Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Documentation update

In looking over the discreet site today I noticed that the updated tutorials, documentation and sample files have been posted. For those interested check here.

Why I noticed this was due to the updated MAXScript reference (a must get for those coding out there). There is also some new courseware for MAXScripting too.


Ran across the funniest signature from Björn Nilsson in the MAX forums:

"It´s time to kick a$$ and chew bubblegum, and I´m all out of gum"

Somedays it feels this way, today is one of them...

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


In the last post regarding skies and how they can improve the "feel" of your rendering, I got inspired to finally finished up a tutorial I was working on sometime back called "How to Create a Gradient Sky using ADT and VIZ Render". This has been posted to the Vizdepot (free membership is required to view the tutorials).

Speaking of VIZ Render you may have heard that Paul Aubin and James D. Smell have a VIZ Render book in the works that will be published soon. A free sample chapter is available for download here.

This should be a great resource as Paul's other books have been very helpful for those who use ADT and I am sure this upcoming publication will be no different.

Sorry BS, we need to pick another topic... ;)

happy rendering...

Saturday, March 27, 2004


The sky has been extremely nice to look at recently with so much activity, from jets, storms and sunrises/sunsets to everything in between. One issue that seems to occur quite a bit in renderings is the lack of detail in the sky. This can be an important item to the composition of your work and make it actually "*leap off the page" it is printed on (*ok not actually leap, but you know what I mean if you have ever been in awe over a piece of art and/or artwork).

There are a few sky backgrounds that ship with VIZ/MAX, but you should also consider creating your own, photographing and/or purchasing a few nice images of backgrounds and skies to add to your library of materials. Some interesting sites to take note of for skies include: - Great site and a great cause I highly recommend it.

I have been both creating skies from scratch using Photoshop and now Painter and also using a digital camera to catch those amazing moments when the sky transforms itself to something you can barely believe. If there is enough interest I may post a few up to the Vizdepot downloads section. If you have not been by the site, you should as it is growing bigger and better each week with the hard work of Steven, the staff and people like yourself.

Miker the Biker also posted a nice link to a 360 panorama of Mount Everest. This may take a moment to load as it is a QTVR, but it is worth the wait.

happy rendering...

Friday, March 26, 2004


Ran across the link to RenderNode Magazine the other day. It appears this is not a printed volume, but instead a downloadable .pdf.

The March volume is 115 pages and is available for purchase ($4 US) via electronic payment and then you have access, of course if you want you can do a subscription too. In what I have been reading through so far the material looks pretty good. There is a nice Max tutorial for creating a landrover discovery too.

happy rendering...

Thursday, March 25, 2004


Just got back from my local user group meeting and it was a great time. The topic was on the 2005 series of products and with 140+ in attendance it was a great show and a fantastic venue courtesy of TCC. I always love staying late at the meeting and getting the opportunity to discuss the many uses of cad and cad related products with others who love this software as much as I do.

This has been a long week back at work, after being out for two weeks and helping out on a deadline that is pushing my software implementation dates slightly further out I am beat. I will be back to writing fully tomorrow evening. The focus on next weeks writings and musings will include web development and photo montages, as these are 2 things that I will be working on pretty intensely over the next week as another side project unfolds. More to come on this soon.....

Monday, March 22, 2004


You may remember last week I mentioned I was working on a modifier removal script. I received an e-mail from Neil about the old "" that was mentioned. This has been replaced by an updated version called "" which is available in "bspack r42".

This among many other tools presented in this package for your use are great additions to any visualization artists range of tools.

Saving time = More profit $$$

happy rendering...

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Fields and Titleblocks

As you know by now I love the fields feature of the 2005 series of products from Autodesk.

For those just learning how to use these features in their titleblocks, Chris Yanchar has a great example just posted to his ADT blog, titled "Create Your Own Titleblocks in ADT 2005 using fields". Don't let the name fool you these same features work for straight AutoCAD too.

Keep up the great work Chris!

happy cadding...

