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5 Questions with Brian Graham, Furniture Designer and SharkCAD Pro super user

Tell us a little about who you are, your background and experience with CAD:

I’m an interior designer that morphed into a furniture designer, and that informs everything that I do. Understanding the context of how various pieces of furniture come together in a space and how they work together are fundamental to what I do. I’m a native of Southern California that moved to San Francisco about 30 years ago, originally as an interior designer with Gensler. I broke off on my own in 1999 and have been running my own design studio since then. I work as an independent consultant, partnering with manufacturers to design, develop and market new designs under their brand. I’m fortunate to be associated with some of the best companies in the business, including Decca, Geiger, Halcon, Knoll, Martin Brattrud and OFS. At any one time I have 4-5 products that either are in schematic design, engineering development or about to be launched, so my days are pretty varied. I don’t fabricate anything and I don’t have a shop…although sometimes I wish I did. My computer set up consists of a 2017 15” MacBook Pro with a 3.1 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. That’s hooked up to a 27” LG Ultra HD Display with a nice built in USB-C powered hub so I can power my computer and get closer to my goal of being dongle-less…if that’s even a term.

What kind of products do you design?

My focus is primarily on the contract furniture market, which means I’m knee deep into everything from systems to casegoods, tables and seating. Recently I introduced a number of new designs at our industry’s annual trade show, NeoCon, which is held every June in Chicago. And I’m already and work on new designs for 2019 and 2020.

How long have you used Shark?

I’ve been using Shark since before it was called Shark! (So would that time stamping be BS and AS?) I was an Ashlar guy and the VAR I was connected to, Robert Hagemeister out of Saybrook, Connecticut, suggested I look at this newly launched product called Concepts Unlimited. That was somewhere around the Winter of 2001, I think. It was a really good platform, and I liked the direct connection with Tim and Todd and all of the knowledge of the users in the Forum. I’ve never looked back.

How does Shark fit into your work flow?

My work flow is very unique to me, because I came into this profession drawing by hand. For me, everything starts with a sketch. Once I have the germ of something in that sketch, I immediately take it into Shark and scale it up so I’m working with real dimensions. I’ll take that as far as I can, and then I’ll print out some views and sketch over those to refine the gesture, then back onto Shark. It’s kind of reading and reacting and working in iterations until I arrive at what I’m after…or I’m at my deadline! Whichever comes first!

What is a piece of advice you’d like to impart on an aspiring designer?

I’d say it’s all about finding your voice in the market that you’ve chosen to pursue. Once you’ve staked out your turf, so to speak, I think you need to come to a design problem with curiosity, empathy and a point of view. You should have a well developed sense of how things should work, how they should feel and of course how they should look.

Is there anything else you want to share?

At it’s essence, design is an optimistic act, and so with all of the turmoil in the world I think we as designers need to remember that we have a unique set of skills to adapt and shape things for the better.

If you are interested in seeing more of Brian’s designs, visit him at Graham Design or on Instagram @grahamdesignsf

This article originally appeared on the Punch!CAD website, April 2018 >> https://www.punchcad.com/blog/post/5-questions-with-brian-graham-furniture-designer

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A Constructible Model with M Moser Associates

SketchUp spoke to Jason Li, Associate and Charles Corley, Director of Organisational Development at M Moser Associates about how virtual design and construction complements an integrated project design and delivery approach.

Over the past fifteen years, M Moser, a global AEC firm with an extensive track record in workplace design and construction, has used SketchUp and LayOut not only for design and conceptualisation but as a vital communication tool throughout the project delivery process.

What does the term “VDC” mean to M Moser?
Charles: It’s Virtual Design and Construction and by that we mean an entirely constructible 3D modelling workflow that empowers any stakeholder to understand and participate in a project. We can create a working virtual environment that makes everything clear to all project participants regardless of training or experience. Rather than relying on a highly coded or flat and disassembled, abstract set of documents, a visual reference is universal. A desk looks like a desk; a wall looks like a wall. You don’t need an expert interpreter of construction documents in order to understand fully and collaborate.

M Moser prefers to own as much of the responsibility on a project as possible. The best case scenario is we’re the designer, engineer, purchaser, and contractor. The deliverable, if you will, is the completed project. Throughout all of our offices worldwide, we use virtual design and construction out of a need to have everybody understand each other. We have an array of cultures, understandings, and backgrounds in construction. We want people to engage meaningfully and get the best out of each other’s contribution and expertise by constructing a project in SketchUp well before reaching the site. VDC is a communication tool that gets everybody on the path to the right result.

What types of projects do you focus on as a business?
Charles: We design and build workplaces. Not only corporate offices but corporate campuses, laboratories, private hospitals, private education facilities, and workplaces of all types. You name it, we’ve done it.

Using a nimble tool like SketchUp is also extremely important as these types of projects can be ever-changing. With more traditional building projects you have to nail down things well before construction for many reasons such as permitting, structural calculations, and ordering materials. But workplaces, even extremely large ones, can remain fluid in design. Even the size of the premises could change considerably. Departments can move around. Mergers and acquisitions could change the whole landscape of the office. The flexibility of SketchUp allows the entire team, including clients, specialists, and contractors to keep up.
Virtual construction starts to become tangible.


[Render; not just a pretty facade, the engineering can be equally eye-catching.

