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

Friday, June 27, 2008

Drape & the Shadow

The aussie planning codes for residential construction give the council the right to request shadowing information of your proposed construction and the impact on neighbours and ACA gives you some great tools to produce an image that will not only give the required information but do it in a format that is very impressive. Dermot has sent me this image from a project of his which demonstrates several features of using ACA. The first is the site model constructed using the humble DRAPE command.
You can obtain a 3D model of your site by placing the contours at their respective Z levels and issuing the Drape command to give you a contoured MassElement. You can then model up other ME's to union & subtract with the base model to create other features. Using ME Groups you can create some objects as negatives that will deduct space live from another ME allowing you to make constant changes without making anything 'hard' allowing you to experiment. On Dermot's pic you can see he has cut out for driveway, a rear swimming pool and yard area (circular) and it gives you a great overview of the site levels.

TIP: If you give your ME an earth texture in section, it can be also used in your sections (and elevations). To trim unwanted 'earth' you can use a styled aecPolygon in your view file set to mask or just having a white background (check your plot style). If you wanted to further limit the area of 'earth' that is hatched, you can use the 'Material Boundary' tools to limit the area of hatching or even the ME itself. Perhaps that could be an article in itself. Oh did I mention that you can attach a grass material to the ME (presentation high detail DispRep of course) for rendering as well.

Display Reps for rendering and modelling.
The second item that Dermot's image illustrates what James showed us earlier. To have one DisplayRep with only a simple material universally applied, you can use it for illustrations that don't need any materials showing. Have you played with this concept? I have since James brought it up and resolved to add the materials in the Presentation DR (High Detail) and have the Medium DR (Model) left as one Material) although as James pointed out and Dermot has also done, you can add your glass material to windows. Further experimentation is now easy to find that one material you like. James used white, I've seen an image using a wonderful cardboard texture so that the image looked like a carboard model. I have lots of textures in my library and depending on the purpose it's very easy to swap that one material in and out.

Shadow Diagrams
The third item that Dermot's next image illustrates is of course the shadow diagram. Using the rendering tools you can set the sun in it's correct position, at the correct time of day at the correct time of year just like the codes ask for. The actual rendering side of things is too big for this article and as admitted before I ain't no expert with the new rendering engine but you can download Autodesk's own James Smell's great pdf on this topic.

Using a photoshop type program (Gimp for free)you can add the text etc OR you can bring the rendered image (.jpg) back into ACA to set up in a view port and easily add your text there in a familiar environment. You can use the Image command or just drag & drop! Too easy!

I've only skimmed these items so if you want some more explanation for how then let me know by posting a comment. But also have a good look at the ACA help (yes it can be very helpful) and also the tutorials. I had to download the tutorials for ACA08 and I see that I have to do the same thing again in 09! Curious! Can't fit them on the 2 DVD's? Maybe they are done after the date? Download 07-09 tutorials here.

Plot file standard -- STB or Not STB?

I have moved to the AEC Standard.stb plot style and boldy declare that it is the best and you must all change over so we can be on the same page (ducking for cover now).

The problem I found using ctb's is that I was trying to use colour to do two different things – ie. a colour of an object in 3D and in plan view a pen thickness. Now I know that these can be separated using the DispReps but I have found it so much easier now that they are not linked. Because I have always sought to do 3d renders for everything (spent way too much time) I really notice the ease with which I can operate compared to using a ctb file. Lots of items in my schemes will not have a render material added and just rely on the objects colour. For a simple column or window frame colour, you may not need the extra rendering time required in adding reflection etc to make the material more realistic as the item is thin or not prominent. Being able to change the colour on the fly and know it will not change printed output is great. If you work for a big firm then the plot file used will probably be a much bigger decision and out of your hands but if you are a small or one man band then I encourage you to take a look. If you like the idea that you can 'see' on screen pen thickness by colour then you can still apply the colour (near) to the layer and get the same effect. One reason I bring this up is that, as I work on content to share, I realise the impact of us all using different schemes and how it makes OOTB difficult to achieve. Indeed this is one of the great strengths of that frog sounding competitor in that it doesn't allow so many options. I hear that it's WYSIWIG all the way. So by demanding individuality we make it more difficult to help each other. But then we are involved in architecture aren't we!

I know one person out there who likes to print drawings in colour and by using an stb file he has freedom between colour and pen thickess. He is using the AIA Colour.stb.

