View Full Version : program recommended for architural modeling

10-30-2003, 05:52 AM
What do you guys suggest the program i would be using for making architectural drawings/models if i'm going to render it in lightwave? I find it quite hard to make accurate straight lines in LW, or is it just not enough practice?:D what other programs do you guys use aside form LW? tnx

10-30-2003, 07:28 AM
I would concentrate on learning to utilize LightWave, but barring that, I would use AutoCAD, mainly because I know how to use it. There are tons of programs that would do a good job and are designed for that type of work.

10-30-2003, 08:08 AM
I currently use AutoCAD since I receive most plans in that format. If the model gets very complicated I finish it in Lightwave. AutoCAD is very capable for Architectural models since they are very rectilinear. I have had good success with Rhino 3D and the interface and commands are very similar to AutoCAD. Still for complicated curves and organic modeling and for more efficient poly count Lightwave is what I would learn.

10-30-2003, 09:38 AM
As mattclary says - do it it LW, but if you must use a CAD programme, then I'd use Microstation V8 with the Triforma extension, and it's works perfectly with dgn, dwg, and dxf - in fact faster than autoCAD for dwg, believe it or not!

10-30-2003, 09:50 AM
You can do it in LW. Look at Tajino, Savinoff, juanjgon's all work.

10-30-2003, 09:58 AM
You _could_ model in LW, but I find Modeler lacking in many features that you would need for accurate architectural modelling; mainly lack of proper snapping/measurement/aligning tools.

It's great for organic stuff, and I have seen some amazing non-organic models, but for the type of work you are looking to do programs like Form-Z (www.formz.com) are more appropriate.

10-30-2003, 02:50 PM
Thanks guys for the info :) there is just too many CAD software around there is it? man... life is just isn't easier nowadays :D I use acad at the office and had a hard time importing it to LW :p I use studio viz for the mean time, but really like to use LW anytime soon.
I read some posts that help out in importing dxf and 3ds files in LW. We're using acad2004 by the way..... i tried saving it into r12 dxf format... just can't be recognized :confused:

by the way... what program takes up more resources... viz or lightwave?

10-30-2003, 05:36 PM
I use lightwave. If I need to bring somthing in form Auto cad I will open a file in Illustrator and save out as in EPS formate and all is well.

I am looking forward to better "CAD" tools in the next release of Lightwave but have manage fairly well without them to date.

10-30-2003, 05:38 PM
Viz and 3Dmax are from the same family and are both resource hogs. LW is so much quicker. I am running AutoCAD 2004 and I just export to 3ds file format and then open in LW. This method works well. There are a lot of programs and methods to accomplish the same thing. I think what is most important is that you experiment and find what works for YOU. I am on Autodesks Global Council and feel very comfortable with AutoCAD so I use it. It works for me but probably wouldn't work for most. LW is very capable but I agree with Matt for acurracy and snap tool AutoCAD is hard to beat. Tough choices but finding a workflow that works for you is what counts and not so much the software...

10-31-2003, 01:46 AM
Originally posted by johnsquare
I read some posts that help out in importing dxf and 3ds files in LW. We're using acad2004 by the way..... i tried saving it into r12 dxf format... just can't be recognized :confused:

Another nice point about Microstation (I'm not sure if autoCAD has this or not) Microstation has some tools to convert models into tripled meshes, which helps solves all those non-translatable entities like arcs and 3D fillets etc. It also has a pretty good unfold tool.

When you export a dxf from CAD you should explode everything into non-complex elements and try using the free plugin "Import dxf 2" from D-Storm, find it at Flay.com. and you are spot on about R11/12 format, it is the correct format to use.

If you're still having difficulties try using Accutrans3D to convert the files.

After importing a tripled 3ds or dxf file, use mergepoints, unify polys and Merge TrigonX (<- @Flay)


10-31-2003, 03:46 AM
You could also try Sketch up http://www.sketchup.com. If I remember right you can export models in a format that lightwave accepts.
You would probably need to tidy up the mesh in modeller especially if it is complex.