What is unique about the way you operate?
Charles: In some ways, we’re sort of the enfant terrible. We’re radical about change and are constantly evolving the way we think about construction information. Where many firms are steeped in more traditional documentation, we’re trying to make any record of construction information a by-product of the real collaboration and 3D work.

We don’t want to send out stacks of documents to people who have never seen it before and say, “Go read this and get back to us with a price.” We’d rather have them involved from the very beginning. This means, all the trades, contractors, suppliers, and the client working together in 3D, from concept to completion.

We’re trying to shake the tree where a lot of people don’t want to change. Jason and I have a lot of war stories about how people are incredibly stubborn to change and don’t wish to consider alternatives. We’ve broken down a lot of assumptions like, “You can’t use SketchUp for official documents to send to the government,” or “It’s not accurate enough,” or “We can’t collaborate with consultants using other programs.” These arguments have melted and fallen by the wayside.

Jason: M Moser could be considered quite unique in the industry because our focus is not just on the design. We have to consider the contractors and the build. For many companies, their role ends when they hand over the designs and completed documents, whereas we handover a complete result. And even beyond that, our role sometimes continues into operation and maintenance.

Construction detailing in LayOut can be templated for all projects in a region.

Your designers are charged with producing constructible models. Can they do this on the first pass?
Charles: Not every designer has the experience to really understand construction. They tend to draw the design intent, then they have to work with others to discover what’s possible.

As an example, just recently we had a team discussing an intricate reception counter. The contractor in the room pointed out: “If the table were four inches shorter, we could use off-the-shelf components and wouldn’t have to manufacture any custom pieces.” The designer made the change right then, rationalising that it wouldn’t really impact the overall look but offered a significant reduction in cost and lead-time. Thousands of collaborative discussions like this occur constantly, many of which wouldn’t be possible in 2D.

Jason: We collaborate on a daily basis; it’s not really like a factory where I do my job and pass to someone else, or “Here’s a stack of drawings, you go and do it.” Projects are realised through discussion and brainstorming. People have different backgrounds and this way we can truly avoid misinterpretations on what the designer intended.

Virtual construction sequencing can save months onsite.

People will always have differing opinions, so does it always go as planned?
Charles: What you would see in our meetings would be a group of people from very different professions, looking at a model being rotated on a large screen. The person leading the meeting is not coming up with all the answers, they’re the “chief question-asker.” The team answers the issues together, marking the live model and taking screen captures. They talk about what needs to change and sometimes even make these changes on-the-fly. It’s very much a team activity.

The notion of success mostly comes from the client but often there are multiple opinions. One might say, “I want to make sure I have the correct amount of meeting rooms;” another person says, “I want to make sure we finish on time;” another, “I want to make sure my boss coming from overseas is happy,” and so on. Those objectives blend together and form the definition of a successful project.

Jason: We’re using VDC as a methodology to ensure designers, engineers, professionals, specialists, and the client can communicate on an equal platform. Our goal is that everybody understands the project objectives to achieve results.

Collaboration throughout a project makes for a smooth delivery.


A slick reception area before, during, and after the build.

Building constructible 3D models looks to be a time-consuming exercise. Is it more efficient than it seems?
Charles: Many would say that you can do something in AutoCAD faster or easier than you can in SketchUp. We have found that is not the case if you use it intelligently. There is often a false understanding of time efficiency. Hand a project to a couple or draftsmen and they may spend hundreds of hours doing the drawings, not taking the time to understand construction. A senior stakeholder would then have to go through each page of the drawings to check them, applying the required 20 years of experience to effectively decipher it. Then there are the perspectives. Visualisers can spend an inordinate amount of time setting up beautiful—but only a limited number of—renders. All those hours really add up.

Jason: VDC forces the people who are doing the drawings to think about what they’re building, they can’t just draw lines. With our methodology, the modeller creates everything in SketchUp.
Then they split the model into different viewports in LayOut to see right away if something’s not working. The key difference is, any changes are immediately echoed through the entire set. Everybody’s job is faster and easier. The whole workflow is compressed and more evident to everybody at a glance. Errors are glaring, “Oh, look, this wall is not meeting the mullion correctly.” We can see where buildability is correct and where it is failing, and we can catch it early. There’s also less time spent on visualisations. We can use an extension to quickly do perspectives from any position in minutes instead of hours.


Finding a clash here, is one step closer to eliminating onsite issues.

Get everyone on the same page with exploded 3D fly-through animations.

What perspectives can your clients expect to see in the early design stages?
Jason: We do aim to deliver spectacular visuals to help convey our idea. At one time, we had a team of visualisation specialists dedicated to rendering, but it became a bottleneck because time had to be booked with the few 3D visualisers trained in that software.

We now have established ways to do as much as we can in SketchUp, which is the fastest way. There isn’t a steep learning curve. Everybody can have it and everybody can use it to develop gorgeous renderings with extensions. We don’t need so many specialists. In Shanghai and Singapore, we use renderers such as Enscape. In India, we lean more toward CPU-based renderers, including SU Podium.

Charles: We also had a problem with third-party drawn perspectives. A designer would freestyle to make something look better. In this process, they might have a detailed understanding of what the interior would look like, but would often leave out the air vents, access panels, joint lines, and sprinklers because they thought they were ugly. Even worse, they would enlarge or shrink objects to give a false impression of what one would experience.