If you open stb templates in 08/09 you will see that Adesk ACA team have moved to the AEC Standard.stb file as it's default. So it's OOTB! It's a simpler standard whereby in the plot style only Saturation (Full,50%,25%), Standard (Colour) and invisibility are provided. The actual pen thickness is set in layer or overridden in Style or object. I think it's simpler than the AIA Standard.stb and gives you a little more flexibility.

If you search on the newsgroups ("Plot Styles") you can find a number of discussion about this topic. I did that to try and decide if it was worth changing, the advantages and the implications. Since changing, I have had to do some work in updating files that I want in the new standard but it didn't take too long (that depends on how you've set things up of course). Someone posted affirming AEC Standard.stb and I thought it sounded the most straight forward. Of course you may have good reasons for staying with your present system but if you are struggling and looking for something better then I recommend moving to AEC Standard.stb.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Materialisationability & standards

Somebody has pointed out to me that aecMaterials play a very important role in having everything work efficiently. I had to agree and also confess that I have only just recently realised what a mess I was making. I had numourous style over-rides set for many of my wall styles but after I re-thought what I was doing, I have removed all the overrides from the (most) styles and left the componants set to ByMaterial setting in the default standard wall style. Now I can control my display by the material settings which typically might have style overrides set for some views except the more simpler reflected ceiling plan type display rep's. It means that you have more materials to manage, but it works much more efficiently because you have less over-rides to manage (in the one material rather than several styles).

After James' pictures got me thinking in the right direction on having the ability to have two different rendering schemes ready to go, and wanting to keep as close to OOTB as 'Aus'ily possible, I determined that the rendering scheme should be set to the Presentation DispRep (high detail) and the Medium Detail DispRep should be kept for a carboard image render (rather than introduce a new scheme). I'm also thinking that James render scheme can also be used for shadow studies which is now required in your development approval submission for two storey buildings.

So I created a new file in 2009 using the template AEC Model (MetricStb).dwt, added some styled walls, windows and doors from the OOTB catalogues. They already have materials applied and I wanted to see what Adesk ACA team is thinking.  Unfortunately I'm not sure they have as Medium Detail renders the same as Presentation DispRep. Mmm.... Seems a waste to have 2 different DispReps do the same thing? (The problem in having the Low Detail for the Cardboard Render is that you would then need to add your modelling customisations to this DispRep as well and I would think it should be kept simple for large scale work and massing studies).

So I set up different view ports in Pspace to review what they looked like. To my surprise I found that OOTB the Presentation DispRep on a wall is now linked to the Model view. I opened up ADT6 and did the same thing using the equiv. templates and set up the same view and as I remembered the OOTB Presentation DispRep is linked to the HighDetail model view not the standard Model view. Why the change??

So now I am asking for feedback from users out there to let me know what they think and have they made any determinations that make sense on these issues.

It's difficult to set up an OOTB scheme that eveyone can just 'use' and not have to tamper with to get it to work with their setup (Do I hear a croak?). If Adesk themselves keep tampering with it!!! ah! But why would they set up different DispRep's to give the same result??

So I propose to drop the material over-rides from the Medium Detail DisplayRep and use a universal cardboard colour (or white) and only keep the material assigned in the Presentation High Detail view. It's almost how Archidigm has done his content, probably based on how it was done previously.

So how does that effect my OOTB content? What do I need to do to make this change and what impact would it have? In my view the Presentation view is the most logical view to have rendering settings set up. High Detail Model view is also the logical view along with Medium Detail to have to add all your necessary over-rides. The more DispRep's you add the more you have to maintain so I am trying to keep them to a min. whilst providing a broad number of options for users. The fact that the ACA team has changed it throws me off a bit. (Why??) But having 2 separate DispRep's that output the same result makes no sense to me. BUT altering the OOTB Display matrix should not be done lightly.

Nevertheless, in 09, whilst in a presentation viewport, I open the display manager, Under Configurations, click on Presentation and Model Presentation and sure enough the Wall object has the 'Model' rep ticked which I untick and tick High Detail instead. Now it's back to how the 06 is set up and makes more sense. Remember that I have only done this in one drawing and unless I saved to the template it won't happen in each drawing I do.
THOUGHT: I notice that in the OOTB content that the materials have overrides to EVERY DispRep. This makes massing studies a rather long affair where you might like to follow James 'building mass study' images something common in architectural practise before materials are applied. So my curisosity asks “Why Is It So?” What point am I missing that the ACA team has set up here. Wanting to have a setup where things 'just happen' rather than having hours of tweaking to do to get the output I want I have to investigate further. To alter materials across the project, you would need to edit every material where-as if they all share a common definition, this becomes much easier. (mmm.... perhaps they all have their own over-ride but it could point back to the same rendermaterial.) Now you also have visual styles to use but they are not rendered views and have different uses. Both DispReps yeald the same visual style display so what's the point of having 2 different display reps?? Why do DispReps such as Screened and reflected need overrides to every material def? Surely they can all use a generic setting? Mmm....

