Blender, AC3D, Rhino or...?

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Which one would be the best for architecture? I'm about to graduate and need to buy a 3D program, but I don't want to cash outon Architectural desktop or 3DStudioViz. I'm considering Autocad LE for drafting and basic region-based geometry, and one of the programs mentioned above for completing the models and rendering. Buiying a commercial program like Rhino at student price before I graduate might be one option, but it all boils down to if the program is suited to architecture.
So far, in addition to LE, I've been using 3DStudioViz and the fullversion of Autocad for rendering. For modelling I've mostly been using solids in the fullversion.
Comments?
TIA, M.J.
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Markus Jakas wrote:

Supposedly they are trying to move over to Revit. I like Sketchup.
--
Night_Seer

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I'm curious why you "need" to buy a 3d program at this stage in your career.
iiuc, Rhino is not targetted at solving your problem.
I know max only has 1 year student license. If viz is similar that wouldn't be your option. If viz has a permanent license on student pricing that might work for you (don't forget to not do pro work with it).
I'm not really familiar with Blender, but it might be a good option. Certainly the price is right ;-). I believe some people are making nice output with it.
There's somebody here who is a HUGE fan of free/open software. You'll probably get a list from him that you can use for research.
- gruhn
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"Markus Jakas"

Hi Markus, Blender is libre and open source, and by using it, there're be many benefits you may be unaware. If you already haven't, I strongly encourage you to read up on open source and/or libre software, (ie. some of the good folx here on alt.architecture are using Mozilla's Firefox) which isn't to be confused with lock-inware, guiltware, abandonware or gougeware, such that proprietary software can often be:
http://www.opensource.org http://www.fsf.org http://www.sourceforge.net
Also, I just read about an upcoming Blender conference in Italy about Blender and Architecture. Big: http://blender.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid !3&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0 Tiny: http://tinyurl.com/du3xa
Regarding open source/libre 2D drafting, there is also Q-CAD, whose files you may be able to import into Art of Illusion (another 3D program I've been using that is growing in leaps and bounds) for, for example, 3D extrusions and export out to SVG for, say, presentations and added accoutrements, like Flash-style 3D-ish animations.
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I've been told that Rhino is pretty much a NURBS modeler - meaning, geared towards making rounded/organic objects, such as criters. I've also heard that Blender is run via Python scripts.
Thre are a lot of 3D programs out there. If you're going to get one as an adjunct to your CAD program, you need to look at: (1) whether the prog, will import your CAD objects (2) the quality of the render engine (no use to get a 3D modeler if the renders are still going to look primitive) (3) the program interface. Differnt people liek different interfaces. Personally, I find the LightWave interface unuseable; but other people like it. i do like the icon-driven interface of the program I use, but other people don't like it. It's very personal.
Most programs offer Demo versions. If you have time, look into the above parameters, look at which programs are strong in the areas you need/want, and then DL and try the Demos. Even doing really basic operations, like taking a cube, altering it, booleaning it, and so on, and then rendering the results, will elt you knwo at least whetehr you like teh interface, teh ease of use, and the quality of the renders.
HTH!

--
- Kris M. Krieger

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"Kris Krieger"

... (4) How much it's going to cost you in terms of time and money. Upgrades? (5) Whether you can "legally" copy it, share it, distribute it, and run it on multiple systems, such as when/if your business warrants it. (6) Can you "get under the hood" and/or how much can you augment/extend it yourself, or if you have to wait for/on a company's whims... will it still be around in 5 years? (7) Formats/Reverse-compatibilities? Standards (public versus proprietary)? (8) What kind of support there is: I.e. Can you speak with the coders and/or programmers? (9) If you lose your registration number, can you still access your program without any rigamarole or fear of losing your license/right to use? (10) Spy-code? How-to-tell policies? Antitrust? (11) Trends. Where does software want to go today?
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Good site to begin at: http://www.CGNetworks.com /
More below:
snipped-for-privacy@ncf.ca (Richard MacIntyre) wrote in

Plug-ins, more likely. THo' is *is* a good idea to check when updates come out. Decent companies will offer free "service packs" that address small issues, and offer purchasable updates less frequently. Updates aren't always needed by an individual at a given time - a decent company will allow you to skip an update but still get a good deal on the first and second updates after ththe one that is skipped - decent companies value repeat customers. Also, tho', there is no 3D modeler/renderer *that I know* of that works optimally without plug-ins - those add-ons are what give a program most of its most impressive "F/X Zing" capabilities. Plug- ins cary in price from one prog. to another, with the higher-priced programs also usually having higher-priced plug-ins.
You can always find things that cost a small fortune; the trick is finding something that's both within your budget (both prog. and plug-ins), and still does what you need it to do.
So a careful assessemnt of present needs and projected future needs is important so that you don't under-equp yourself *or* pay alot to over-equp yourself.