By transitioning to the VDC methodology, we ensure that perspectives remain true to life. We can also deliver beautiful renders instantly, so you can quickly look at things from a different point of view. There’s a nimbleness that is lost when creating perspectives with other workflows where the same limited views are updated over and over again.


Render; a visually stunning workplace is a productive workplace.

Does your methodology transverse regions?
Charles: We developed our approach because we work with contractors trained in very different ways and to some extent that continues today. However, we think that the constructibility aspect of VDC is applicable anywhere. There’s a great deal of value in being able to do virtual mock-ups and say, “Are you sure this is what you want? Because look here, this could be improved.”

Constructible models eliminate wasted resources and materials and allow for an unprecedented attention to detail before reaching the site. If you think of everything in a project as separate systems that must come together, there’s a huge amount of coordination required in what was traditionally called the design development stage. We now choose to call this integrated development because we are essentially combining the power, lighting, partition, and furniture systems.

The integrated development stage is where much of the change occurs and decisions are made. Documentation for the record is memorialising what we had agreed during all this collaborative effort. Documents may be still necessary for now but they record what was already worked out and understood by all and don’t serve to gain that agreement. That was done through a highly constructible model—a virtual construction.


Photograph; the finished product, a clean and crisp space featuring natural materials.

About M Moser Associates
M Moser Associates has specialised in the design and delivery of workplace environments since 1981, with clients from the corporate, private healthcare, and education sectors. With over 900 staff in 16 offices on three continents, the company provides a holistic approach to physical and digital workplace environments of all scales.

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Making a door and window schedule in SketchUp

Let’s take a look at how you can combine Advanced Attributes and ‘Group By” aggregation in Generate Report to create door and window schedules.
To generate a schedule, we’ll start by adding a few attributes to the door and window components in my model. Specifically, we’ll add a Size using the new Advanced Attributes (access these through the “More” button in the Entity Info window). In addition to Size, there is a new attribute for Price, URL, Owner, and Status. These fields allow you to add information to any component, and they can also be called upon by LayOut labels (we’ll look at those a few paragraphs on)!

These attributes can be used to add data to components without creating Dynamic Components.
In addition to defining a Size for all components, we also want to make sure all components have an instance name. Instance Names are also defined in the Entity Info window, and are the data object we’ll use to create an aggregated schedule for our doors and windows.
In most cases, all instances of a door or window will have the same Instance Name, but in some cases (such as a door which can swing either left or right) a single component may end up having more than one Instance Name. In this example, we had one door component. Two of these doors swung left and were labeled D1. The third, a right swing, was labeled D2. Same component, but different real world thing: each real world thing should have a unique Instance Name!

The Instance Names will populate the labels once the model is in LayOut
Once the data is all set in the model, it’s time to run a report! In Generate Report, we’ll create a brand new template. Make sure to give your new template a name and save it (The guy who made the video below forgot this important step!).
The first step in creating the new report is to choose where the information will come from. In this example, we want to report upon the entire model and choose to report upon a specific nesting level. In this case, Level 3.
“What the heck is a nesting level?” you ask? Level 1 is the model, Level 2 is the buildings and loose components. Level 3 is the door and window components inside the buildings.

Now, we’ll  set the Group By value. This is the attribute by which Generate Report will aggregate components. In this case, we want all components with the same name to get consolidated together, so we will drag Instance Name into the Group By field. Finally, we can add any additional attributes that we would want on the schedule. In this example, we’ll add Quantity and Size to the Report Attributes list.

Saving a template allows you to run the same report on other jobs in the future.
Now we’ll Save and run the report. Once I run the report, it looks like a door and window schedule. Success! The final step in SketchUp is to export the report, so that we can load a .CSV into LayOut as a Table.

All the data you want, and nothing you don’t need!
Over in LayOut, the report comes in as a Table, which means it can be edited and styled (so we can change the column heading from Instance Name to Label). Even better, we can use the Label tool to add call-outs to the Model Window for the Instance Name of each door and window. Since the Instance Name was a standard attribute from SketchUp, we’ll simply choose it as an automatic label from the label dropdown (we could also use the Size or Component Name, if we wanted).

It’s just that simple!
There you have it: A little bit of pre-work in naming and organising components while modelling, and then you’re off to the races when it’s time to turn your model into a project. Happy sketching!
 

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From concept design to construction with SketchUp

Northpower Stålhallar is a construction company based in Stockholm, Sweden that specializes in warehouse construction. They build industrial warehouses using SketchUp from concept design all the way to the construction phase, including LayOut for construction documentation.

Tell us about  Northpower Stålhallar. What do you do?
Northpower Stålhallar was started in 2006 by two brothers from the northern part of Sweden. We were something completely different from the company you see today. Our founders were sitting in a small office by themselves. Since then, the company has grown to almost fifty employees. Fifteen people work in the office, five people weld in our manufacturing department, and the rest are on our work sites building the projects.

Northpower Stålhallar’s office building. This includes a manufacturing unit, where many SketchUp designs come to life.
What was the company’s first experience with SketchUp. When did you first use it and why?
In the beginning, the two brothers were looking at other construction companies working in 2D and thought, “We don’t want to use 2D, we want to use 3D because you can visualize designs so much better”. They started to look around to understand what types of tools were on the market.
A company delivered a staircase to them for a project and one of the founders noticed it was drawn in SketchUp. He thought, “If they can do it, I can do it.” So he downloaded SketchUp and tried it. He found it to be fantastic. The cost is much lower than some of the other programs, so that was great too!
Can you talk about the space you are sitting in and its design in SketchUp? We’d love to take a virtual tour.
When you walk through the entrance, you have a view of our manufacturing unit. Everything made there is designed in SketchUp. You can see the steel being welded together. Northpower Stålhallar builds steels halls so our building is, of course, built with a steel frame.