So anyway after unticking the Material override for the Medium Detail DisplayRep and assigned a material to this view that will apply to all materials without an over-ride here is what I get. A model I can render for a 'James like' Massing Study or also for Shadow diagrams (article coming) where you don't want to show the materials. Note that I have left the glass with it's material over-ride just as James had done.

Odin (archidigm) says on his site that in Medium Display his content is set to render using object colour and no materials are assigned so it's not exactly the same. I wonder if he does shadow & massing studies. He does have some examples using one of the visual styles.

Here's the catch. If you say why don't you use the Low detail for a carboard view, then that's another view I have to add all my customisations and overrides too. We want to keep it simple which is why I am proposing to manipulate the existing DispReps rather than add another.

Actually what I wanted to talk about was having materials that would work in elevation, section, plan view etc. Ha! That will have to wait. One of the big issues probably in any customised program is that you need to know everything before you start customizing so that you know what the rules are for making the changes. Sigh!

Best to ya

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back To The Wall 2 (Vertical Profiles)

On to the Vertical profile. How can you do this? Profiles are applied along the horizontal plane so they won't work vertically. But you can apply a body modifer. Here's how I did mine. (right click on images and open in other tab).
First I created a curtain wall style (CWA) matching the repetitions of the JH Axon profile, turning off the infill and having mullions of 10w x5 @135mm spacings – an approximation of the Axon profile. I made the frame 0x0 as I didn't want the grooves at the each end. I set the 2ndry grid to fixed number of frames 1 as I want the profile to be continuously

Now that I have created my emulation of the Axon grooves, I line it against my wall (a manual task in isometric) with a componant set to receive the profile. Ensure that the CWA is higher than the wall I want to apply it to. Select the wall, right click – body modifiers – Add. Select the CWA, select the componant to apply to (Cladding-Top), choose subtractive and tick the 'Erase Selected Object' box to remove the CWA. NOW! Don't go and loose your CWA Axon Style, when I said delete it, make sure that you either have one off to the side or stored in a drawing somewhere.
Now you can click on the wall and 'Restore' the body modifier but it won't restore a CWA but a MassElement in the shape of the CWA, so it would be easier to delete the body modifier and start again if you need to edit it, ie lengthen or raise the wall and the BodMod is too short. SO you need to keep the original CWA handy!

If you haven't noticed before, at the bottom of the Properties Pallete are the references to the sweeps, BodMod's and PlanMod's. Click on the 'Worksheet' symbol to open up the sheets where you can remove a modifier or sweep, or alter the mitre angle. Indeed if you applied the sweep or BodMod to the wrong componant you can change it here or if you want to change it from subtractive to additive!
Now if you want to use Exotec or Matrix you can add a horizontal spacing back into your CWA. You could retain your CWA and put it on a non print layer and you can alter your spacing of your panelling thru your CWA. If you retain your CWA, it is your BodMod and if you change your CWA, the BodMod will alter instantly so that might be handy if you are exploring design options.
You can edit the profile of the mullion to create a more complex join say for concrete tilt up wall joins etc. (15mm join and 25mm splay both sides).

TIP: I've used a CWA because they are ideal for repetitive componants. You can use a number of elements, the most common would be the MassElement.

Get the hang of it and it really is quite an effective way to model componant detail. The example I've given is for a simple product but I'm sure you have situations that are more complex where it will do the job. Let me know where you have found a use for it.

Best to ya

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Recommended Links

Well after my initial flurry of activity I realised that it's nearing the end of the tax year and I have to deal with the real world as well. I already have about 5 great posts in the works but I want to make sure that I do them justice so I thought I would post a couple of great links to sites with fantastic info.

The first has to be ARCHIdigm - Odin's free online tutorials showing the extra tips you won't find in the Help section. If you want a serious handle on ADT/ACA and it's capabilites then you have to work through every example on his site. He provides lots of real world examples and shows a seriously devious mind in working around every limitation that you come up against. I bet he pulled all his toys apart when he was a kid. I have a BIG debt to his articles to getting under the hood. I desire to emulate his easy to follow style and put it into the aussie context of how we do things here. Seriously, go thru EVERY article. You may also be able to purchase and use his content without too much fuss in a metric environment as one (Spanish) user already reports. is a great collection of articles from all over, work thru them when you have a spare moment :-) or search thru for specific topics.

