Whether you are brand new to 3D modeling or a seasoned pro, everyone has something to learn from “The Art and Function of 3D Modeling” webinar, now available on demand. In just 60 minutes, Luis Ruiz, senior product specialist at Vectorworks, demonstrates how the tools and capabilities of Vectorworks software allow users to create beautiful 3D projects all within the program.


This continuing education webinar explores a wide range of 3D modeling operations from the simple Extrude tool to parametric modeling using Marionette. Ruiz highlights the importance of working in 3D by walking viewers through each tool and demonstrating his workflows for example projects.


After watching the webinar, take this test to earn 1 AIA LU. And if you want to keep learning about making the switch to 3D workflows, register for the December 13 webinar, “Transitioning from 2D Drafting to 3D Modeling,” also worth 1 AIA LU.

The Service Pack 2 update for Vectorworks 2017 was just released, and we’re beaming about the enhanced collaboration workflows it enables. The update includes a variety of general improvements, plus increased interoperability capabilities with Bluebeam Revu software, a PDF creation, editing, and markup software from Bluebeam, Inc., a leading developer of technology solutions for the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries. This improved functionality will appear across the 2017 product line, including Vectorworks® Architect, Landmark, Spotlight, and Designer.

View Space objects in Bluebeam Revu.

View space objects in Bluebeam Revu.

“Accessible open standards, flexible design processes, and overall productivity gains are highly prioritized by the design community,” says Steve Johnson, vice president of product development at Vectorworks. “With this in mind, we teamed up with our partner and sister company within the Nemetschek Group, Bluebeam, to provide an optimized PDF export between our robust BIM software and Bluebeam Revu.”

As part of the new collaboration, Vectorworks 2017 will have an improved PDF export functionality that automatically includes Vectorworks space object data and attributes. Users can work with space objects as dynamic, data-rich massing model components, supporting BIM workflows as part of the 2D/3D design process with parametric modeling. These informative PDF files can be readily imported by Revu users, saving time and increasing accuracy by eliminating the need to enter space object data manually every time an architect issues a revised set of construction drawings.

Work with native spaces in Bluebeam Revu

Work with native spaces in Bluebeam Revu

“When it comes to developing a seamless set of applications that work together, interoperability is everything,” says Don Jacob, CTO at Bluebeam. “Vectorworks and Bluebeam worked together to tailor a solution for their users that streamlines data transfers, preserving valuable data in the process that Revu users can use to begin working with immediately.”

Current users can implement the Service Pack 2 updates by running the “Check for Updates Command,” while those purchasing a Vectorworks 2017 license after today should double check that Service Pack 2 was downloaded, too.

Learn more about the Service Pack 2 performance improvements for Vectorworks 2017 by reading our Vectorworks Knowledgebase article or visiting our product updates page.


Group projects can inspire a sense of dread in the hearts of even the toughest design students. The idea of compromising your design aesthetic, giving up a little bit of control, or working with someone who doesn’t pull their weight can be terrifying, but overall group projects have an unfair reputation. Some of the best projects come from group work, and it’s likely that you’ll have to work with others throughout your professional career, which means it’s time for an attitude overhaul. So, in the spirit of collaboration, we gathered some advice from both current and recent students on how to make your group projects more successful, and hopefully more enjoyable.

Caleb, Webster University, Lighting Design, Class of 2016


In my experience working on plays with other designers, your team will not be successful unless you all realize each player’s importance. Everyone is there to tell a story, and every person — from the lighting designer to the set designer — has an equal hand in that process. When people feel like their work is being undervalued by other group members, they won’t put forth their best effort. So, my piece of advice is to foster a respectful tone, that way everyone is motivated to excel, which will only strengthen the overall project.

Image from "The Nature of Flutmulde," a group project winner of the Vectorworks Design Scholarship.

Image from “The Nature of Flutmulde,” a group project winner of the Vectorworks Design Scholarship.

Drew, University of Maryland, Landscape Architecture, Class of 2017

Balance Exploration and Decision Making

Sometimes in group projects there is one member who voices the majority of the ideas and the group might blindly follow them, which can enable slackers to flourish and create resentment all around. My advice is to take some time in the beginning to explore everyone’s ideas and avoid groupthink. This gives everyone the chance to feel heard and can result in the exploration of more interesting ideas that are outside the box.

While brainstorming might be one of the most fun parts of a group project, you also have to make sure you don’t spend too long on this stage. You and your team need to get on the same page early on in your project and have an action plan. Otherwise, your team members will be too busy making up their minds and realize the week before your project’s deadline that they haven’t designed anything yet. So, avoid letting the exploration run too long.

