Friday, December 30, 2011

Special Interest Groups for the Vector-workout Subscription (Vectorworks Training)

Archoncad announces Special Interest Groups for the Vector-workout Subscription

Starting in February 2012, the Vector-workout Subscription will be offering Special Interest Groups as part of the subscription. The purpose of the SIG will be to have online sessions that are suited to a particular part of Vectorworks, and will generally follow on from the topics discussed in the workshop sessions. 

For example the Landscape SIG would focus on Vectorworks from a Landscape perspective, so when we look at building your office library, we would look at a library of plants, or hardscapes, for example. If we were looking at libraries with the BIM Special Interest Group, we might be looking at how wall and slab styles can be saved into your library. There will not be a manual, but the sessions will be recorded and linked to the monthly manual. 

The Special Interest meetings will be the week after the interactive workshops so that issues raises in the workshop can be expanded in the group meetings, and explained with examples to suit that group. 

Initially, I am planning a BIM and Landscape Special Interest Group. If these are successful, there will be more groups for 3D Modeling and others as they are needed.

The Special Interest Groups are only available to Vector-workout Subscribers. If you are a subscriber, log onto Vector-workout Subscriber site. 

Become a subscriber here and enjoy a monthly manual, special online webinars, blogs, and extras. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Using Your iPhone on a Tripod

I have tried to use an iPhone and an iPad to shoot video, but the results are not great. What I really want to  is to mount the iPhone on a tripod. A standard tripod has a bolt to connect a camera, but the phone and tablet do not have the threaded hole for the bolt.

I've made a bracket to connect the phone to the tripod. It is reasonably straight forward to create the bracket.

I have found the hard case I needed for the iPad, so now I can use the ipad on my tripod to shoot video. The iPad cover just needs to be a hard case, so you can stick the velcro to it.

All the instructions are on my subscribers web site.

You can become a subscriber here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Building a Vectorworks Gingerbread House

Every year I create a gingerbread house to share with the extended family over the holiday season. For the past several years I have been using Vectorworks to create a model. This is a great way to make a complex gingerbread house. You can design your own dream gingerbread house. 
Start by, creating your model in Vectorworks. 
Use viewports to get the plans and elevations.

Cut out the parts, and use these to cut the gingerbread.

Assemble the parts.
Decorate, and Enjoy.

The Vectorworks part of the process uses BIM principles to create the model and extract the elevations and plans, so I thought this would be fun way to learn about BIM. The Vector-workout Subscription used this as the basis of the meetings and manual in November (giving users time to create their own gingerbread houses).

Unified View in Vectorworks 2012

This is the normal view of a building when you change the view with out Unified View. 

If you wanted to see a complete view of your project, you can use Unified View, it allows you to see all the visible layers in your file, and when you move the view around, all the layers look like they are joined together. 

There are several options for Unified View. For a detailed description of the Unified View and the options for it, log onto the blog at the Vector-workout Subscriber site. 

Become a subscriber here and enjoy a monthly manual, special online webinars, blogs, and extras. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Creating Hedges in Vectorworks

My friend Bill has been playing with this new tool that he found on It's called the Siepe (Hedge) Tool.  From the  same author of Frangisole plugin. When I first looked at this tool I wasn't sure that I could find a use for it.

But Bill has been playing with it,  and he showed me how useful this could be.

Here is the scene with a small house and all my rendering is set up but the background and foreground just look a little plain.

So here's my suggestion. Use the hedge tool to fill in the foreground. The way the hedge tool works, is that it uses several polygons and two textures to create the look of a hedge. You don't have to use all hedge, you can add a flower texture if you want. You could use two different greens to give you a hedge with a green effect rather than flower effect.

Here is the same scene with a hedge around the back of the house as well. I think the hedge tool is great for filling in the background quickly.

The tool is $25US, which I was happy to pay. This tool only needs two clicks to place a hedge.

In this image I created a low hedge that mimics a buxus hedge border, with wildflowers inside, all created with a few objects from the Hedge tool, about two minutes work.