I couldn't post it cause I couldn't find it but Ha! it's one of my own links below!! Learn ADT is an excellant resource. It's amazing how clear things become when you watch a video presentation.

Another site that have SIGNIFICANT content available to view or download are and pick on the support and education and then video library. Now lots here relates to their own add on product and you should be aware of it's potential, but also there is lots of info that just relates to ACA/ADT. (Hope that's all right Jay). If we can get these guys to Australia with their own standalone product (based on ACA) then I believe it will make a big splash.

So whilst I am working on tidying up my books for the ATO, if you haven't found them already, get into these links and raise your ACA experience to a new level.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Back To The Wall - Profiling

So what else can we do with walls.

I'm sure you are familiar with profiles in ACA. The rendered project I posted below will be cladded with JH products Primeline Newport and the new Scyon Axon and an even newer product called Stria.

I tried to use bump mapping to produce the boards in the render as I was trying to keep things simple but it just didn't work well. (Rendering in ADT6 – maybe it works better in Mental Ray of 08/09). So I returned to adding profiles to the boards but how do you do that vertically for the Axon? ( BTW MEP has tools to do vertical profiling. Not sure why we don't need them in the Architectural package.) But first, in case you haven't used profiles in a wall style here are the steps. It's easy & fun and gives great results.

Before applying a profile, I need to prepare the wall style with a cladding componant that is going to have a profile applied to it. As I am keeping things simple I do not have an interior plasterboard componant but I will have a 20mm (nom) external 'Cladding' componant defined with an offset of -20 to sit outside the setout line (as the setout line is on the wall timber or steel framing not to the cladding as is standard practise here. Some points to consider ;

  1. The componant width is not critical as it will be replaced by the profile. In my case the offset needs to match the width so the profile lines against the outside of the framing.

  2. To create a profile, create a closed pline in the shape of the cladding. Select the PLINE and right click, Convert to – Profile. (Another great addition to ACA thanks team).

  3. The profile will have an insert defined and this point will coincide with the base point of the componant. I've drawn a (faint) red line to show the insert points to the profiles in the illustration. I didn't find it easy at first but now that I know what it will do it works quite well. So if your componant starts 900 AFL then that's where it will apply the insert point of the profile. BUT it will not stop the top short of the wall height even if the componant it replaces does. It will project to the top of wall (even if angled).

  4. You need your profile to be higher than the highest point ie. Any gable etc where you want the profile to apply. The profile will be trimmed to the wall height. If you project your wall to a roof, it will correctly trim the profile as shown below as long as you tick the box.

  5. You may want to exaggerate your profile a little for rendering. I have deepened the 'grooves' in this example and the shadow lines are still quite sutble.

  6. Your profile can also be used for sections to illustrate cladding.

  7. When you create your aecElevations, your profile will create object lines as ACA will trace the actual profile. This can be heavy at smaller scales so you may want to consider options. 1. Happily change the cladding lines to a lighter componant in your aecELEVation style using the Edit Linework option or 2. Add another componant to use when creating your aecELEVations that only has a hatch applied and turn off the profiled componant. ie. You could have the profiled componant turned on in your Presentation / High Detail display rep and your hatched componant turned on in your Medium Display DR to use for creation of your elevations.

Here is Colorbond Custom orb profile applied to a cladding componant of a wall panel from a file supplied by Dermot. This will give you a small mess in your elevations which may not be helpful but it really does make a big difference if you render and also looks great on your aecSections. To get around the elevation mess, try adding another duplicate componant in your wall style and apply a hatched aecMaterial. Depending on which view you are after, you can turn one or the other componants on/off. Takes a little setting up but then you can use it again next time.

Tip: set up an Alias of IP for inserting a profile as a PLINE in your drawing. The full command is AecProfileAsPolyline. I find many times I have to insert the PLINE back into the drawing to adjust something and redefine as a profile to get things working as I want. You can also use an existing profile to make a similar new one. When you insert it into the drawing, insert at the end of a line so that you know where the insert point is.

Next up: Vertical profiles (without using MEP)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ribbon tying you up?

