Friday, July 30, 2010

Short Sharp Training (Monthly) - August 2010 Lighting and Rendering in Vectorworks

I think rendering is one the really fun parts of Vectorworks. It can really look like your building is coming to life, but without good lighting, all your work can be wasted. Good lighting can even make a dull model come to life.

This webinar will work though the rendering options and show you when each one should be used. Then we will look at the lighting options and see when we should be using each type. Finally we will look at a couple models and look at applying the lighting and rendering to get the best results. 
Presentation 60 minutes. Q&A about 15 min.
If you are a subscriber, book your session from the links below, no cost for these webinars for subscribers
Session 1  Monday, August 16, 2010, Time: 4:30PM - 5:30 PM NZST Register :

Session 2  Wednesday, August 18 , 2010, Time: 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM NZST Register

Session 3  Friday, August 20, 2010, Time: 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM NZST  Register :

Newsletter from Chris Brogan

There are a few business people that I listen to. Chris Brogan is one of then. I like his books, blogs and newsletters. He has started a new newsletter focusing on personal development:

Personal development. Small business development.
Sometimes it'll be marketing. Other times, it'll be ideas to improve your day. It'll be a mix.
If that's exciting to you, I'm inviting you to sign up to my new newsletter:

- Posted using BlogPress

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Viewing PDF files on iPad

I am getting closer to getting movies into my ebooks. I have successfully linked the movies in my monthly user group manuals.

To get the PDF files onto you iPad or iPhone, you use iTunes. Drag the PDF file to iTunes, and it will be added to your iTunes library. When you sync your iPhone or iPad, the pdf file will be uploaded.

This post has been moved here...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

3D Modeling in Vectorworks Builds trust with your Clients

I'm a huge fan of working in 3D (modeling) in Vectorworks, and I think it is one of the fun areas. But is there more to it than just having fun?

I think there are so many reasons to model your projects, that there really is no other way. Some of my clients think of plan drawing first, and then modeling, if they have time. This is so wrong. I believe they should be thinking of creating a quick model for the conceptual model, and the developed design, and then think of plan drawing (2D) for the construction drawings.

I wrote a blog recently on Conceptual Design and ran a webinar, which I recorded. The aim of the webinar was to show why it is better you create a model of your concept. It is really quick. If you watch the webinar movie, you will see that in twenty minutes I have enough information to check my concept against the set-back or recession planes, check the proximity to neighbors and create a solar study. These things are not just for fun, they help you to make a choices. You can look at these constraints and make your choices about your concept, in a very small amount of time.

How does this build trust? Well, if you were following the client's brief, but it was clearly wrong, you could use the concept model to show them why you needed to make some changes. You could show them how much better your concept would be, and you could show them with models and movies. You can take them along with you.

As the project moves into the early design phase, you should still be showing the client the model. Some of my clients create detailed models for buildings.

My clients have found that when they create rendered views of building and landscape projects, their clients respond much better to their proposals.

One of my landscape clients found that creating rendered views of projects had a huge impact on their business. Before providing rendered views, about 40% of clients would be converted from concept drawings to on-site construction. After providing rendered views, they found that 90% of clients would be converted form concepts to on-site construction. That is a 2.5x increase in on-site work, with the same number of clients.

This image is from the office of Albert van Vliet Architectural ( The building is modeled in Vectorworks 2009 and rendered in Artlantis.  Albert states that when you work on a project it is essential to bring the clients along with you. The clients are often spending substantial sums of money on a building, thus they really want to know what they will be getting.

The images supplied to the clients help  Albert van Vliet Architectural to develop trust with the clients.  The clients no longer have to image what they are getting, they can see what they are getting.  Albert reports that from a business point of view, there is no better way than modeling the buildings in 3D.

I have spoken to several clients about this topic. So far, all of them support this concept. I was chatting to a client last night and he could not believe that there was any other way to work. Using Vectorworks in 3D at the very beginning of the project may be a change in your business model, but there are many people that are already doing this. If they are in your market, they are getting better results, they are getting paid more promptly, and they are creating more trust with there clients.  Can you afford not to?

If you want help moving your business to 3D, contacct me, I've helped 100's of clients.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Short Sharp Training (Monthly) - July 2010 Creating a Plumbing Schematic in Vectorworks - Feedback

The feedback this month was very pleasing. I've had a few people just send me thank-you's for the training this month. The funny thing was, I was concerned that I had covered enough information to keep every one occupied for the hour online. As it turned out, we used any extra time with other questions and answers.

In one meeting, the people online wanted to discuss creating a Vectorworks library, and we ended up talking about adding extra tools to your Vectorworks, and where to find the tools in Some of the tools are mine, and freely available at vectordepot. One of the online users, Steve, made a list of useful things he learned at the meeting, and he has allowed me to post a copy of his list. Steve got 6 useful tips from the session, which he says more than pays for the cost and the time spent.

Two other users just emailed me out of the blue to say thanks, what a great session...

Join these users each month and learn to use Vectorworks better. 

Friday, July 09, 2010

Archoncad search page for Vectorworks resources

Archoncad search page
I have been creating a lot of blogs, YouTube movies, user group notes and movies of the last six years. This has given me a Challenge keeping track of all the resources. At the start it was easy, but now, there are over a hundred movies on YouTube, thousands of posts, over 60 Short Sharp Training manuals, and over a thousand movies.

I was having trouble remembering what I had covered, and my user group subscribers were having trouble finding their way around all the resources. I started with a filemaker database for myself, and thought about giving it away. Then, I thought it would be better to make it web based. Everyone can get to it and I can update it when ever I want. The result is my new search page

Thursday, July 08, 2010

off the grid timber frame building created in Vectorworks

I always love looking at these images of heavy timber construction from webnash. The webnash founder, Michael Erkkinen, has been designing and building houses in Vectorworks, using the modeling tools to create his frames, ever since he got my 3D Modeling book from NNA.