Steel hall designs are a signature from Northpower Stålhallar
From the lobby, you can access the saunas (it’s a must in Sweden). There’s also a lunchroom, where we all sit and have lunch together. You can take the elevator up and that’s where we have our offices. When you come up, you’ll see a big open lounge area with sofas and TVs where you can sit and relax while waiting for a meeting. We also have table tennis, billiards, and an exercise room.
We modelled the whole thing in SketchUp. The painters were painting the designs exactly from the model. All of the furniture is inside the model too. This office is exact to the millimetre of its SketchUp model.


A lunchroom scene from the model of Northpower Stålhallar’s office
Walk us through a project lifecycle. How does SketchUp impact this?
In a typical project, our customer will have some idea of what they want to build. We sit with customers and discuss their needs. Our team will draw an initial idea live in SketchUp. We get a sense of the size of the space and we say, “Do you want a wall here or here? Do you need a window here or here?” That’s the best thing you can do with SketchUp—we decide everything directly and very quickly. If the client has a good sense of what they want, you can draw and deliver this initial idea in a couple of hours. It’s super.


A 3D SketchUp model allows the Northpower Stålhallar team to visualise what they want to build
It’s always interesting when you start working with a customer and they see the 3D models. In the beginning, they see how much you can model and how quickly. They are accustomed to doing sketches on paper and they have to erase, draw it again, and do it that way. And when they see how much we do in SketchUp they say, “Ah! I have to learn this too”.
Once we finish the initial design, we have to do the drawings. We use LayOut to present drawings to our customers. It’s easy to update our documentation with LayOut as we make adjustments to the model.
Our clients normally need to submit architectural drawings to the government for planning approval. These help the government understand our design. From these, we get permission to build. When a client gets that permission, we begin the construction drawings. Our engineers take another week or so to work on the construction documents. In the meantime, we order and begin sourcing materials from our suppliers.

A construction drawing created in LayOut
Can you talk about how you collaborate with your suppliers using SketchUp?
We always push our manufacturers to deliver everything to us in 3D. If you can’t draw it in 3D, we won’t buy from you. We’ve done this for a couple of years and almost everyone has followed. So today, when we order something, we send them our model and show them what we need. They look at it and can say, “We can deliver these parts for this price”.

For Northpower Stålhallar, everything is designed in 3D, including the screws and bolts
Once we agree, they send us the 3D model for specific parts, normally as IFC files. Then we’ll import the IFC file into our SketchUp model to see if there are any clashes. It’s much easier to look around a 3D model than 2D drawings with measurements, for example. All of this is checked in SketchUp directly.  
When you start a new project in SketchUp, do you start from scratch? Do you have any workflows that save time when working on a new project?
We implemented standard measurements that we apply to models as much as we can. It’s much easier for us to use SketchUp this way, like a grid system. We push customers to use these standards so that we can design it and build it more easily.


Northpower Stålhallar takes this design all the way to finished project using SketchUp
We also start most projects from a standard model. From there, we like to take solutions from previous 3D models. We copy solutions from project to project. When you’re designing in 3D, it’s so easy to pull these things in. We started a library in SketchUp to help with this where we collect the solutions that we’ve come up with before. Now, you can just drag it directly from the library to the model.

Copying solutions from project to project allows Northpower Stålhallar to save time when iterating through designs
As a company that uses SketchUp from concept design all the way to construction phase, can you share your take on using SketchUp to build a constructible model?
Before I started at Northpower Stålhallar, all I heard was people using SketchUp to design an idea of what something would look like; the outer shell let’s say. However, I learned that you can use it to design exactly what and how you will build. As engineers, if something is 3 millimetres wrong, it won’t fit. So for us, we draw everything down to the millimetre precision. We order components from our suppliers to the millimetre. For us, SketchUp does this perfectly.

This scene focuses on a warehouse’s steel frame; finding a clash here eliminates issues on-site
How do you use SketchUp models to work with your construction staff on site?
We share models with our construction workers. This way, they can look at them on-site using their laptops or phones. Every time we update something important, they see those updates to the model. We know they’ll look at the model, so it’s important for it to be up-to-date and accurate. We’ve noticed that the more our construction staff use the product, the fewer questions we get.

A construction team member navigates through a SketchUp model
Before, they would have questions about the measurement on a beam for example. Now, they’ll look at the model themselves and answer their own questions. For them, it’s easier to be able to access the information directly from the design.
Some of our construction teams have no prior experience with SketchUp. One advantage of SketchUp is how easy it is to learn compared to other programs. We sit with our staff, even just two hours, and they understand how to look around a model and access the important information.

