3D Modeling Special Interest Group – November 2017

In this session, we covered importing a SketchUp chair into a Vectorworks file, discussed some of the changes to the Subdivision Modeling modes in Vectorworks 2018, and highlighted some stair tricks and tips, such as making a simple stair into a site modifier and quickly creating a custom stair.

Topics covered:

  • 00:24    We started off with the challenge of deciding what settings to use when importing a SketchUp object. We dragged and dropped a SketchUp desk chair into Vectorworks, which opened up the SketchUp Import Setting dialog box. There is the option of importing the SketchUp object as a Vectorworks mesh object or as groups of 3D polygons. Curious about the result, we chose the Groups of 3D Polygons setting. After importing one of these objects, you should always check its size and make sure that it’s the right scale. Using the G key to create a floating datum was helpful for checking its size. We went into the symbol and used Ctrl-K to change all of the component symbols into one group, while keeping the desk chair as a high-level symbol. We imported the same desk chair a second time—this time we chose to bring it in as a Vectorworks mesh object. We compared their file sizes; they were pretty comparable in size. We used the Simplify Mesh command to lower the number of meshes on our second import. It’s easy to go a bit too far—bits of the armrests disappeared! We saved about 1mb by simplifying the mesh. If you were using 100 of these chairs in a restaurant model, saving 1mb per chair might have an effect. Next, we tried to find a SketchUp chair with even more meshes—one that might give us some trouble. We dragged and dropped a chaise lounge into our Vectorworks file—it was 4.82mb. We went through the process of simplifying the mesh, but the file wasn’t reduced much.
  • 21:32    Next, we reviewed Subdivision Modeling because some of the modes have changed in Vectorworks 2018. Vectorworks has added functionality to the Split Mode and introduced the Add Edge and Remove Edge modes. Using mostly the Split Mode and finally the Mirror Mode, we turned a 3D cube into a curvy piece of furniture. Some 3D modeling tools are useful for other aspects of Vectorworks. For example, you might use the Simple Stair tool to create a concept stair for your landscaping space—the challenge is how to turn it into a site modifier. We used the Extract tool in Extract Surface Mode on the underside of the stair to create a polygon that could then be used as the site modifier for the stair. Another trick is turning a simple stair into a symbol. That way, after you duplicate the stair across your landscape, a change to the height of the symbol will change the heights of all the flights—you can even apply a texture to all of them at the same time! This is a really quick way to work up your site concept. Next, we decided to add railings to our landscape stairs. Having drawn a line in 2D for our path and added a circle for the tubing of our railing, we used the Extrude Along Path command to create basic but realistic railings to add some life to our concept drawing.
  • 44:15    Sometimes the Vectorworks stair tools won’t give you the shapes that you want. We wanted curved steps. Starting out by drawing the 2D arcs, we used the Inner Boundary Mode of the 2D Polygon tool to fill in-between the lines and create polygon shapes for the steps. The Create Objects from Shapes command allowed us to turn the 2D shapes into 3D objects. Then, all we had to do was to adjust the elevation of each step in order to have our stair with curved steps—voila!

3D Modeling November 2017 am
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