Sharing and distribution issues are different from multiple-install issues. or even network issues. I don't personally know of any 3D modeler that allows you to distribute copies of it! OTOH I've not personally heard of one that does not permit some sort of network/site license.

Extensions in 3D modeling programs are most usually handled via plug-ins. THe only ones I know of that require input/programming are POVRay and perhaps Blender (from what I've heard - I DLed Blender but haven't had any time to play with it). Some other 3D modelers allow you to use Pythin script to create both custom models or stock shapes, and custom surface treatments (textures, including transparancies, bumps, and variable reflectance), but such scripts are not required for the program to function. Re: company longevity, programs of good quality tend to stick around. LW, 3DSM, tS, Rhino, C4D, and several others, including I *think* Vue d'Esprit, have all been around for about a decade give or take, and remain popular; there are numerous plug-ins available for each, and sometimes one plug-in comes in different versions so that it can be used from withing various programs. Bryce also remains popular for doing landscapes and waterscapes.

All 3D modelers (and, for that matter, 2D graphics) programs I know of have a native format that works most efficiently with the program's code, plus several import and export options. Again as far as I know, any decent program will allow the use of various 2D images for textures, transparencies, and bumps (JPG, TGA, BMP, GIF, etc.), and also will import/export common 3D formats such as DXF, OBJ, AI, ASC (ASCII), X (DirectX), IGS, and a couple others, and also offer add-ons that will allow the export of several other specialized formats, such as STL, which I *beleive* (but check me) is the format used by "3D printers" as they're called. A decent prog. will, of course, also support earlier versions of the various formats (since formats do occasionally change).
With DXF, be sure to check whether it imports 3D DXF or only 2D DXF. I'd gotten one of those "homemmodeler" programs; it said it imports DXF, but turns out it's merely 2D DXF, which is useless to me. My 3D modeler of course imports both forms of DXF.

There are usually technical support people, but I'm not aware that one can typically speak with the coders/programmers...
Most 3D prog.s also have some sort of user group - mailing list, forum, and/or newsgroup. AMny of the people who've been participating in the lists for a long time have a broad base of knowledge and might be able to help with coding questions, although coders and 3D Modelers usually have different areas of interest and expertise - IOW, a modeler is unlikely to need or want to deal with code, and visa versa. So I don't think that the issue is talking to the programmers, but rather, whether technical support is available.

I don't know about other companies, but I'm pretty sure that, as a customer of Caligari's since 1991, they would help me out in such an instance.
Best thing IMO? Write any needed numbers right onto the original with a permanent marker, or at least copy all this info and keep it with your original discs in a safe-deposit box. Second best, invest in a top-notch fire/heat-resistant personal safe.
If you lose all your info due to carelessness, it's really not the company's responsibility! Some will try to hlep you out; others will say, Too bad, sorry.

Do you mean, do 3D modeling programs install spy-ware on your computer? No reputable one will do that. Some will ask you whether you want to do on- line registration, and have an update notifier, but no reputable 3D company I know of would install *spyware*! The risk of losing customers is far too high! And that means, huge losses - a good 3D program is typically a huge investment, and it's unlikely that the co. would risk using spyware - 3D people wouldn't put up with that, and word in the 3D world can travel *very* fast.
Only an idiot would put spyware into a 3D modeler. So that means, someone who hasn't invested much of anything. And a modeler at that level probably wouldn't be worth installing.

That is a very complex question. From what I've heard: very generally, the trend will be towards using dual-core/multicell (I forget what the exact term is) processors, rather than ever-larger monolithing CPUs. The idea of a "neural net" so to speak. Multicell CPUs are more efficent, function faster, and don't run as hot as monolithic cores.
If you're referring to some trend in the area of ploygon modeling versus nurbs modeling, it depends upont he application. Nurbs is geared towards modling extremely smooth organic-type objects; OTOH, there are some things one can do with polygons that cannot, from what I've been told, be done with nurbs, the tradeoff being that polygon models can be somewhat less smooth. The difference in smoothness, however, is probably most relevant to film/"big screen" applications, a' la' George Lukas and Stephen Spielberg. Otherwise, using nurbs versus polygon modeling is a matter of (1) personal preference and (2) which is used in a given shop - the thing being that, when one changes jobs, that next shop might be using the otehr method- and entirely different programs.
I'm unclear as to what other "trends" you might be asking about...the msot general trend is always towards greater capability, but few companies continue to support less-expensive "intro" versions (usually the older versions) of their programs. A good company IMO also offers these older-now-"entry level" versions.
The point being that not everyone *needs* what's in a $30K 3D app, or even a $5K app. But as always, try the demos of anything under consideration.
HTH -
--
- Kris M. Krieger

