Fix ‘Workflow Bottleneck’ by Spreading the Load
Get more of the team learning skills needed for 3D modelling and BIM
Recently I have been working with numerous clients who all have a similar problem. They need to improve and streamline their Vectorworks workflow to move from 2D plans to 3D elevations, sections and isometric views.
The majority of Vectorworks users within a team are designers. The majority of the team are competent 2D users of Vectorworks. Many of whom have been using Vectorworks for many years. This team of designers, usually 20-30 strong, rely on a small team, usually only 2 or 3 people who take the team’s 2D plans and elevations and convert them into stunning photorealistic 3D rendered visuals. These visuals form an important part of the design presentation and are used to convey design concepts to the client. The visualisation of the design often has a huge impact on winning business.
So the problem is clear. A large team of designers, all working on different projects, with different timescales, relying upon only a handful 3D modellers and renderers is bound to cause a massive bottleneck in the design practice. This in turn causes stress and pressure on everyone concerned and increases the risk of error, potentially costing the practice time and money.
The solution is to make the most of your software and spread the load across the wider workforce.
So, the clients I have been working with have embarked on a new plan of action. Key people have been identified to sponsor and drive a new initiative among the team of designers. These teams are working with us to learn how to use Vectorworks for 3D modelling. Many of our clients are using the Vectorworks hybrid tools such as walls, doors and windows already — to create the graphics they need in plan views and also contain data on material specification. But they hadn’t appreciated that these objects also have a 3D component which is generated at the same time as the plan.
For example, let’s look at the Wall tool from the Building Shell toolset. Wall objects have 3D settings that are easy to use to create the correct 3D counterpart of the object, while drawing in a 2D Plan view. You can define the individual components that make up the wall and save these settings as a Wall Style. This is stored as a resource that can be saved in the user’s Favourite files to be reused in other projects. When creating a wall style with components, each component has a thickness assigned to them to show correctly in 2D. This setting is automatically used to generate the 3D counterpart. The additional setting of assigning a height to the wall completes the basic settings. The user can then view the 3D walls by simply changing to a 3D view. The designer can then decide whether or not they need to show the wall components or show the wall as a generic solid shape. Many of our clients are using Vectorworks hybrid tools for plans, and therefore have the beginnings of a move to 3D already in place. Here Vectorworks provides an interactive environment for synchronised 2D and 3D drafting, providing a rapid path to BIM Level 2.
Many product manufactures also have 3D CAD models of their products either online or by request. Vectorworks can import many different file formats including DWG, DXF and 3DS file formats. Just save them as 3D symbols for use in project drawings. But for those keen on modelling from scratch, Vectorworks 2013 has the handy Auto Hybrid command that will generate the plan from your model.
Vectorworks provides designers with software to create one model of the whole design or just part of a project. When drawn with hybrid tools and symbols this creates a model where plans can be generated alongside accurate elevations, multiple sections and stimulating perspective views. All of these views are of the same model and are sensitive to changes. They will update as and when changes and revisions need to be made.
The main aim of the current client’s projects is to get more people within the team confident and comfortable with 3D modelling. This frees up the 3D team to focus on detailing and rendering, while improving the skills of the rest of the team. Many of the people I have worked with have found modelling in Vectorworks a complete revelation, even when they have been using Vectorworks for years. Often they are surprised at how intuitive the software is, in a 3D environment and how it inspires their creativity. Creating your design in a 3D environment is much more intuitive than drawing technical elevations, sections and isometric views as 2D lines.
We have been helping companies with this important move to 3D through consultancy sessions, where we can assess the current situation and advise how the practice moves to 3D. This move is developed and assisted by a series of training sessions covering 3D modelling and the use of hybrid tools. And for those with BIM on the horizon, why not look at our BIM Readiness Assessment?