do but If I took more time, I wouldn't be doing much rendering!

Now the interesting news is that once you have created your LO, you can bring it into v8 or 9 and use it in your renderings. There are some caveats and I haven't done enough testing to fully vouch for it but I do know that it works. I have found MR more fussier with your maps so it doesn't give great results on some of my homegrown maps but IT DOES WORK. I just have some tidy up to do.

Let me know if there is any part of this process I haven't made clear or you would like explained.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gutter & Eave

As I like using the roof object (not slabs - article coming!) I needed to find a way of quickly replicating gutter & fascia and after my first effort gave reasonable results, I found that it was even more capable for the task than I first thought. I know that some have used structural elements for gutters but I like the wall object because;
  1. Walls cleanup automatically ( I put my eave 'wall' on it's own cleanup group),
  2. Every element can have different material applied. (you can only have two with slab edge styles – fascia & soffeit).
  3. Can be on their own layer and turned off in plan views, you can even assign different componants for different views for the same part if required. (we'll explore that one here).
  4. I can use the wall width to set my eave width (0 = no eave) which adds the eave ceiling in for 3D renders and sections.
  5. You can also use it with slabs and get multiple material assignments for rendering.
So to explain what I have done with no.3 I found that adding a nicely profiled gutter shape that gives me a nice shadow and shine line for a rendering adds far too many lines in an aecElevation. So by doubling up on the componant for the gutter (& fascia), I can turn on whichever componant will give me the desired result.  This is done automatically in your display representations.   For the elevations, my profile is simpler giving a cleaner elevation (actually should be simpler and cleaner than what I have shown here).

Now if you love palettes, unfortunately they don't carry the sweep profile, so I would usually apply this style by the old cut & paste method. If you do use palettes, you can select multiple eave objects (try using 'select similar') and apply the profile to all of them at once. Don't forget to tick the 'Mitre selected Walls' box so you don't have to do it as a 2nd step.

See the Eave wall style in action here (item no.2 in two of the images).

So again with the drawing of one line, I can have my gutter, fascia, boxed eave ready for rendering, elevations and sections.

Tip: Select your eave wall and right click for the add selected option. Unlike palettes, this does retain the sweep. So you can cut from a template drawing, paste into and then 'Add selected' around. My eave wall is set to be setout from the top edge of the roof and it's done in Iso mode though if you lock your Z, you could do it in plan.

Tip: I used to turn off the display of the eave style in plan view but then it couldn't be selected. Now by assigning it the invisibility plot style (Aec Standard.stb) I can see it but it doesn;t print.

Monday, August 11, 2008

First Impressions

I was asked to create some quick elevations of a large project for council discussions and I thought this was a chance to try out Impression2 from Adesk. So I downloaded and tried it out. It is quite easy and links (updates) really well (especially after using the VizRender link). If you are still on subscription it's a free download so defintely well worth a try. It may only be available with a sub so if you are not on sub you may be out of luck.

It ignored my linework (didn't show) and I had to use rectangles or closed PLines so I had something to 'fill'. But the height lines showed so I don't understand what happened there. Still some learning to do but what you see took me about 20mins for a first try.
Now I'm sure you have a project more exciting than mine to work on so go for it. Give it a try.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Interesting news on Subscriptions

Well news is surfacing about a new move by Autodesk on distribution models for Revit and ACA. Apparently Revit Suite subscriptions will now include ACA as well as Autocad! What does that mean to the future of ACA? (Here's a NG thread that has lots of info and some links)

Well from Autodesks view I think this is a smart move. How can an ACA user move to Revit when they have existing projects running in ACA. To move to the Revit suite previously meant only having AutoCAD which made transitions difficult. Now they will be able to transition their office at their own pace. They can train on Revit whilst keeping existing projects going in ACA. Very smart (doh!). ACA is only around $1700 upgrade on top of ACAD anyway and sub is cheaper.

But again what does this mean to ACA. Well I think the mass weight of Revit in big offices means most will move across unless they are still on autocad and don't care to go 3D. But they will not be able to resist the customer demand (whether that's logical or simply good advertising).
The "writing has been on the wall" and it is "only a matter of time". But unlike mechanical, I would argue that the architectural base of ACA is much larger and slower to react and will hold on for some years to come. Development on ACA is already a sore point and there will be those who jump ship and slowly the numbers will turn.

My thoughts are that ACA is good value for those offices already using ACAD and for a small(er) upgrade fee can be into BIM approach and get some good return. But perhaps that is getting more difficult to justify as the weight of numbers changes. Why would you train an office on a product that is being superceded albeit gradually?