Get everyone on the same page; collaboration makes for a smooth project delivery
What’s next for how your team uses SketchUp?
We’re trying to expand our use of ‘generate report’ to get more information from our models. We’re also trying to get more information into the models. What we want is as much information as we can get into our 3D models so that the model is the only thing we have to work from.
Extensions you can’t live without?
IRender, CleanUp, Cutlist, Auto-Invisible Layer

The Northpower Stålhallar team in SketchUp

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Tom Kaneko Design & Architecture: Sketch, Design / Build in Practice


Tom Kaneko is an architectural designer and SketchUp ninja specialising in bespoke residential retrofits and extensions in the United Kingdom. In this conversation, we delve into his workflow and how he uses SketchUp to deliver value to his clients within the constraints of a tight budget. For Tom, ‘SketchUp makes the means of design & communication, with client and contractor, one and the same’.
Tell us about your background as an architect and how this influences your approach to design.
I’m drawn to the technical aspects of the profession and the site. Luckily I had a very hands-on experience at the University of Edinburgh that has served me well in practice. As a designer, you have to know your craft… knowledge gaps become apparent when you transition from design to construction, particularly when engaging in conversations with builders and subcontractors.
What was the “Aha!” moment for you with SketchUp?
It came in 2011 when I was working on Jemima’s House, an extension to a terraced Victorian house with big ambitions and a tight budget.

SketchUp model and photo of completed project showing view from dining area into garden at Jemima’s House, London.
To manage the budget, keep my fees down and still deliver value to my client, I had to be very efficient with my time. We wanted to create an interesting and functional space, using inexpensive materials in a considered way. This meant I had to rapidly iterate to test and discuss ideas with Jemima. Modelling the concept in SketchUp helped immensely during our conversations as I could quickly communicate my intent in 3D and also reflect changes easily.
For the retrofit and extension projects that I’ve specialised in, minute details like insulation thickness can affect the final usable floor area. Communicating these details clearly to builders is very important so that the client gets the most value.
In SketchUp, I create all the detail drawings we need, and virtually construct the entire building before we go on site. By doing this, I’m able to spot every mistake. Once I saw that I could go from concept design to construction details in SketchUp on this project, I stopped exporting my sections or details to other CAD software. Now I know that what I’ve drawn is what the builders will have.

3D details of extension frame construction.
The smooth transition from concept to the site is crucial for a successful building – How do you ensure this and how does SketchUp support your workflow?
I start every concept with hand drawn sketches. I focus on getting the flow of the plan right, whilst incorporating the client’s requirements and desires within the limitations of a typical London terrace.

Hand drawn early concept plan.
At the schematic design stage, I get a survey of the existing building done, and turn that into a SketchUp model. In terms of my model structure, each floor is its own component, walls and floors are separate, and furniture and people are on individual layers. Having a well organised model makes it easy for me to make changes or remove elements. I also set up all my key scenes and sheets early on in SketchUp Pro and LayOut… floor plans, sections, main elevations and perspective views of the main spaces.
One typical design challenge I have is to achieve a great sense of space in the interior with a higher roof line, whilst considering the shadows cast on neighbours. At this point, testing out ideas in section and 3D helps me arrive at a unique, contextually appropriate response.

Early concept model showing 3D image & sectional test of context responsive roof pitch.
The output from the model can be used for sunlight studies which might be submitted as part of the planning application documents.

Early sunlight studies showing the positive impact of a context responsive roof pitch. Shadows cast by the proposal do not negatively impact the neighbouring building
Once the plans and sections are agreed, I create a separate construction model to really drill down into the details. Some of the angles in the roofline mean we have very bespoke junctions and I have to be able to clearly communicate the construction and design intent to the builders.

Construction drawing sheet created in SketchUp’s LayOut showing an exploded perspective of a bespoke oak frame end wall and details of key junctions.
As the design progresses, I usually create a separate model for each key stage. A simple schematic model will have several iterations… changes can take five minutes or forty minutes depending on how big a leap we’re making. A big win is that I can quickly update the section views using Skalp for SketchUp, and LayOut automatically picks up the changes. The final proposal from LayOut is what I use for the planning application.
Next, I create a detailed construction model that takes us on-site. Instead of hollow walls, the technical construction model articulates wall and roof details.
I’ve found that showing builders assemblies and perspectives in 3D helps them really get behind the design intent. They have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve and why. In my experience, clear information leads to great relationships on the building site. Some really experienced builders on previous projects have told me my construction drawings from LayOut are some of the best details they’ve ever seen!

Image showing construction sequence. Dangan Road Project by Tom Kaneko Design.
What drawing standards and style templates do you use most in SketchUp and why?
My LayOut template is very pared back and simple. I usually place drawings on an A3 sheet, as it’s a good size to view things on the computer and in print. I use the font Helvetica for annotations and keep all sheets simple, legible and scalable. Over time I’ve developed my own set of revision clouds and drawing title blocks but my principle is to keep the graphics minimal so that the design can take centre stage.
What is your approach to rendering and visualisations?
I use Thea for renderings because it’s simple and embedded in SketchUp. It’s also a great design tool for lighting.
What keyboard shortcut could you not live without?
Hide rest of model without a doubt! “Ctrl + H” allows me to edit a tiny component within a vast space. Ed. note: Ctrl + H is a custom shortcut set by Tom. Make your own custom shortcuts, too!

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Make (even) better drawings with LayOut

There’s more to SketchUp than 3D modelling. Let’s take a look under the hood and explore one of the built-in features that make SketchUp so versatile and powerful.
For presenting work to clients, planning boards, contractors — whomever — we still use 2D drawings to convey design and detail. That’s pretty clear.
And if you read this blog you’ve seen that LayOut is the most efficient way to turn SketchUp models into diagrams, drawings, CD sets, presentations, or even just scaled prints.

