Wm is a Full time AutoCAD/ADT & Discreet Viz/max user for Residential Design (heavy on renovation) and Freelance Architectural Illustration.
This is an out of the box review of TurboCad v.10 professional. Having never used TurboCad and being heavy on experience with AutoCAD and Discreet 3D software, this has been a very interesting excursion. Focus for the review is; CAD mechanical, Architectural drafting, 3D modeling and finally rendering. Don't let the price mislead you into thinking this is light weight software. It is a comprehensive "Combination" CAD and Modeling/rendering package. You can find a vast majority of the functions that the widely known and more expensive software has for drafting or modeling/rendering.
The install was on a Asus P4C800-E Deluxe Mobo, P4 3.2Ghz HT, 2 gig of DDR3200 Ram, Adaptec SCSI, XP pro sp1For the CAD review, most comparisons are to the widely known AutoCAD platform for drafting. Starting with the commands, there is a one to one comparison for the 'Drafting' functions. TurboCad10 uses a single key equivalent method for invoking commands in addition to the GUI of extensive & customizable toolbars and drop downs from the standard windows menu bar. There are no apparently hidden commands, however quite a number of toolbars to get to know, with some rather intricate button graphics.
GUIThe palette area, yellow shaded, has access to just about every parameter for the program. The palette easily reduced to just file tabs to open up the workspace.
The red shaded area contains the object creation input boxes, accessed during command with the 'tab' key. Also are the coordinate controls and absolute editing control measures. This is a good feature for exacting editing.
Toward the top, the green shaded area contains drafting information of an object. Display characteristics, layers, colors, line styles and line weights. Directly above that is much of the general and view based controls like the Isometric views, view port rendering, camera movements, work plane, layers and print style properties.On the left in blue is the Tools, with fly outs and snap toolbars.
We are not going in depth into commands just some highlights and differences.
Selecting, Editing (transforming)
Selection is very versatile from cursor to fence to complex queries. Using the selection info box (palette) for an object lets you modify any parameter of an object, frame to the left. Even dimension object parameters are accessible.
Editing functions such as copy, properties, edit tool (handles), selection mode, editing with in a group content, Finish edit and show Physical Metrics. Area highlighted in orange at top of left frame.
The other tabs allow access to just about all of the editable parameters at a mouse click. The really advantageous part of drafting with TurboCad10 is any 2d object that is primarily defined by vertices can have a "Z" dimension. A quick right click, properties, 3D and enter the new height dimension and now even a line has height as a polygonal object. All objects have a "transform" type gizmo in the volumetric center of a given object. Move scale and rotate are all possible by dragging a gizmo handle. All of the same functions have numerical alteration at the Object Controls box at the bottom of the view. The gizmo easily relocated to any point in 3D space.
Moves can be performed by 3 point alignment and using the snap functions for precise placement. Found that the transforms are a little tricky at first along with the snap precision, however after working a bit with them it gets better. Beyond the selection tab, you have a "created" blocks palette. This would contain drag and drop blocks for general placement and for wall opening content. Somewhat comparable to AutoCAD’s AEC Content for windows and such, however they are not parametric, needing to definition per occurrence. The TCexplorer tab, like the AutoCAD style manager, with access to all open TC files and related drafting content such as layers, blocks, symbols and print spaces. The design Director is the main GUI for advanced workspace functions. Defined or new; Layer sets, work planes, views, cameras, lights, graphics and categories. All listed out in expandable tree format. Editing individual entity properties by right mouse and edit properties.
The materials tab is a defined material browser with the right click function to edit defined materials. There is a wide and varied range of predefined materials that can make getting started with material rendering pretty easy.Other Tabs include "first Pricing" which is a web based schedule / bidding tool for windows and doors. Submission of the schedule, if you are in a First Pricing Vendor area, will get you the "FIRST PRICING" for your project. You have estimate tracking and some other nifty stuff.
Line & 2D editing and modification is a real power point with TurboCad10, As you can see on the left the drop down menu. The 2d operations work very smoothly and intuitively.
Two distances, a distance and angle, and length and angle can perform the Chamfer modification. With many of the editing functions, if not compatible, TurboCad gives a pop up window with recommendations to make the command work as possible. The assemble commands are not too bad for aligning and placement of objects by, 3 points, Edge & point and Facet (polymesh face).
The Boolean operations work as with most 2D and 3D software, add, subtract, intersect and slice for 3D.
The edge blending for 3D solids is a very sweet tool, you can chamfer, round edges with setbacks or miters for corners.
The shell modifier takes a solid and creates an offset surface of itself. Control over offset and selection of surfaces (faces) that you don not want to shell, for a drinking glass as an example.
The polyline functions work well, the chain creates a polyline from objects as user defined. Good for creating Outlines with heavy or different line weights than the objects other lines. The join works are for combining open polylines.Sub object editing is very versatile with many options accessed by the editing tool in the selection fly out of the main tool bar.
The 3D operations are somewhat interesting; you can go between a solid and a "TC Surface (polygonal Mesh) with a click of a radio button in the properties window. Many of the editing operations need these setting to properly defined to work. A bit of an annoyance, however if you understand the difference and use of these properties especially for exporting they are quite important. With that said TurboCad has all of the "Standard Primitives" (3d shapes). A shape extrude function, with coordinate entry for the "normal extrude”, a path extrude from a shape and path and the ability to select a base point for extrusion any where in the scene and free form extrude from subsequent base points. In addition, a rigid extrude option for keeping the extruded profiles parallel. The extrusion has properties for "TC surface"- approximation lines, smoothing and if it is defined as a "Solid" modifications such as bent/crimped corners, and twist with draft angle.