I could happily end my sub now and continue using ACA09 (actually I''m still using ADT6). But I charge extra to maintain my sub so it's covered anyway. I know others are not so well looked after and some have dropped their sub. Basically, if the product does what you need then be happy. Maximise your existing setup. Might be nice not to worry about all those re-installs and reset ups and relearning a whole new interface just for the heck of it.

But if you are going to be in the industry for some years to come and want to stay current then you may need to stay tuned. If you are self-sufficient and do things as you want to (like me) then you are free to choose. If you are reliant on working in other environments then you may need to keep up to date with the latest software.

What will I do? Well I ain't going to ArchiCAD! Chief Architect seems to have a solid sales base in Australia. My kids enjoyed that one! For the time being I will continue on ACA but I would think that Revit is going to be somewhere in the future. The economy of the cross-grade!

Revit has strength in that it doesn't have so many options. It doesn't give you choices you don't really need to bog you down. I'm sure in time Adesk marketing will add back in lots of unnecessary options because the user base keeps asking for them and Revit will become complicated and slower etc.

Anyways, that's progress for you!
Best to ya!

Monday, August 4, 2008


For cabinets I owe much to Archidigm and Odin's great tutorials. But we make cabinets differently and don't generally have a splashback but a number of rows of tiles above. Whilst you can have a variable height you only have one option and you can't have a different height to your cabinet and tile height. (well you could if you cab height was the wall base height and the tile height was the top of wall but you would have to manually grab each side and pull them up to get the tile height extension. Actually I just tried that and it might work okay for some).

Therefore I use a separate simple wall style with hatch pattern to indicate tiling (more on this later). So check out Odin's well laid out tutorial and then view the following wall component list for a full Aussie cabinet spec. Unlike Odin's cabinets which uses the wall style as a placeholder, I went further and created a whole cabinet that will plan, elevate and section complete without further attention. It really isn't much more effort.

Many model the bench top separately with slabs but using body modifiers you can add breakfast overhangs etc without much fuss (ok a little). Probably the trickiest part is creating the endcaps for cabinet ends. I tremble at trying to explain how to create the endcap but I did mine using the edit-in-place and trial and error. It was easy to get lost but I prevailed and won!

I have created different styles for a wall oven stack, pantry cabinets overheads. This way you can quickly lay down the whole kitchen when sketching and be ready for CD's. They are also ready for rendering. I should probably be using the Tool Palletes but I really just cut & paste a whole kitchen from another similar job and alter as required.

Here is one bathroom cabinet shown without doors. It's designed to take a reef (semi-recessed) basin. You can see it's much as they would build it. Encaps assigned to the style so this can be created by drawing JUST ONE LINE! Length is of course completely adjustable.

Thsi cabinet has adjustable height but the midshelf is set.

For the doors you could add a componant for that too but I have used door styles to model the cabinet doors, both single and double, glazed & profiled using the typical rules we use for a normal door object. If you add a door componant in the wall style itself, you could leave it on until you are ready to add more detail to your cabinets for either rendering or detail drawings.

Even handles can be added and are great if you are wanting to do renderings for clients. If you are able to use your model for CD's and for a little more work do some renderings then all the better.

It's probably better anyway to have your doors separate as it gives you more flexibility.

I have tried to anchor the doors to the cabinet using aecobjectanchorattach but that will cut the cabinet so I will have to investigate that further. I seem to remember Odin mentioning that on his article.

As I suggested, you could add a tiling componant and make it's Bottom Elevation 0 Base Height and it's Top Elevation 0 Wall Top. Once you 'draw' the cabinet, just go into iso view and stretch each side up and your tiles will appear. For now I am content to have the tiling as a separate wall style. It is also better to have them separate if you want to take quantities.

On the endcaps, I have done this one with a little overhang to the top. For finishing up against a wall on the side, it may be better to have no overhang as the standard endcap. To add overhang, you can create a ME to the size requried and add it as a BodMod. In the endcap illustrated above I have the side panels coming forward to the front face of the door. Some build them with the doors overlapping the side. It's just choice and could be covered with different endcap styles that you could have available to select from or edit on the fly.


If you have an interesting use for a wall then please post a pic and an explanation.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Another Computer hitch

I do have more great posts to put up but I have no start bar and no icons on my pc so it can be a little slow to get around (cntrl-alt-del and use file open to get programs started).  I'm not sure if it relates to my recent upgrade, fan speed, installing a new AV (AVG8.0) or my kids messing on those online gaming sites!  But I have used a boot cd (Ulitmate Boot4WIN) to boot off the CD and be able to check the disk without loading anything on it.  I have restored the network which disappeared and checked for virus's, disappointed that I didn't find any, and hope to be able to be back up and posting again.  I have some great tips from James and plenty more of my own articles to get up there, so hang in there and stay tuned.