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Thanks for all the input!
Yes, there is a lot to consider. Even if the investment could be small in terms of money, I'd hate to spend a lot of time with a program only to finally discover that it simply is not going to perform as I want it to.
But I guess I'll be looking into Blender. I wrote a reseller of Rhino, too. It will be interesting to see what he has to say about the licences.
M.J.
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Just a P.S. Skethup also looks intriguing. The FAQ was not loading from the site... Is Sketchup a one-trick pony or does it output 2D line drawings as well as 3D sketches? What aobout file import?
Peace!
On Fri, 3 Jun 2005, Markus Jakas wrote:

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Markus Jakas wrote:

Its almost a one trick pony but not quite. It does 3D modeling really well, but it does not render well. BUT, and this is a big but, it outputs to a multitude of formats, including dxf, for 2D. It has a great feature where you can do section cuts of your model and export those cuts as 2D dxf drawings. It does nice shadows, and textures, but like I said, no photo-realistic rendering. I tend to like the way it renders only to make things seem real, yet not so unchangeable that the client thinks it is set in stone. You can see its rendering on most of the pages at Sketchup.com, along with tons of user made stuff on their forums.
The Sketchup people are also really big on plug-ins, which they provide for all the major software out there including auto-cad and 3DS Max, among others. If I were a professional 3D artist I would definitely make it part of my toolbox, and use it as was intended, a 3D sketch program, and take it further in other programs.
If I was a professional renderer, I would use Sketchup and Piranesi exclusively and nothing else. There is also a free rendering program out there called POV-Ray or something. Some Sketchup user made a plug-in to use it with Sketchup called SK2POV or something. That POV program is a bear though.
Links:
http://www.sketchup.com
http://www.informatix.co.uk/piranesi/index.shtml
http://www.povray.org /
http://amazone.crai.archi.fr/Ruby/RUBY_Library_Depot.htm
hope this helps.
--
Night_Seer

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On Mon, 6 Jun 2005, Night_Seer wrote:

... It does 3D modeling really

...
...
...
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Thanks for the info! I think the rendering style that SketchUp uses might actually be more readable than photorealism. Also, achiveing photorealism takes time, no matter what app is used. With a rougher style, having every detal displayed realisticly is no longer necessary. That would be liberating!
Piranesi looks good and also removes that unecessary realism, but right now its a luxury I cant afford. The pictures made by POV-Ray look nice, but I'm under the impression that it is difficult to learn and renders rather slowly. Still, its free, so I might give it a try.
M.J.
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"Markus Jakas"

For free rendering, have you tried Art of Illusion? http://sourceforge.net/forum/?group_id 063
There's also Radiosity, which is supposed to be written with accurate architectural/sun lighting calculations.
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They named a product after a technology? That can't make them easy to find on the web.
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"gruhn"

Well, if I recall, it was originally closed-source and recently opened. Try Googling Radiosity Renderer.
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I already did before I posted, just to check and see if something freakish happened. Googling radiosity renderer is like googling for "Autocad cad"
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"gruhn"

A little handholding and that's what we get... Correction, the product in question is 'Radiance'... named not after a technology, but... that attractive combination of good health and happiness glow that can emanate from one.
Google test of confirmation... "radiance renderer"... enter... select...
http://radsite.lbl.gov/radiance /
It feels good.
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Heard of it. Much more sane name for a product.
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Worth a look: http://opensource.ebswift.com / Links to various open-source software.
On Wed, 8 Jun 2005, Richard MacIntyre wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@ncf.ca (Richard MacIntyre) wrote in

Radiosity also takes a long time to render, because of the way reflected light is calculated. But it's a tool I'm happy to have at my disposal! I generally do a mix of ray-tracing and mapping, since my various "Daylight" settings involve 36 lights of various types (atill tweaking that); sometimes I'll add in an image-based light.
((But I have only tried goniometric lights a very little bit; those use real-life settings, and take a while to learn if you don't have the numbers on hand.))
For Daylight settings, tho', the main thing is to observe the sky and realize what's going on. IOW, have an idea of what the angle of the sun, and atmospheric conditions, do to the color of the light and the shadow color; also, observe the horizon color. A great deal of this info is is a book called "3D Lighting - History, COncepts, and Techniques", by Arnold Gallardo (a very pleasant fellow BTW), puiblished by Charles River Media. I got mine via Amazon dot com. It is IMO indespensible. It's also hardcover, which is good since it's seen a lot of use (soft covers just don't stand up to use very well).
There are a couple other books on the topic as well, but I can't recall the titles. If you need me to, let me know and I can do a search (I have them on record somewhere in my email from last year) and see whether I can find the titles.
THe one drawback to Glalardo's book is that the bulk of the pictures are greyscale (to keep the book proce within reason). You can still tell what's going on, but jut so'd you know. THere is a middle section with a bunck of color examples.
HTH :) !
--
- Kris M. Krieger

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Radiosity takes a short time to render and a long time to calculate. ;-)
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