AutoCAD: How to Create a Custom Hatch Pattern with Text in it

This how I did it. It was a bit long but it helped me understand what to deal with when creating you own patterns.
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On my last post, I analysed how the Hatch Pattern files work. How they define the patterns through straight lines and what is the syntax they use. I was not entirely satisfied with all I learned and wrote here so I decided to go from the theory to the practice and try to create my own hatch pattern file.
I decided to not attempt just a random pattern, but one that required certain precision. So I set the goal to create a pattern that would repeat the text CAD-Addict.com. Possible? yes it is.
The process started by creating the text. If you remembered what I wrote on the previous post, a pattern is created by straight lines with linetypes that we can decide that repeat themselves the way we decide to. So how would we do it to show a text on our hatch pattern just with some straight lines? We had to find a way to align the lines of the text on a way that they would repeat themselves in different directions. Let's see an image to understand this.

The text with the C circled in Red is the original one, the ones circled in Yellow are the ones I used to be sure the lines allign. See that this text has only lines at 0 degrees, 90 degrees, 45 degrees and 135 degrees. Alligning the o degree lines it is easy. The important part is to manage to allign the 45/135 degrees and do it in a way that the 90 degree ines also allign. In this case the fact that the tilted lines are 45/135 degrees makes it easy, if the there where other angles it would have been much more difficult. (The original text, created with the standard AutoCAD text style, had the lines on the upper part of the A at a different angle, but I modified that to make the pattern file more easy to create. See in the image below, how with the original text there was no easy way to find common lines for the A.

The process I followed once I had the text aligned is simple. First I started to set up the 0 degree lines (Remember to check the previous post for more details on the syntax of the Hatch PAttern files).Picking the lower left corner of the C as 0,0 point it was all a question of measuring distances. Something you need to know is that linetypes in hatch patterns can only use 6 elements from DASH SPACE or DOT. We define DASH with positive value, space with negative and point with a zero. See the hatch pattern definition of the horizontal lines and you will get a better glimpse of what I mean.

The text highlighted in yellow doesn't belong to the pattern definition, I added it for reference while building the pattern file. As you can see, although all the lower horizontal lines of the letters are aligned, I couldn´t define them in a single line definition because I would have exceeded the maximum of 6 elements for the line type definition.
Lets go back to how the pattern file works. The first number defines the angle of the line, the second and third (the second column) defines the start point coordinates of that line, the 4th and 5th number (3rd column) describe the delta-x and delta-y of the line. This point requires certain attention. Lets take for instance the horizontal lines. The delta-x and delta-y I had to use was -1.0607,1.0607. Lets see graphically what that means.

The last column might have no values at all (if the line is continuous), or up to 6 to define its linetype. For the lower horizontal lines for the letters C, D and d, the pattern file I created describes 0.1,-0.4475,0.1475,-0.7949,0.0508,-2.702 as linetype. THis means 0.1 of dash,0.4475 of space,0.1475of dash,0.7949 of space,0.0508 of dash,2.702 of space. Why is the last space so much bigger than the other ones? Because it describes the distance between the last dash and the first one on the next text. See the image below and compare the dimension values to the first 4 ones above.

The 6th value, on the 4th column, the one that is disproportionately bigger compared to the others, belongs to this dimension.

I after all this information you don't still feel like you could create your won pattern, I can only tell you that the best way is to try to create one. Suddenly all the abstract concepts you are reading will start making sense.
Just a couple of points I discovered while creating the pattern file. Be sure there is at least one blank line at the end of all the definitions, or AutoCAD won't accept the pattern. Also, once you have created the YOURPATTERN.pat file (or while creating it to test it) save it under the following where all the Custom Patterns are in AutoCAD. generally that folder is under C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Autodesk\AUTOCADVERSION\enu\Support\pats.
If you want to see or test the pattern definition I created., you can download it here. And below you can see a snapshot of the pattern generated by the file.

I know the pattern is not very useful for everyday life, but creating it was very useful to understand how to create a custom hatch pattern.

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AutoCAD: Understanding the .pat Hatch Pattern Files

How do you define a new custom Hatch Pattern? Better understand how the .pat files work.
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Searching for how to generate custom hatch pattern definitions in AutoCAD i came across this post by Ellen Filkenstein. Although the post gives you an idea on how these pattern definitions work, it took me a while to understand everything. So I went to the acad.pat file and I picked a complicated pattern to see if I could figure out how it works. I chose the AR-CONC pattern. This is a snapshot of it.

The first thing I realized disappointed me. I thought the pattern files could define any geometry, and somehow they do, but it turns out that any geometry created has to be based on straight lines. Let me show you why. Although the AR-CONC pattern seems pretty random, it is not. If you pay attention to it you will see that the triangles repeat themself on straight lines.

So, does the pattern definition describe a triangle and how often should be repeated? Not at all. A more detailed look to the pattern showed me that there is not such a thing as triangles in the pattern, but lines that intersect each other creating triangles (I know, that is the same almost, but not in terms on how you define the patter, see the image below).

