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Showing posts from 2010

Too many rendering engines for SketchUp?

While many people complain about the lack of integrated rendering inside SketchUp, there is no lack of options... From free till expensive, from simple to advanced (not necessarily in that order). So which rendering engines are available for SketchUp? Let's see... I think I have talked about it already.  > about Render[in] > about Octave > about Rendergin  > about Radiance  > about IDX > about Podium, IDX, Vue, Piranesi, Atlantis, VRay, Maxwell, FryRender, Indigo, Kerkythea, POV-Ray, LuxRender, Sunflow, iClone http://c

Render[in] : Radiosity rendering for SketchUp

Render[in] is currently in beta-testing till the end of December 2010 and during that time, you can freely request a serial number to test it. It works on Windows and OSX. Specifics: fully integrated (using native SketchUp features) radiosity in real-time (!) additional control advanced material settings sky & clouds & environment artificial light Info on

Netfabb Studio Basic and Pro, now also cross-platform

While I already mentioned Netfabb in an older post  I recently started using the Studio Basic free version for our Fabbing exercise. The Studio Basic version is limited but free. It is cross-platform, which wasn't the case when I first mentioned this software, IIRC. While I assume that Magics from Materialise is still the software king for STL repair, it comes at a cost and only works on Windows, so maybe you can give this software a try. The video below gives a very simple example of viewing and automatically repairing a 3D STL model from SketchUp, exported using a free script, from Simple STL repair using NetFabb Studio Basic from Stefan Boeykens on Vimeo . A fairly simple model, made in SketchUp 8 Pro using the Solid Tools and exported to STL using the su2stl.rb ruby-script. As you will see, this model has some (minor) issues; such as missing face and some open edges. The free version of NetFabb Studio Basic

Tgi3D : software for modeling from photographs

The software from Tgi3D ( ) allows you to use photographs, taken with regular cameras, to be used for the creation of 3D models. There are two products, each in two flavors: Tgi3D SU AMORPH is mainly a set of tools for advanced modeling in SketchUp. view locking > lock vertices in one view and still adjust them in other views generate mesh surfaces from points B├ęzier curves and generating surfaces from curves Smoothing of surfaces, to make them clean and naturally flowing Remeshing and upsampling, usable to make higher-resolution meshes from low-resolution models Model from cross-sections "Idealize" shapes, e.g. making near flat surfaces fully flat There is a free "Training Version" and a non-free full version. Tgi3D SU PHOTOSCAN adds photogrammetry tools to this. It is a standalone software, comparable to Photomodeller, where you mark points on different photographs, that are then used to calibrate camera settings and position

Flattery Papercraft Tools

When you want to translate your 3D Design into something flat, you can do it manually (selecting faces and rotating them step by step), or rely on automatic routines. This can be very useful for making a foldable form on paper or cardboard but also to prepare a 3D model for a lasercutter. Flattery Papercraft Tools is a plugin for Google SketchUp that promises to automate this. The video below gives a demonstration on the use of this script. While it is perfectly possible to do this without any plugin whatsoever, it is more convenient, as the plugin remembers edge connections (useful when adjusting the layout afterwards) and can do this with less clicks and with some visual feedback. Unfold SketchUp Model with Flattery script from Stefan Boeykens on Vimeo . This is a video-only demonstration of unfolding a SketchUp model with the free Flattery ruby-script (from You have to think forward to avo

Project Vasari : standalone Energy Simulation from Autodesk

On the Autodesk Labs, you can download Project Vasari , a standalone energy simulation software, which can be integrated with Revit (reading: it is Windows-only - vasari.exe is a Windows executable and it produces Revit 2011 files). It can be used for design analysis. Autodesk ®  Project Vasari is an easy-to-use, expressive design tool for creating building concepts. Vasari goes further, with integrated analysis for energy and carbon, providing design insight where the most important design decisions are made. And, when it’s time to move the design to production, simply bring your Vasari design data into the Autodesk ®  Revit ® platform for BIM, ensuring clear execution of design intent. Project Vasari is focused on conceptual building design using both geometric and parametric modeling. It supports performance-based design via integrated energy modeling and analysis features. This new technology preview is now available as a free download and trial on Autodesk Labs. This is a t

Graphisoft Virtual Building Explorer available for students

The Virtual Building Explorer (originally born as the Zermatt plugin) is an add-on to ArchiCAD to export the 3D Building Model into a realtime model to send to others, without requiring ArchiCAD. You can export the 3D Geometry into a standalone PC or Mac application and include a radiosity-like graphics style, which is not available in ArchiCAD itself. This software was recently updated to version 2 and from now on, educational users (students, teachers, schools) can use the software under the same conditions as the free educational version of ArchiCAD.