Stay Clued In

It’s important to always regroup and ensure you’re all working toward the same goal, because when working with a group, it’s easy to lose track of who made certain design decisions and why they were made. After all, it’s most productive to divvy up the project and work independently to get the job done, but then it can start to feel like the group is working on separate projects, and when it comes time to present your work, people will notice that your design is disjointed. If you or your teammates forget to explain your work to each other, not only will your work feel scattered, but you’ll be on the chopping block when it comes time to present and defend your final project. Each of you will be expected to be aware of the “why” behind every component of the project.

To avoid drawing a blank when a professor asks you a question about a team member’s work, set daily meetings with your team to keep everyone in the loop. Having short, ongoing updates will not only help everyone understand the progression of each facet of the project, but it will also ensure that everyone is sticking to your team’s goals and expectations.

Students presenting a group project for review.

Students presenting a group project for review.

Joanna, Rice University, Architecture, Class of 2016

Honesty Is the Best Policy

It’s not enough to just know your strengths and weaknesses, you have to be able to actually communicate them to your team. When it comes time to divide up work, if you know that you are great at renderings, but struggle with line-weights or graphic styles, speak up! Typically, each member of your group will have different strengths, and the only way to play to them is by being honest.

But, the candid tone shouldn’t stop there. It can be just as hard, if not more challenging, to dish out criticism than it is to take it. My best group work came from a team that wasn’t afraid to speak their minds. By establishing a respectful tone early on, we could freely express our opinions without worrying about hurting each other. And, if any of us were offended by something, we were open and honest about it so we could get past it and move forward.

The Bottom Line: Your Group Project isn’t a Waste

When you work in a group where everyone is putting in the same effort and producing the same amount of work as they would for a personal project, you end up with an abundance of high-quality deliverables. Unfortunately, people tend to shy away from including this work in their personal portfolios, but you shouldn’t! In your summary and project description, include details about your team’s process and the specific roles you filled to show to employers that you are a good team player.

Image from "The Nest We Grow," a group project winner of the Vectorworks Design Scholarship.

Image from “The Nest We Grow,” a group project winner of the Vectorworks Design Scholarship.

You can even use group work to apply to competitions and scholarships, like the annual Vectorworks Design Scholarship, where students from around the world can enter both their group and solo projects to score up to $10,000 USD. Interested? All you need to do is submit a PDF, .mov, or .mp4 of your project, answer a few short questions, and you’ll be on your way.

The people have spoken! Our software has taken home two notable awards recently based off of nominations and votes from readers, as well as judging panels. Our Vectorworks Nomad app won Mobile Technology of 2016 at the Cloud Hosting Awards, and the annual Construction Computing Awards honored Vectorworks Architect 2017 with their Editor’s Choice award.

Cloud Hosting Awards
Held this past month at the Cumberland Hotel in London and hosted by Cloud Hosting Magazine, the Cloud Hosting awards showcase, recognize, and reward innovative technology, customer service, and marketing in the AEC industry. Over 100 guests attended the gala event, enjoying a champagne reception, three-course dinner, and entertainment from Stephen Grant, the star of various TV and radio shows.

Vectorworks Nomad wins Mobile Technology award.

Vectorworks Nomad wins Mobile Technology award.

Specifically, the Mobile Technology award honors products that simplify working on the go and inventive mobile products or services. As part of our Vectorworks Cloud Services, we developed the Vectorworks Nomad app to empower designers to access their files on any mobile device, whenever, wherever. Available for iOS and Android, the app makes it possible to view and navigate 3D renderings, share files with clients or collaborators, and mark up PDF files to save to cloud libraries. The app is available to anyone, although an expanded feature set is exclusive to Vectorworks Service Select members.

Construction Computing Awards
Also held in London, the annual Construction Computing Awards gala took place at BMA House, with over 180 guests gathering for a champagne reception and three-course dinner. For over a decade, the awards, better known as “The Hammer” in the United Kingdom, have celebrated the tools, solutions, and technology that support effective design, construction, and civil engineering projects. This year marks the seventh consecutive year that a Vectorworks product has been recognized.

“This year…having recently introduced major new features for free- and algorithmic-based modeling, and enhanced its add-on rendering application, which is now included in the latest version of the software, [Vectorworks] has totally re-organized its resource management utility, turning [Vectorworks Architect] into a comprehensive architectural design tool,” said Construction Computing Editor David Chadwick.

Altogether, it’s been an exciting month for us in London. You can check out all the updates in Vectorworks 2017 here, or learn more about the Nomad app by heading to our Cloud Services page.

Award-winning entertainment designer, author, and producer Kevin Lee Allen has learned a thing or two about creating jaw-dropping scenery from his experience designing everything from major Broadway productions to national commercials. Allen says that one of the biggest takeaways from his prolific design career is that, “it’s critical to show people what they’re going to get when you build something.” With that in mind, Allen hosted the Rendering Techniques to Empower Your Entertainment Design Workflow webinar to demonstrate how to create models that will give clients a clear understanding of your vision. 