If you have specific queries on the wall styles let me know but I hope to post details of how to do them soon.

(And if anyone has specific hints on restoring a desktop please let me know.  My latest take is that my profile is corrupted ut it appears windows normally tells you if that's the case).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When is a Wall not a Wall?

When it's a roof !!!

Or how about a road?

Now I don't often have an original idea but I did investigate roads before I found that Odin had got there first and has some seriously good content available. at a great low price. I don't intend to be doing much on road's as I was just exploring to see what I could achieve (though the roads do belong on a subdivision plan I've done).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wall !! What is it good for?

Absolutely Nothi....... (sorry just watched Rush Hour 3 and couldn't help myself).

As you get into any CAD programs, the more curious of us often look to how far we can push the objects we are provided with. I have found the wall object has a few more uses other than for walls.

If we leave the idea that it's a wall and just think of it as a tool to create anything that is linear then we can think up any number of items. And don't forget that endcaps can resolve the ends and perhaps by using opening endcaps, a few other things as well mmmm...... have to explore that one!

This article is big so we'll split it up into modules but I include some taster pictures here.

Oh and I'm still to post an update on my pc upgrade. I ran benchmarks on the old system and am still to test the new one. I have four fans in my case and they seem to be running slower than they should especially the cpu fan so I am thinking I am a little under powered. However, seeing that the Core2Duo's are supposed to be very power efficient compared to the D805 it replaced, I am a little bamboozled. (I have a 430w ps).

I'll keep you posted.

Good Links

Have you registered with AUGI? (Autodesk User Group International) I must admit that after an initial looksee I have mostly ignored their site for a while but it has great info on it. At the moment there is a series on ACA that may be helpful to some on Structural Members. Have a look down the left hand side for the older articles. It has something on ACA every issue (monthly). You do need to register to see much older articles but it's well worth it as there is lots of other gear that will be helpful. As well they have their own NG specicially for ACA as well as ACAD etc.

Check them out. Joining is FREE!
(Dang! I can't remember what password I used! :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chasing a Skirt -updated

I investigated the possibility of adding a skirting componant to my standard wall style. You can add skirting as a separate wall style on it's own cleanup group but that's a lot of extra work, though if you use ACA for quantities it's possibly worth it. Unfortunately such an idea gives you more work if design changes are made. So off I went looking for an alternative.

First I added a componant of about the right size which worked fine but then I wanted to have either a splay or a moulding profile, you know, to make the sections & renderings look elegant. Fine but what happens in a bathroom where you have no skirting. You can create another wall style copied from the first and remove the skirting but some walls have skirting one side only, other walls have no skirting at all and I really didn't like having essentially the same wall style repeated several times.

So I added two 0 width componants (sleeper componants) to both sides of the wall and applied profiles & found out I had to create a 2nd profile mirrored of the first to get the 2nd one to display correctly. So now I had to add 2 profiles to each wall and you can bet I got them mixed up and applied the wrong profile to each side more than 50% of the time.. Also using the PN I had the internal layout in a seperate element (it was repetitive) and the internal skirting wouldn't cleanup with the external. (see tips below)
Oh and back to applying a profile, it seems the applied profile doesn't obey priorities and/or cleanup rules and I ended up with skirting piercing clear thru the wall (I think this is a bug). See tips below. Maybe it will be a different solution for different projects – at least now I know some options.

Tip: Oh and unlike a body modifer, the position of your componant is important for a sweep as the insert point of your profile will correspond to the offset and ht of your componant (though you can edit that in the sweep section on your property pallete)

Tip: Did you notice that I had set a height for my skirting componants. When you sweep a profile, the height has no effect. Only the bottom elevation of the componant the profile is applied to.

Tip update: An applied profile will NOT obey priorities so it really only fully works if you accept a shape defined in the componants list (width & height) rather than apply a profile. Using it this way it is reliable and efficient - just not pretty. Your componant could also be a dado, or picture rail but they really need a profile don't they!

Tip update: If you do decide to use a profiled style, apply it to one and then use the 'Add Selected" on your right click to add the rest of your walls. (Sorry it won't help if you have already drawn the walls). That way the profile will already be applied and get's over the limitation of the tool pallete not being able to hold profiles. When you come to a bathroom wall that has no skirting, you can more easily remove the profile from a couple of walls rather than apply it to many.