From Grasshopper to IFC -- or parametric control on BIM?

In line with some of my wishes on this blog , there is a nice plugin for Grasshopper to enable IFC export . Let me rephrase that, as I think it is quite significant . On the one hand, parametric and visual control over a design is increasingly being used in advanced design exploration. On the other hand, Building Information Modeling promises integrated management of information in a building project , beyond mere 3D geometry or drawing synchronization. And to be able to combine this into a single workflow is something big. This is indeed the beginning of exploring the full potential of IFC. Analysis tools focusing on getting the most out of IFC, while "parametricism" or generative/procedural/parametric/programmatic design can be used to embed design intentions and to enable design variations. Would this lead to architects creating series of designs? And to automatically connect them to both the full design documentation and design analysis? I do hope so. I assume t

Fix Reversed Faces in SketchUp

So what is the problem? When you make a model inside SketchUp, each face has a front and a back side. When you have the default material or no material applied, the front is beige and the back is light-blue. You should avoid to see any blue faces ever. While this doesn't present any problem inside SketchUp itself, it leads to seemingly missing faces in other software. E.g. when you export your SketchUp model into Artlantis, Cinema4D or Unity, they will ignore the back faces. How to solve it manually? Set the Face Style to "monochromatic", so colors and textures are hidden. Then you select any offensive blue face, right-click and reverse it. If there were materials applied, you have to switch them (front and back). How to solve it automatically? You can try a nice plugin for SketchUp to partially automate the reversed-faces problem you can easily get when using SketchUp. Info and download:  (free registration

Instant Scripts Architectural Tools for SketchUp

Instant Scripts are free scripts (with pro-versions available, moderately priced) for architectural modeling inside SketchUp, created by Vali Architects. Nice story too: after a long time working in AutoCAD and writing scripts in AutoLisp he currently has more fun in SketchUp, yet still tries to be productive. Instant Roof Instant Road Instant Site Grader Example of what you could create with the Instant Roof script:

BlendME : Blender Modeling Environment

BlendME (The Blender Modeling Environment) is an add-on for the Open Source Blender animation software, focusing on analysis software connectivity. You can use software such as Radiance or Energyplus from within Blender to perform daylight or energy analysis. The software is not available yet , but when it does it will be either commercial, either donation-ware. Some more info about BlendME on Blender3Darchitect  and on  BlenderNation . Daylight Analysis with Radiance : Energy Analysis with EnergyPlus :

The future of CAAD? Or at least my personal take on it

CAAD is not dead. But the word "Computer Aided Architectural Design" has been used for so many things, that it is hard to not have some kind of preoccupation with the meaning of it. While BIM is currently one of the most interesting approaches, it still is only a subpart of CAAD. Just like parametric design or semantic web can fit into it. But what I really wanted to share with you is a  wish list for the future of CAAD. Let us choose  any modeling approach and mix them in the amount we want Direct modeling, such as in SketchUp Parametric Modeling, with support for coding and graphical creation/editing, such as in Grasshopper or (to some extent) in Revit Start from measurements, e.g. pointclouds, surveyors data, geo-information, photographs... 2D drafting if you want Let us  work on ANY design phase and on ANY scale level  in the order we want in short (well, I did a PhD on that): we want to be able to elaborate rough models, but at the same time to be able to look a

CREO : new vision for MCAD?

