Getting Started Special Interest Group March 2018


In this session, we looked at the basic concepts of 3D modeling, including working planes, the floating datum, 3D viewing, the extrude, the multiple extrude, the tapered extrude, the sweep, and simple solid modeling.

Topics covered:

00:29    We started the session by going over working planes, which are essential for working quickly in 3D. We set the working plane to the face of a 3D object in the file and drew a rectangle, rotating the objects in a 3D view to verify that they were on the same plane. We briefly reviewed the Layer Plane, the Working Plane, and the Screen Plane. We went over creating and saving working planes. Where you click when you save a working plane is quite important because it will be the center of the working plane; when you create other objects on that working plane, their insertion point will be in relation to the center of the working plane. I don’t save working planes so much these days because Vectorworks has the Automatic Working Plane.

09:03    Working planes are extremely useful. Using the Automatic Working Plane, I can create objects on different surfaces without going through the steps of saving working planes. We discussed using the G-key, or floating datum, in 3D modeling. When we hit the G-key, Vectorworks reset the X, Y, length, and angle to zero, allowing us to easily measure something from that point. The floating datum allowed us to make a perfectly sized object in relation to what we already had without offsetting or measuring.

15:01    We went over 3D viewing. The quick keys are “5” for top, “2” for front, “8” for back, “3” for right isometric, “1” for left isometric, and “0” for top/plan view. As you can see, having a keyboard with a separate numeric keyboard is essential for working in Vectorworks. Having a mouse with a scroll wheel is equally important—the scroll wheel and button grant quick access to the Zoom, Pan, and Flyover tools.

18:29    Next, we compared objects created on the screen plane, the layer plane, a top/plan view, and a working plane. The rules of creating extrusions is that they are always perpendicular to the plane of the object, always start at zero on the working plane, and can always be edited because they remember their original shape. Double clicking on the object allowed us to enter it and change it. You can always change it later as you get more information on what shape it should have.

26:38    I like working at the center of my design layer because it is easier to get the math right. Next, we looked at creating a multiple extrude, a shape that transitions from one shape to another. We put in a heliodon so that the changes would be more obvious. You can use the Send to Back or Send to Front commands to change your shape to the opposite of what it was. Checking the Allow ctrl-click in-place duplication option under Vectorworks preferences will allow you to just click in order to duplicate an object. Duplicating objects and making a series of modifications to them can gradually help you build up the 3D shapes that you want. Working with a planar shape in 3D allows you to take advantage of the instant Push/Pull Mode. Going through the steps to construct cafe table, we saw that you need to break up a 3D project into its parts, model each part, and then bring the parts together. We tried to get a multiple extrude that went from a circle to a square, but with limited success. Using a chamfer edge worked much better.

41:34    Next, we looked at the tapered extrude. It works with your original shape, the angle, and the height to quickly give you a tapered shape. The sweep is different from everything else that we had looked at—it takes an object and turns it around an axis. I find that sweeps are easier to do in a screen plane view. Double clicking on the object lets you see the original shape and to dramatically change the profile of your sweep. We used a 2D locus to turn the sweep into a donut! Pitch is another option that can help you alter the sweep to get the shape that you want—we got a water slide. We changed the shape to a cut-out rectangle to get a rubbish bin.

52:38    We ended the session by looking at Simple Solid Modeling. We used two 3D objects to discover how the Add Solids, Subtract Solids, and Intersect Solids affected them differently. These three techniques will allow you to make most of the objects that you’ll need.


Getting Started March 2018 am

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