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Showing posts from September, 2010

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