While I don't often discuss Mechanical CAD (MCAD) software, as I'm mostly focusing on Architectural CAD, I want to share the link to CREO  and the discussion/description about it on . PTC owns Pro/Engineer and CoCreate (among others). Pro/Engineer once took the CAD world by force, by introducing several key concepts for CAD that are now common among the major players (e.g. feature based parametric modeling). And with the acquisition of CoCreate, they also had a direct-modeling approach available. If you have difficulties to understand the difference between feature-based and direct modeling , read my older post about it . What they now claim is a new vision that is as revolutionary as was the introduction of Pro/Engineer at the time. In short: they have a more modular approach to everything: choose your modeling concept (2D, 3D direct, 3D Parametric) a rendering module if you need one simulation module ... The former separate products do not exist anymore,

Some freebies for video from Zach Poff

If you work with video, from webcams, video cameras or rendered, there are several complex manipulations that can be made a bit easier with some of the free utilities for realtime video editing. The website of artist and developer Zach Poff  has some free applications for download. They are Open Source, but are made in MAX/MSP, which is the commercial counterpart of Puredata. And the applications are only compiled for Mac OSX. Some of the things he presents: Live Video Delay: view your video frames with a delay Chroma Key Live: see a rough estimate of the effect of filming against green (or blue or purple) screen, live Multiscreener: synchronize the playback of movies on different computers Video Trigger: trigger sounds when something happens on certain parts of a video capture ... Some of these functionality could be done in other systems, obviously, but having it in a precompiled utility will make it easier if one of his programs already does what you need. E.g. video instal

The blog of Daniel Shiffman

As I have been introducing my students to Processing last week, I thought it would be nice to present the blog of Daniel Shiffman , who has created an abundance of learning material and libraries for Processing. He is also the author of Learning Processing :

Insight3D : Open Source modeling from photographs

Insight3D is an Open Source (Windows+Linux) photogrammetry application. It allows you to generate points from a series of photographs of the same object. The software generates a point cloud from coordinates that are found to be matching between the images. It also includes basis modeling tools to create polygons on which the images can be projected. (with thanks to )

AutoCAD for Mac available (for students)

Today, I got a notice that the Mac version of AutoCAD is available from  Autodesk Educational Community > Mac4students . Downloaded, installed and activated in about 5 minutes. It does give a special feeling to not have to launch Parallels to open and edit DWG files with AutoCAD in Windows. And it works nice and smooth, which (unfortunately) was not the case with some competing CAD packages making the switch to OSX.

Sintel : the Durian Open Movie Project is released

“ Sintel ” is an independently produced short film, initiated by the Blender Foundation as a means to further improve and validate the free/open source 3D creation suite Blender . With initial funding provided by 1000s of donations via the internet community, it has again proven to be a viable development model for both open 3D technology as for independent animation film. This 15 minute film has been realized in the studio of the Amsterdam Blender Institute, by an international team of artists and developers. In addition to that, several crucial technical and creative targets have been realized online, by developers and artists and teams all over the world. After " Elephants Dream " and " Big Buck Bunny ", this is the third Open Movie, organized around the promotion and further technological improvement of the full Open Source workflow around the creation of a movie project. The main animation software, Blender, is Open Source, cross-platform and more and more up

Open BIM Roadshow : some thoughts on collaboration with BIM

Yesterday, I went to the Open BIM Roadshow seminar, organized by Kubus (ArchiCAD dealer for The Netherlands and the Flemish part of Belgium) in collaboration with local ArchiCAD dealer FocusIT and Construsoft (Tekla dealer). At this event, we first saw a general overview of ArchiCAD (Building Information Modeling for Architectural Design) and Tekla Structures ("BIM" for construction design). While I assume the audience of this blog to know what ArchiCAD is about, they might not be familiar with Tekla Structures. At least, I wasn't and it was good to see how this system is targeting the design of Steel and Concrete structures using similar methods as what we are used to in Architectural BIM software, such as ArchiCAD or Revit. Tekla - Construction Modeling for engineers In Tekla, you create a full 3D model of beams, columns, foundations, floor slabs up to the details of connections and fastenings. Everything is parametric and stays editable. While the interface is

Babel3D : free online model translation process

At  you can upload 3D models to be translated into a few (selected) other formats. Online and free. Babel3D is an online 3D file translation service. The input for translation to Babel3D can be an Autodesk 3DS, DXF, DWG, Rhino 3DM, SketchUp SKP, STEP, IGES or OBJ file. These files can be translated into the 3DS, OBJ and XAML 3D formats. Additionally, Babel3D also allows you to convert DXF and DWG files to 2D PDF format. Beware that no info is given on the precise version numbers of the formats, so it is not clear if the systems handles DWG 2010-format files (created in AutoCAD 2010 or 2011). SketchUp format is release 7, not 8.