I've just read an interview with the product designer for the ribbon. Quite interesting and revealing. "The introduction of the ribbon is part of a larger effort to improve our customers' productivity — making AutoCAD easier to use than ever. " I'm sure he is aware there are many who would ask "what were you thinking?" I had to identify with another user who said it was the first time (since the first time) that he had opened Autocad and had no idea where to start.
"AutoCAD is a difficult program to learn. Where is a new user to start? " - I didn't like the idea that the whole interface has been geared towards new users. I think the focus should be on the dedicated user who is on the machine for most of his working day and just needs to get on with the job rather than focus on newbies and "making it easier for them" (said with a whiney voice). I must admit I get impatient with lazy drafters unwilling to spend time improving their efficiency.
BUT I think if I step back and listen to what he has to say about his vision for the future, (which has been put on hold for most of the 'architecture' interface), that the ribbon is customisable, it is an improvement on the dashboard (how to turn a 22" back into a 15"), and they are focused on productivity, I guess it will eventually become part of our work practise and we'll move on. As long as they give it to Revit as well :-)

Anyway I think it's worth reading the whole article. NEW! And part 2

Friday, June 6, 2008

Display Reps !!

I'd encourage trying to keep with OOTB Display Reps where possible unless you are really experienced with changing them because you can make a mess pretty quickly and make things hard for yourself. It's not called a matrix for nothing. It also makes upgrading easier.

This is how I would read the OOTB Display Representations.

Standard - Whatever? it's too generic for me to use for anything.
Low Detail - Site plans large scale plans,schematic drawings
Medium Detail - Working drawings 1:100
High Detail - Detailing, Room layouts
Presentation - Design Drawings.
Reflected - Electrical & service drawings.
Screened - Similar to Reflected- use as backgrounds (I don't).

I would make adjustments to many objects to get extra graphics. So the more display reps you have, the more overrides or adjustments you have to make to get each different view looking correct so Keep It Simple. But as James showed in the last post, sometimes adding another DR can give you needed flexibility.
It's a little tricky getting your head around the fact that these are plan views and it mixes up a little when you move to model views, Switch to Presentation Display Rep and an isometric view. Now click on a wall to edit style and look at the Display Properties tab. The bold type indicates that it's the Model High Detail view that is linked to the presentation view (OOTB) when in ISO (Or perspective) mode. mmmmm.......
I will try to come back and add some links to great detailed articles on the Display Rep System.

Tip: For presentation & design sketches, your wall default could have only the shrinkwrap display on including the hatch. Create a 'Shrinkwrap Wall' aecMaterial and set (all) your wall default style to use this material for the shrinkwrap. As all your componants are off, the drawing now displays a generic hatch patten (could be solid fill or 45d lines, 50% saturation) whatever is set in ShrinkWrapWall) for ALL walls. Cavities are not shown. Working this way allows you to have NO overrides set in each wall style itself which will by default have all componants to be displayed ByMaterial.

Rendering schemes & stages.

James sent these images of a project he has been working on. Apart from showing his ascendancy over my own puny Mental Ray skills, they show how you can use display reps to set up different rendering schemes. The Architect does not like showing colour on early concept sketches, wanting the client to only review the design scheme, absent of any colour or material persuasions. James writes "The coloured ones have materials applied, the white ones do not except for glass. The normal materials are linked to my main 'work' display rep, while I have another called 'design development'. In the DD display rep all materials are white except for glass. The reason for this is the critisism I have received from design architects who say I'm applying materials too early, or they don't like the colours etc, so I use the DD display rep until we're all ready for colours and materials. Architects seem to like the 'white cardboard model' look early in the design stage and when we brief the client colours and materials don't become a sticking point.
So I can use all my normal objects styles from day 1 without having to worry about colours and easily switch between 'white' and 'coloured' displays"

You have to check out James' very cool commercial renders here.
James has also passed on some good content that I will be posting (somewhere) for us to share.
Thanks James

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rendering in the OLD Autocad

It's a pity that the interface was so clunky. Okay I know that Max and Viz does a better job, but you could really get a reasonable job out of the old engine if you knew how to be tender. As I'm still using ADT06 (not VisRender), I've done a quick render to explore some ideas for the company. In just a few days I have designed and modelled a 12 unit (1bed) development with plans ready to be submitted for planning approval, changed numorous times as everyone has had their say AND done a reasonable street render as well, all without leaving the program! Ok the glass doesn't meet Mental Ray's level but for a factory level render I can turn them out quite efficiently. If my boss again wants design changes, I can make them, attach the entourage file and re-render (which takes about 5mins. Exporting into MAX and re-sorting all the assignments etc just doesn't have the efficiency for a rapid turnaround I need though we do get the pro's to re-do bigger jobs when it gets to marketing. That's why I am happy to put up with the disruption to my whole rendering process to move to the New mental ray engine - because it's built inside ACAD! - It echoes my philosophy of one package even if it's taken them a couple of releases to get it right. But as you can see below, I have still some way to go to get a handle on the ACA08 mental ray. (It's the same files). I couldn't remember how to get the sky on and was scared that everything would go black if I did.