Area Lights and Renderworks in Vectorworks 2011-2012

In the past we used to use area lights to replicate light coming in window, and Vectorworks 2011/2012 we don’t have to do this the other, more realistic ways of creating lights
In previous versions of Vectorworks, we used to use area lights on Windows to replicate sunlight coming in to the window. This wasn’t perfect but it did a reasonable job in Vectorworks 2010 and before. you might notice that the area light in front of the door stop you seeing the door. So while the effect of the light is reasonable the downside is that the area light prevents you from seeing out the window, or out the door.

In Vectorworks 2011/2012, we have a better way. in this image there are no light sources other than an environmental light called HDRI White. HDRI White is a standard Renderworks environment like that comes with Vectorworks. when you use it as an environment light, it brings in white light through every window, giving you rendering a nice glow. I have also added indirect lighting that creates the bouncing light in the room. 

If you add a sun, the results are even better.

Read more... (you have to be a subscriber to follow this link)

Become a subscriber...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Site modeling manual updated for Vectorworks 2012

I have updated my site modeling manual on the Kindle store for Vectorworks 2012. This manual covers how to create a site model from imported 2-D information, imported 3-D information, and scanned or PDF images.  This manual is designed to show you the quickest ways to create site models, and how to modify them using the site modified tools.

 You can find the manual here on the Kindle bookstore.

Quickstart manual Available for Vectorworks 2012

I have updated my QuickStart manual for Vectorworks 2012 on the Kindle bookstore. 

This quick start manual is designed to get people started quickly, it is not designed to teach you everything you need to know about Vectorworks. what this manual does cover are the basic concepts about how Vectorworks  behaves.

If you have been using Vectorworks before, this is not the manual for you. If you have never used Vectorworks before and you have just  received Vectorworks 2012 then this would be a good introduction to the basic concepts.

See the manual here...

Work available in New Zealand

I've just had an e-mail from one of my clients looking for a Vectorworks architect in Auckland, New Zealand.  if you live in New Zealand we are qualified to work in New Zealand you might want to look at this advert.

If you want to check out the work they do visit their website

Stevens Lawson Architects are seeking an Architectural Technician for a full time position, with 5-7years experience, with the desire to work on exciting projects across a broad spectrum, to join our Parnell based studio.

Strong CAD (Vectorworks) documentation and detailing experience with both residential and commercial projects, time management, communication skills and computer skills are essential, along with a great attitude and enthusiasm for architecture   .

Contact: John Scouller

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

Today I was very sorry to hear that Steve Jobs has passed away. When I grew up Steve Jobs was always around, and he was always making great stuff. He has created some truly amazing inventions, and I think he has changed the way we think about music,  about computers and what we expect from life (our gadgets).

 This is the passing of a giant.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Site Modeling with Vectorworks

Next week the Vector-workout Subscription will be looking at site modeling in Vectorworks. Site modeling is a topic which many people seem to struggle with. I will be teaching the basic concepts of site modeling, and showing you how to get the best from site modeling without getting confused. It seems like a complicated subject, but it can be made simple.

Some users find it hard to understand how to get the source data into the file to create the site model. There are several ways to do this, and some are reasonably easy. The trick is to work methodically, and I have a few suggestions to make it easy, and as accurate as possible. 

Once you have your site model, you can modify it. Some users do not how how easy the site model could be adjusted.  There are several techniques you can use to modify the site model, and you can choose if these modify the existing site model, or a proposed site model. 

To me, it is important to understand the concept of the site model and what its limitations are. If you understand the reasoning behind the site model and modifiers, you will be able to create a site model that closely resembles the terrain on your site.

Once you understand the concept behind site modeling, you should be able to create some fun areas quickly, like this stepped site with a ramp. 

I have written a manual for this session which subscribers can now download from the subscriber website

If you want to learn more about being a subscriber, you can find more information here

If you would like to attend a short sharp training session on site modeling, you can find information about it here.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Nemetschek Vectorworks Announces Vectorworks 2012 U.S. Virtual Event

Columbia, Md. (September 1, 2011) – Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc. presents the Vectorworks® 2012 U.S. Virtual Event, Sept. 13-16, 2011, to unveil the next version of Vectorworks software.