3d Polylines, a polygonal prism, and revolve tools work well. There is a section tool, that creates 2D line sections and 3D polyline sections by 3points, plane, line and closed 3d poly. The Closed 3D poly is similar to an intersection of an extruded 3D object, could be very handy.
The 3D mesh object is very versatile. You can define number of segments/vertices (nodes) the step increments in 'x' and 'y' directions, and interpolation. Upon creation, you have access to the grid matrix of coordinates in a spreadsheet format for editing node locations. After creation, you have an editable table of labeled vertices.
The kicker for 3D is lofting, the ability to extrude from a square to a triangle then to a circle in a smooth and seamless fashion. Lofting has twist and approximation lines controls with a smoothing option.
IMSI's FloorPlan Print Space Maker is integrated into TurboCad for importing their *.bmf files geometry and data information.
Well it is rendering in the broad and specific sense. TC10's implementation of the LightWorks 7.23 is a positive. Unfortunately, the documentation (20 pages) on anything beyond the most basics of lighting materials and rendering is limited. If you have a good understanding of CG lighting and material properties you may just need to get past a different interface, for max users a little different approach to connecting things up, feels very node based and for other 3D LightWorks integrated apps you should be able to get a feel in short order. For those who are brand new to CG Rendering you should not expect one-button results, even though we all wish it were possible. The TC users forums are very valuable if not priceless for Q&A support for rendering in TC10 more on that later. Material possibilities are only limited by imagination, knowledge of CG shaders and time to experiment. For those who may be a little shy on those, there are a generous number of pre-maid fully editable materials. A palette based materials with customizable material displays works from a tree based drop down browser. The materials configuration by:
Pattern: The surface material ranging from plain, to procedural like wood, marble, solid clouds, define species of wood, and a number of wrapping options, 35 in total.
Reflectance: Light and reflecting qualities such as, Chrome, Conductor, Dielectric, environment, multi-layered paint, phong and a series of wrapped options, 20+ possibilities
Transparency: The level of opacity using, plain (like translucency), Coverage, Glow, eroded (PS dissolve) and a series of wrapped like mask & image.
Texture: Surface Bump mapping / displacement with tools like; procedural- casting (noise), leather (cell) & Rough (like a turbulence) along with wrapped options.
Wrapping: Scaling and placement of imaged based material maps, a range of standard geometric options and wrapping including an Uv based are available. Lighting has all of the standard lights including a headlight, usually uses as a key light. The default lighting set up is good and gets most scenes lit and rendered easily. The environment lighting feature uses an image to both reflect and add lighting with High Dynamic Range Image (HDRI) support. The luminance (radiosity based) lighting feature offers a lighting distribution (Goniometric) file option for rendering with a full range of options like shadow properties, intensity by lighting units (CD Lm Empirical), light color and scattering options. The are 4 categories of Luminance, complex (full range of options), Fluorescence Architect AV (specified light distribution), Simple Sky and Single (specifying Spot, point and projector). The interface for these parameters is rather complex and can take effort and time to master, described as a "tricky mistress".
Rendering is simple for the preview mode and ray tracing. The radiosity mode has render modes ranging from flat to ray trace full. The modes are very flexible for developing your scene and materials efficiently. The radiosity appears to be mesh based (image below center) with iterations (levels), quality slider and min/max area functions for refinement of radiosity mesh. The quality of rendering seems to be good given the limited amount of time, as compared to Max radiosity, Mental Rays GI & FG and Lightscape.
The learning curve is fairly low for the CAD functions and is progressively steeper as one moves into advanced materials, lighting and rendering even with prior 3D knowledge. It certainly would be easier for those who have experience with the LightsWorks rendering engine (radiosity) in other applications.
The application of TC10 as a Cad program very easily fit into small Engineering, Architectural and Design Build Construction Firms design and drafting workflows. It also makes a good second Cad application for Home and personal use. As a 3D modeling app for non-organic forms, architectural, machine and engineered it works well. The rendering side suits most day to day needs of the modeling conventions as mentioned, top end photo realistic architectural renderings will take some effort to achieve.
On the down side there were over 200 bugs with the initial release 10.0, a patch that fixed 200 of them, however a new location for many of the system files creating the need for manual removal of files. The Roof tool not fixed but it is a known issue. The documentation set is average, not bad for the Cad but the true power of the TC10 & LightWorks Rendering is lightly touched leaving much of the depth unexplained. The rendering is a bit slow compared to other 3D software on the same machine.
On the positive side there is the TurboCad user forums, Very responsive from an enthusiastic group of users. The software Techs, others who have written tutorials, trainers and experienced long term users hang out, to help out! Many thanks!!!!! The drafting tools and plotted page settings are straightforward and easy to use. The platform seems to be very stable, no lock-ups or crashes as of yet. After the typical frustration with new software, it is a flexible tool and plays nice with other apps. The bug fixes seem to be quickly addressed and the software is well supported by the Tech Team / User Forums.
TurboCad10pro has very big bang for the buck. Are you looking for more information? There is a great deal of information and some good renderings on the TurboCad User Forums
I would highly recommend a test drive if at all intrigued TurboCad Site All of the IMSI TurboCad training courses and add on features are listed also.
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