10-31-2003, 03:33 PM
btw... how long did it take for you guys to learn LW? are a few months enough to create the ones that i see in this forum? :D

11-05-2003, 02:04 PM
i agree with the guys talking about AutoCAD

For Architectural modeling, i think it is the best tool ... Keep the curved instances for Lightwave Modeler (low polygone count + excellent smoothing if the end product to be rendered in Lightwave).

Wade : I still couldn't understand how from EPS files you can create complex 3D models (especially buildings) ... The best example is a window that you need to substract from a constructed wall ... What do you usually do with the depth ?? You create the sill manually ?

Omeone: TrigonX from Flay ... I couldn't find it !!! What dows this plugin do ?

11-05-2003, 02:25 PM
I have used SolidWorks with some great results. SW is nice to work with and the modeler is much, much easier than the one in LW. Transfering the models to LW is however problematic, but not impossible. I usually go thru ACAD to transfer the objects to back to LW for rendering. I have tried to use LW modeler as may times as I could, but certain, more complicated objects are a snap to do in SW. I have even followed the Inside LightWave book's (by Alban) examples and found them to be troublesome and confusing. SolidWorks rules the modeling!!! Again, I have done it may times and will take the Pepsi chalange with LW's modeler any day.

Good luck,

11-05-2003, 05:03 PM
I will bring in an elevation or floor plan at a time then make the windows and such in LW. I mainly use the files I bring in as templates. Most building have a lot or repetition so once you make one window or wall you have half your work done.

something I am working on now. I brought the site in via eps.

11-06-2003, 02:09 AM
Originally posted by Chad_Shadow
Omeone: TrigonX from Flay ... I couldn't find it !!! What dows this plugin do ?

It's basically an un-triple command,


Originally posted by drkorg
and will take the Pepsi chalange with LW's modeler any day.

You can do just that daily on www.3dfightclub.com, solidworks modelling is a whole lot better than LW, but only for a very specific type of modeleing IMO, but it will never match LW for speed in any type of modelling. :D

11-06-2003, 04:43 AM
Thanks Wade, i'll start trying using it ....
Will keep you updated ;)

11-06-2003, 05:43 AM
Hi there,

Ive used many different programs, such as Autocad, Rhino, Microstation, Cinema4D XL, 3DS max and Viz and maya. I am a architectural visualiser for my profession, and have chosen lightwave because of its powerfull modeling tools. I would sincerely recommend LW for any type of architectural visualisation, and find it odd that you have problems with straight lines. I would suggest holding down ctrl a bit more often : )

LW is not meant for engineering drawings or construction detail drawings, but for the visualisation of these projects. It often doest matter if you're one or two millimetres off when you're rendering a building, and in these sorts or projects lightwave shines. You are capable of doing exact coordinates work, but most of the time you jsut freelance through the objects. I usually create and render complicated buildings within 2 days.

Good luck

11-06-2003, 07:34 AM
You won't imagine how much it will save me time if this Plugin/LScript works on Lightwave 7.5 .... The Flay page says it is only for 6.5/7.0b while i am using 7.5 ...

Did you test it ? I am going to just now ...
If it works wooooooooooooooow man :D

11-07-2003, 08:57 AM


OMEONE YOU'RE "THE MAN" ;) Thanks a million ... That will reduce my zillion polygons to Millions :rolleyes: :p

11-07-2003, 09:06 AM
Yeah, the guy writes some excellent plugins.
Here's a crappy one that I made, but it does help a little.
It just automatically clears the selection of polys after you manually merge them.

11-08-2003, 02:35 AM
I'll surely test it ... i Just downloaded it ... will keep u updated ... ;)

btw I asked on another threat the following question:
Imagine this scenario:

1- You receive a full urban plan for a whole city
2- The road lights position as well as trees / signs / recycle bins / etc ... are available
3- each of the mentioned items above is being designed and not finished yet

What is the best management in lightwave to create the position points of each item then replace them when necessary with the finished item ? Note: Each item can be changed on a weekly-basis :)

I sort of solved that by cloning each item to position (with Rotation), when i change the design everything is changed but you cannot imagine the time i am spending cloning and positioning !!!! It would have been great to create everything in Modeler then replace each position point by one lightwave object.