Octane Render (GPU based rendering)

The Belgian/New Zealand team at  Refractive Software  created the "Octane Render" system. This is a GPU (graphics card) based rendering system, using physically based algorithms for realistic and fast lighting calculation. It relies on CUDA support, which requires a fairly recent nVidia card to be installed in your computer. It is not-free, but cross-platform and the current beta-license is reasonably cheap (€99). There are already plugins for Maya, 3ds Max and Blender and support for SketchUp and Cinema4D is in preparation. You can load Wavefront *.obj models or RenderMan *.rib scenes. I've tried using it on my Macbook Pro. You need to first install the nVidia CUDA drivers and CUDA toolkit and then the Octane software. I actually did it in reverse order, but managed to get it running. Then you can load one of the example scenes or try to load one of your own models (e.g. export an OBJ file from your modeling software). As it did seem to work, the speed was not that

netfabb Studio Basic - free software for fabrication

netfabb Studio Basic is a free version of netfabb Studio Professional, which offers support for fabrication from digital files, focusing on mesh reparation and analysis. It can work with STL files and has a basic set of features. The full Professional version has more advanced repair and manipulation options available. A comparison of the features between both applications is found on

Technically Advanced Construction course in Milano (Italy)

I was notified about an interesting course in Italy which focuses on "Multi-Performative Skin". TAC Technically Advanced Construction   is a new postgraduate course for graduates and professionals established by the Department of Building Environment Science and Technology (BEST), Politecnico di Milano. It will run for three months and will allow participants to achieve high levels of knowledge in the design-to-production process through the use of advanced digital tools for design and machines for the creation of physical models. Some practical details (due to schedule adjustments, the course dates have been changed!): The course will start on April 4, 2011 and will end on July 9, 2011 (daily attendance). Registration are open until March 14, 2011.   Info on the TAC homepage at POLIMI . Comments about the schedule adjustment: The features of the course will remain unchanged, except for the introduction of some post-course internships: at the end of the course, the best

Sculptris free modeller

One of the employees of Pixologic, makers of ZBrush sculptural modeling software, has released a personal project of his for free. Sculptris is a small, Windows-only modelling application which you can use for free. Not sure how he sees the future of it, but nothing prevents you from trying it out.

Unity3 is released - some thoughts on architectural realtime visualization

The new release of Unity3D is available now. Unity3D is a full game-creation system which you can combine with (almost) any modeling software. You use it as your main game management system, where you import models and textures (assets), create scripts for all interaction and directly assemble game scenes or levels. It is cross-platform (Windows and OSX) and allows you to make games for Windows, OSX (even if you have the "other" platform only), for a web-browser and with separate licenses for the creation of games for Android, Wii, XBox and iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad), if I'm not mistaken. Some thoughts about Unity3D in general Nice highlights for me: realtime physics prefabs for basic camera navigation easy environment skies directly interact with your game in the Unity editor reasonably straightforward scripting (although I have learned a few things from the Game Development Essentials book as well). We have used it last year in our CAAD classes to learn : watch out if you manage a classroom

As reported earlier , the Autodesk Education Community provides free licenses for students. However, if you are a school which uses Autodesk software for teaching, you have to buy a classroom license, which is not free, but, considering the amount of software you got, is priced fairly low (about €1.000 for 10 licenses for a suite with most Autodesk software included). So far, nothing special, you would think. Unless you start to mix things. The EULA for the student version only allows (apart from the obvious non-commercial) this for work at home only and not for the classroom sessions . It is primarily meant to ensure classrooms will buy a lab-license on their computers. We had a rather heavy discussion in a meeting with CAD teachers yesterday, where this seemed really problematic. Everybody assumed that they had bought a sufficient amount of licenses, while the educational responsible for Autodesk seemed to suggest we needed to buy additional licenses. Why am I not surprised?

Free image library from

The team at has worked on a royalty-free Image Library, which you can freely use in your projects. As long as you respect the end user license (e.g. not redistributing the images themselves nor mass-downloading nor blocking the advertisements), you can use them in your creative work. Info at .

