SketchUp Plugin: Shape Bender

An extremly useful Plugin to Bend an object to follow the profile of a curve
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Not so long ago, I wrote a post about the Rhino command FlowAlonSrf (Flow Along Surface) that allows us to bend objects to match a curved surface. At that time I thought it was something I would not be able to do with SketchUp, but again the Ruby scripting community has surprised me positively.
There us a SketchUp Plugin written by Chris Fullmer that does something very similar. It is a bit less complete compared to Rhino's "Flow Along Surface", since in this case it bends objects using a curved line, but still it is a very good tool to have on your set of SketchUp tricks. See how using this tool I bended the following text to match a curved line.

I am going to post a video soon but on the mean time see the original post by Chris that already has a quick video on how to use it. You can use that post too to download the plugin.

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AutoCAD: Select Using an Irregular Shaped Polygon

It is sometimes easier to select objects if we use an irregular polygon instead of the standard rectangular selection. And it is very easy to do.
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When yo have a drawing with a lot of objects sometimes selection multiple objects becomes tedious because using the rectangular selection window might select a lot of objects that we do no want to select.
The solution is to select using an irregular shaped polygon. This option, generally unknown is very easy to access. When AutoCAD prompts us to select objects, we enter CP and click enter. This will trigger the "Cross Polygon" mode, which means that instead of a rectangular selection window, we will use an irregular polygonal one. See this quick video to see this option in action.

It is one of those options that it is unbelievable how many of us didn't know about it. Remember Socrates, "all I know is that I know nothing".

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AutoCAD: How to Make a Block Unique

How do you turn one instance of a block into a unique block in a single an easy step? There is an easy way.
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If you are a SketchUp and AutoCAD user like me, probably you miss the "make unique" option from SketchUp when you are using AutoCAD. For those who do not use SU, Make Unique will turn an instance of a Component (Blocks in SketchUp are called Components) into a Unique one, allowing us to modify it without affecting the other instances of that Component.
I always miss this is a feature in AutoCAD, but lately I came to realize that there is a way to do the same (only for 2D blocks though). The trick is to use the FLATTEN command. If we select "Sample Block 01" and run the FLATTEN command, the result will be a flattened version of the same block called "Sample Block 01-flat1". Because the new block has a different name we can modify it without affecting the other instances of that block. So the result achieved would be the same we get in SketchUp using "Make Unique".
This, of course, only works in 2D, since the command FLATTEN flattens linework, it would turn a 3D block into a 2D one.

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SketchUp Plugins: 1001bit Tools

A Plugin with a full set of tools for Architecture to build your buildings way faster and easier
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The commercial Plugin 1001bit Tools is an awesome set of Tools to streamline your modelling of buildings. It includes tools to do almost anything you would expect to need when modelling a building. We just purchased it at work and I couldn't wait to share it here. The tools sells for only 29 dollars, which I think is a pretty good deal for the amount of features that you get with it. See this video to check some of the features of this awesome plugin.

You can download a trial version for 30 days or purchase a license for 29 dollars.

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AutoCAD: Convert a 3D Model into a 2D drawing with hidden line

Easily convert 3D models into 2D Objects. Choose if you want to show the hidden lines and how.
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If you have a 3D model and need to extract 2D drawings from it, you should be aware of the existence of the FLATSHOT command. This command converts a 3D view of a 3D object into a 2D drawing.
Set the view you want to flatten and run the FLATSHOT command. The result will be a 2D block that will be placed on the XY plane. See this quick example. We have this 3D Object, on this view. ANd we want to get a 2D drawing showing the hidden lines in a grey dotted style.

We need to run the FLATSHOT command, and on the dialog box configure the hidden line settings to match how we want to show them. You can later on edit the block, but if you want the hidden lines to show differently be sure to give them a diferent style.

Once you have run the command, a flattened version of your view will appear on the XY plane (be sure the UCS is set to world, if you have any other UCS active, it will be used to place the flattened view)

If you set the view to top again, you will get the drawing to look as you expected.

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AutoCAD: Scale Objects in one dimension only.

There is a way to scale objects only on one axis.
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I used to work with Microstation long time ago and that program has the scale in one dimension as a standard option of the scale command. Unfortunately AutoCAD doesn´t. If you need to scale objects on one dimension there is a way in AutoCAD to do it though.
You need to select the objects you want to scale and create a block out of them. Be sure to create the block with the "scale uniformly" option unchecked. Then, this block can be scaled in one direction by modifying the X or Y scale. Once you have the geometry scaled as you wanted you can explode the block.
Of course it is not as precise as using the scale command, but so far it seems to be the only way to do this.

