Maxwell Render: How to Make a Transparent Material

A quick reminder on how to turn an opaque material into a transparent one.
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I was recently in charge of rendering some quick views of a project we are designing at work. We didn't have much time to spend on it and needed some very basic trees to give the effect of the surrounding site. I had some low polygon trees downloaded from the 3dWarehouse, and wanted to add some leave material but make it transparent so I could see the buildings beyond the trees.
Since I use Maxwell every now and then I had completely forgotten how to add transparency to an existing material. Luckily I got some help. The process is very simple.
Let's use a quick scene to see how to do this. See the image below.

The material shown on the left is the one applied to the cube closer to the camera on the scene. You can see the material has only one BSDF (Bidirectional scattering distribution function, see the wiki link to this topic). To add the transparency, we can either make the existing BSDF transparent or add a new one. Adding an extra BSDF for the transparency has the advantage of letting you play more with the blending of both BSDF.
To add Transparency we have to do the following steps:
  1. Add a new BSDF
  2. Turn Transmittance Colour to White (100% transparent)
  3. Increase the Attenuation to 999m (see that the default units are nm, change that to m)
  4. Turn the Roughness of the material to a very small value (i set it at 0 on this example)

Having two BSDFs allows us to play with them to reach the material we want. In this case, I want the material to be transparent, but also to show the original brownish colour. To do that I set the blending weight of the transparent layer to 50 and that way I reduce the importance of the transparent layer in the material. Now I get to see again the brownish colour of the material while still having it transparent.

I am still pretty new to Maxwell Render, so please if you think there is a better way to face this process please don't hesitate to comment on this post.

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Enhancing CAD Drawings with Photoshop

An essential Book if your work flow involves CAD drafting and then the use of Photoshop for presentations
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Author Scott Onstott published a Book on How to Enhance your CAD Drawings Using Photoshop. Beeing this one of the main processes we usually do I think it was worth mentioning here.
The book has great reviews and it is probably the only one facing this subject directly, so many architect will find it very useful to streamline the way they work daily with this two tools.

The book even comes with an AutoLISP routine to translate AutoCAD layers into Photoshop ones. You have to be careful when you use this routine since it might crash your drawing if you don't have a powerful machine, but it is an efficient tool.
If your regular work scheme involves drafting in CAD and then coloring drawings in Photoshop you should definitively give this book a try. It is worth the price.

or or

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Rhino: The Equivalent of 3Ds Soft Selection - SOFTMOVE

The Softmove Rhino Command allows us to do something similar as the Soft Selection from 3DS.
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In 3D Studio, Soft Selection is used to move points depending on the distance they are from a central selection point. That is done by using the Soft Selection Method. The closer the points are the more they will be displaced, the further the lesser. See this image borrowed from this website.

The red areas would be displaced 100% while the "colder" the color the lesser the objects would move.
I needed to do something similar while modelling a site in Rhino. I had some Linework of the Roads and needed to turn it into 3D lines. Luckily in RHino, if you don't know a command you guess and sometimes you get the right one. So I started typing SOFT... because I remembered the Soft Selection function in 3Ds, and SOFTMOVE came as an option.
To quickly show you what SOFTMOVE does I'll use a simple patch. Imagine you have a flat surface created with the PATCH command. Select the surface and press F10 (pressing F10 in Rhino activates the control points of selected objects) and select its control points. You should see something like this.

Then we type SOFTMOVE, click on the point we want to move more and select a radius. The radius will determine till what extend the moving process will affect (the points outside the radius will not be moved). We then set the distance we want the central point to move and select in which directions we want the movement to happen. In this case I chose to move the point vertically and this is the result.

It is a useful command to have in your list. ANd remember in Rhino, if you want to do something just start typing what you want to do and most of the times there will be a command named that way or very similarly.

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Job Directory

This is the CAD Addict Job Directory. Visit often for more Job opportunities.
We have partnered with Workcircle to provide a comprehensive data base of TOP Jobs in different countries. You can check some of the Jobs listed in the different categories/regions or use the Search Box at the bottom of the screen to search for a job. We will continue to search for the best resources to provide Job opportunities in these difficult moments.

Job Type: Architect

Job Type: CAD Related

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AutoCAD: Do You Want to use it on your Mac?

Do you want to be able to use AutoCAD in your Mac without having to install Windows? Tell Autodesk About it.
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Autodesk has started a Survey to know if its worth developing the new version of AutoCAD to be usable in the latest Mac operating systems. I do not use Mac but if any of you do, probably you are using Parallel Desktops or something similar to run Both the Mac OS and Windows. Well that might change if enough people show their interest. The survey not very long so if you are a MAC user, better put 5 minutes into it!
Some months ago I wrote a post about what to do if you wanted to run AutoCAD without windows. The only solution available by then came from a comment by e2002 who said he was able to run AutoCAD in Linux with overall good performance.
Maybe soon the MAC community will be able to do that to...Or maybe some of us will switch to MAC?

