3D Modeling Special Interest Group – August 2018


In this session, we discussed how to handle a complex model—both principles and practical examples—and how to streamline symbol placement and insertion points.

Topics covered:

  • 00:02    In trying to build a complex model and wondering where to begin, I always break the model up into simple parts that I know how to make. Of course, the easiest object to work with in 3D modeling is the Extrude. So, I’ll begin by asking myself if the model parts can be constructed using that method. I look at the shapes from a plan view. Can they be made with extrusions? If not, I’ll look at the shapes from a front view—and then from a left and right view—each time asking the same question. Next, I’ll look at the model from each view and see if I could use a Multiple Extrude—or an Extrude Along Path, a Tapered Extrude, a Sweep, or a Surface Array. Almost always, a complex model will require more than one Extrude, so I then need to think about how the commands Add Solids, Subtract Solids, Intersect Solids, and Section Solids might help me get the shapes that I want.
  • 03:51    After our discussion on how to approach building complex models, we tried our hand at recreating some of the shapes needed for a Niemeyer cathedral. First, we used a Sweep to see if it would give us the right shape. Setting up for the Sweep command required using a few tricks and composing the parts of our sweep profile. Experience plays a big role in modeling. If I double click on the shape, Vectorworks opens a window where I can edit the original shapes. In the Niemeyer work, there were cuts in the sweep, so we had a go at bringing that look into our model, too. We extruded a swirly object that went right up through the model. Using the Circular Array command, we duplicated the shape around our sweep in a Top/Plan view. We experimented using the Subtract Solids command and then the Intersect Solids command. By several double-clicks, we could still go back and edit our original shapes. Modeling in Vectorworks is like working in a workshop where you start off with just a block of wood and, by lopping off a bit here and there, you finally reveal the shape hidden in the block. Fortunately, there’s often more than one way to get the result you want in Vectorworks!
  • 28:19    We demonstrated how to add columns that would support our roof surface. Rather than extruding circles up through our sweeping roof and then trying to cut the tops off to match the sweeping roof, we used the Project tool in Add Mode, which automatically makes the tops of the columns project up and match the roof perfectly. Next, we put a couple of square-off walls in our model and used the Fit Walls to Objects command to make the top of the walls match the roof. So, we learned that part of working with complex models is breaking them down into their simplest shapes, but another part is being familiar with the tools that Vectorworks provides.
  • 33:24    We finished the session by looking at symbol insertion points and placement. Opening a new file, we worked at troubleshooting symbols for a kitchen sink and tap. The insertion point hadn’t seemed to line up properly, but in our experiment it worked fine. However, we decided to use a 2D locus as the insertion point—checking the Master Snap Point and Show Master Snap Point Outside Snap Box options in the Object Info palette—and demonstrated the steps for adding the locus to the symbol. A 2D locus doesn’t appear on printouts, and the Master Snap Point allows you to line up the insertion point without having to zoom in. We discussed the differences between Assign Symbol Left Mode and the other modes for the Symbol tool. When creating symbols, always consider their placement, how you’re going to use them—if you need to offset them, using a 2D locus as a Master Snap Point really cuts down on time and frustration. Insertion points can make or break the usefulness of symbols.

3D Modeling August 2018

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