March EVAUG Meeting


EVAUG e-news Eastern Virginia AutoCAD Users Group

March 2004 Newsletter


1. EVAUG Update
2. Upcoming CAD Related Events
3. Wrap up

1. EVAUG Update

Next meeting: March 25th 2004, the 4th Thursday this month, not the usual 3rd Thursday.

The EVAUG, Avatech Solutions and TCC are pleased to announce the first look at AutoCAD 2005, the latest release from Autodesk. Join us on March 25th, 2004 at 6:30 pm for pizza and a presentation highlighting all the great new features in the new TCC Va. Beach ATC Auditorium!

The New Standard in Productivity
Productivity is a mission-critical component for any industry that creates, consumes or manages design data. AutoCAD 2005 builds on the dramatic power and speed of AutoCAD 2004 with new tools that eliminate tedious drafting tasks and ensure maximum efficiency throughout your process.

* Coordinating Sets of Drawings
* Drawing and Creating Tables
* Annotating Drawings
* Publishing Sheet Sets
* Integrated Design Review

Date/Time: March 25th 2004, 6:30 pm (Note, this month will be a rare exception to the "third Thursday" general schedule)

Location: The Virginia Beach Campus of Tidewater Community College in the new ATC (Advanced Technology Center) auditorium

Address: 1700 College Crescent, Virginia Beach, VA 23453-1999

Directions: Map and detailed driving Instructions can be found at:

Itinerary: The meeting this evening will include an in-depth look at the Autodesk 2005 series of products that will be shipping shortly the meeting. Be among the first to see what these new releases can do and how they can make you quicker, accurate and more profitable.

* 6:30-6:50pm - Meet & Greet - We will start the meeting off with some food and drinks. This is a great chance to see old friends and meet other CAD users from area companies.

* 6:50-7:00pm - Introduction to the Group

* 7:00-8:10pm - Topic #1 - Autodesk 2005 Series of Products

* 8:15-8:30pm - Wrap Up, Prize Giveaways and Dismiss

You'll be able to meet and mingle with your fellow CAD users and exchange ideas and tips. We look forward to seeing you there!

Eastern Virginia AutoCAD Users Group -

2. Upcoming CAD Related Events

Looking for gradual paced non-credit AutoCAD class? Check them out at Thomas Nelson Community College, taught by the EVAUG's own Rich Stow. Register for Level 1 CAD, 5 Fridays evenings, 6:00pm-9:00pm. Cost - $160 plus textbook, Ellen Finkelstein's AutoCAD Bible. For additional information, call 825-2937 or

3. Wrap Up

Mark your calendar! After this coming meeting, the next one will be on Thursday, April 15, 2004, at 6:30 pm! As always, free food and prizes.

Last but not least, thanks to everyone who supports and attends our meetings. The EVAUG would not continue to grow in its current direction without your active participation.

Beau Turner - President
Paul Burgener - Vice-President/Editor
Shannon Turner - Treasurer
Nick Fuller - Membership Coordinator
Stephen Collier - Web Master

Eastern Virginia AutoCAD Users Group -

If you enjoyed this newsletter pass it on to a friend or better yet tell them to sign up for the newsletter from the EVAUG website.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

St. Patty's day and Family Life

Happy Saint Patrick's day.

We have been getting used to being parents over the past week and are getting adjusted pretty well. There are so many special moments that you treasure each day when you least expect them, and we have also been surprised at how many clothes he goes through per day.

Here are a few updated pictures from today for those interested:

We would also like to thank those who sent flowers, e-mails, kind words and more.

Now get out this evening and enjoy a good pint of Guinness.

Education and Getting Schooled part II

The title of this post got me thinking about how the education of cad and cad related products have changed.

When I first started out using AutoCAD (10 years ago on R-12 Dos) I was hired by a freelance drafting firm who took the chance on a young kid with construction experience, board drafting skills and a thirst for learning. The first day I learned 4 commands from my boss at the time they were; Change, Erase, Line and Text. With these 4 commands and a half-hour training session I was all set to start working. ;)

There was no one else in the area who knew all the ins/outs I soon realized as I studied AutoCAD and wanted to know the philosophy behind it and how to use it effectively. Ahhhhh the good old days, when learning a new command and showing it to people from different companies got cheers from everyone!!!!