This is the rendered view from Vectorworks. (from the webnash web site)

So, every time Michael posts a blog about one is his buildings, I like to read about it and see what he is up to. I was interested in this view, you can see the rendered model stuck on the wall so everyone knows what the building should look like (image from the webnash web site).

I especially like to read about Michael's building technology. He is interested in buildings that have a long life, that look after the occupants, and buildings that can generate their own energy.

Well done Michael, keep up the good work.

You can read the blog, and see all the other photos at the webnash web site...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Vectorworks ebooks on the iPad

I have been experimenting with ebooks for some time. I have tried ebooks on the Kindle device, iPhone and iPad.

The iPhone screen is just too small for me. The screen size is acceptable for reading a novel, but it is just too small for reading a tutorial manual that has screen shots in it. Sure, you can make the images bigger by pinching, but then you can't see the words. 

The Kindle device is limited by the screen size and display. It has a greyscale display that makes it hard to see screen shots clearly. I can kind-of make them out, but they lack real clarity. The screen size is much better than the iphone, but it is not as good as the iPad. PDF's on the kindle are hard to read, mainly because of the greyscale screen and the lack of a touch screen for zooming. 

There is a kindle book reader for the iphone, iPad, Blackberry, PC and Mac. This means that any kindle books you buy, can be read on several devices. So, while the kindle device is limited, any books you buy for the kindle will be useful an many devices. 

The iPad... there is so much to say about the iPad. The iPad has a decent sized screen. You can read Kindle books, ibooks, PDF's and so on. The touch screen is very easy to use, and before you know it you expect all computers to work with such ease. 

Ebooks on the iPad look great. When you open then in landscape mode, you get two pages next to each other. If the books are formatted correctly, you can get the cover and table of contents next to each other. 

When you get into the book, you get two pages next to each other. The text is clear, the images are clear. If you drag your finger along the bottom, you can see the chapter and page numbers. When you release your finger, the book jumps to that page. 

You can't make the images bigger, which I think is a shame.  

Unless you write your own books, you have to buy books from the Apple iBookstore. At present, there are no Vectorworks books available on the iBookstore. I have tried, but they are not showing up. You can buy Vectorworks manuals at

PDF's in ibook look very good, and these you can zoom. This is an image from one of my monthly manuals, the June 2010 edition. The text is clear and very readable. If you want, you can zoom the PDF to make it easier to read. 

If you copy the PDF files to your iTunes library, they will be copied to iBooks. You could add all the monthly manuals to your iTunes library so you can read the manuals away from your computer. 

The manuals tend to be small enough to copy quickly, and not take up too much of your valuable storage space. They display the text and graphics clearly. And if you need to, you can zoom the page to make it bigger. 

You can see thumbnails of all the pages as well. This makes it easy to jump to different parts of the manual. When you tap on one of the thumbnails, iBook will jump to that page. 

Kindle On The iPad
As I said earlier, the great thing about buying a Kindle book is that any books you buy can be read on many devices. The iPad is just one device. 

The Kindle bookstore has so many books, and you can get Vectorworks manuals there too. 

The Vectorworks manuals look great on the big screen of the iPad. The images are in color, you can see a whole page, and you can pinch the images to make them bigger.

If you make the iPad landscape, you do not get two pages, you still get the one page, but it is wider. 

Book Shelf for Vectorworks

I have been really fortunate to have a review copy of book shelf from VectorDepot. This is now in my Vectorworks and I use it all the time.

Bookshelf is a plugin for Vectorworks. You have to add it to your plug-ins folder, and then add it to your workspace. This takes about 30 seconds to complete, and is very straightforward.

When I first got book shelf, I was impressed, but it hadn't dawned on me just how useful it can be. You see Bookshelf stores files and web site locations for you. Not just Vectorworks files either. I found that I can store PDF files, Vectorworks files, photoshops files and more. when you open these files with Bookshelf, your computer will open the file with the correct application. So, my PDF flies open with Acrobat Reader, the image files open with photoshop and so on.

For example, if you are designing a brick house, you could set up a library that had your typical brick details file, links to web sites that had brick cladding details, links to web sites that had brick textures, and you could include the pdf files for the structural codes for a brick building.

When you work on a brick project, you would have quick access to all the codes, textures, websites, details and so on that you need. this is a real time saver for me. I have so much stuff on my computer, I can never remember where I've put everything.

Bookshelf has been a real time saver, and I'm not going to use Vectorworks with out it. I highly recommend bookshelf, go buy it.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Short Sharp Training (Monthly) - July 2010 Creating a Plumbing Schematic in Vectorworks

Creating a Model of  Plumbing Schematic

More of my clients are being asked for a 3D presentation of a plumbing schematic. If you create the building as a model, with the correct symbols, layers and classes, this can be straightforward to create. We will need to look at how to make your symbols work for you, how to structure your layers and classes, how to create the pipework and and how to set up a drawing to show the schematic.

Book now for the online sessions in July 2010.

Session 1  Monday, July 12, 2010, Time: 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM NZST Register :

Session 2  Wednesday, July 14, 2010, Time: 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM NZST Register

Session 3  Friday, July 16, 2010, Time: 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM NZST  Register :

Presentation 60 minutes. Q&A about 15 min.
Cost : You have to be a subscriber to join this webinar.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Retrieving a Corrupt File and Backing Up

I've just had an email from a client, they have trouble with a corrupt file and their backup system is not working. I feel for my client, it is never nice being in that situation.

I have written a manual that would really help, (Saving a Corrupt File) which i have now sent. But, if my client had read this manual earlier, they would have had all the backups they need, and they wouldn't need to retrieve the lost file.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone