DesignWorkshop 1.7


theatre masks

Finally an architectural modeler that exports to Radiance!

The more we use this unique application, the more we like it! Design Workshop from Artifice Inc. is a fast, easy-to-use architectural modeler. Versions for both Mac and Windows are available. Unlike so many new 3-D modeling programs. It works in feet and inches or meters. No more guessing about scale. Models can be viewed in several formats including wire frame and flat shaded with shadows. Models can also be instantly converted to fully textured 3DMF and viewed with the built-in 3DMF viewer.

screen shot The interface is also unique. The usual plan and elevation views are available but the program is designed so that most modeling is done in the perspective view window. This is accomplished by dragging a 2-D shape then immediately extruding it into the third dimension by option-dragging. This takes some getting used to and it often it is difficult to align tools three dimensionally, but a snap-to feature and visual clues such as a perspective grid, drop "shadows" and position readouts help immensely. Another nice feature of the perspective window is the ability to do real-time walk through of the model. Not smooth or fast enough to serve as a VR platform, it still is an easy way to set views.

Once you have mastered the unique tools, modeling goes very quickly. A box can be converted to a set of walls with a single command, doorways and windows can be cut with a simple mouse drag. Objects can be duplicated in various arrays, so creating stairways, railings and paned windows is a snap. Some simple objects are curiously missing however. For example, making a sphere requires several operations.

Being primarily an architectural modeler, DesignWorkshop does not contain advanced tools such as splines, nurbs, or extrusion on paths. If you need complex or organic shapes, objects can be imported in DXF format from other applications. The library of textures is very large and additional textures can be created from any PICT file.

Design Workshop was the primary modeling tool used in our recent production of TESLA ELECTRIC. For more information and some screen shots, look HERE.


An important feature of DesignWorkshop that should be of great interest to stage designers is it's ability to export files in Radiance format, complete with lighting and textures. Radiance is a rendering application that runs on UNIX and Windows NT platforms. Designed for illuminate and architectural engineers, it stands out from typical ray-tracing renderers in that it is remarkably accurate in rendering light from specific light sources and in calibrating reflected light. Using Radiance for lighting simulations will exactly replicate actual stage conditions. Be warned, Radiance is not for the faint of heart. To render the proper lighting instruments, lamps, dimmer settings and gel colors, one must have a good understanding of the Radiance language as well as the operating systems. DesignWorkshop will give you a good start by doing the model geometry, including textures and approximate light sources. The Artifice web site includes more information on Radiance and even how it can be run on a Mac under UNIX emulation.

for some good example sof Radiance rendering look at some award-winning work done by KU architectural engineering students.Also, take a look at how we are using DesignWorkshop and Radiance in our upcoming production of Tesla Electric.

DesignWorkshop is listed at $595 but deep educational discounts are available. Look to their web site for details. A fully featured demo program, limited to 50 shapes is also available there.

Mark Reaney

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