We have to say it… if you aren’t using LayOut, you’re missing out! Page courtesy of Dan Tyree

SketchUp Pro and LayOut are designed together to help you make phenomenal drawings. So why not take the next step and learn LayOut? We think you should.
Of course, you’re welcome to download SketchUp Pro 2019 to give LayOut a try. But if you are already working in LayOut, we invite you to read on and learn how to make even better drawings.

Create Scaled Drawings
A SketchUp model is not the only entity that has a scale in LayOut. LayOut’s tools to draw to scale in 2D. Sketch a detail from scratch or add scaled linework over your SketchUp models — directly in LayOut. Gone are the days when you’d have to go back into SketchUp to create a 2D drawing or eyeball the position of a dashed line to show an overhead cabinet.
Once you’ve created a scaled drawing, you’re free to re-set scales as you wish; your work will resize as necessary. And as you would expect, your scaled drawings are fully supported by LayOut’s Dimension tool.

Complement or sketch over SketchUp viewports with line-work that can be drawn (and dimensioned) at scale.

For all the ways you draw…
Drawing heuristics are what we do. LayOut’s tool-set makes drawing details easier. Here are three of our favorites:
Use the 2 Point Arc tool to find tangent inferences. You can also use it to create chamfers and fillets with a specified radius.

When editing a line, you can select multiple segments and points while adding and subtracting entities to your selection.

Don’t want LayOut to automatically join new line segments with existing ones while you’re drawing? There’s a right-click menu item to toggle that off.

Group Edit and Entity Locking
To support scaled drawings, editing grouped entities in LayOut works just like it does in SketchUp. That means it’s way easier to modify grouped entities and thus, it’s much easier to keep your documents well organised. Bonus: you can also control “rest of document” visibility while editing groups.
Similar to group editing, locking entities is fundamental to how many people organise and navigate projects (both models and documents). In addition to locking layers, you can easily lock individual LayOut entities to cut down on accidental selections — just like in SketchUp.
Draw to the .000001”
Accurate dimensions are an obvious requirement for any drawing set. LayOut displays dimensions as precisely as SketchUp can model: up to 0.000001 centimetres.
By happy coincidence, this precision also allows you to dimension across distinct SketchUp viewports in order to create an excellent section detail like this…

Two SketchUp viewports with clipping masks; one accurate dimension string.

LayOut: A+, plays well with others.
Finally, we understand that not everyone works in LayOut. Your colleagues may use other CAD applications. You may use other CAD applications. So we introduced a DWG/DXF importer to LayOut. You can import files from your colleagues and your own existing CAD content — title blocks, blocks, pages, and geometry — all to a scale that fits within your LayOut paper size.
Because however you work — in and out of SketchUp — LayOut is here to help you make great drawings.

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Chaos Cloud; cloud rendering from a single click!

Chaos Cloud is a simple, fast and smart remote cloud rendering service with single-click job submissions directly from V-Ray. Chaos Cloud is available now and accessible via a button within V-Ray for 3ds Max, Maya, Rhino, Cinema 4D, Revit, Modo, Houdini [beta] and SketchUp (Next and 3.6 editions). 

The Chaos Cloud service removes unnecessary workflow complexity, such as the installation of plugins, manual asset uploads, and virtual machines setup.
Chaos Cloud is designed with architecture and product visualisation in mind. It is the optimal solution for workflows that require multiple design iterations, and it pioneers a smart-upload mechanism that breaks down the scene and fetches only elements that have been changed.
The service also delivers on Chaos’ promise to keep revolutionising the way movies are made. Chaos Cloud leverages cloud capacity to render an entire shot in the time it usually takes to render one frame.
Part of the service is a mobile-friendly job-monitoring portal that allows for simple job edits and on-the-go job resubmission, even without access to the scene itself.
Chaos Cloud is a simple integrated service that brings fast cloud rendering to individual V-Ray users in the architectural visualisation, product design and VFX industries. It addresses the need for a streamlined, user-friendly, remote-rendering service for architects, visual artists and product designers.
It is designed for users with a low tolerance for technical complexity seeking workflows that do not hinder their iterative creative processes. Chaos Cloud does not target users with complex and more complete production pipeline use cases

KEY FEATURES
Smart Sync. Chaos Cloud automatically uploads exactly what it needs to render. And whenever a scene is updated, it only re-syncs the data that’s changed — keeping upload times to the absolute minimum.
Remote Control. Adjust job settings in the Chaos Cloud dashboard without having to resubmit a scene.
Live View. Watch a render as it happens from anywhere on any device. As soon as a job is submitted, users can monitor its progress from a computer, tablet or even a smartphone.
Smart Vault. Chaos Cloud stores projects in the cloud, including assets, so they only need to be uploaded once

Buy Chaos Cloud Credits here.