Any suggestions ? (or Plug-ins ;) )

11-08-2003, 02:39 AM
Oooooops !!!!

I read my question and didn't understand it myself :D

In other words, best solution to Replace a full bunch of points with ONE FULLY DESIGNED lightwave Object ==> The result should be this specific object spread in the scene and rotated according to Points' position & Rotation.

(I hope you understand my lovely English :P)

11-08-2003, 07:50 AM
I understand the question, dont worry about the English (I know from experience what's it's like to try and get by in foreign tongues).

I work with cityscapes too, so we are on the same track.

The answer to your question would be to use Instancing (but LightWave still doesn't have this feature :rolleyes: (even VRML has instancing!!)

There is a third party plugin (about $120 dollars, I think) from happy digital called HD_Instance which is not true instancing but is pretty close - it uses volumetrics, which causes some minor problems with ray-trace tranparencies but probably has very little or no issues in your day to day work. Get the full info from their website.

But since I havn't bought this myself, it wouldn't be fair to leave my answer at that...

What I do is use a multiplier clone, which will clone selections to polygon normals (in Modeler)

I usually setup a LW object file with the Bin (for e.g.) in layer 1, the polygons for dictating their positions and rotations in Layer 2.
And the final bin clones in position in Layer 3 (which is the only Layer to get loaded in Layout. Then if the Bin design changes - delete layer 3, replace Layer 1 with new design and run the plugin again.

NB. if you use this method (it's only one of many) and you are using image textures on your object, they should be UV mapped.

I can knock together a sample scene file if you are having problems.

Here's the multiplier clone plug:

Hope you got all that, I have no excuse for my bad English!

11-09-2003, 06:54 AM
drkorg the best route from SolidWorks to LW is using STL, and then use the STL_IO plugin from Mike Wolf, he's on the forum somewhere - ask him nicely and he might send you it!

SolidWorks is better for products than architectural design IMO, mainly because you can 'see inside' the model, what I mean is that you can't set the camera view to be inside a room very easily, whereas Form-Z / LightWave you can.

SolidWorks does have excellent snapping tools that LW could really benefit from, as well as it's 2D drawing capabilities.

11-09-2003, 04:03 PM

I am downloading it .... I'll chk it :)
Hope i'll be fine using it :)

Thx for all the help ...
Should you need anything, consider you have a brother ready for any help :)

Thanks again
(And btw, great English .... hehehehehe ;) ... u don't need an excuse !!! :) )


11-10-2003, 08:49 AM
Thanks omeone You so Rock!!!!

I had a model from a maunfacturer I needed to incorporate into a scene and it was poorly done with too many triangles. The plugin cut the size to 1/3......

Thanks a gain

11-10-2003, 10:57 AM
I'm another full time Architectural illustrator. I switched from CAD based modelers to use LW's after I got tired of having to upgrade two different packages all the time. So I just forced myself to learn it. I wouldn't switch back now. I can knock out houses and buildings in far less time now than I could have in the CAD program. So stick with it in LW for a while and pretty soon you'll be moving along just fine.

11-10-2003, 02:16 PM
Originally posted by ravantra
Thanks omeone

All credit to yahama at dproject and Flay.com, in fairness. :)

12-02-2003, 02:23 AM
Hi Guys,

Like others, I am always trying to develop new tools and tactics, and one of the things I will be doing soon is some urban and dwelling projects (bit nothing incredibly detailed!)

For those who can knock out complex stuff in a short period of time, any chance of showing us your working process...? (with screen grabs...??) :)

I know it's like asking for mini tutorials, but I look at it as educational. By making yourself step through the process, you get to analyze your own working method, compare it to others and come out better!! (...and the fact that you lose personal time whilst trying to get the screen grabs and put something in an easy to follow way for others who rarely seem grateful but always are is only a small issue and you shouldn't worry about it!!!!)

Just an idea and hope,


Kevin McPoland
[email protected]

12-04-2003, 07:40 AM
Hi Folks,

I've written an STL Importer/Exporter. It's available on my site:


Feedback always welcome.

Sean Hyde-Moyer