Now the landscape objects all were created in ADT06 and as you can see that although you cannot create them in 08/9 (there is no tool for this) you can create them in 06 and bring them into 07/8/9. All plants except the foreground which was Gimped in, are rendered in the dwg file. You can also see that MR has different quality standards and not all my plants are acceptable but I'm sure I can sort this out..
Unfortunately there are other issues with the MR. I tried to render at 2200x900 and it crashed. (only 2GB of RAM). So I defaulted back to 06 though I will keep trying as well as upgrading memeory.

My main point is this. Most of us don't render because it takes too long. But I have my process efficient and can turn a render out as part of the process, with relative efficiency.

And it's so much fun!!!

Hopefully I can share more of the process with you but it will be for MR as 06 is so old now!
(If anyone out there is stuck in ADT6 or previous and would like me to share my small amount of wisdom then please let me know).
Best to ya

ps. those on 07 should know that the landscape objects do not operate properly.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Modifying your Body (Walls)

Wall Body Modifiers
I remember when I tried to use a body modifier when it was first introduced and I don't know whether I did it wrong or it has been improved but I remember the frustration when it didn't work and I abandoned them as just another one of those items that may or may not work depending on which way the wind was blowing. Now I use them all the time to get simple things done in an effective way and I find them reliable and dependable.

Here is a job I did in 2003, fresh newbie to ADT3.0. I thought I was clever to model the arch on top (project to Pline) and add the red courses but I didn't finish modelling the capping to the arch. So we'll add that now. The wall was existing so I didn't bother to model the cavity.

1. First step is look at the wall in elevation and draw a PLine to show what I want the finished wall to look like. I used the 'Isolate Objects' option on my right click to just work on the wall. (another great feature). Select the wall and right click. Roof/Floorline - Edit Roofline option and now looking in your command line choose the 'Project to Polyline' option (P). Note: The red brick courses are defined as seperate componants in the wall style.Now I need to add my top course header over the raised bwk and arch. Going back to the elevation view, I trace a pline over the top (not the wings), offset it 110, draw lines to join both ends and then select one PLINE, right click and select J (join). If you have trouble getting a closed PLINE, just trace over the whole lot using the arc option where required. This time the join option worked but it can be quicker to get the job done to just do it again. Now I tried to turn that closed PLine into a Mass Element but it would not even give me that option. Perhaps the USC wasn't correct. Regardless I just extruded it into a solid, then converted the solid into an ME.Now the final step is to add the ME as a Body Modifier to the wall. In this case I added it as an additive to the top course so it would use the same characteristics (red brick). Notice that it does not even touch this top course but it accepts the ME as an additive to it.
There are some options here. We could add a componant to the wall and give it a width of 0 so it will only show if it has a sweep applied or has a body modifer added to it. We could then have a different texture map or hatch applied automatically if required. In this case it's the same brick as the top course so I have just piggy backed it there.

The arch componant should really have special treatment to get the bricks to follow the arch. I have always had some wild schemes to achieve this but never taken the time to test them. For now I'll leave it to show red brick and be happy.

OH NO! I just pulled out a photo!

It's not how I modelled it!!!!

That's okay, I'll just 'Restore' that Body Modifier, add some more ME to the WHOLE length of the wall, including the little vertical bits I had missed & union the whole ME together into one object. Then when adding the ME to the wall as a BM, select the replace option and it removes the course that would otherwise show (that we don't want).Now that I have a handle on Body Modifier's, I find them indespensible. They cleverly & efficiently solve many of the little modelling issues you come across in building virtual models. But wait ... there's more!!

The Next Step in Walls 2.

Advancing on the previous post about messing with the footing, we can use the same ideas to alter to top of the wall. This style has the 3c step down built in to the external leaf and a plate fixed to the very top of the wall.

If we don't have an eave for a portion of our house wall, with the gutter up hard against the brickwall face, then we would typically build up the outside leaf to the same height as the inside leaf. But our wall style has the external wall componant told to stop 3c+plate short of the top.

There are 2 ways we can overcome this.
1. Create a 2nd near matching Wall Style that has the external componant defined only the plate height lower than top of wall. OR.

2. Simply add an aecMassElement as described in the previous article to the top of the external wall in the shape of the extended brickwork and add it as a body modifer.Which way you choose depends on any number of factors but the second method reduces the number of styles you need to maintain. If you have lots of walls with both situations then create another style. If it's only on a couple of sections then you can use the wall modifier. Reducing the number of styles makes it easier to maintain the drawing, especially if someone else starts working on it.