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Table of Contents

The CAD Addict Blog Directory
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AutoCAD Weekly Block #06: Dynamic Graphic Scale

Download this Block and learn a bit about Visibility states in Dynamic Blocks
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This week's Block is a Graphic Scale created as a dynamic block that will be fit for the following scales: 1:50, 1:100, 1:200, 1:500 and 1:1000. The block is meant to be used on paper space. Download the block or see the image below.

The Block is created using a visibility state for each scale, so only the text that fits that scale will show. On the previous image you can see how if you click on the triangular grip of the bock, the different visibility states are shown.
The process of creation is simple. Once you have the linework and text for one of the scales, create the different visibility states for each of the scales. Copy the text and change it values to the one that fits the next scale and hide hat text on the scale you don't want it to be shown. Repeat the process for each scale you want to create. For more details on how to create and modify visibility states check this older post. To summarize what it is important check the buttons related to visibility states in the Block Editor and what they are for. They are situated on the upper right corner of the block editor interface. They are the following.

  1. Toggles objects on other visibility states on and off.
  2. Makes an object visible in the current visibility state
  3. Hides an object form the current visibility state
  4. Calls the visibility states dialog box (where we will create different visibility states)

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Rhino: What to Do if Make2D Runs out of Memory?

If you are trying to turn your Rhino model into a 2D drawing but your computer crashes, you might want to try this work around.
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I was recently trying to extract 2D linework from a very large 3D model in Rhino to be used in AutoCAD drawings, but no matter what I tried, either the result was not the expected or the computer crashed in the process.
What I tried first was the Make2D command, but the computer "ran out of memory" so Rhino crashed. (see that I was doing this on a 8core, 3Gb of RAM computer, so its not an old and slow machine).
Then second option I tried was to Export to AutoCAD and then try to use the FLATSHOT command, but for some reason, the geometry exported to AutoCAD was not suitable for this command. I tried to Export from Rhino to 3Ds to import it in AutoCAD, but again Rhino would crash.
So I found myself without options involving a direct transfer. The only solution I found was to Print the view on hidden line in Rhino to a PDF with big quality, and then convert that PDF to a DXF using a PDF to CAD converter. The one I used is this one, the free trial allowed me to do what I wanted, and the results are better than using the Make2D command from Rhino.

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SketchUp Plugins: Unfold your model

Do you need to build a paper model of your Sketchup Model? There are Plugins to Unfold the model.
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If you want to build a physical model of your SketchUp model, you can do it using the Unfold.rb Plugin. This free plugin can be downloaded here and what it does is exactly what its names says. It unfolds the faces of a model to a plane that you decide.
It is a bit tricky to use, and you have to plan ahead if your model is complicated to be sure that the faces are build in a way that can be unfold. But once you get the sense of how it works you will be able to "deconstruct" your model to transform it in a series of faces laying on the same plane. See the following video for a quick reference on how to do this.

There is also a commercial plug-in called Waybe that automates this process to a single click, but it sells at $50, which I find way overpriced.

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Rhino Plugins: Paneling Tools

This is an awesome Plugin to create panels on NURBS surfaces. Another Rhino Beauty.
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PanelingTools.rhp is an awesome plugin for Rhino to Panel surfaces. You can use the standard Paneling options provided with the Plugin, or generate custom Panels from any shape. The Plugin can be downloaded from the McNeel website. See this tutorial video on how to use Paneling Tools.

After you are done learning the basics, take a look at this other video on how to use the panelling tools with custom shapes.

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AutoCAD Weekly Block #05: Dynamic Door

Download this Block and learn about Flip Parameters.
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On this week's Block we will quickly see how to use the Flip Parameters/Actions. To do that we will use a block of a 80cm door, which in metric unit system would be the most common door you would need to use.
What we want to achieve adding the flip parameters is to be able to flip the door to open to one side or the other without the need to actually using the MIRROR command. So basically we need to add two flip parameters, one to flip the door to open right or left and another one to flip the door to open in or out. Download the block and you will see what it can do.

As you can see in the image above, when the block is selected it shows two arrows. This two arrows allow us to flip the block. But lets quickly see how this arrows work. If we enter the Block Editor, this is what we see.

What I have done is to create two Flip parameters (Flip State and Flip state 1 on the image) following the two perpendicular axis of the block. Then, I added a flip action to each of those parameters, and selected the door and the arch as objects. Nothing else, simple but effective. Of course if you are a user of AutoCAD Architecture this block is useless, but for those using plain AutoCAD this might be useful.