Is it worth it for a skirting? Maybe not :-( If it had worked simply like I was hoping for! but I am sure you can apply these principles to something more worthwhile. Let me know what you come up with.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Wall - Sleeper componants (cont.)

A reader has asked me clarify the last article and give an example of how it can be used in the real world. Let's go back to an earlier example of adding a capping to a feature addition to a wall. I applied a body modifer and added it to an existing componant that had the same material as I wanted to add - red brick. But what if the addition needs to be in a new material not already part of the wall. Let's say I want the top capping rendered instead. So I need a componant with a render material assignment. So I add it to the existing wall style and make the width =0 so it won't show up on the regular walls.
(remember that this wall was for existing so iI haven't bothered with a cavity etc).
But when I apply the modifer to the wall and select the 'sleeper' componant, it comes alive and takes on the new material assigned.

You can of course have the added portion as a separate entity instead but this way, the material is controlled from & by the wall style which is logical because it's part of the wall. It moves with the wall.
The other big advantage is that you haven't created another wall style to have to maintain, keeping things simple. If you alter the wall style, this one wall won't be left out. On the General tab of the wall style, you may want to add an explanation just in case someone else works on the file.
Hopefully that's made it a bit clearer but I have at least one other example I will post that also can utilise the 'sleeper' componant.

Walls – Sleeper Componant

I've seen this used in various ways for various reasons and I think we can give the concept a name. If you have a particular addition to your walls that only occurs in some places, add a componant into your wall style and give it a 0 width. Say you have a corbel only appearing on the front of the house, or a feature niche in the entry, or a rendered feature portion on a face brick house. If you add a body modifier, you need to apply it to a componant in your wall style. If that componant has a 0 width, it won't appear until you 'awaken it' by adding the BodMod or applying a profile. Using this technique, rather than a special wall having to be isolated from the other styles, you can just add a 'sleeper' componant to the main style and 'awaken' it where & as required. Of course you may now have to adjust settings for that additional componant in several DispReps and also set your componant priority wisely.
You can now also control the material of this componant via the wall style rather than via a ME style or some other separate object.

WARNING: Be aware that adding a componant may mess with your endcaps. I don't often need them but if you do, push the sleeper to the end of the list & you should be ok.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Upgrading my PC

End of Tax year on Monday and I rushed out to buy the chip I had built my pc for - Core2Duo! finally! Currently at home I am running an overclocked Pentium D805 at 3ghz instead of it's regular 2.66. I was hoping for close to 4.0 but I didn't go for the full liquid cooling so I had to settle. I have got it to 3.2. As the C2D's run very cool, I am hoping to be able to get well over the rated 3.0ghz. I also bought 2Gb of RAM for $90Aus !!! Last 1Gb I bought was several hundred $$ so I was very pleased. Hopefully it will all go in and work first time!!

Just thought I would drop some tech hints as there are lots of misconceptions about hardware for Acad. When I rang the pc guy the first thing he said was "You can get a faster QuadCore for the same price". But if you peruse the hardware NG you will find some disappointed users who thought that the Quad was going to give them so much more. Truth is that Acad is STILL not multiprocessor aware, or at least not fully. Some activity can benefit from an extra 'core' but most things are single threaded. SO.. if you compare a Quad core running at 2.66 with a Dual at 3.0, guess which one runs Acad faster. Truth is lots of app's are not multi-processor aware. If you are downloading, encoding mp3's, and Acad'ing at the same time, you might like Quad. If you just want raw power then go with the faster processor. Acad will never look past the 2nd core. Not sure if Mental Ray is multi because if it is then it might make sweet use of a Quad core. Anyone?? --Word is Yes! So if you do lots of rendering then Quad can give you a decent return but your modelling work will be quicker with a quicker DualCore. Check this link to Shaan Hurley or Adesk.

Now if you are really serious you can look at the Xeon's but this is for home and I'm paying!

The other item is the Graphics card which is quite a sore spot because of a lack of clear information. Previously a high end Nvidea Quadro was the go for OpenGL performance but now in 09 they have introduced DirectX support so the games cards will give better performance for the buck! I have used a Quadro 1500fx 256mb and a mildly cheaper FX8950 512mb and I wouldn't move back to the Quadro. And that's using 06. So... go for a fast game card and it will do. Most of us can't run in hardware mode anyway so it's the cpu doing most of the work. UPDATED! In 09, a Quadro will be a massive waste of funds as it is more expensive and doesn't offer better performance (possibly poorer) than the game card using DirextX. In Vista your quadro possibly won't work at all as Vista won;t support OpenGL. Previously the ATI cards did not have as reliable drivers as NVidea but I haven't seen complaints for some time so they maybe they could be ok for Autocad. Stuart has sent me this link to a great read which perhaps indicates that I should be updated my GC as well :-),review-31046.html

