Pixelmator, my favorite image editing program is on sale. Get it!

This is a quick heads-up that my favorite image editing app on the Mac, Pixelmator (Mac App store link), is on sale right now for $16! It's normally $30, which is a crazy low price to begin with when you compare it to Photoshop which costs almost that much per month to use (and never own). It has an crazy average rating of 4.5 stars out of 3,052 reviews. It's the real deal.

I've talked about it many times here and in my videos, and have used it to create the image you see above among many others. (If you use this link to buy it, Method will get a few pennies from the sale, and it won't cost you anything extra. Please help support this site!)

Why do I like it? Watch this tutorial video I made at about the 34 minute mark to find out. You'll see exactly why I love using it and just how fun, easy and powerful it is. Not to mention, the less I'm tied to Adobe apps and a subscription, the better. You seriously can't beat this deal. 

So if you need an app to adjust images, make graphics for print or your web site, paint textures for your 3d scenes, or fix old photos, get this app now! What are you waiting for?

Link: formZ/bonzai3d + Maxwell Render Bundle

There's a 30% off promotion going on right now for some of my favorite 3d tools - formZ, bonzai3d & Maxwell Render. You get 30% off a Maxwell node-locked license when you buy either fZ or b3d. Don't miss the part that says the next version of fZ that's coming out (v8) is going to be a free upgrade to everyone who buys v7 now.

I don't get anything from this offer - I'm just letting you know about it because these are my go-to design tools and it's a great deal. I'm also letting you know about it because they used my image for the promo email :)

News: Maxwell Render Plugin Now Available for FormZ v8 Beta

A FormZ v8 SubD sculpture rendered in Maxwell Render - click for a larger view

For those of you following along with the Form•Z 8 Beta and all of the cool new stuff it has to offer: the developer of the Maxwell Render plugin has released a beta for us. This is great news. Now we can start rendering our subdivision surfaces in Maxwell directly from FormZ!

And as a quick aside, Maxwell FIRE is now 64 bit, so you should be able to preview grass, scatter, and all that cool stuff right in the FIRE window inside the FormZ interface without running out of memory (assuming you have lots of memory to work with, of course). You do have lots of RAM, don't you?

See the announcement and get instructions on how to get it here.

Happy rendering!

PS my grass presets are working beautifully in the latest version!

Link: The New and Dynamic FormZ 8

Architosh has an interview worth reading with some of the people behind the upcoming formZ 8 that is currently in beta. 

formZ has long been a top-shelf Class-A NURBS modeling software package, based on its own modeling engine reinforced by Spatial’s ACIS geometry modeling kernel. And while this latest version continues the deep underpinning coding work undertaken to generate formZ 7, it keeps its eye on its user base. “formZ 8 is a progression of formZ,” says David Kropp, Vice President of Development at AutoDesSys, who continues, “that includes some relative new areas for us as well as incremental improvements in a lot of features that our user base has been wanting for awhile.”

Also be sure to check out my FormZ v8 Unboxing Video to see some of the new stuff in action!

(Thanks Neal!)

Link: 3d Landmark Challenge - Stop the Moment!

There's a new 3d challenge going on over at CGTrader and I'm one of the judges. This one is all about architectural landmarks. 

The idea of a landmark for me goes back to my studies in architecture school. Kevin Lynch wrote a book called The Image of the City where in 1960 he wrote about the five elements that determine the imagability of cities. Imageability is the “quality in a physical object which gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer.” The five elements are paths, nodes, edges, landmarks, and districts.

Lynch further describes landmarks as readily identifiable objects which serve as external reference points.

You know the usual suspects: The Colosseum, Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Burj Dubai, stadiums, towers, etc. I like to think of landmarks as those things you see from airplanes or from really far away and can easily figure out relatively where you are in an instant. 

So this is your chance to show us what your favorite landmarks are, build 3d models of them, and enter the competition. There are some great prizes to make it worth your while.

I hope you pick something challenging and use this contest as a reason to push yourself and learn new modeling skills. You have about two and a half weeks you get you submission in by the deadline on May 11th.

Ready? Learn more and enter here.

Happy modeling!


Please share this article by using the share buttons in the lower right corner of this blog entry. The more you share, the better this site can get! Thanks!

