Installing Express Tools in AutoCAD Architecture 2011

Check that you are installing the express tools before running your ACA 2011 installation. They are important.
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We have seen in several posts how useful Express Tools are (both in AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture). It is important to know that in some versions, installing these tools is not set as default on the installation programs. So let's go quickly into how to install these awesome tools from the very beginning.

This post applies to AutoCAD Architecture 2011 which I had to reinstall in one computer recently. But I assume for other versions it might be quite similar. When you run the set up program and after entering you serial number and product key, you'll come to the following screen.

Press on configure and you will be able to modify some of the installation parameters. On the first screen you'll choose Network or Stand-Alone license, on the second one is where you'll have to choose to select the express tools. See below.

First you need to press "Custom" and then browse till you see the express tools on the list and select them to be installed. On the image above you see the default status, where the Express Tools would not be installed.

That's it, now your AutoCAD Architecture 2011 Installation will include the Express Tools

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SketchUp to Maxwell Beginner Tutorials

A set of tutorials to learn how to create photorealistic images in Maxwell from Sketchup.
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I've been praising how good it is to use Maxwell Render to create photorealistic images. Aidan Chopra posted a link to the tutorials website where you can find an entire set of tutorials to learn how to work from SketchUp to Maxwell to create this images. The tutorials are listed below.

via Official Google SketchUp Blog.

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Why do I blog?

Some people ask me that, I have a list of answers.
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Often I get the question, why do you blog? What does it bring to you to keep updating a website? Well the reasons are several.

Reason #01: To remember
As many of you might know, I started blogging more to remember what I had learned than to share knowledge. This website started as an online repository of my brain. Things we use every day stick in our heads, but sometimes, things we learn one day and we do not use until 6 months later tend to stay in that area of the brain where they are hard to retrieve. Writing them down on a notebook might help, for me, this was the platform I chose for my notebook, so I could come back here every time I couldn't remember something I knew I had already learned how to do.

Reason #02: To share
Soon after I started posting stuff here, I started to get comments like:"wow thanks, this helped me a lot". This was a big kick on my motivation to write more often. Think about it, how many times you google for some solution of a relatively simple problem but it takes you quite long to find the answer? Many people might be having the same problem. Posting the solution you find, might help many people save time by organizing the information better. Almost all the information is out there on the internet, the problem is that there is so much info and not always structured to answer your specific problem. Find it, organize it, post it on a blog. You'll be helping others and again helping yourself remember.

Reason #03: To learn
After blogging for some months, I must admit, I started caring about this website further than just being "my online repository". I decided to give it a better look, so I tried to learn what I could on how to rearrange widgets, columns, create expandable posts, burn feeds, etc. Everything I wanted to do with the website, I sort of learned it from others who blogged about it before.
But I not only learned about HTML, CSS or how the blogger platform works. I also learned more about Architecture, Construction, SketchUp, AutoCAD, Desing, etc. By forcing myself to find new content for the site. I am trying to have at least one post per week minimum. This means that every week I should learn something new that is worth being posted. Well that doesn't always happen. When I didn't learn anything knew, I searched for it on other blogs and when i found something I thought it was relevant I reposted or linked to it here.

Reason #04: To improve my language skills
I am not a native English speaker, I think this can still be seen in my way of writing. I do not think too much when I write in English, but in almost every post there is a couple of words I must look for on a dictionary because they are still missing on my "words I know in English" dictionary. If you are not a native English speaker, I really recommend you to blog in English. First, you'll be reaching a much wider audience and second, you'll be imporving your skills.
I have been also trying to extend this to German (there is a German version of the website here) to improve my technical knowledge of German while i was in Germany, although i have to confess German is in no way as easy as English to learn, so i got a bit stuck there.

Reason #05: Networking
As you build reader counts, or followers or whatever, you are actually building a sort of network of peers all over the world who have similar interests. I can't say this has helped me much professionally yet. The AEC industry is for many still an industry where IT enters slowly, where not so many people (compared to other industries) have an online presence, a twitter account or know the difference between a Blog or a regular website. Still, I think on the long run, and living in a society that tends to go more and more into the digital world, building yourself an online reputation is important. And if I am wrong with it, I can only say I am actually having fun with this anyway, so there is no time wasted.

If you reached this far, first thanks, and second, I would like to ask you what do you think. Why do you blog, if you do? And if you don't? What is it stopping you from doing it?

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SketchUp: Creating Filled Section Cuts (Poche)

Options to show the section area with a Poche (Colored Fill)
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Just saw via the Official Google SketchUp Blog a video from Bob Pineo about creating Poches (the colored section cut fills). See the video below

This seems like a good method for its flexibility. There are other alternative methods to do something similar. One of them was already explained here at CAD Addict. It uses the SectionCutFace Plugin.