Beginning at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Sept. 13 with a keynote address by CEO Sean Flaherty and CTO Dr. Biplab Sarkar, the event will include demonstrations on what’s new in Vectorworks Architect, Landmark, Spotlight and Fundamentals software, as well as feature videos and information about popular Vectorworks plug-ins. Industry experts will be on hand to answer questions, and attendees will have the opportunity to network with other designers and share their experience through social media.

The online event will continue through Sept. 16 with feature-specific presentations led by members of the Nemetschek Vectorworks engineering team. Topics will include Building Design and BIM, Site Design, Collaboration Improvements, Entertainment Design, Rendering Improvements and more.

Attendees will have the opportunity to register for a chance to win a license of Vectorworks 2012 with Renderworks® by inviting friends and colleagues to register, as well.

For more information and to register, please visit:

If you are a member of VSS then you need to attend to learn how to get the best from the new upgrade. If you are not a member of VSS, it think you should still attend to learn about the new features and concepts.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to School with Vectorworks

It is nearly Spring where I live, which means that it is Fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and time to get back to school. If you want to learn Vectorworks to use in school, you have several options. Nemetschek Vectorworks has a student portal . This allows you to get a free educational version of Vectorworks, and there are several free manuals to download, along with a video library.

There are you tube movies, just search Vectorworks in youtube and you will 100's of movies. 

The great way to learn Vectorworks is to use the self-paced Training from Vectorworks.  Here, you will find videos, free resources, and the training guides. The training guides are a great way to get started with Vectorworks, especially the Vectorworks Essentials Tutorial manual. This manual is designed to get you to use Vectorworks effectively from the beginning. 

If you teach Vectorworks, wouldn't it be nice to have access to Vectorworks training materials? Imaging going into a class and saying, "Please open your computers (tablet or smartphone) and download today's lesson, Quickstart to Vectorworks (or 3D modeling, or textures, etc)"

We have this ability right now, though kindle books and PDF manuals. Kindle books are great, because each student manages their own account.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Do you Need Sketchup if you Have Vectorworks?

I have been chatting with a couple of friends of mine about modeling in Vectorworks, and whether or not you need Sketchup along with Vectorworks. The argument in the past was that Vectorworks was alright for modeling simple buildings, but what about more complex shapes.

For a long time I have argued that Vectorworks is great for modeling complex shapes. I have used a bus stop project for a few years now to show that Vectorworks is perfect for urban design projects. But my friend Bill, still meets people that use Sketchup and they don't see the point of the bus stop.

I have been looking at my modeling manual, 3D Modeling in Vectorworks, 3rd Edition to make sure that this manual covers the topics you need. If you want to know more about Vectorworks in 3D, this is the manual you need. Not only does the manual have several exercises to teach you the most important techniques, but is also includes movies to show you how to work in 3D.

If you combine the Vectorworks 2011 techniques of working planes, planar graphics and the Push/Pull tool, I believe that you can create the models you want.

This model uses techniques that are in the 3D Modeling manual, and it only uses fairly simple techniques like working planes, planar graphics, Push/Pull tool and the Split tool.

When you render the model, it looks pretty reasonable, for a concept model. This model does not use any doors, windows, walls, or roofs. Everything here is built as raw 3D objects, just using simple techniques.

I have the building on a site, with a sun set for 12pm, 22 March, for my latitude and longitude. You can see the neighbouring house casts a small shadow that will affect the bedrooms on the left, but the patio is enjoying the sun.
Learn to use Vectorworks effectively, then you won't need Sketchup.

Should you use Vectorworks Fundamentals?

I usually use Vectorworks Architect, Landmark or designer when I'm working or writing my manuals. But for the past couple of weeks, I've been using the very basic Vectorworks Fundamentals ( the most basic version of Vectorworks you can get). I can't get over how many of the good things I'm used to using are not there. There are tools and techniques I use so much, I don't even think about them anymore.

For example, the Navigation Palette. I have gotten so use to this, it never occurred to me how much time is saves, until I had to make do without it.

Read more... (you have to be a subscriber to follow this link).

(read more about being a subscriber)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Short Sharp Training for Vectorworks

Every month, I have an series of inline webinars for my subscribers. Over the last 5 years we have covered well over 40 topics, and often I get clients wishing that I would repeat the sessions. I have been asked several times if there is a way to attend just the sessions you want.