So how are this lines defined to end up showing like triangles? Here is the tricky part. See the image below that belongs to the acad.pat definition for the AR-CONC pattern.

There are 4 elements that are important here:
1. Defines de Angle that the line should take.
2. Defines the X and Y coordinates of the start point of that line.
3. Sets de Delta-x and Delta-Y displacements.
4. Defines the linetype.
Ok, I know, this is textbook theory, I had no idea what this meant after I read about it. So I hatch some region in AutoCAD with this pattern and I searched for a line that was at an angle of 50 degrees. Surprise!! I found one. And suddenly everything made sense. It would take me long to describe it all so I made a quick diagram. See it below. The colors correspond with the numbers of the previous image for easy reference.

See how the angle (red) corresponds with the one described in the pattern file. The start point is 0,0. And here comes the juicy part. In Blue, the linetype. The pattern describes 0.75,-8.25. This means 0.75 units of dash, 8.25 units of space (the negative sign means space, 0 would mean a dot). And finally the file defines 4.12975034,-5.89789472 as Delta-x, delta-y displacement. See it in the picture with the green dimensions.
I guess now we can start defining our own patterns...or maybe not. Sincerely having the SUPERHATCH command available through the express tools, the process of generating your own pattern files seems a bit outdated. Of course the entities created with SUPERHATCH are blocks and not Hatch patterns, so they will give you much less freedom to edit them, so it is your choice to decide which method to use. I will talk soon in a new post about the SUPERHATCH command with more detail.

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Maxwell: MXM Material Library

A link to the oficial Maxwell MXM Material Library
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For those beginners using Maxwell Render like me, it is good to know that the Maxwell Render website has an excellent Material Library.
You will need to register to be able to download materials, but the library is huge and has tones of very good materials ready to be used in your renderings.
To help improve the library, the users can upload materials, but specially useful is to vote if the material is good so others have a reference to know if the material is worth downloading.
Searching the How To section, I found a website with some Tutorials on how to deal with Maxwell Materials, lighting, etc. I think it is worth checking out if you are trying to learn more about Maxwell Materials.

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SketchUp Plugins: Create a 360 Degree Panorama

Do you need/want to create a 360 Degree View of your model? There is a plugin for that.
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The Plugin Cubicpanoout.rb allows us to export 6 images to generate a 360 degrees panorama. The plugin exports the 6 images of the imaginary cube around the point were the camera is.
Be sure to have the "use sun for shading" check box activated or the "display shadows" option. Otherwise, SketchUp changes the color of the faces of objects slightly depending on the camera position, making it impossible to match the pictures afterward.
Place the camera on the center of your scene using the Position Camera Tool of SketchUp (the icon with a man standing on an "X"). After this, the process you need to follow is simple:
1. Go to Camera --> CubicPano Out
2. Save the Images
3. Use a panomaker to create the 360 quicktime movie (see next)
To put the pictures together you will need some panorama making program. Not all of them will work, since the images generated with this plugin don't have any overlapping areas. GoCubic will do the trick if you are using a PC, and it is free. You can download it here. If you are a MAC user you need MakePanoVR. (I couldn't find were to download it).
See the result:

The process is quite simple. Thanks to Jake Ludington on How to embed a Quick Time movie.

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AutoCAD: Weekly Block #03 - Multipurpose Sports Court

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This week's block intends to show you how to play with the visibility parameters of dynamic blocks. The idea behind the Block is to be useful when showing multisport venues (I have to say that this block is mainly useful for European Countries where combining a Basketball court 28x15m with a Handball Court 40x20m is the common practice. See too, that the Basketball court block is based on the FIBA regulations, not NBA or NCAA).
To give you a better idea see a snapshot of the block. You can download the block here or clicking on the image.

The block consists of 2 other Blocks Embedded in it. One for the Basketball Court, and one for the Handball Court. But because I wanted to use a single block to show the different possibilities (i.e. Basketball court Alone, Handball Court Alone or Both together like in the snapshot) I added visibility states to achieve it.
To do that once the block is created, you need to open the Block Editor and add a parameter. When asked which parameter you want to add, type "V" for visibility. Once the parameter is set, you need to create the visibility states. This can be easily done with the controls on the upper right corner of the Block Editor interface. See the image.They are the following.

1. Toggles objects on other visibility states on and off.
2. Makes an object visible in the current visibility state
3. Hides an object form the current visibility state
4. Calls the visibility states dialog box (where we will create different visibility states)
So the steps we will follow are:
• first we have to do is click button #4 and create a new visibility state called Basketball, antoher One Called Handball and rename the existing one as Both.
• Having Basketball visibility state active, select the Handball court and click button #3 to hide it. (the court will diappear if you didn't click button #1, if you did the court will fade)
• Turn Handball visibility state active, select the Basketball Courtand hide it (button #3)

Pretty simple isn't it? Now exit the block editor (saving the changes) and see how when you select the block there is a new grip that when you click on it will show the 3 visibility states. Pick the one you want and you will see if you did the process right.
If you want to repeat the process I showed here you can download this block that doesn't have the Parameters and Visibility states Added.

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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:
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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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

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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

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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.

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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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