News: The Latest on FormZ, Bonzai3d, SketchUp 2014, and Maxwell Render

There have been a bunch of small and large announcements recently about the tools I talk about (and use) a lot, and here they are in summary:

FormZ v7.3.4, Bonzai3d 3.2.4 Updates

Updates to FormZ v7 and Bonzai v3 are out that address many small issues, and are available from within the app when you check for updates. There are a bunch of refinements that make the apps more stable and predictable - basically better to use in a production environment. We all know how important it is to have the most stable software instead of whiz-bang new features with these maintenance releases. You can read more about the FormZ fixes here and the Bonzai3d fixes here

Maxwell v3.0.11 beta for FormZ and Bonzai3d

The latest plugin for Maxwell 3 for FormZ 7 and Bonzai3d 3 has been posted to the Maxwell Beta site. I've been beta testing this for a while and I recommend grabbing this one because it fixes a bunch of stuff. Something new is that you can now download all of the beta plugins for Maxwell so you don't have to wait for the official releases. You can read the release notes and find out exactly what the latest fixes are when you login to the Beta site. Here's how:

Next Limit is delighted to announce the launch of the Maxwell Public Beta Area. Customers can now get access to the most recent builds, and won't need to wait for official releases to get the latest fixes. It will also help us to reduce development cycles, meaning that you get better versions of Maxwell, faster! 

For more information about how to access the public beta area, please visit our forum: 
http://www.maxwellrender.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=41692

SketchUp Pro 2014

Trimble SketchUp Pro 2014 is out, and just like previous releases this is an iterative, refined and more powerful version of SketchUp. While there aren't any new features that make my eyes pop out of my head, there are a few nice upgrades to the ubiquitous modeling program that affect us architects and designers from previous versions:

  1. Faster shadows (up to 15x faster depending on your setup)
  2. New Arc drawing tools (nice, finally!)
  3. Classifier (a new way to add metadata to objects in your models - think BIM)

While these may seem small, these are very welcome updates. The Classifier alone is a great new foundation in SU because we now have the ability to tag types of geometry, do quantity take-offs, and when using the new IFC exporter you can pass that data along to a higher level BIM tool so it knows that a wall is a wall, a slab is a slab, etc. Having faster shadows is a big deal for real-time walkthroughs. I actually do our presentations on the fly right inside the program, and I'm looking forward to not have to wait for the shadows to pop into existence only when I stop moving. That's always been jarring to me and I hope this will fix that problem. If it's jarring to me, I know it's jarring to my clients watching the presentation.

There are other advancements under the hood and on the web regarding the extension warehouse, underlying Ruby API framework and more. They seem to be going more in the direction of BIM which is a big deal for a program that costs $590. I expect a lot of people to jump on making some very cool plugins for SketchUp in this area in the future because it's a huge market.

New Layout features for creating documentation of our designs include:

  1. Auto text
  2. Smart labels
  3. Improved vector rendering
  4. Much better handling of large documents

These are all things that, if you haven't tried for yourself, have been major slowdowns in previous versions. More and more people tell me they are looking for a single tool to do their architectural work in (which I don't actually condone), and the team at SketchUp is clearly listening. And I get it - learning a few programs and their quirks takes longer than learning a single program. I'll talk more about that in another blog post.

If you haven't tried using Layout in a while, I suggest giving it a try. I think it's one of the most underrated and easy ways to document and present your 3d work as printed documents, PDF's or as a Powerpoint-style presentation. While some people have dug in and have been using it for construction documents for a while now, these new enhancements will make it easier for new people to adopt the program in this way. 

Image courtesy SketchUp

SketchUp 2014 runs on both Mac and Windows. As far as I can tell, the Pro version is the one getting all these updates. There is also SketchUp Make which replaced the free version last year and is not for commercial use, but it's still free but has some serious limitations as you can see in the graphic on the right. You can read about all the upgrades in depth here on the Trimble site.

Maxwell Plugin v3.0.1 for SketchUp

More great news for SketchUp users is that there has been an update to the plugin released that fixes some important bugs in conjunction with the newly released Maxwell 3. They say this update is a must-have. I've written about the new stuff in Maxwell 3 in a previous post, so check it out if you haven't yet. You can get the update in the customer portal or on the previously mentioned Beta site if you're a current v3 customer.

Happy modeling and rendering!

Link: $300 off FormZ

What I consider the best tool for architectural concept and schematic 3d modeling, FormZ, is $300 off through the end of February. It's time to jump!

AutoDesSys:

February 14 is a special day for Autodessys as it is the 23rd anniversary of the release of form•Z v1.0.

In honor of this anniversary we are offering a special savings of $300.00 off new form•Z licenses and form•Z RenderZone bundles. We are also offering a $300.00 discount when you add additional seats to an existing form•Z license. This special applies to purchases from February 14th through the end of February.

Go to this page to see the details. Highly recommended. Tell them Evan at Method sent you!