There is a way for Vectorworks users to join just the sessions that they want to. The system is called Sort Sharp Training. This system allows you to attend one session at a time. The classes are on line, with only a few people in each class.

You get a PDF manual to accompany the session, so you can read along, or print the manual and make your on notes. The manuals have all the step-by-step instructions, allowing you repeat the techniques you learned in the online session. Over time, these build up into substantial library.

Each session is self contained, so you can attend one, or several sessions. The sessions will repeat each month, and we will be adding sessions as they become requested.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Creating Siding (Weatherboards) in Vectorworks 2010-2011

I found this great plug-in on the vectordepot web site, called the Frangisole (sunshade). This tool is designed to create simple sunshades.

The interface is really easy to use. You draw a line to define the length of the sunshade, and use the Object Info Palette to change the number of horizontal parts, the height, angle and width of the boards.

If you tilt the boards to the correct angle, you can make siding (weatherbords). If you use some simple solid modeling, you can cut out the frangisole for doors and windows.

To see it in action, have a look at this short youtube vid.

Subscribers to Vector-workout Subscription will find a detailed movie for this plug-in in the July manual.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How Vectorworks Can Help Your Business

I have just received an email from a Michael Erkkinen of Webnash Design-Build ( showing how effective Vectorworks is for presentation.  I like Mike's work, he designs and builds traditional new england colonial buildings with high performance envelopes and mechanicals. While they look like traditional buildings, and they use some old building techniques, they also use some new building techniques, they are heavily insulated and they often feature solar energy.

This image is the rendered image that Mike has created for his clients. Mike did not always create rendered views of this quality. For me, it has been encouraging to watch his presentations become more sophisticated as he learns more about Vectorworks though the Vector-workout Subscription. He has found that he gets his clients to commit to higher quality buildings now. He uses the renderings to show the clients the project at the schematic stage, and he rarely uses orthographic drawings (plans and elevations).

Here is the image of the partially completed building. One of the problems with traditional plans and elevations is that the client is not really sure what they are getting. The way Mike renders the concept, the building is what the client agreed to, leading to satisfied clients.

Creating a Paving Plan

This month the Vector-workout Subscription is looking at creating a paving plan. This looks like it is a totally landscape topic, but you would be wrong. In order to use a tool like the hardscape tool, you have to learn how to control planar graphics.

This session will start with a look at the planar graphics, and there are several of those. Learning to control line weights, dash styles, custom colors (and a custom color palette) hatches, images and tile will be useful to all Vectorworks users.

There are 4 webinars this week, so one of the times should suit you. If you are a subscriber, you can book here. If you can't make it to the webinars, you can still down load the manual (about 80 small pages) from the CPD Manuals page.

If you are not a subscriber, you can still join here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Readers Digest and Harry Potter go Digital

the Architectural Technologist talks about J.K.Rowling moving into ebooks and today I read that the Reader's Digest is going digital. This seems to be to be the tipping point. Until now all the Harry Potter books have been strictly hardcopy, the future could be amazing, and we could see a big growth in ebook readers.

Reader's Digest has been a print only publication for as long as I can remember. I change to digital should be big news, and it could cause a lot of the old readers to move to digital reader, opening the door for all ebook writers to sell to the new converts.

I have been a real supporter of ebooks and the new digital formats, I now have about 25 Vectorworks manuals in the Kindle store, so I am really hoping that we see many more books sold because of these two.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Textures and Rendering in Vectorworks 2011

Textures in Vectorworks 2011 have changed a lot. The shaders are completely different, reflectivity has new settings, transparency has new settings, and the bumps are all new.

If you are used to textures in earlier versions of Vectorworks, you need a guide to show you how to use all the new settings, but if you are new to textures, you also need a guide that takes you though creating and editing textures.

I have created a kindle manual that guides you through the creation and management of textures. For example, there are four basic components to textures, and this manual guides you through each component so you learn how to control them.

Table of Contents

Sample Page

Textures are only a part of the process, so I have created a follow-up manual on lighting and rendering.

This manual guides you through the rendering and lighting options in Vectorworks, and there are several options to look at.

There are several rendering options, so the manual works though those, to show you the options you have.

