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Showing posts from January, 2011

Getting from SketchUp to Unity with shadows and lighting

The following short (and silent - for now) videos present a full overview of getting a model from SketchUp into Unity3D. It uses the demo-version of the LightUp plug-in for SketchUp, which is fully functional (for a while). This works with the free and the Pro versions of Unity and SketchUp, on Windows and OSX. The model in SketchUp and lighting it with LightUp LightUp 4 SketchUp (1) Inside SketchUp from Stefan Boeykens on Vimeo . This video describes how to lighten a SketchUp model with the LightUp plugin. I'm using the demo version of LightUp (v1.1) inside SketchUp 8 Pro for OSX. Transferring the SketchUp model into Unity using FBX format LightUp 4 SketchUp (2) Export FBX for Unity from Stefan Boeykens on Vimeo . To get a SketchUp model, baked with Lightup, into Unity3D, you can use the integrated FBX exporter. This also works in the free version of SketchUp, which does not support FBX. The integrated FBX exporter includes the baked lightmap and the secondary UV c

Archmedium Design Competition

While I don't usually blog about events, sometimes people just ask, politely, if their event can be announced on the blog. If you think it is inappropriate, please tell me... To the responsible of CAD & 3D, My name is Guillermo Carone and I’m getting in touch with you as the responsible of the architecture website .  ArchMedium is a venture dedicated to the organization of architecture competitions for students with the collaboration of the Polytechnic University of Catalunya and the Architecture School of Barcelona.   Our goal is to offer future architects the opportunity to get familiar with these kind of events and create at the same time an international meeting point were students from different countries and cultures can show their projects, enriching the learning process of all the community. We have recently launched a new competition called “New York Theater City” and we will like to ask for your collaboration in promoting the event. We believe t

Zonematic : ArchiCAD add-on for generating zones

The M.A.D. Zonematic add-on for ArchiCAD , allows you to generate a series of ArchiCAD Zone objects from a text input file. This is something you could use in the preparing phase for an architectural project, where the required building program is being translated in spaces with certain dimensions. The add-on generates color-coded zone objects, with which you can start to assemble a first building layout.


At  you can download a structural design software which you can use for the creation of "form-active" structures. There is a free Light version and a non-free professional version. Both are only supported on Windows. Additionally, they software also presents a project-search system, where you can look for other designs that people have shared.

iStructural : web based structural engineering software

At  you can check out a structural engineering software that is completely web-based and runs on most computers and operating systems. It has free and non-free account types and provides different systems. Check out the demo to see if this fits your needs (which can not save and has fixed values). Beware that most examples use US units, but you can define a project with SI if you want. The demo has two main example calculations with which you can play around.

Design Patterns for Parametric Modeling

While you might have heard about the " Design Patterns " for software programming, as made famous by the book " Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software ", that have been inspired by the work from Christopher Alexander on the Pattern Language , there is other related work that might be interesting for architectural designers using digital tools. At first we have the " Elements of Parametric Design ", which has Design Patterns for parametric modeling on the site, lead by Prof. Woodburry, where the patterns are illustrated with implementations using Bentley Generative Components . This is a tremendous and free resource for the 14 patterns that have been identified. More recently, at  they have been mostly translated for Grasshopper . And based on the previous sites, the Buildz blog mentions the porting of a subset of these patterns implemented using Revit and Pro

Panda3D : free Open Source game engine

The Open Source Panda3D game engine can be used to create C++ and Python games. The latest version has support to generate a webplayer and some advanced shader techniques (shadows, Screen Space Ambient Occlusion and geometry shaders). Disney uses this engine for the Pirates of the Caribbean web games, so I guess that it has more then enough features if you push it hard enough.

Some interesting Unity3D packages from Forest Johnson

At  you can find some (older) Unity Packages by Forest Johnson for Unity3D, the cross-platform game engine. I did manage to get the following examples to run on my free version on OSX: the lightmapper . With some effort and slight adjustments to the scripts, the demo ran. It creates a shadow map as a texture which is calculated when the game starts. While the new Unity3D 3.x has the Autodesk BEAST lightmapper included, this approach might come in handy as it shows an approach to avoid the lack of "Render to texture" from the Pro version. The real time raytracer did actually work quite well, although the image is rather crude. Imagine real-time raytraced reflections in your model. Might require some hacking to have it work more easily in custom projects, but the source is remarkably short as the lion's share of work is using the built-in raycast feature from Unity itself. Real-time SSAO or " scr

Rhino SDK goes Open Source : OpenNURBS, RhinoCommon and RhinoPython

If you are interested in McNeel Rhino, than you might like the following announcement: Rhino SDK goes open source (as read on ) While Rhino itself is a closed-source commercial application, the SDK are getting more open and provide flexible options to turn Rhino into your own customized CAD environment. OpenNURBS is the toolkit to read and write native Rhino 3DM files. If you want to exchange NURBS-based models, this is a good possibility. It is not a 3D engine or a graphical system in itself, but can be used as a part of such an application. RhinoCommon is the cross-platform SDK to extend Rhino. This allows you to extend the Rhino software with new features. RhinoPython is a Python scripting support layer to extend Rhino with Python scripts. It is quite similar as the older RhinoScript layer, which uses VBscript, but this Python layer does work on OSX as well. and then there is the .NET UI , Windows.Forms and M

iCADMac : OSX version of progeCAD

As announced on , the Italian developer progeSOFT released iCADMac , which is a version of progeCAD to OSX. According to , this is a branded version of ARES from Graebert. I don't really like the name of the product, but do try it out if you are looking for an alternative drawing software on OSX. I don't fully agree with their wordings of it being the "first real AutoCAD alternative for the Apple Mac OSX", since I already talked about other offerings, such as DraftSight, CADUntu and ARES and even AutoCAD itself . That said, competition is welcomed and while VectorWorks and ArchiCAD and AutoCAD are the "big" applications on OSX to beat, there is room for more. (edited: with link to for more info)

Qt SDK 1.1

While working on my PhD, I got to know the Qt software developers kit from (then) Trolltech. Nowadays, the Qt SDK is property of Nokia and is available under both a commercial and a LGPL license. The older free GPL license did not allow people to develop non-free software using the free version of the libraries. The idea is still the same: in an abstracted fashion, you can develop applications, by writing them once and compiling them on different platforms. At the time I used it, I did manage to compile my proof-of-concept on Windows, Linux and OSX, with very little platform-specific lines of code. The newest release of the SDK is a merger of the former desktop-oriented and the mobile SDK's, meaning that a single SDK allows you to target Windows, OSX and Linux computers, but also a wide range of mobile devices. The released version is a technology preview, which means it is deemed rather complete, b

Yorik's Site

At " Yorik's Site " you can read more about the architectural works of Yorik. Apart from professional services, information is shared, such as models, renderings and some techniques. Many projects can be downloaded as PDF files and as Blender models, "for your remixing pleasure", as stated on the site. Nice touch and quite uncommon for architects. E.g. see following picture from

First post in the new year

While I have been busy, this blog was suffering a bit. Now I can honestly say that between writing papers, project proposals and preparing classes for the next semester, while still having to grade the submissions from last semester, little time was left for spreading news. Well, there will be some more news in the coming days and weeks.