5 Modeling 2


  • To understand the similar basis but different implementation of common 3D modelers

I. Many choices, what criteria?

  • Ease of use vs. power
  • Current practice vs. future practice
  • General vs. Architectural
  • Phase of use: Conceptual vs. Development vs. Documentation, Manufacturing


  • quick sketch
  • architectural 2D/3D
  • high-end visualization i.e. for animation

II.  Criteria

ORGANIZATION:  What are the basic parts of a modeling software?  How does the definition of elements, operations and organizing structures (layers, nested objects, symbols) affect what it can do?

INTERFACE: How do the selection and command processes foster efficient work? What could be improved?

CONTEXT: Does it run on both PC's and Mac's? Who is using it already?  What support is available?

FUNCTIONALITY: What do I need to do? What forms and what tolerances do I need?

Revit, ArchiCad & Vectorworks
Geometric Primitives (basic forms) Objects are either 2D drafting elements, surface solids or 3D solids.

Special objects such as surface meshes and metaballs have different behaviors

Objects are defined as architectural components with specific properties Maya, Rhino and other advanced modellers are based on NURBS (Non-uniform Relational B-Splines) or NURMS that allow organic modeling.
Operations All modelers have 2D to 3D operations of extrusion, revolve, lofting,

and geometric transformations (move, scale, rotate, mirror).  

Editing Points, segments and faces as well as objects can be manipulated (i.e. topological levels) Object manipulation depends on kind of object Flexible editing of points, segments, faces, etc.  In MAX, Object oriented stacks of transformations can applied to different objects.  Steps in the transformation chain can be removed.
2D & 3D worlds Information for 2D & 3D are separated, but stored in same file 2D drawings are views of 3D model Layers can have either 2D or 3D information in the same space.  Entities are either 2D elements, 3D surfaces or 3D solids.  Not both
Drafting Simple "Draft" tools are not optimized for architectural conventions. Wall editing tools, insertable windows and doors speed up drafting & enforce architectural conventions General modeler/renderers (Maya, Lightwave, Rhino, Alias) don't worry about drafting.  Mechanical tools do have 2D/3D capability with parametric dimensioning.
Construction Planes System defined planes are supplemented by user defined planes Horizontal floor and roof planes are set with elevation levels AutoCad has xyz World Coordinate System (WCS), User Coordinate Systems (UCS)
Layers All but the most primitive modeling programs have some sort of layering system. Programs like Microstation store information in separate files which are combined as needed for composite drawings.  
Symbols Limited architectural libraries Extensive architectural libraries Non-architectural: many kinds of models available, especially for 3DS MAX
Collaboration support Not supported Worksets AutoCad has sharable World blocks (symbols) and underlayable Reference files that can be viewed but not changed. Other programs allow individuals to "check out" sheets of a project.

IV. Comparison of Interfaces


Form Z


V. Exercise:

Working with one or two partners, compare the steps needed to create the following elements: walls, roofs, windows, doors, columns, cornice trim.

Link to FormZ Intro