Fast forward to the present time and now I have the opportunity to not only use AutoCAD, ADT and VIZ/MAX but also to teach them, customize them and more. As many of you know I teach a few evenings a week at my local college. The students I have surprise me each week with how much knowledge they soak up and also their level of questions and how they wish to apply their new found knowledge to their respective fields. I have also seen the learning level become easier for users with the release of the 2004 suite of products.

When you combine the many avenues of support available to users now, from Help File and Tutorials that ship with the product, newsgroups, books, websites for free and paid learning and of course training courses on CD/DVD it seems even easier to pick-up and hone your knowledge and skills. I cannot wait to see and be a part of what happens over the next 5-10 years for development of this software that we have come to know and love.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Education and Getting Schooled

Plenty of sunshine and somewhat warm weather made for a great weekend combination. This of course meant a trip to my local motorcycle shop for a few new goodies. Most notably a new battery that the Magna ended up needing. Took a good break and got some riding done too.

The script that I was working on Friday and this weekend, was to remove a modifier from a selection set anywhere in the modifier stack for VIZ/MAX. This presented itself to be more difficult than initially planned. ;) After more reading, testing and working I have a snippet that works. Now to add a few other clean-up items to it and add a UI and it will be complete. While I was working on how to do this Daniel Pero suggested an example from Neil Blevins called Remove Modifier. This is, or rather was part of the BSPack and after much searching I found an older version of BSPack available. This presents itself in a much cleaner way than my current method was, I tweaked it a bit for my needs to see how it all worked but I want mine to behave a bit differently. When I finally finish this up I will post a link for those interested.

Speaking of Neil, for those not familiar with his work, it is top notch in the sci-fi and fantasty arena.

happy scripting...

Friday, March 12, 2004

E-mail issue

For those of you who were trying to send an e-mail to the address link on the side, the group that hosts the Triple D site and the e-mail for it, is having problems with the e-mail server and should be back up and running later today.

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. There is also a possibility that any e-mail sent in the past 48 hours may not have been received.

Today seems to be a rendering and MaxScripting day so look for more tips and thoughts this evening...

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

That's Visual Lisp Baby

Wow, when they say you do not get any sleep when you have a baby they are not kidding one bit, but boy is it worth it. ;)

I finally got the chance to hop on the computer earlier to work for a bit and had a request from a friend for a snippet of lisp code to copy files from a network location to a users local drive if/when the file is updated. This allows AutoCAD/ADT to control the copying of the files and not rely on DOS, VBScript or other scripting method and a startup/login script. Since this is a simple but useful item for CAD Managers and Power Users, feel free to use it.

I can honestly say I finally coded with one hand behind my back (I had Dylan beside me and he wanted to hold my finger while napping).

; start of code here
; copy outdated file to users folder location
; created by Beau Turner 3/10/2004
; copy this code between the ==== and place in your acad*doc.lsp file
; * this may be either 2000, 2004 or 2005 depending on the verison you have installed
; in this example the f:/AutoCAD/mytestfile.txt is the "good" file
; the c:/mytestfile.txt is the users folder and location to copy the file to
; it will only copy if the file save time is different

(setq origfile (vl-file-systime "c:/mytestfile.txt")
newfile (vl-file-systime "f:/AutoCAD/mytestfile.txt")
);close of setq

(if (/= origfile newfile)
(vl-file-copy "f:/AutoCAD/mytestfile.txt" "c:/mytestfile.txt"
(vl-file-delete "c:/mytestfile.txt"))
);close of if statement
; end of code here

; start of code here
; copy outdated file to users folder location
; created by Beau Turner 3/10/2004
; copy and paste code between the ==== and place in a new file
; name it CopyFile.lsp (or whatever you want to call it)
; in this example the f:/AutoCAD/mytestfile.txt is my "good" file
; the c:/mytestfile.txt is the users folder and location to copy the file to
; it will only copy if the file save time is different