Lysistrata Set

In the webinar, Allen teaches Vectorworks Spotlight users how to integrate the rendering capabilities of Renderworks into their design workflows to create comprehensive project visualizations and improve communication and collaboration. Allen uses his own designs to demonstrate time-saving rendering techniques, as well as how designers can define their signature style using textures, lights, and render styles.

You can view the webinar here. To keep learning, check out all of the webinars we have to offer on our Inspiration page.

Irrigation design is a rapidly growing market within the landscape industry, but many modern design tools don’t meet this expanding demand, forcing you to switch between different software programs. That’s why we included groundbreaking irrigation tools in Vectorworks Landmark 2017, empowering you to design your entire site, from GIS data management in larger contexts to the details of irrigation piping, valves, and hydrozones, all in one program.


But you don’t have to take our word for it; Kellan Vincent, licensed irrigator, project lead and vice president at Vincent Landscapes, Inc. was also frustrated with his workflows before the release of Vectorworks 2017. “We had to switch back and forth between programs in order to accomplish all of the tasks required of us, which made for a really irritating workflow,” he explained. After designing landscapes using the 3D modeling capabilities of Vectorworks Landmark, Vincent and his team would use Land F/X’s Irrigation F/X module to create irrigation plans. A few problems arose with this method, one being the that the transition from working in a site-specific BIM software to a general CAD software meant that information was lost and that iterative work had to be done.

Vincent and his team didn’t want to give up the powerful parametric, 3D modeling and BIM capabilities available in Vectorworks software, so they were eager to try out the new irrigation tools. “I was shocked by just how well it worked,” Vincent exclaimed. “We do a lot of Digital Terrain Modeling and we would have lost that capability by switching to a general CAD software. Now, our entire design process can be managed within Vectorworks, saving me time and creating better, more information-rich projects.”

Commenting on the BIM capabilities of the irrigation tools in terms of calculating flow rates, Vincent loves that you can simply click on a pipe to check its flow rate in the Vectorworks Object Info palette. “Designing irrigation systems is much easier using BIM,” explains Vincent. “Having that functionality where I can click and see flow rates and the design pressure versus actual pressure based on the friction loss is really cool and helpful.”


These simplified calculations improve Vincent’s ability to design for sustainability. Because it’s now easier and faster to calculate water use and adjust your designs based on that data, it takes designers like Vincent less time and effort to tweak a project to achieve optimum water efficiency.


Irrigation plan courtesy of Kellan Vincent.

And even though irrigation tools were only just introduced a few months ago, Vincent and his team have already executed projects using them. “On a recent residential landscape project, we used the tools to create an irrigation network that had a little bit of everything,” said Vincent. “We had that system installed a couple weeks ago and the flow rates and pressures match closely to the Landmark calculations. It was great to give my guys a solid, legible irrigation plan because they could just go and lay it all out easily.”

To Vincent, the true power of Vectorworks Landmark’s irrigation tools is their integrated functionality with all of the other features of the software. “With irrigation, you really need each element to work or the system breaks down,” Vincent insisted. “All of the tools function very well, and I really appreciate the simplicity of how all of the tools fit together.”

If you want to learn more about our new irrigation tools and how to use them, head over to our Vectorworks 2017 – Irrigation Design tutorial playlist, or check out this webinar exploring irrigation workflows. And, check out all of the great new capabilities of Vectorworks 2017 here.

We are ‘BIM’ing with pride to announce that the free BIMobject App is now integrated into Vectorworks 2017 software. The App manages and downloads native Vectorworks content and easily converts DWG, SKP, and 3DS content into information-rich Vectorworks content. This is done entirely in the background and delivers the same user experience no matter the source data format. Additionally, the app includes over 4,600 objects from more than 260 brands, an unprecedented amount of content for a newly-introduced App. In turn, the manufacturers who support BIMobject with these formats gain immediate access to the Vectorworks user base of up to 650,000 users.

“The BIMobject App in Vectorworks 2017 is a major milestone in our continued mission to provide designers with access to building material and product specifications for building information models,” said Robert Anderson, vice president of integrated practice at Vectorworks. “We’re extremely proud to be releasing such a content-rich App, and we greatly appreciate the support of BIMobject in helping make this a reality.”

The App stores all non-graphical object data in Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) format, which is platform-neutral with a non-proprietary open file format. This means if you create a project using content from the BIMobject App, then export using IFC, it will preserve all the manufacturer product information through the export.