There are several lighting options. The manual show you how to control each lighting option, and has tips on the best way to use lighting.

Finally, the Kindle manual shows you how to bring all the parts together and how to get the rendering completed in the fastest time.

Table of Contents

Sample page.

Monday, June 13, 2011

iWeb Disappearing, What can you Use for Simple Web Sites?

I have been reading a rumour about the discontinuation of MobileMe services, and one impact will be iWeb, the apple web design software. iWeb was great web design software for simple web sites, and I used it for some time for my blog and podcast website. I stopped using iWeb about a year ago, when I learned that changing the name of the site file on your computer, changed the website address online, effectively killing off all the links I had placed all over the internet to my site.

If this rumour is correct, what should you do? Well, after finding some issues with iWeb, I looked a several different web builder applications. Some applications are very powerful, and some are very simple. I wanted an application that I could learn myself, and use to update my web site every week.

The software I am using is called RapidWeaver 5. It uses a database system that stores all the information, and then it uses themes to present the data. This allows you to change the theme (the look) of the website without recreating all the information, data and links.

This is the raw data for my web site.

This is the preview of the current theme. I like being able to choose the theme, and there are many themes to choose from. You can even buy additional themes. If you know CSS, you can edit your theme to make it individual.

One of the main reasons I choose to use RapidWeaver is that you can extend the software by buying extensions. I bought an extension that makes it easy to add products and services, and a Paypal cart.

There are many addons, and the RapidWeaver software and website makes it easy to link to these addons, and it makes it easy to install the addons. I found an addon that added a paypal cart, and it makes adding products and services very easy. The paypal cart looks great and works well.

I have looked at Sandvox (, which now has a new extendable structure. When I first looked at sandvox, it was not as powerful and flexible as rapidweaver. Since then, they have substantially updated the software, and there is a plug-in area for extending the software.

Vectorworks Landmark and Rendering

My friend Bill, the NZ Vectorworks salesman, has been playing with Vectorworks Landmark recently and he has been making some great images.

This image is a small garden, and he used several standard Vectorworks tools and techniques, such as walls, floors, image props, plants, and the table and chairs. Bill also made some textures from images he found on the internet.

This post has moved here...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Snaps On, Snaps off (Vectorworks 2010-2011)

By default Vectorworks 2010 and 2011 have one snap turned off that I find useful, Nearest Point on Edge.

I find Nearest Point on Edge useful, because this is the option needed to snap along the edge of an object, which I use nearly all the time.

But sometimes, I like to have a just a few of these object snap options turned on. For detailing, it is sometimes easier to have just a few snaps turned on.

When I'm dimensioning, I like to use just one option, End Point. This makes it easy to find the end of a wall, without snapping to a mid-point on the end of the wall.

I find that opening this dialog box and changing the options all time a bit of a bore. So, I have made a few utility scripts that automate these options. Subscribers can add to a floating palette, or add to the context menu (right-click). I also left these scripts unlocked so you can edit the script to suit yourself.

If you are a subscriber, go get these these utilities and install them in your workspace.

If you want to be a subscriber, click here to find out more...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

H1 House Insulation and E2 Risk Matrix in Vectorworks

If you are using Vectorworks in New Zealand, you should be glad to hear the news, there is now a series of worksheets that are designed to answer the E2 and H1 issues.

E2 Risk Matrix
This is a worksheet that will help you to add up the Risk Factors for your buildings. It is a simple Vectorworks worksheet that counts up the correct score as you enter the Risk Severity.

H1 House Insulation - Schedule Method
With this worksheet, it is easy to calculate the wall areas and window areas for the insulation calculation. There are some detailed instructions to follow to make sure that the worksheet picks up the correct data, but the instructions are in the file for you.

H1 House Insulation - Calculation Method
This worksheet finds the area do the roof, walls, windows and so on. When you enter the insulation values for each area, you get a total heat loss, for comparing with the example house. Again, there are some detailed instructions to follow to make sure that the worksheet picks up the correct data, but the instructions are in the file for you.

There is one file in the library section of the Vector-workout Subscription web site with all 3 worksheets and instructions for using them. If you are a subscriber, you can find these in the Files part of the web site...

If you want to subscribe, join here...