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AutoCAD Weekly Block #02: Dynamic Dinning Table

Download this Block and learn about Standard Sizes for Dynamic Blocks
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Last week I started the Weekly Block section with a Dynamic Wardrobe block and a tutorial on how to use the Stretch and Array Actions.
This week´s block is a Dinning Table block. You can download it here. The block is dynamic too, so it can be transformed from a dinning table for 4 people to a table for 6, 8, 10 or 12 people.
To do that, I used a Linear parameter and Stretch and Array actions. Since I already explained on last week's post and on a previous one how to use these features, I am going to skip this explanation today.
What we will focus today is on how to set standard sizes for dynamic blocks. Once we have the Block set with the parameters and actions associated working properly we want to limit how the block can be modified.
In our example, we want the length of the table to change in increments of 0.80 meters. What we have to do is the following. Being in Block Editor mode, select the distance parameter you want to set standard sizes to. On the properties palette go to Value Set --> Distance Type and select List.

After that we need to add the values the list. Click on the 3 dots on the right of the "Dist Value List" Box. A dialog opens like the one below where you can add the list of values you want the distance parameter to take.

The 1.20 value is there because it is the value of the distance parameter when we created it. We will add the values 2.00, 2.80, 3.60 and 4.40. Now, you can exit the block editor and test the block. You will see that when you select the grip to stretch the table, some markers appear on the screen showing you the possible sizes coming from this list that we created.
Since we set the Array column offset distance to be also 0.80m any time we change the length of the table we will see some extra chairs appearing.
The great thing of dynamic blocks is that if used smartly they can simplify things a lot. Before you probably had a Block for a table sitting 4 people, another for a table sitting 6, another for a table sitting 8 etc. Now, you only need one configured like this one and it will work for all them.
Download the Block Here

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AutoCAD Architecture: Irregular Walls - Endcap Tutorial

Learn how to use Endcaps. They are very useful when you want your wall openings to be more than just a square.
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We have been designing a "not very modern" type of building (to say something) in the office. One of the things we have to deal with is the fact that this Gothic-Art Decoish building will have heavy pilasters on the façade to resemble some sort of old architecture.
In previous phases of the project we had been just using regular walls and adding the extra depth of the pilasters with an AEC polygon. Since we were printing with both wall boundary and wall hatch in black, that worked good enough for representation, but it was a pain in the ass when editing the wall, moving windows,etc.
On the current phase, we are reverting to a different kind of representation following more the standards set in the office. This means black boundry line + grey hatch for the wall. The problem is that if we use a regular wall and we add a AEC Polygon to the outside of it to get the extra thickness needed, we will see the line separating the wall and the AECP, and we do not want that.
The solution I found for this problem is to use the Wall Endcaps. But let´s start first with a picture of what we want to achieve.

As you see, we have a regular wall and some windows, but we want the space between the windows (what is the name in English for that?) to have the shape of the white line. To do that, we first increase the thickness of the wall to reach the thicker point necessary. THen we select the wall, right mouse click and select Endcaps --> Edit in Place. We will access the endcap edit mode. Endcaps work exactly as AEC Polygons, so take a look at this post on how to edit AEC Polygons. In the image below you can see the endcap after being edited in the Endcap Edit in Place Mode.

But when we exit, we see that the Window sill is showing like floating (this is because the window sill is showing the actual thickness of the wall). We have to edit the window style to fix this. Right click the window --> Edit window Style (if you just want to edit one window of this style you can pick "Edit Object Display")

In this dialog, we have to edit the Sill Plan. Click on the box to the right of the Sill Plan and go to Edit Display Properties on the upper right. In the following dialog we need to click the "other" tab. Here is where we will set how much we want the Sill to be recessed from the wall edge to show the way we want it. In our example we need to set the B dimension to -0.10 (negative will make the sill be recessed)

The final result is the desired. See the image below for the final wall with its irregular shape and the sill aligned to where we wanted.

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SketchUp Plugins: Delete Unnecessary Lines

Imported drawings can have a lot of unnecessary lines, there is a plugin to remove them all with a single click.
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When we import CAD drawings to generate 3D geometry from them we might end up with hundreds of lines that we don't really need. Cleaning up the drawing of unnecessary lines is important to work more efficiently, but it can be tedious sometimes.
A Plugin that helps a lot on this task is the Stray_Lines.rb Plugin. With this plugin we can either Delete, Isolate (meaning hiding the rest of the model), Label or Select all the lines in a model that have an open end (and thus are not being used to generate a face). See the image below, where we have a bucnh of faces and lines that are not needed.

TO get rid of those lines, we could manually erase them. In this case it wouldn't take long, but imagine that instead of 10 lines like here we had 100 or 1000. So what we have to do is simply go to Plugins --> Stray Lines --> Delete. And it will delete any line with an open end.

See in the image that there are 4 options total. Each of them useful in a way or another. Try them out. You can download the Plugin here.