What do you do when it goes around a corner? Using ACA08 I put Mass Elements (ME's) on both walls and tried various options.

1. Merge the two ME's. Add to both walls (only delete the ME after the 2nd add. - I was surprised that it left a line where the ME joined the wall.
2. Add both ME's to both walls. - Left a line at the join again.
3. Mitred the ME's at their join and then added each on to it's own wall. As the mitre forms the cleanup normally undertaken by the wall, this gave a clean 'best on ground' finish. Boy manipulating ME's is easy in 08.

Of course these principals are good for many situations where you need to add extra 'bits'. We'll have a look at some of those next.

My Own Backyard

After that last link, I saw this photo in my own collection. Taken just around the corner here. Built to the old Architect's philosophy "tread lightly upon the earth".
Actually they were moving the house "just a jump to the left" er..right to subdivide the land. Something we do a lot here because we are so desperate for land (?). You know Australia has barely any land left! (I will keep my political views to myself).
Anyway's I thought to share the great shot. Look at that house sag !! ('deflect' for you engineers).
Best to ya.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Drunk Builders & Mad Architects

Picked this link off Shaan Hurley's web site. Brilliant diversion from the daily grind.

I think I have some others buried somewhere. Have to find and post them!

The Next Step in Walls 1.

Okay we have created our clever wall that results in a full section including wall plate & flooting with the drawing of just 1 line. But what happens when the bottom of the wall steps down? That's easy! just offset the bottom of wall (Click on wall, right click and roof/floorline). Do you want to step it gradually? - Just use the Edit-in-place option. Edit-In-Place is really one of the excellent tools that the ADT team added.

Remember when there were really big improvements being made!

Here you right click and add/remove vertices. It's a bit tricky but you can use polar & otracking to line things up quite easily. If you need to, draw a line in elevation before hand to snap your points to.
But the footing componant does not follow the step! Only the bottom-most step will have the footing. So we need to do some further work to add the missing portion of the footing.

There are two methods that I know of.

  1. Break the wall for each step position and you will find the footing appears at each step OR

  2. Add a mass element, modelled to the missing portion of the footing and add it to the wall as a body modifer (to the footing componant).

How? Glad you asked!

1. Break Command

The first one is simply done using the acad BREAK command which also works on walls. Break where each step occurs and then offset your wall as required. The cleanup rules will make the break invisible in plan view but you will now get vertical lines on your aecelevations though and have to deal with them. You can edit the elevation and delete the lines (preferred option) or you can tick the box to merge common materials but be aware that that I haven't found 'merge materials' very reliable. You will more than likely have to add back in linework that mysteriously goes missing. There is also some overlap of the footing missing so if you want the step to be accurate you would need to add portion of masselement as described in 2. below anyway but this way is quick and may do the job you need.
2. Model the Missing Footing (Preferred Option)

Create an aecMassElement (ME) the shape of the footing you want to add.

Step as required and finally for each length of wall, merge all the ME's together into one object so they become the one body modifier (unless you want to ckeep them separate). Select one ME & Right click, select boolean – union and select all.

TIP: If part of the ME has to blend with another wall that joins, you may want to keep the object for the next wall body modifier. Adding it to both walls can sometimes resolve issues at the corner.

Then right click on the wall and add the ME as a Body Modifer to the footing componant, deleting the ME after adding (tick box). You don't need any style for the ME, it's only a shape to add and the wall will retain the shape for future modification if the step or wall should change. If you need to alter the stepped footing, simply right click on the wall, select body modifier and edit in place, or even restore the ME to edit and add back to the wall again. This will give you an accurate model of the footing.

TIP: while the 'bottom' of the wall is actually the bottom of the footing, any of the higher steps will be the bottom of the wall itself minus the footing so you need to take this into account when creating your steps.

TIP : you can use this same technique for adding extended portions of the footing for attached piers, columns etc.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Wall the West wants Done.

Ok so the last tip wasn't specifically for the aussie market or for ADT for that matter. So how about a wall style. The following image shows a basic section thru a very typical Aus house. This section involves only 4 AEC objects to create. (The roof & ceiling are primative for what you can do in 07 with componant slabs).

First let's create a wall that has
a 90mm external leaf that steps down to the footing
(typically 2c or 172mm)
a cavity (typically 50mm wide)
a 90mm internal leaf that stops wall plate thickness from the top
a wall plate at the top based in a typical 70x35 pine plate.
a footing that will step down further if required (with qualifications which will be discussed in a later post).