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AutoCAD: Layer Creation Script

Learn how to edit a script to re-create all you standard layers
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Having your standard layers is basic for easy printing and having everyone in the same office know which layers to use for each object. The creation of standard layers and plot tables can be long but it is important if you are trying to set your own standards for several projects.
Some layers are deleted when using commands like PURGE. To get them back there are several methods. One of them is to have a Script that creates all the layers again. This sample script will generate only 3 layers, but it is useful to see how this type of script works. To test the script, save it to your hard drive and type SCR in AutoCAD. Then Browse to the folder where you have saved it and select it. The syntax of the script is as follows:

What you see after ;;; signs is pure description. The script consists of 3 lines. It calls the -LAYER command (See that it uses the hyphen version of the LAYER command, so it does not call the Layer manager window). After each -LAYER there is MAKE to create a new Layer. Then each of the properties of that layer are set.
Following the syntax of this Script with the properties of your standard layers you can generate a script that will allow you to quickly recover all the layers that have been deleted. Here is the link to the Script again.

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AutoCAD: My non Sandard Aliases (or why you Should not use Icons)

This are the Aliases I have modified to work the way I like it. I barely need to use any icons.
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I am a 95% command line AutoCAD user. With that I mean that when I work, I only use icons for 5% of the commands. TO be sincere I think the only reason why I still use those icons, is because I´ve been lazy to set up an ALIAS for them.
The question of using icons or entering the commands with the keyboard seems just a question of taste, but it is not. It is a question of speed. If you want to work fast, forget about using Icons, you should use keyboard commands. The work speed you can achieve having one hand on the keyboard and the other on the mouse is at least 5 times faster than if you have to move the cursor every time to click on an icon.
With that said, some everyday commands have no short alias to make them easy to access, that is why you might need to create your own aliases for those actions you use everyday aften.
For me, there is certain amount of commands I use everyday enough to need a short Alias. For me a good alias is either a single letter or two letters close to each other. THis makes those commands really quick to use, and your fingers soon remember where the letters are so you don't even need to look at the keyboard to enter them. This are the ones I modified in my acad.pgp file (remember that you can easily modify this file with the ALIASEDIT express tool)
  • C, *COPY: just thing of how many times you draw circles and how many times you copy objects, to me having C as circle and CO as copy just makes no sense.
  • CI, *CIRCLE: Because of the one before.
  • CC, *NCOPY: THis is a useful command when woring with blocks or XREFs, I use it very often. See here what it does.
  • LK, *AI_MOLC: Makes the selected object's layer active.
  • LL, *LAYON: Turns ON all the layers that were Off
  • LO, *LAYOFF: Turns the layer of the selcted object Off
  • LU, *LAYTHW: Thaws all frozen layers.
  • MM, *MATCHPROP: Matches the properties of an object to another one.
  • R, *ROTATE: For the same reason I use C for Copy, R is used too often to be RO.
  • RR, *RECTANG: Much easier than typing REC.
  • WW, *WIPEOUT: I use wipeouts often enough to set a short Alias.
  • XX, *EXTRIM: This is a useful very useful command. It cuts all lines on one side of an object.

If you think this is useful, you can download my acad.pgp here. See that since I am using AutoCAD Architecture, some commands are specific to this progam and might not work in plain AutoCAD.

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AutoCAD: EDGEMODE System Variable

Why are the lines being trimmed using the extension of the existing lines?
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The TRIM and EXTEND commands can be used in 2 different ways. One is to select the objects to use as a TRIM or EXTENSION line and then select the objects to trim or extend. The second option is to press ENTER when we are asked to "select cutting/boundary edges" pressing ENTER instead of selecting edges will make all objects in the drawing to be cutting edges/extension boundaries.
I use the second option a lot of times, but lately I was having the problem with that option that the lines where being trimmed apparently where no objects existed. First I though that was a bug of the file, but when I realised that it was happening in all my files I decided to investigate. The answer was simple, for some reason de EDGEMODE system variable had been switch from 0 to 1.
The EDGEMODE system variable controls if the cutting edges are only the portions of the lines actually drawn or the entire extension of those lines. See this two images. THe fisrt one is with EDGEMODE set to 0. The horizontal line will be cut only by the left vertical line, since the one on the right does not intersect it.

But if we set the EDGEMODE system variale to 1, both vertical lines will be cutting edges, evenif the one on the right does not actually intersect the horizontal line.

I never use the EDGEMODE set to 1, but it is good to know it in case for some reason someone changes it.

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SketchUp: Buy SketchUp 7 Pro with a $100 discount

Google is offering the new version of SketchUp with $100 off till May 15th
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As seen on Arch Daily, Google is offering a discounted version of SketchUp 7 Pro till May 15th 2009. If you were considering going Pro, this is definitely the right time to do it. The Pro version retails at $495, to get the discounted version, go to the Google store and apply this discount code: SUAIA9.
If you are not yet ready to spend the money on the Pro version remember that you can download the fee version of SU 7 here. Remember though, that the promo code will only be good till May 15th.

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