Free 2D CAD : some (updated) options

DraftSight , on which I already reported, has now been released for OSX as well as Windows. And a Linux version should be coming. This is free 2D CAD, but not Open Source. It's based on the ARES Commander software from Graebert, but only 2D. I loaded an old AutoCAD drawing and found the interface not too snappy. And frankly, while AutoCAD r13 or r14 was a good program, it has evolved. As a "copy" of an old AutoCAD 2D CAD program, I wonder why they don't try to do something original themselves. Draftsight reads DWG files, uses them as native format, and allows export of a drawing into SVG, PDF, bitmaps and, wait, STL? What? A 3D format to be exported from a 2D file? What were they thinking? Well, the STL export did not work due to missing components. And exporting the drawing into SVG crashed the application... Damn. Well, the SVG could be loaded into Inkscape, luckily, but then it was slow as hell. And the

Some interesting (German) VectorWorks video-tutorials

From the Design Express Website (the VectorWorks & Cinema4D dealer for Belgium & the Netherlands) we found a nice list of 7 video-tutorials for VectorWorks. They are in German, but were clear to understand. Panton Chair BIM & Freeform modeling Tower based on Gehry Design Niche from a partial sphere Thiais Bus Center (Paris) Meier's Jubilee church (Rome) Freeform bench

ArchiCAD educational portal updated

When you go to you can register for a free download of ArchiCAD (as a trial, as a student, as a teacher and as a classroom version). The software is the "real" thing, but with banners on the output for the educational versions. Apart from ArchiCAD, you also get access to additional add-ons, such as EcoDesigner, MEP Modeller and many of the popular plugins. You can also register for Artlantis from there and there is a large collection of learning material as well.

Autodesk Student portal updated

The recently updated Autodesk Student Portal ( ) now hosts more software then ever (e.g. Revit, AutoCAD, 3ds Max, Maya, Ecotext and many others) and the license terms have been extended from 13 months to 3 years for most of the applications. AutoCAD displays a banner on all printed material, but is otherwise complete and compatible. The Mac version should also become available "soon". You can also try other of their flagship software, such as Inventor, Softimage, MotionBuilder or Mudbox if you are interested.

VectorWorks for students

If you register (and qualify as as student) at you can download and activate VectorWorks as an educational version. The student version is always the "previous" version. Will very soon be r2010 when r2011 is released. Now only r2009 is available. (edit: according to the comments, it seems that the most recent 2011 version should be available for students soon) It is free and available for OSX and Windows. The student version has a visible banner on all output. When your school has a lab-license, this allows you to print without banners. The software is fully functional and additional modules such as RenderWorks are included. The software has come a long way since the old "MiniCAD" I used in architectural practice. But despite that, I'm not still not fully convinced on the 3D interface. But even then, I did create some very usable 3D scenes even with the "first" VectorWorks version, so it can only be better than what i

Numenus Rendergin : GPU rendering free beta

You can freely download and use a beta-version of Rendergin from the German Numenus . It is a standalone rendering application with primary attention to render complex and large models using your GPU, even with "low end" GPUs (be sure to read the requirements to understand what they mean by that). They specifically target NURBS models without triangulation, but support other geometry as well. The list of supported applications includes 3ds Max, SketchUp, Blender and Cinema4D (and several others). Go to to download the installer. Windows and OSX are supported and a Linux version can be requested. During the beta, you can use it in trial mode and request an unlock code, which will be freely provided until the software is officially released.

BricsCAD for Linux now officially released

The Bricsys team now officially announced the availability of BricsCAD for Linux . This is a native Linux version, using wxWidgets toolkit to get a native Linux GUI and using to a large extent identical code as the Windows-version of BricsCAD. There aren't many options for DWG editing on Linux so this is a really welcomed addition to CAD on Linux. A large part of BricsCAD is available (programming in Lisp, Diesel, making add-ons in C++, modeling in 2D and 3D, etc...) but some features are just too connected to the Windows-platform (VBA and .NET scripting, OLE, ActiveX controls etc...). It is closed-source and commercial, but at a highly attractive price compared to AutoCAD. I've seen the presentations on the Developers Conference in Ghent this year and they explained their attention to quality control and stability and also how the Lisp Engine is much more performing than on Windows. If anybody has any experience with the Linux version, please react. How responsive is it wi

Some resources from the BIM Breakfast

On the 1st of September, researchers from the Netherlands organized a "BIM Breakfast". I wasn't able to attend, but they shared some videos and materials online at The BIM Server is an Open Source, Java-based implementation of an online server for IFC files. This can be used for shared hosting of project data between building partners, such as architects, engineers and contractors. To visualize IFC files, they use the Google O3D plugin, which can be used directly inside the browser. The IFC Engine is also used, but that is Windows-only.