Beef your RAM. WinXP Pro will only allow any one app to use 2gb max of RAM unless you enable the 3GB switch (Autodesk). 4Mb seems to be the maximum worthwhile for WinXP pro. As we move to 64bit things will change but that's another minefield (just ask James). Ram is probably a better upgrade than your graphics card unless you have a dog or shared memory graphics. RAM is faster access than hard drive and when your pc runs out of RAM to use, it starts using the hard drive and that slows things down. Do a Control-alt-del and have a look at the performance tab. Leave it open while you work and you can review how much Physical Memory (RAM) is being used. Your page file is your hard drive 'virtual' space and though it will use some regardless, you don't want it too active. If the line's not moving you are probably ok. If it's dancing, you need RAM.

This tab is also useful for seeing how much work your cpu's are doing. It will show each core and what is doing what. I should do some testing and observations before removing the D805 just to compare.

Another tip:

My 3ghz Pentium D805 is much slower than a Core2Duo at 3ghz. The AMD Athlons came up against the old Pentium4's and wipped them with slower clock speeds. Clock speed is NOT everything!

Oh... and any REAL techie's out there who want to correct me then please do so. Qualified hardware info for Acad is scarce and Autodesk have not been forthcoming up until recently where they seem to be making an effort to be more helpful.

Monday, June 30, 2008

SNAP setting for Brick setout.

Try This – Credit to Leo on the NG who whilst living in the U.S. is from Qld in answer to a query post from mixtup and also to Doug Broad for his dimensioning tip that will show the brick size (I'll have to investigate that one as well).

Mixtup asked on the NG whether anyone knew of the capability to be able to have wall objects restrict themselves to brick sizes. Apparently this is not common around the world but here in West Aus, perhaps because of our predominance of building in double brick and our brickies being prominent trades, if the brickwork will be facework, we set out the building strickly based on modules of the brick size. Of course if the bricks are to be rendered then we don't need to worry as the bricks used are an odd size anyway (305mm). There is an add-on available locally for AutoSketch that offers a total customisation package for local conditions/ materials/ practise. This package will adjust the wall length depending on which way you turn. An 'opening' measurement has an extra 'perp' joint whereas a 'pier' dimension has one less. A 'wall' dimension has a 'perp' for each brick'. All the brick companies issue charts that can be read and offer measurements for every half brick size or in the case of the newer block size, in 3rd's.

So, can we do this in ACA? Well not quite that exact but simply by adding a Snap setting of 120 or 100 for the larger blocks, we have a dimension that is within 10mm. When laying out your walls your mouse will 'Snap' to points in brick sizes within 10mm. Of course you should be starting from 0,0 or at least a whole number location.

(For those not had the mispleasure of accidentally clicking on the Snaps (& Grid) they are along the bottom of the Acad interface left of centre. They can be also accessed by the F6 & F7 function keys. Ever wonder had your mouse become'sticky'. Could be that you hit the Snap key by mistake and your mouse now locks in on the spacing set. To change the settings, just right click on either button for a dialogue box. --but you already knew all this!)

Once your walls are laid out, if you want to, you can adjust for that final accuracy by grabbing the centre grip and pulling it 10mm (you know the rules). It's great for creating sketch layouts that can be turned into CD's already to brick sizes. If you already have added dimensions though, you are better to use the stretch command so that it adjusts your Dimension defpoints as well. Once you've set up your walls you can turn snap off again. This is the first useful idea I've ever found for snap and I would really like to remove the button so I don't accidently turn them on.

Now do you want to SEE those snap points? Well you have to turn on that other UNuseful (til now) tool Grids (F7). Set your grid to the same spacing and you will now see where those points are as you draw.

Want a larger Grid. The Limits command sets the grid area.

Tip: Do you work in just one file (I try to)? Set up all your sheets in your template in typical layouts and setup your title blocks ie. A1 SitePlan, A2 Floor Plan, etc. You can even add in other sheets you may need like A2 Demolition, A7 Roof Plan, (It's easier to delete them when not required). Set up a 'dummy' floor plan and site plan by simple rectangles and then in your sheet view set up the appropriate scaled Viewports and layers. Decide where to put your elevations and sections and do the same. (Position your elevations so that a typical 3D will not be looking towards other parts of your drawing). Set up all the other settings as you want them. Save the file with a .dwt ending, perhaps with your other customisations. Now In Options -Files set this file as your default template when you type QNEW.

Best to ya