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Shaderlight 2019 released and supports SketchUp 2019


Popular rendering plugin for Trimble SketchUp, Shaderlight, has had a major update. The new release fully supports the latest version of Trimble’s 3D modeller, SketchUp 2019.
In addition to SketchUp 2019 compatibility, Shaderlight 2019 includes a number of updates to the software including the ability to render transparent materials in chalk renders.
Shaderlight’s chalk rendering feature is used to render an image with reduced detail, simply shading according to the depth of recesses.  In this latest update, transparent objects rendered in chalk renders will now remain transparent, further helping to show the basic structure of a model.
Workflow enhancements to Shaderlight 2019 include the ability to independently save render settings for each SketchUp scene and the support of macOS Mojave’s dark mode in the Shaderlight render window.
Kate Jackson, Commercial Director at Shaderlight, said, “Shaderlight 2019 is once again ready for customers updating to the latest SketchUp release.  We are pleased to be able to include some useful updates to Shaderlight in this release which add to those we released throughout 2018.
What’s new in Shaderlight 2019?
* SketchUp 2019 support
* Transparent objects can now remain transparent in chalk renders
* Shaderlight’s render settings can now be saved independently for each SketchUp scene
* Prevent computer from entering sleep mode while rendering
* Shaderlight will suspend App Nap for the plug-in while rendering on macOS
* Added a 4K UHD output resolution preset
* macOS Mojave’s dark mode is supported in the Shaderlight render app
* Shaderlight warns when using the ‘Quit Shaderlight’ menu option on macOS while rendering
You can purchase Perpetual or Annual licenses from our Shaderlight 2019 Collection

Let’s take a closer look at what’s New in Shaderlight 2019:
Transparent objects can now remain transparent in chalk renders
In previous releases, the ‘chalk’ render mode would make all objects appear white and opaque. In this release, there is a new ‘Transparent glass’ option when chalk mode is active, which makes most transparent objects render in their non-chalk mode. This can make form and massing studies more intuitive when large areas of transparency are used.
Shaderlight’s render settings can now be saved independently for each SketchUp scene
The Shaderlight Render Settings dialog now has an option to save the current settings with the active SketchUp scene, making it possible to save different settings for all or some of the scenes in a model.
Prevent computer from entering idle sleep mode while rendering
If a long-running render has been started, it will no longer be interrupted by the computer entering idle sleep mode. Idle sleep is re-enabled after the render completes and the computer can always be forced to sleep manually.
(macOS) Suspend App Nap for Shaderlight while rendering
On macOS, the operating system can put a process into ‘App Nap’ if none of its windows are currently visible. This drastically reduces the amount of CPU time it receives and, in Shaderlight’s case, effectively pauses rendering if you switch to another program and cover up the Shaderlight render window. Shaderlight will now ask the operating system not to put it into App Nap while a render is in progress, to ensure that the render completes in a reasonable time.
Added a 4K UHD output resolution preset
This increasingly common resolution is now easier to select.
(macOS) Mojave’s dark mode is supported in the Shaderlight render app
The Shaderlight Message window has been tweaked so that it remains legible when macOS’s dark mode is in effect.
(macOS) Shaderlight warns when using the ‘Quit Shaderlight’ menu option while rendering
The previous release of Shaderlight introduced a warning if you attempt to close the Shaderlight render window while a render is underway, to help prevent unintended loss of progress. This release extends that warning to the use of the ‘Quit Shaderlight’ menu option.
(Windows) Fix flickering cursor when Material Editor window is open
Shaderlight 6.2 inadvertently introduced a bug that could cause a flickering cursor on some Windows machines while the Material Editor window is open. This should no longer happen.
Fix disabled resolution settings after licence activation
Previously, the resolution ‘width’ and ‘height’ fields would remain disabled after activating a Pro licence until SketchUp had been restarted. These fields are now enabled immediately upon successful activation.

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V-Ray NEXT for SketchUp has arrived!

V-Ray Next for SketchUp is more than just a rendering engine. Designed to fit right within your SketchUp workflow, V-Ray Next for SketchUp gives you the added power to quickly and easily create photorealistic renders. Whether you want to show off a new model or visualise your most detailed 3D scene, V-Ray Next for SketchUp will help take your work to the Next level.
V-Ray Next for SketchUp features greatly improved workflow, making it easier and faster than ever to interact with your SketchUp scene, organise your assets, set up lighting, and render your best work. Smarter tech like 3D Scene Intelligence can now automatically analyse and optimise your renders for you, plus take advantage of many performance optimisations for both CPU and GPU rendering. What’s more, on average GPU rendering has been accelerated to be twice as fast as before.
V-Ray Next for SketchUp is immediately compatible with the new SketchUp 2019, as well as versions 2016-2018.
Buying options: Workstation [Perpetual], Student [Annual], Workstation [Annual], Render Node [Annual]
Register for the FREE ChaosGroup V-Ray NEXT for SketchUp webinar here 
 
WHAT’S NEW
STREAMLINED WORKFLOW

V-Ray Scene Importer. Import any .vrscene file directly as a SketchUp model with correctly sized and positioned objects, proper texture placement, lights and proxy references
New toolbar. Provides new access to top tools and simplified UI controls that will make it easier to set up cameras, adjust render settings and manage scenes
Improved Batch Rendering. Use the Cloud Batch Render function to render a SketchUp Scene batch on the V-Ray Cloud
Scene interaction tool. Get direct access to any level of the SketchUp hierarchy, so you can interactively adjust materials and light properties whenever an object is selected
Customisable viewport styles. Easily customise the way V-Ray items are displayed in the SketchUp viewport and hide them at will.
 