SketchUp 8 released

Just when you would think that Google forgot about further developing SketchUp, they release a new update. Version 8 boasts some improvements (welcomed), but nothing as revolutionary as in the early days, when e.g. "slices" were introduced. [Pro Only] "real" solid operations are nice. There was already the "intersect" option, but that left the cleanup work still to be done. Now you can do a proper Boolean union, subtract and intersect and also a trim and split option is available. [Pro Only] Layout has been improved with better dimensioning, more accurate moving operations and better control over linestyles such as dashed lines. Better geo-location options, using Google Maps. Now you can do all the work inside SketchUp, which is really nice (and a good thing for Google). You choose a section of a map and directly load it into SketchUp. You get a more accurate result than before and the terrain model you get is now also in color (it used to be in greys

AutoCAD for Mac : some thoughts

OK. Everybody is talking about it. Many people have been requesting this for over 10 years now. And now Autodesk finally announced the imminent release of the mac-version of their still popular AutoCAD drafting and modeling software. What it is and what it does, you can read on countless other places. E.g. What it means to architects and education, is something I want to comment on. AutoCAD is a generic application. Many architects and engineers use it. You have to deal with DWG files even if you use other software. Offices working on Mac had to use other software (VectorWorks, ArchiCAD, ARES, eDrawings, soon BricsCAD) to load and inspect DWG files on a Mac. Or install Windows in either bootcamp or Parallels and install regular AutoCAD or a competing software. So there is now an (additional) option to load, inspect, ed

Cinema4D R12 released

The new release (12 already) of Cinema4D restructures the different editions and promises more advanced rendering and character animation (among others). A comparison between the different editions can be found on . Notable improvements for architectural visualization include support for real-world units (important when working with CAD models and realistic light falloff), photometric data (IES lights), color temperature support, white balance correction for camera. For animation, improved Dynamics, Deformations and Character Animation seem to be the biggest features. For Architects and Designers, the "Visualize" or "Studio" versions seem most appropriate. That said, the "Prime" version (the cheapest one) seems OK to get started (with Ambient Occlusion supported, but not Global Illumination). Not free, not Open Source, but cross-platform (Win+OSX) and 64-bit s

Getting along with Grasshopper on a mac

I have slowly began to learn Grasshopper (and Rhino with it). But as a Mac user, it is a bit cumbersome to launch Parallels and wait several minutes before the whole systems is operational and responsive. Once it it fully launched, it is workable. But I have a conceptual issue with Grasshopper. I am experienced with programming in code (C++, php, Java, VBA and a tiny bit of Ruby and Python). There are so many things that I can easily write in a one or two lines of code that take a lot of nodes in Grasshopper to do so. And the whole thing becomes a mess... But replacing this with a scripted node will make the whole thing hardly legible. I guess I need more practice: e.g. learn how to use the remote control, to put independent groups of nodes apart, so they don't overlap. I also try to use groups, but did not find how to ungroup or how to add new nodes into an existing group. And I still don't get how to combine several nodes into a smaller unit, to make it more reusable. Now

PixelLight Open Source graphics engine

On you can find an Open Source cross-platform (Windows+Linux) programming library that combines C++ and OpenGL into a complete framework for graphics applications, such as visualization and games. Not that there aren't any of those engines available, but the best ones are not free nor Open Source, so this could be an option.

vSwarm : Free Render Farm

Taking Open Source concepts and Cloud computing together, vSwarm is promising a free-to-access Render Farm. Currently they target the Blender and LuxRender software. You can do mainly two things to participate: use the Render Farm to process your renderings install a Client software to contribute CPU power to the farm (you'll need to install a VMWare-powered client system, which is currently only available for Windows, but Linux and OSX support are planned). More info on

ARES Commander Edition : CAD for Windows, OSX and Linux

Graebert ( ) is a CAD Developer who have released their ARES Commander Edition software for the three major platforms: Windows, OSX and Linux (in beta). It uses the Qt toolkit to make their GUI (and probably some other aspects) work on all platforms. The software is generic CAD, with 2D drafting and 3D Modeling features, such as reference files, ACIS solid modeling, programming (Lisp, C++, ARX-like, DRX), plotting/layouts, ... Some Windows-specific features (ActiveX, OLE, COM, VSTA) are obviously not supported in the OSX and Linux versions. Compatible with DWG files and similar commands to AutoCAD. It is commercial software, but currently, the introductory price is about €500 till the end of September 2010. There is a free trial version, which does not print or save, unless you register it and then it is a time-limited watermarked demo.

