VectorWorks 12 Designer

VectorWorks 12 Designer, previously known as the Industry Collection, is the latest release of Nemetschek’s leading CAD application. Designer combines four VectorWorks applications into one bundle, but each is also available separately. They are Architect, for designing buildings and spaces; Spotlight, for set and lighting design; Machine Design for mechanical design; and Landmark for landscape design. Also included in the Designer bundle is the excellent rendering application RenderWorks.

VectorWorks isn’t just a drawing and modelling application, but an intelligent building object environment, which allows you to dynamically update quantities and schedules as the design changes. It allows the user to switch between 2D drawing mode and 3D modelling, and then create rendered presentation images and datasheets, such as building schedules, all from one document.

There are a host of new features in version 12 that automate tasks and make the application easier to use yet more powerful. Crucially, the interface has been simplified to make it easier both to learn the application and use it efficiently. It’s now also much easier to select objects, even in 3D view, navigate through a model with the flyover tool, and use a mouse scroll wheel to zoom in and out. You can also select Rendering options quickly with a pop-up menu.

VectorWorks also takes advantage of the Quartz 2D imaging library on the Macintosh for improved line quality, which is invaluable for large format printing and PDF export. RenderWorks has come a long way in version 12, with lots of new features including radiosity for more realistic looking renders, and volumetric lighting.

For architectural modelling, which is the mainstay of most CAD applications, there are welcome improvements for objects, including walls, doors, windows, roofs and stairs – in fact, pretty much everything. And now you can also populate your virtual buildings with 3D human-figure objects. Where VectorWorks falls down slightly is in modelling more organic building forms, with the current trend for sculptural, curving forms and non-linear surfaces, (often called ‘blobtecture’). The 3D Power Pack for advanced 3D modelling with NURBS allows the creation of complex 3D forms, but they cannot be detailed in the same way as conventional building objects.


VectorWorks 12 Designer now plays well with others. As well as improved AutoCAD integration offering enhanced DXF/DWG import and export, you can also import and export .3DS files. This means that VectorWorks can integrate with pretty much any 3D modelling application out there, including 3D Studio Max and Cinema 4D. Also available for this release from the Nemetschek website is a free plug-in that allows you to import files from the popular SketchUp application. This is great for workflow. It enables you can experiment with design concepts in SketchUp and then switch to VectorWorks to finalise the design and create working drawings, schedules, etc. VectorWorks is now firmly established as the premier CAD application on the Mac, and a cross-platform alternative to AutoCAD. This release cements VectorWorks position with a thoughtful set of new features.

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