(defun c:CopyFile (/ origfile newfile)
(setq origfile (vl-file-systime "c:/mytestfile.txt"))
(setq newfile (vl-file-systime "f:/AutoCAD/mytestfile.txt"))

(if (/= origfile newfile)
(vl-file-copy "f:/AutoCAD/mytestfile.txt" "c:/mytestfile.txt"
(vl-file-delete "c:/mytestfile.txt"))
);close of if statement
);close of defun

; end of code here

Want to get started coding with Lisp/Visual Lisp? Check out "The Visual Lisp Developers Bible", a free download from my buddy Dave Stein. Though there are currently no plans to continue development of this great resource you will still find this .pdf a great resource and reference and hey its free, so what are you waiting for.

happy coding...

Monday, March 08, 2004

Welcome to the blogging world

Lee Ambrosius (CAD Programmer and HyperPics fame) now has joined the blogging world at Beyond the UI.

Lee is a great person and I cannot say enough positive things about him and the value he has to the cad community. We should all look forward to what Lee has to share through this additional resource. Keep up the great work!!!

happy blogging...

Fatherhood and life

As you may have read recently Shannon and I were waiting for our first little bundle of joy to come join us in our life together. Well that day has now come and we would like to take a moment to share with you:

Dylan Vaughan Cole Turner
Born - March 07, 2004 4:43am
Weight - 8 pounds 4 ounces
Length - 20.5 inches

We hope everything is well with each of you and we appreciate your kind generous words, thoughts and more.

happy parenting...

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Favorite AutoCAD 2005 Feature #2

AutoCAD Sheet Set Manager.... For those who have been using ADT 2004 this feature is similar to the Project Navigator. For those who have not had the exposure to this yet, once you start using this feature you will wonder how you ever worked without it.

What exactly are Sheet Sets? Great question, this is a way for your multiple drawing project sheet files to be managed and organized in one location for all users on a "project" to see and use. No need to worry about xrefs, directories/sub-directories, what files go where, etc... To get started with Sheet Sets you can turn this feature on using either Ctrl + 4 or going under Tools>>Sheet Set Manager.

At this point you can either import your existing layout(s) from any drawing into a sheet set as a numbered sheet or use the Create Sheet Set wizard to start generating your Sheet Set from any of several pre-defined templates (Architectural, Civil and Manufacturing both imperial and metric for each) or use your own custom set-ups.

5 things interesting about the Sheet Set Manager:

1. Integration with Fields (in case you have not noticed I love what fields have to offer!!!).

2. Drag and drop your model space views from your resource drawings directly to your sheets without worrying about xref's.

3. Sheet subsets for organization by discipline or other method you choose.

4. Sheet list table. Probably one of the coolest/quickest methods for generating an index listing of all the sheets in your drawing set.

5. The ability to publish your entire drawing set, or subset category, eTransmit and/or archive by right clicking (wait until you use background plotting).

6. Ok, I lied one more item, numbering and sheet naming along with the ability to change these on the fly at any time. Again you can reference information using fields (think about the sheet title, input it once when you create your sheet and have it fill in your titleblock via fields).

I could go on and on about how useful the Sheet Set Manager is but as I was outlining the list of items I wanted to share and discuss, both in this blog and at my lug, it was pretty hard to narrow down the list to just these few items listed above. With so many uses and possibilities for Sheet Sets everyone from the inexperienced to the guru of your office will find this a great feature that will change the way you work.

happy cadding...

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Net Rendering blues....

My AutoCAD/ADT 2005 update for this week was interrupted with getting distributed net rendering for VIZ set-up and getting a Brazil distributed bucket rendering for sending out one large single frame image to render on mulitple machines and done on a deadline. Glad that's 90% done, so bear with me tonight/this morning and I will be back-up writing about the 2005 releases soon....

I have to give the Splutterfish guys/gals a thanks as the bucket rendering went smooth once I got the manager/server issue worked out. Only one gripe that I will pass on to tech support for consideration for the duplication of effort in the file naming from common properties to the Brazil file naming. Now as long as everything finishes by morning I will be happy. :)

Now to wind down and get some rest, oh and Kong Phooey have a great time in Japan and try to get out and take plenty of pictures and eat some good sushi. ;)

happy rendering...