Further options will be looked at such as
a dado brick, a framed wall componant as a composite external wall & a skirting componant. The interface can be overwhelming & frustrating but it has a lot of power if you get into it's head.

Start with a standard wall in your drawing. Right click on it and select "Copy Wall Style and Assign", and rename the new style as you wish.
I suggest “230BkCav+Ftg” or maybe “BkCav+Ftg230w”

Unlike the OOTB examples, this wall is intended to use baseline as it's setout point which is along the external face. In the US their setout is often to the external of the internal timber frame and the external brick face is just that, a 'Facing' that just 'fits on' afterward. Here in the West we look after our brickies and ensure that the external leaf meets brick sizes and everything flows from that. Apart from keeping the bricky happy, the brickwork is to module and a lot neater than having odd cuts. Just another reason why the OOTB styles don't quite work the way we would want them to.

Also if you want to get accurate quantities then do NOT include other componants in the wall style that brickwork (ie leave out the footing and wall plate). At this point the scheduling features cannot distinguish between them (that I know) but you could simply create another wall style for the footing.
Ok so let's get started

External Leaf, let's assume it's cavity brickwork.

Important Tip: Priorities are very important for your cleanups. Search “Wall Cleanups and Priorities ” in ACA. I choose to follow the OOTB but you will need to add some componants or reinterpret to understand the terminology.

In the wall style editor on the componant tab change the default componant name to Ext Bk (I shorten most names!)
Width is 90 - easy!

The bottom elevation needs to sit above the footing. As we are going to include the footing definition in this style we need to allow for the footing height. I am assuming a footing size of 450x300 which is typical here for a sandy site. So the bottom of the external leaf needs to sit 300 above the bottom of the aecWall. The top needs to be 3c plus the plate thickness DOWN from the wall top. 257+35mm = 292 (actually -292 as it's down).
With this wall selected (it's the only one) click on new componant (RHS) and it will assume the same settings for the next componant. Rename the next componant to Cavity.
Cavity is 50 wide.
Bottom is the same as external leaf (sitting on footing), top elevation is wall top.

TIP: Top of wall can be higher than the base height if the wall is extended to gable etc. Base height is the height shown in the properties tab.

Create another new componant.
Internal leaf sits on the slab or floor frame so set it's bottom elevation to baseline.
It's top elevation sits 35mm below the wall top.
Create another new componant. (Use this wall to create plate componant).
Wall Plate Bottom elevation is set at 35 below TOP of wall and top elev is set to Wall top. (Note: the plate will not follow a raking wall but there are ways of making it do so that I will show in a future article). The width is 20mm less than the wall it is sitting on. Lets assume it is placed central so the offset from the baseline is 90bk+50cav+ 10mm which is half of the 20 (90-70).
TIP: the order of creation is important when you create a special endcap as the order of creation of the “PLINES into endcaps” follows your componant list. So be wary of rearranging your componants if you have endcaps to apply other than standard.

Last we add the footing.

IMPORTANT TIP: The window will be placed in the centre of the widest componant so make sure that your footing is placed central otherwise in plan view you will find your windows mysteriously off centre to the wall.

The Footing needs to be set back from the baseline so we add an offset of ; The width is 450 so the offset is 450-230/2=110. The bottom elev is set at wall bottom and the top elev is set at 300 above the wall bottom. This allows us flexibility to offset the wall down to create stepped walls and the footing will follow (almost).

Now we have a complex wall that is adjustable in height. Set the height to ceiling course ht plus plate. The footing will only show correctly when the wall bottom is offset downwards. This cannot be set in the style but can be set in a tool pallette tool. If however you already have the wall in the drawing, if you right click on it and add selected, it will include the offset below the baseline. If not, to offset, you select the wall + right click and go to roof/floorline and modify floorline. Use the offset option and give it a – number to extend down (in this case typically -422).

We now have a typical wall style that when used gives us enough info to make a decent section as shown here and it's drawn with just 1 line. But be aware that the 'below cutplane' setting in the wall needs to be turned off so as to not see the footing in plan view. But this can also be used to make a footing & slab plan.

TIP: Setting materials in the material tab will help make things more automatic providing that you have the ByMaterial setting ticked but we will visit this important issue in another post.

Next : That's fine but how do I handle stepped footings, eaves/no eaves, raking walls and minor variations? How do I add a contrasting brick course, sills to windows, window surrounds? How do I add piers & holes? ................. to come..................stay tuned ............

Is this article helpful? Let me know!