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SketchUp Plugins: Make Faces from lines

Learn about a Plugin that will allow you to generate faces from existing linework. Català - Castellano - Deutsch The Plugin Makefaces.rb allows us to generate a face or multiple faces from existing linework. It is very useful both to generate faces but also to know how clean our geometry is. It is very simple to use. Once installed, simply select the lines and go to tools --> Make Faces. If there are any possible faces to be created from the selected lines it will create them, giving you at the end a report of how many faces it has generated. I use it quite a lot, I even have a shortcut for it (CTRL + M). Download it here and give it a try. You will need to download this Script too: Progressbar.rb This is an old post from 2009. you might want to check other Sketchup related posts.
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AutoCAD Weekly Block #01: Dynamic Wardrobe

A Wardrobe Block 60cm deep that can adopt any length.
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I am going to start sharing weekly some of the Blocks I've been creating for some of our projects. Some of them, like this one, will help us go through some of the basics on how to deal with Blocks. In this case, we will quickly go over how to create a Dynamic block again (there is a longer post from some months ago explaining in more detail How to Create a Dynamic Block).

Download the Block or see the image of the below.

As you can see in the image, the block shows two arrows on its upper corners. These are the Grips that allow us to modify it's length. If you enter the Block Editor (select the Block and type BE) you will see something like this.

Lets see what each of the elements found does. Distance is teh Linear Parameter, it defines a distance that can be modified. Stretch is an Action. Actions associated to parameters is what creates the interactivity on dynamic blocks. The stretch and stretch1 action stretch the wardrobe on its length. The other element is Array. Array is another Action, and what it does is to repeat the two tilted lines when the block is stretch.
The process to create this block is simple. Once we have the basic linework that you see inside the Blockeditor (the outline and the two tilted lines) we do the folowwing:
  • We create a Block out of this line work with origin on one corner.
  • Enter the Block Editor, BE (do not edit block in place with REFEDIT command)
  • We add a Linear Parameter from one corner to the other.
  • To add the array action, click the actions button, select the distance parameter and enter array as action type. Then select the 2 tilted lines as objects and enter the distance you want the copies to appear my block uses 0.2m, but you can set it to anything you want)
  • Now we add the Stretch Action. Again click the Actions button, select the Distance Parameter, Select Stretch as type of action, select one of the Distance parameter points, Draw a Polygon as you would do usng the STRETCH command and select the objects you want to Stretch. (be sure to avoid selecting the tilted lines)
  • Do the same for the other side of the wardrobe with a new Stretch Action.
That´s it. You have created a dynamic Block. Try how it behaves. Remember that I will be sharing more blocks regularly. You can subscribe to the blog feed to not miss any of them, or just come by often.

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AutoCAD: Using an Excel Sheet as if it was an XREF

You can insert an Excel sheet in AutoCAD and keep it linked so when the sheet is updated, it shows the updates in AutoCAD
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Many times, we use MS Excel (or similar)to show area charts, parking counts, unit types, etc. For a long time I had been printing the Excell Sheets to PDF format, turning them nto JPEGs and then inserting them as images in AutoCAD. BEsides being a 3 step process, it has the disadvantage that whenever the worksheet was updated, the process needed to be done again and again.
I just discovered recently that there is no need to Print as PDF and insert an Excel Sheet. It can be inserted in a way that it will remain linked and it will update. And it is much simpler than you think.
Simply select the part of the sheet you want to insert in Excel, press Ctrl + C (or Edit --> Copy). Then, go to the AutoCAD drawing you want to insert it in an go to Edit --> Paste Special. You should see a dialog like the one below.

On the left side, select "Paste Link", and from the options offered on the right side, select "Microsoft Office Excel Worksheet". That's it, almost as simple as Copy and Paste with just a few extra tweaks, and it will save you lots of time. ANytime you save the Excel Sheet it will automatically update in AutoCAD.

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2008 Top Ten Visited Posts

The ten favourite posts by the users in 2008 by the number of Unique Visitors
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Sorry for the almost two weeks of silence, I've bee out of town and then very busy. Till I get some time to organize myself here comes something I wanted to do for a long time. The list of the 10 most visited posts in 2008. I have my own favourite list that I will share soon, but this is your list, the posts that you have found more useful. The list belongs only to the English version of CAD Addict. The other languages have their own lists.
  1. SketchUp Plugins: Weld
  2. SketchUp Plugins: Extruding and Offsetting Curved Faces
  3. AutoCAD: How to Create a Dynamic Bloc
  4. AutoCAD: Overkill and Flatten Commands
  5. AutoCAD: List of Express Tools
  6. SketchUp: VRAY for SU works on version 7 too
  7. SketchUp: Bonus Packs and Extra Materials
  8. AutoCAD: THings That Shift Can do For You
  9. SketchUp Plugins: Volume Calculator
  10. SketchUp 7: New Features and Download Link

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