Asset Library Management. Manage assets of any type in an intuitive customizable folder structure. Quickly search through huge number of assets in either the built-in library or in any other library location
Asset Outliner. List and manage materials, lights, geometries, render elements and textures in a unified way and visualize shader hierarchies
Texture instancing. Map multiple material parameters with the same source texture to simplify the shader structure and management
Multi-selection. Select multiple scene or library assets as well as multiple toolbar filters to speed up your workflow
Universal asset preview. View preview of materials, lights, textures and render elements in a single viewer. Observe how parameter changes affect the appearance of the asset in a specific isolated setting
Intuitive asset creation. Quickly create new assets in the Asset Editor from the footer create menu, outliner filter icons or form the library Create section
Material ID & MultiMatte Render Elements. Render 2D masks of 3D objects for quick fixes in Photoshop and other image editors
UI display levels. Use either the Basic set of asset parameters or activate the Advanced mode to list all options
 

Material Metallnes. Added support for PBR shaders with its new Metallic layer of the Generic material

Curve Color Correction. Remap any texture colour values using R, G, B or H, S, V curve controls
 

Custom output resolution. Specify custom pixel resolutions without bothering with the aspect ratio

Intuitive camera UI. Redesigned layout for the camera controls letting you manipulate the quick and advanced parameters at the same time
Redesigned render settings UI. Better organisation for the advanced render settings with new functionality added
 

Adaptive Dome Light. Removes the need for setting up skylight portals, significantly speeding up your workflow when setting up interior scenes

New Lighting Analysis Tools. Now easier to visualise a scene’s real-world illumination values in lux or foot-candles
Automatic Exposure and White Balance. Once a scene loads, Auto exposure and white balance return the right settings, making the entire process point-and-shoot simple
 

Modernised shaders. The internal shader structure used in V-Ray for SketchUp is updated and modernised. This improves the render speed, GPU Engine feature support and V-Ray Cloud compatibility

Render speed. V-Ray now renders twice as fast on average thanks to a large number of performance optimisations
Twice as fast V-Ray GPU. New rendering architecture renders twice as fast across GPUs with support for more of V-Ray’s high-end production features and bucket rendering mode
 

Denoising with AI. Use the new NVIDIA AI Denoiser to instantly remove noise while rendering and make close to real-time iterations

Denoised Render Elements. Using the default V-Ray Denoiser, you can also now denoise separate render elements for added control in post production

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What’s new for SketchUp in 2019?

SketchUp Pro 2019 is here, it’s faster and more powerful than ever, with bug fixes, system improvements, and some shiny new features. What’s new for SketchUp in 2019? Here are a few of the highlights:
SketchUp Pro 2019 for Desktop: You’ll notice an upgrade to your welcome window where you can easily find recent projects and lots of helpful learning content.

Brand new for 2019, SketchUp Pro & LayOut: Layers now have dashes. A much-anticipated feature, dashed lines allow you to simplify your drawings with effective drawing communication. Learn how to use dashed lines and make your drawings communicate more effectively.

The Tape Measure tool got a facelift this year. Now you can see measurement info right where you’re modelling. Model more accurately — and more efficiently — right where you’re working.

In both SketchUp and LayOut we have made improvements to our .dwg import and export feature. Including but not limited to support for AutoCAD 2018 file format, increased precision and stability. We added the ability to import and export with materials for better BIM interoperability and workflows using the .dwg format.
The handshake between SketchUp and LayOut has improved by creating an “Export for SketchUp” feature for our .dwg exporter that sends all LayOut entities along with any SketchUp viewport data to the model space. Now any filled shape created in LayOut will be passed over to SketchUp as face ready to be Push/Pull’d. So now, SketchUp & LayOut work even better together.
New for 2019, LayOut will let you know which files are already open so you’re not creating multiple versions. Looks like someone’s projects just got a little bit smarter. 
Also new this year, an easy way to learn the basics of LayOut.  It’s time to go 2D: What are you waiting for? Watch this video:

SketchUp Campus, better than textbooks: Our official learning hub is here. SketchUp-built courses, all created by our in-house team, make learning SketchUp convenient and simple. And we’re always making more!

No matter your skill level, SketchUp Campus guides you through official SketchUp training with different tracks and sequential courses to get you up to speed. The classes consist of short videos and quizzes that make learning topics such as Rendering, LayOut, and SketchUp Fundamentals. Fun, quick, and easy.
Learn more about SketchUp Campus, or dive right in!
3D Warehouse: With millions of models and 17 languages, it’s not always easy to find exactly what you’re looking for on 3D Warehouse. That’s why we created categories. This update boasts better browsing, search refinement, subcategories, and filtering by real products. This year, 3D Warehouse enables you to spend less time searching and more time creating.

Head to the warehouse to give it a try!

New licensing option: SketchUp Pro is now available as a subscription offering, alongside the classic perpetual license. The SketchUp Pro subscription bundle is a termed license for a named individual.

The SketchUp Pro bundle includes the premium online modeller (SketchUp for Web), Trimble Connect for Business, as well as the desktop applications; SketchUp Pro for Desktop, LayOut, and Style Builder. The bundle also includes augmented reality features within SketchUp Viewer for iOS and Android and viewing apps for the following XR devices: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Microsoft HoloLens, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
Ready for the new SketchUp? Contact us info@cadsoftsolutions.co.uk to discuss pricing and plans for personal, professional, higher education, primary or secondary education or to find out more about SketchUp Shop, Pro or Studio. Or simply visit our web store and browse the appropriate SketchUp Pro license and subscription term and shop as usual!