Mastering AutoCAD Architecture

Become a Pro of AutoCAD Architecture with this book.
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Jason left our office last week and he gave me his "Mastering AutoCAD Architecture Book" by Paul F. Aubin as a farewell present. I've been browsing through it and it seems I am gonna get some nice tips to post here.
The book is divided in 18 Chapters plus several Appendix with extra exercises. The language is clear and concise and it seems to go to the point right away. Tips like "in case of doubt, right click" can give you an idea of the type of plain and direct language used. I've got the edition for the 2008 version of ACA "Mastering AutoCAD Architecture 2008". For those looking for the latest version of the book follow the links below.

or or

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SketchUp: Apply an Image to a Curved Surface

How to use an imatge as a texture and be sure it is sized properly?
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Many times we just used plain paint materials in SketchUp, but other times we need to use images as textures. Applying images as materials is a simple process, but there are certain things that are important to know to apply them the way we want to.
If we simply want to see the image on a flat surface in SketchUp, we can skip using the image as a material and simply import the image as such. For that, simply go to File --> Import and select the image you want to place. You will be able to place it as an object.
If we want to apply the image onto a curved surface, the thing becomes a bit more tricky. To do this, we have to turn the image into a material. Follow these steps to do it properly.
  1. File --> Import the image.
  2. Resize it to be the right size you want it to be projected
  3. Right click on it and explode it
  4. Click on the Sample Paint tool in the materials browser and click on the exploded image
  5. Enter the group or component containing the curved surface and apply the material to it.

Let see this process graphically. Point 1 and 2. After importing the image, we place it and size it to the position we want it projected. IN this case, I am trying to paint the below curved surface created with Soap Skin Bubble and the Soften Edges Tool with the CAD-Addict website header. I align the image to fit exactly with the surface width. See below.

After the image is placed properly, we need to explode it. Right click on it and select Explode. This will add the image as a material with the right size and position. We can select the material using the Sample Tool (A in the picture below) or simply browse the "in Model" materials in the material browser and find the thumbnail that corresponds to the new material created from the image (B in the picture below).

After this, we simply enter the component select the surface and apply the material. The result should be something like this.

It is very important that we enter the component or group and apply the material directly to the curved surface, if instead of that we apply the material to the component (being outside of it), SkechUp will not recognized the softened surface as one and will apply the image to each and every face of the object, making it look like this.

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SketchUp Plugins: Create Custom Windows / Curtain Walls

Easily create Windows with a Plugin that works as good as windowizer but that will do any window shape or custom design.
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I wrote not so long ago about Rick Wilson´s Windowizer Plugin to create Windows from a face. Windowizer is great, but it only creates windows based on a regular grid (number of rows - number of columns).
TIG's Latticeizer (Laticeizer.rb) does what Windowizer 3.0 can't. It creates a window with it's mullions and glass parts from a series of faces, cleaning up the intersections very neatly. See how from this set of faces (all faces have to be coplanar) i easily created a custom window.

All faces need to be coplanar and need to be Grouped. The dialog Box will let yo choose the settings, sizes, colors, etc. Pretty Cool. Thanks TIG!!

Download the Plugin Here.

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AutoCAD Express Tools: Replace Blocks

Replace all the instances of a Block for a different one with this express tools.
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I use quite often simple Blocks as placeholders for parts of the drawing that might change or get more detailed in the future. This might apply to windows, doors, toilets, staircases,etc. We might want to put a placeholder to have a rough idea of the space needed for those objects, and later on we might want to replace that placeholder for the final and more detailed block. How do we do that in a simple and fast way?
We use the BLOCKREPLACE express tool. With this command, we can easily pick the block we want to replace and the Block that will replace it. When we enter the command, we will get the following dialog box, where we enter the name of the block to be replaced. If we don't remember the name, we can simply press the pick button and select the block on the screen.

After selection the block to replace, the same dialog will ask us for the block we want to use as a replacement. For this command to be effective, we must have two blocks that have their 0,0,0 coordinate (their insertion point) at the same location, and not be rotated differently. Otherwise, the new blocks will not show in the proper location or with the proper rotation.