The third option is to use a default option in SketchUp. When we have created a section plane, we can select the section plane entity, right click and select "Create Group from Slice". This will create the edges of the needed Poche (Fill Section Cut). You will need to edit this newly created group to Fill it with a face manually or suing a plugin like Make Faces from lines.

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Indigo Renderer 2.4 is out!

New release of Indigo Render is out.
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Glare Technologies has announced the release of Indigo Renderer 2.4.

A page outlining the new features and improvements can be viewed here

Some High resolution images are available here and here.

Haven't tried Indigo Renderer myself, but the image results seem promising. See the video above.For those who did try it, I'd like to ask you: Is it easy to use? Is it easy to achieve photorealistic results? How is the render speed? Could you compare its performance with other render engines like V-RAY or Maxwell Render?

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Google Acquires Quicksee

Soon Streetview could include walkthroughs inside buildings thanks to this new Acquisition by Google.
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Quicksee has been acquired by Google as it can be seen on their website (Click on image).

This might mean that soon we will find "street view" features reaching the inside of the buildings and not just the streets. You can see a sample of the Quicksee idea on their website.

via Techcrunch.

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SketchUp Plugins: Slice Modeler

Create Slices of a model to easily simulate curved surfaces.
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Asteronimo has written this great script based on TIG's Slicer Plugin. The New plugin called SliceModeler.rb allows to slice the model in two directions to generate the necessary slides to build it on the real world. This is extremely useful when trying to reproduce curves surfaces (or their skeleton), and I can imagine it could be used on models of ships or to create the base for a complicated terrain.

I just created a quick overview video of this great plugin to share quickly its functionality. Be careful with the settings, the first time I used it I set it wrong and it created 200 slides on each direction crashing my computer (my fault, the plugin warned me).

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Is the Architect's Profession Dead?

So it seems reading the letter of a Spanish Architect to a Newspaper. How is it where you live?
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I was reading today in La Vanguardia a heartbreaking letter of a Spanish Architect talking about what it means to be an architect today in Spain. The original one can be read here, I will translate it below.

You are lucky, Mies van der Rohe. You never had to see this. Sert, Coderch, Sota, I envy you. You left thinking that architecture was an exciting and possible effort. Oíza, Solà, Miralles, I envy all of you who died when this profession still existed. Today it is no longer so. Today I see my friends, I see myself, wandering around comfortless, ashamed to be architects, scared, wishing not to be an architect, to be something else, anything else.

"¿Do you have something for me? I can work doing anything you want". Who was going to tell us that we would see the end of our passion, of our work, of everything. "Anything, please" Aalto, Jacobsen, who coould tell it to us.

There is nothing left. Nothing at all.


It is heartbreaking...I am curious, how is the reality in your own country. What do young architects do? Is it easy to find a job, a decent job, any job? Please, share below on the comments section. We will all benefit from it.

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SketchUp Plugins: Face Number Reduction

Reduce the number of faces in your model using this easy to use plugin. It will speed up your working time and improve render speed.
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POLYGON REDUCER (polyreduce.rb) is a SketchUp plugin to reduce the number of faces of SketchUp objects. It is useful especially when we use high poly models imported in our model or when we simply want some surfaces to be simpler and lighter. Below you can see a simple comparison of an object created with the Torus plugin before and after using the polyreduce with the face count on the left.

Above the initial object before using the Plugin. Below the object after running the Polyreduce plugin.

As you can see above, sometimes the object will not look so smooth as before running the plugin. This has an easy solution. We run the Soften Edges function and we can control again which edges are shown and which ones are hidden achieving a better result as it can be seen below.

To use the plugin you must select the faces you want to simplify. Then right click and select "Polyreduce" from the context menu. On the dialog box, you can select the percentage of reduction you want to use. Very useful Plugin!

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SketchUp 8 is Out!

A new version of the great SketchUp is out! Version 8 with many new features and tools.
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Google has announced today the release of Sketchup 8 (Pro and Free versions). They have also posted a quick video to showcase the new features. See it below.

There is also a new page listing the new features. For me, the greatest introduction is the "Solid Tools". It is what in other Programs like Rhino or AutoCAD would be called Boolean operations. Unfortunately, it is only for the Pro version. There are also new Geo-modeling tools and context gathering that will help you get better site context and better quality terrain. Also, Layout is updated to version 3 with new features. My favourite though are definetily the new Solid Tools.

This new features will leave a couple of plugins obsolete. One, the comercial one called BoolTools. With the new Solid Tools, Pro users will be able to do this without the need of a plugin. Also, the Volume Calculator Plugin will not be needed anymore, since SketchUp pro will automatically calculate the volume for Solid entities.

Haven't seen so far any mention to Multi-Processor support which is a pity, but well, one step at a time.

via Official Google SketchUp Blog: Announcing Google SketchUp 8

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