“The fact that the BIMobject App for Vectorworks is pre-installed is really good, giving direct access of up to 650,000 potential designers for all our manufacturers and brands that are published in the BIMobject Cloud,” said Johan Dyrssen, teamleader for Web Development at BIMobject. “It will be a great synergy with the Vectorworks application and make the BIMobject Cloud the preferred choice for downloading BIM objects and product information from the web.”

Anderson will be showcasing the App in his presentation “Vectorworks and BIMobject” at the BIMobject LIVe Worldwide Business Conference that kicks off tomorrow in Malmö, Sweden. The two-day conference focuses on building information modeling, future technology, and the power of digital products’ internet distribution.

Ready to try the BIMobject App for yourself? Current Vectorworks users can access the tool by downloading the Service Pack 1 update, and if you’re purchasing a Vectorworks 2017 license, just make sure Service Pack 1 was downloaded too.

With haunted houses and creepy attractions, it’s no wonder that Halloween, a popular holiday in North America and other regions of the world, is the spookiest time of year. But, what’s even scarier is the daunting task of designing lighting that makes even the most experienced horror-enthusiast’s skin crawl.

When it comes to ghastly entertainment design, look no further than Karyn Lawrence, a Vectorworks Spotlight user and a lead lighting designer at Radiance Lightworks. Lawrence has been working on large-scale haunted attractions for several years and knows exactly how to create lighting effects that make guests’ hair stand on end. Here are her tips for thrilling and chilling frights.

Image courtesy of Joey Gannon.

Image courtesy of Joey Gannon.

1. Focus on Your Theme

The team at Radiance Lightworks begins the design process for their haunted attractions months before October, concentrating on the attraction’s theme and researching source material. The team watches and reads a lot of horror content to better understand their goal and learn what elements of the genre they should include.

“Whether it’s a movie or a book or a classic story, our theme is where we start,” says Lawrence. “We’re very theatrical in our design approach.”

2. Set the Mood

Lawrence and her team then create two separate lighting plans: one for general ambiance of the surrounding environment and the other for attractions. The ambiance lighting sets the scene and kick-starts the goosebumps as soon as the guests walk through the gate. You can’t skip over the environment around the attractions, as it ensures a holistic, immersive horror experience that builds suspense every step of the way.

3. Balance Light and Dark

Though the dark plays a major role in haunted houses and the horror genre, according to Lawrence, a big challenge for creating optimum, blood-chilling effects is finding ways to carve out striking scenes with light.

“We light and treat every key prop and actor, and use the elements of horror to bring out the key scares,” Lawrence explains. “We have specific moments that are highlighted in certain ways.”

Image courtesy of waferboard.

Image courtesy of waferboard.

4. Focus on Key Areas

“Walls, props, and scenery that are specific to the theme or should be called out, as well as the actors and performers,” Lawrence says. She notes that even the smallest details, such as wallpaper, doorframes, and props, should be treated and given attention to create the mood and really emphasize important scares.

5. Safety First

A good haunted house should be nothing more than harmless fun. Besides highlighting specific elements in the haunted houses, Lawrence’s designs illuminate functional areas and signs to guide guests throughout attractions and minimize risks for all involved.

“We have to find the balance between making sure that all these beautiful props and designs get lit and get featured correctly, and making sure we’re taking care of the guest so they’re not being put in any sort of danger,” Lawrence says.

6. Embrace the Fear

“When I first started this, I wasn’t a horror fan at all. I was super scared of everything,” recalls Lawrence. However, after having worked on haunted houses for Radiance since 2012 and studying horror source materials, Lawrence is not only familiar with the macabre, but is also now a bit of a fan.

“I really appreciate seeing the growth in the horror genre,” she says. “I find myself seeing some new movies that we’re not even designing for!” This extra research helps Lawrence observe new horror techniques to include in her work.

7. Work with Sounds

Besides observing new lighting techniques, she has also learned about how emphasizing different elements, such as sound, can help build the terror and suspense. Lawrence’s team creates a terrifying experience for multiple senses by collaborating with the attraction’s sound designer to time lighting effects to noise cues.

“The teams work closely together, coordinating lights and sounds, to get the maximum amount of scares,” she said.

Light plot of haunted house. Image courtesy of Radiance Lightworks.

Light plot of haunted house in Vectorworks Spotlight software. Image courtesy of Radiance Lightworks.

8. Keep Updated Documentation

Lawrence plans her ghoulish designs by creating intricate 3D models of the attractions in Vectorworks software before she plots the lighting in the key areas. These thorough drafts are then passed to the onsite designers, who can edit the documents to reflect later changes.

“They can plot and update our documents so I can take into account any changes when planning next season,” she explains. “Vectorworks makes it easy to communicate, update, and keep things current.” After all, as a horror movie buff, Lawrence knows that there nothing’s scarier than being unprepared.

Dying to know more Vectorworks success stories? Head over to our case studies page.