WeaverBird : topological transformations for Grasshopper

WeaverBird 0.3 is the new alpha plug-in for topological transformations in Rhino 4.0 and Grasshopper 0.6.0059. A new build is now available for Grasshopper 0.7.0030. It helps smoothing, modifying and preparing meshes for rapid manufacturing technologies.

Developing Processing applets on an iPad or Android?

Just when you thought everything is getting tied into specific platforms, someone started to let the JavaScript version of Processing work on some of the current "hot" devices, such as the iPad and the Android. Programming on a computer for a handheld device suddenly seems cumbersome. (with thanks to Andrea Graziano from whom I read about this)

Tying Grasshopper to Excel

If you go to , you can download some Visual Basic components which can be used to link Excel to Grasshopper more efficiently. These vb Components for Grasshopper, adapted from work by Damian Alamar of , allows for the streaming in and out of data from Excel to Grasshopper with parametric control of not only data placement but also general formatting. If you are a Mac user, it is a bit frightening to hear that the connection of these technologies is tied to a particular platform: Rhino for Windows (Mac version is evolving nicely), Grasshopper to .NET (Mono might be an option, but only after Rhino 5 for Windows is ready will they look at it seriously) and then VBscript, which is also tied to Microsoft libraries.

GrabCAD : free online sharing of engineering CAD models

Maybe not directly usable by architects, this online sharing platform aims to become a community where engineers can freely share CAD models with other engineers, regardless of platform and filetype.

GECO : Grasshopper to Ecotect

A free plugin for Rhino and Grasshopper allows the exchange of Grasshopper-powered Rhino models with Autodesk Ecotect, an energy and building performance analysis software, targeted at early design evaluation. Read about it on: When going over to the actual blog where the software is shared ( ) you can read that the software is shared with a Creative Commons license (CC-NC-BY-SA). So free to use and share, but only non-commercial and shared under the same license.

Export your blog as a PDF book

Through the web service, you can create a full PDF book from your blog (if powered by Wordpress, Blogger or LiveJournal. Without reading the details, it seems like the Atom export you can create is managed and formatted into LaTeX sources and rendered into PDF. At least, from the looks of the pages, it screams LaTeX. This brings back memories of my PhD , which was also created in that system. It is nice to know that, so far, I have produced a book of almost 100 pages, with this blog (including TOC and title page). Not directly fit for publishing, though. There is no need to present you the link for the PDF as the web-service erases everything afterwards. Should you really want the PDF, contact me.

Autodesk Home Styler

The free online Autodesk Homestyler is currently in beta on . It works directly inside the browser and requires the Flash Player to be installed. It is simple enough to use directly and, frankly, is faster for a quick and simple modeling of your current room than typical CAD and BIM software. You can drag and drop colors, textures, furniture etc and the dimension features are basic but usable (and you can use metric units too! not bad for a US application). I just tried to recreate our office room on my Mac, browsing in Safari and had no problems whatsoever. However, as indicated by the "beta" sign, there are still issues to resolve. So far I had following strange behaviors: inserting a wall extension into a wall that had a window created a strange corner in the wall and it was not properly aligned anymore; the generic table is stretchable (nice) but can not be stretched wide enough for our office tables; placing four sofas around a coffee table wa

Plastic Animation Paper : 2D animation now free

As announced on , the Windows-only "Plastic Animation Paper (PAP)" has become free. It was originally an in-house custom tool for the creation of traditional hand-drawn (read: tablet) animation which could then be coloured and composited in other software. The creators have decided to make the latest version of the software free, no strings attached. This is not related to 3D or CAD but is purely a digital approach to the traditional cartoon animation by hand. You would need to use a tablet and spend time configuring a custom interface to have it work optimally.

