From Sketchup to AutoCAD to Rhino to Blender — what matters?
‘It is no longer big beating the small, but the fast beating the slow.’
We live in a time when experts of digital technologies are attempting to push the boundaries of technology beyond our wildest dreams. The digital world has shown us a new face of technology. This face is now used as a mode of expression, interaction, entertainment and learning, among other things.
Most of us anticipated that there would come a time when digital devices would be the most important aspect of human beings. Let us use ourselves as an example. We have smartphones, tablets, laptops and so on. We have devices that we bring with us when we go to the bathroom. Ask yourself. Can we survive without these devices in our hands? The answer will almost certainly be a “no.” Most of us rely heavily on these devices in our day to day lives.
Digitisation enables you to produce a specific piece of information in a specific format via a specific medium. Still, there will be a certain margin of error.
Consider AutoCAD and Sketchup. AutoCAD is far more precise and accurate than Sketchup. It also stores information on design dimensions with a greater depth than Sketchup. Sketchup contains many errors and bugs, and crashes if computational values exceed a certain threshold. It muddles end points and measurements, but thanks to the sophisticated error correction techniques, it has come a long way in dealing with these issues.
Even so, Sketchup has its own set of advantages. It has a plethora of plug-ins. It allows you to plug-in various software that deals with various types of data. This collaboration allows for digitisation of another degree. There are two obvious reasons for this development: error correction and data compression.
There are also two immediate consequences.
First, different types of information and bits with varying information values coexist distinctly. They can easily be used together or separately without destroying essential information.
While it may appear complicated, this is what multimedia means in the digital world. Multimedia simply refers to the interaction of two different packets or sequences of bits containing completely different information. Multimedia enables us to add dimension to a line, a surface to a texture, a texture to a render, a render to an animation, and an animation to a presentation with sound. In essence, each form or addition is a new layer of bits added on top of the previous layer of bits and their information.
As the complexity and layers of bits increase, so do the functions and management of those bits. As a result, the second consequence is data management, also known as “headers.”
Headers are bits that are created and used to store and enact data on other bits. For example, when you group things or create components in Sketchup, the idea is to organise similar information so it can be manipulated later. You can then use functions like move, rotate, and scale on the entire group.
These functions are all headers in this context, as are groups and components. These bits are not additional information added to the basic layer of bits. Instead, they are tools and functions used to manipulate the existing layer of bits.
A sophisticated relationship between headers and multimedia will result in software free of bugs and errors. The narrative, however, is more complicated than that.
By adding headers to multimedia, we are accomplishing two tasks at once. We are making digital information more diverse and scalable while also making it easy to manipulate and transform.
This is where Sketchup and its plug-ins truly shine in comparison to AutoCAD. It has more user-friendly headers. It is easier, faster, and more feasible to create and manipulate building models and their information on Sketchup. It also integrates various other forms of information and media into the model. Climate analysis and animation are the only forms of information that are integrated with a certain margin of error. This is where other software, such as Rhino, Grasshopper and Blender, outperform AutoDesk. And it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Rhino 3D is a free form surface modeller that employs modelling by curves method. This is better known as NURBS or Non-Uniform Rational Basis Spline. It is a mathematical model used in computer graphics to render curves and surfaces. This model provides a high level of flexibility and precision throughout the 3D modelling process. When modelling with this technique, you work with curves rather than linking polygons. Curves are used to create a three-dimensional surface. This type of modelling employs adaptive mesh, which allows you to optimise the number of faces that make up the object's surface. This modelling technique is the most precise.
Rhino includes a comprehensive set of tools to assist you in developing projects regardless of industry. These include the general tools, transform tools, point and curve options, and surface features. A myriad of mesh tools are also available to export your meshes, or convert NURBS to meshes, for display or rendering.
This programme is not only useful for 3D creations. In fact, using Rhino's Make2D feature will allow you to create 2D drawings. One can even develop technical illustrations and communicate ideas in both 2D and 3D.
Design realisation necessitates high quality 3D models at all stages of design. Rhino's developers were acutely aware of this. This software timely offers new tools and enhancements. The aim: to ensure that the 3D models used are of the highest quality possible — from presentation to analysis to fabrication.
When we were growing up, we were taught that nothing is free. There is either always a hidden cost or a free product is somehow inferior to a paid product. This is a common misconception among prospective Blender users. Blender has numerous advantages. It is far from a simple piece of software and should not be overlooked.
Based on my research and experience, I have come to the following conclusions.
Blender's main advantage is that it is a free, all-in-one piece of software. It can 3D model, rig, animate, and render. It offers UV, texture, light, among other things. It is a community-driven, thoroughly tested open-source software that can support an entire CG pipeline.
What matters then? This is a question that has different answers for different people.
Some might work in 2D only, some work in 2D and 3D. Some work in Parametric, some work in building analysis and simulations. Some might not want to spend a fortune to buy high-end software.
The need for software is different for different individuals within the industry. What matters then is what works for you, pays your bills, and lets you sleep easy and accomplished.
Though AutoCAD is essentially a drafting software, it relies on the correctness of the data stored in the bits. Sketchup, on the other hand, is based on header versatility and a fluid interface. Here, Rhino focuses on incorporating different mathematical computations into its bits. There, Blender does everything through a combinatorial explosion of bits.
Nonetheless, all these software have created code templates for future 3D software development; a future is which is ready to take over the mobile application space, today. Thousands of such applications, which are working on specific bits, headers and values, will be the future of design software.
Here is our answer to that question.
SketchUp and its rigorous team of developers are making the relationship between header and multimedia more malleable. At the same time, they are making the software more versatile than AutoCAD.
This software battle takes a drastic turn when NURBs collide with Rhino3D. While the battle was contained in the header for AutoCAD and Sketchup, Rhino expands the arena with its curve linking technique.
The unsung hero is Blender. Free, open-source and capable of doing the heavy lifting for a designer and a digital artist.
About the Writer
Sana Paul is an undergraduate architecture student and writer at the Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, hailing from the cozy streets of Punjab. She has experience working at the India Lost and Found (ILF) by Amit Pasricha, and Rethinking The Future (RTF).
About the Editor
Nishtha Singh is an editor, writer and researcher in the fields of Philosophy of Language, Ethics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). She has trained as an editor at the Seagull School of Publishing, Calcutta and is a graduate of the Department of Philosophy, and the Hansraj College, University of Delhi (DU), India.
About the Illustrator
Diksha Garg is an undergraduate architecture student at the School of Planning and Architecture Bhopal, hailing from Chandigarh. She is an illustrator, graphic designer and writer. She has received a citation for G-Sen Trophy and a Juror's Choice Award for Journalism Trophy by the National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA), India.