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Favorite AutoCAD 2005 Feature #1

Fields... though you may not know what this is yet, you will soon enough and you will wonder how you ever worked without them.

It took me a short period of time to understand exactly how fields were going to work for AutoCAD. 10 minutes later I was a superstar. OK, well maybe not a superstar, but if you have ever used RTEXT and wished for more power such as justification and more than plain diesel can give you then you will love this. Fields can be used to show data such as current date, title block information, sheet numbers, sheet names, labels, system variables and of course diesel expressions. If the information changes, regenerate the drawing to automatically update the fields.

5 things interesting about Fields:

1. Fields can be inserted into any string of text (except tolerances) and used in conjunction with text that is manually input. When the referenced field value is changed/modified the value of the field is updated and displayed.

2. Fields allow you to use any justification available for text.

3. Fields offer a few new variables (fielddisplay, fieldeval). These control the background visibility of the fields (similar to Microsoft Word) and when the referenced field information is updated. The Fieldeval is controlled by a bitcode variable (o, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16).

4. Fields can be associated with hyperlinks and views.

5. When used in conjunction with ADT you have access to AEC Project Information and AEC Keynotes.

Okay, well that's enough for now. When you get your copy of ACAD/ADT 2005 be sure to look at the fields and see just how powerful they can be.

happy cadding...

Monday, March 01, 2004

Software and Art

I was chatting with my buddy Miker the Biker regarding graphic software packages and art the other week. Recently he purchased Corel Painter and was showing me what it can do. I was very impressed with what I saw. While Photoshop is an overwhelming choice of the visualization industry there are many things that it lacks in terms of digital art. So far with my experience of both pieces of software I find that they can compliment each other very well for production work.

For those of you that have a Wacom tablet, make sure you check out the Wacom privileges section as I found a special pricing upgrade for this and other products available as a registered owner. One other piece of software that peeks my interest is Toon Boom Studio, and for those wondering.... I broke down and purchased this product to add to my arsenal of tools.

Set Rantmode = On
I have to give a big thumbs down to/for the Corel Website and lack of response from staff. I had a project that this would have been perfect for this weekend so I ordered Painter 8.1 on Thursday morning (bright and early), paid an extra $15 bucks to have it next day overnighted via the web to be delivered by Friday 10:00am. No follow-up e-mail and no package on Friday. The website is/was difficult to navigate and even harder to find an e-mail address for a live person or group. Finally I called their 1-800 number and got a nice young lady to look into my issue. Somehow my name and information were in the computer, but my order was not. Having never bought a product from Corel before I found this odd. The girl mentioned that the site sometimes has ordering issues and I should try again via the web or place my order by phone. I chose to try via phone this time with a live person, after asking for a FTP option to download to meet my weekend deadline she mentioned this is available for other software but not Painter, with no other options but to wait for mail. She mentioned the shipping options and there were 2 choices 2-3 days or 4-5 days and no overnight. For the 2-3 day service they charge $20. $5 more to order by phone and it is not overnighted. I mentioned that the website option was $15 and overnighted but to no avail.

I also decided to document my experience and see if there was anyway to get a FTP or authcode for my purchase to activate the demo. After trying to login to the website and it not accepting my login name and password I started to give up. An hour later my login name and password worked successfully for once to log in, managed to get an e-mail out to them and documented the experience up to this point (including the login issue). After logging out, I could not log back in since. So far I have not received a response back from their support staff either. Now that's customer service! Give me an Autodesk or Adobe product any day, they understand customer service and the value of a client.
Set Rantmode = Off

I know my post above sounds negative, but what a great weekend otherwise. Beautiful weather, manual labor (heavy yardwork, exterior house cleaning), little rendering, coding and not to mention the upcoming birth of our son. The due date +/- this week.

This week I will be posting my favorite things about AutoCAD 2005 and ADT 2005 for some writing material, if I miss a day or two it means we are in the delivery room.

Cheers and I wish you a great week too...

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