From point clouds to Geometry with AutoCAD 2011

As mentioned on the "Between the Lines" blog, you can add the possibility to AutoCAD (2011 only) to generate geometry from point-clouds, which are typically created using Laser scanning equipment.


DIVA (short for Design Iterate Validate Adapt) is a plugin for Rhinoceros3D to assist with design evaluation for sustainability. It is only working for the Windows-version of Rhino and uses Radiance/Daysim for all evaluation tasks. DIVA-FOR-RHINO consists of a series of compiled RHINO and native GRASSHOPPER scripts that are accessible within the RHINOCEROS NURBS for Windows modeler via a dedicated toolbar. DIVA-FOR-RHINO uses the following third party software: Radiance ( ) Evalglare ( ) GenCumulativeSky (developed by Darren Robinson at EPFL ) Daysim ( )

Free video tutorials for Rhino & Digital Project

This is a nice collection of video tutorials for Rhinoceros3D and for Digital Project. As much as I like to create our CAAD tutorials myself, there is only so much time and I have realized that it is worthwhile to focus on the topics that you know best and only create new tutorials when needed: When you want to have the foundation level clear for your classes. When you focus on a particular subject, e.g. how to go from Application X to Application Z to get to a particular result Most other themes and topics are adequately explained in the product documentation, help files, online tutorials and, not to underestimate, have already been created by other teachers. So I tend to link more to external educational content and do not have any objection that other people link to our course material. But to be fair, ensure that you link to the content rather than copy it verbatim. That is the only correct way of paying tribute to the


RhinoBIM is a Ning community focusing on extending Rhino with BIM features: Currently, they have a structural-oriented extension available as "Work-In-Progress" for registered members of the community. RhinoBIM is a suite of a number of planned plug-ins to enhance Rhino 5.0 for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction Industries. Developed by Virtual Build Technologies LLC, the first module now available is called RhinoBIM Structure, for 3D structure modeling, Clash & Clear analysis and structural analysis. [...] The first tool of the RhinoBIM suite of products has been released as a Work-In-progress (WIP). You must be signed up as a member of RhinoBIM in order to download the WIP and give it a test drive.

Some thoughts on Modeling approaches

In CAD software, different approaches to modeling are used. Most successful MCAD systems follow the feature-based approach, e.g. CATIA, Pro/Engineer, Inventor, SolidWorks, SolidEdge. In these systems, you define the complete modeling (design) history of a model or assembly of parts, by starting from a basic sketch (often 2D), which is constrained and made parametric and which is used for 3D model generation (extrusions, sweeps etc...). Further manipulations include blending, fusing and making holes. To change anything to the final product requires making changes in the history, but as long as the whole chain of events is maintained, it can be easily controlled with a chosen set of parameters. From a CAD/modeling point-of-view, explicit modeling is an interesting approach. After the strong rise of the fully-parametric history-based modeling with features, people started to understand some of the limitations: to make minor adjustments, you have to dive into the modeling history tree

CoCreate Modeling Personal Edition 3.0

PTC, one of the larger CAD developers worldwide, announced a new version of their entry-level CoCreate Modeling software, as a personal edition. Info on: This is a free, Windows-only, version of their commercial modeling tool. There are some limitations ( as explained in a PDF document ): You can model and create assemblies, but the maximum amount of parts is limited to 60. This practically limits its use in a commercial, real-world scenario, but does not prevent learning. Some more complex "explicit" modeling features are missing, such as "features on-the-fly", complex blends, direct editing with section planes. No sheet metal parts module included is a new plug-in, combining Rhinoceros3D and Cinema4D is released. It allows you to transfer models from Rhino to Cinema4D and also update model changes into the Cinema4D scene, even with textures and materials and other visualization techniques applied. As an improvement of the workflow, this is quite powerful. You can use the NURBS modeling from Rhino and retain the adaptibility of the model. I imagine that it would also allow the Grasshopper generated geometry to be properly rendered, while still staying adjustable. From the "feature list": One important aspect, is the update feature: if you have already imported the 3dm file once, and if you change something in Rhino. you can update the file in CINEMA 4D, without the need to load the file new. simply use the merge command, and will automatically detect the updated parts and only import them.all materials that have been applied, and no work or changes that have already be done in CINEMA 4D will be lost.