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SketchUp: Site Design - Randomizing Vegetation

How do you randomize the scale and rotation of a series of objects? Wiht one of Chris Fullmer's Plugins!
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On my recent post about site design, we saw how to easily place trees on site using the Drop plugin.
Once those trees where placed I found myself wanting them to be a bit more random. I didn't like the fact that all of them where the same size. The intention was to ebable to Select them all and turn them into randomly scaled-rotated copies. So I asked at the Sketchucation Forums, and I got the answer to my wishes.
Chris Fullmer's SCALE ROTATE MULTIPLE (clf_scale_rotate_multiple.rb) does exactly that. You simply select a set ob objects, and run the plugin through Plugins --> Chris Fullmer Tools --> Scale and Rotate Multiple --> Scale and Rotate All Randomly. On the dialog box you set the paramaters of maxim and minimum scale and maximum and minimum rotation and that's it. See how the All equal trees on the first image become randomly scaled on the second one.

IN this case the rotation doesn't matter because of the simplicity of the tree component, but if I ever replace it with a more complex/realistic tree, the instances will be also randomly rotated.
To download the Plugin and to see a quick explanation video, go to the Sketchucation original thread (need to be registered to download)

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AutoCAD: Breakline and Dimjogline

Draw the breakline symbol and dimension elements that contain this symbol properly
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When doing detailed sections and other similar drawings, we tend to not draw the entire length of a facade. Rather, we detail certain parts and represent them in a sequence. To separate those different parts we use the break line symbol. This symbols also used on floor plans to represent the point where the stair intersects with the cut plane of the floor plan (at school they always told us to consider 1.5m as the cutting plane for floor plans)
AutoCAD has an express tool to draw the break line symbol, no big secret. Simply enter BREAKLINE or go to Express --> Draw --> Break-Line Symbol. You will enter the 2 points you want the break-line symbol to reach, and the third point you pick is where the jogged line will appear. See how in the detail below, 2 break line symbols have been used to separate the different parts of the detail.

If there is an element that we want to dimension that gets cut by this break line, we might want to represent the dimension symbol with a jogged line too, so whoever reads the drawing understands that the dimension shown is the real dimension not considering that we have cut part of the drawing for representation purposes. To do this, we need to use the command DIMJOGLINE, that will allow us to add the jog line to an existing dimension. The result being something like this.

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SketchUp. Adding Text to Dimensions and Keeping them Dynamic

Add descriptive text to your dimensions without breaking the capacity of these to get updated dynamically
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From the official Google SketchUp Blog we get this tip on how to add text to dimensions and keep them dynamic. Once we have placed a dimension, this will update if the objects link to it move. When we add the text, the dimension will not update anymore unless we do this.

The trick is simple, once you added the text, replace the dimension value for <>.This will show your text and the dynamic dimension near it. If you want to have a line break (windows only) add this \n where you want the line break to happen.

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SketchUp Plugins: Site Modeling - Place Trees

Easily transfer your trees from your 2D drawing to the right position (height) on your site model.
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I've been working on a complex site model and needed to add several hundred trees on it. I found a Plugin that once you have the trees drawn in CAD 2D makes it a two click process to put the trees on your site.
The plugin drop.rb drops objects till they hit some base plane. This is very useful to place our trees on the site. What we do, is we simply import the file were all the trees are in 2D.

Once we have imported the CAD file with the trees into SketchUp, we move the trees higher than our site, select them all and with a right click we select "drop at intersection". The trees will drop till they "hit" the site, each of them being placed at the right height.

Once they are dropped, we can edit one of them to turn them into a 3D tree. Since they were blocks imported from AutoCAD they act like components, so all the trees will be updated.

See this last view of the street wit all 3D trees placed at the right height. All with a two click process.

You can download the plugin here.

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SketchUp: Hide Unwanted Edges

Hide those edges you don't want to see in an easy and quick way.
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Almost a year ago, I wrote a post on How to hide all the edges of an object. Although what it's there is still valid if that is what you need, there is a much better way to do this.
You simply need to select the geometry you want to hide the edges of, and go to Window --> Soften Edges. This will bring the smooth soften edges dialog box to the screen, where you can play with the options of how to soften (hide) those edges.

As a quick example see how this surface created with Soap Skin Bubble, was soften to show how I wanted.

What you need to understand though, is that you are not just hiding the edges, you are joining the two faces too. The resulting surface will be one.

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Rhino Plugins: Export to SketchUp

Export files from Rhino to SketchUp skipping any oder transition format
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When exporting files from Program to Program the best way to go is to to the export directly between this two formats. Generic formats like 3Ds work, but tend to make the process tedious, and generally the resulting file needs some clean-up.
For the transition between Rhino and SketchUp, there is a Plugin to export files from the former to the later directly.
The plugin can be downloaded here. More information about it, on the McNeel website.
I've been out on vacation for a couple of weeks. I'll try to catch up with lots of posts I have on a list during the next weeks.

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