Material Design


For many applications there’s little reason to design materials anymore.  There are libraries of so many available it’s just not necessary anymore.  From an artistic view it is still very fun.  If you want this Substance material please feel free to download it here

Digital Renaissance, an AI Revolution


Industry leaders in AI gave the power to artists/creatives to create anything they want in 2020, and anyone in the world who wants to can create anything they can imagine. It’s incredibly cheap, and the will of the creator only limits the level of power and quality. That is why the decade following 2020 will be a digital renaissance, an AI revolution of content that will arrive from surprising places. Like Microsoft or Apple, creators will emerge from garages, studio apartments, and basements to produce content everyone loves and likely build their empires of investment and revenue.

However, this means that buildings and technology are no longer limiters, and creators have to revert to the very foundation of everything: influencing empathy. The CEO wants you to empathize with their goals, the player with their strength and skill, the architect with his home, the animator with his character. The power of the creator, the power of the artist, is the ability to influence empathy, and artists understand and have a unique set of skills to do that. It will be more important than ever to build those skills.

One of the most potent ways to influence empathy and emotion is color. For example, see the figure above. Whether a person knows it or not, the colors of the images trigger emotion at sub-conscience levels.  You hate one, you love one, you think one is cool, or that others were a waist of time.  That is the power of art, the artist, and creativity.


Twinmotion, Flowscape, and Visual Art



Recently both Twinmotion and Flowscape have been introduced to the digital artists’ arsenal. The developer of Flowscape calls the software a game, at least on their Discord channel. To be honest I think it’s just a money grab. Truth is who would play a game just building landscapes that they could use for nothing. Maybe I just don’t get it. The power of the software is its ability to create appealing surreal animated landscapes extremely quickly while giving the users the ability to import their own OBJ files. While there are technical aspects to the import (outlined on the developers’ Discord), once it’s figured out this software can be used for hundreds of applications related to visual and digital art.

Twinmotion’s library and ease of use make it a viable solution for archviz on a budget. Until now, there weren’t many options for architectural rendering that allowed the import of architectural files that didn’t cost several thousand dollars a year. I believe the makers of Twinmotion understood as technology has grown this shouldn’t be the case anymore and are working hard to develop a more applicable solution for smaller teams which will democratize the field, even more, making it accessible to anyone around the world.


C++ and the Unreal API

Of course, I’d fall in love with Unreal as a C# programmer. I mean, who doesn’t want to take the most difficult path to everything, am I right? Since I refuse to let my obsession of Unreal go away (primarily due to its volume effects and lighting/sky system), I had to dive into their API trying to understand the architecture. Thankfully, the basics of C++ and C# aren’t that different. That wasn’t the case when I went from Lisp to C#. That alone puts me light years ahead of where I was when I started with C#. For example, I didn’t expect to be able to understand the tutorial I followed to construct a C++ Unreal project with a pickup system and custom blueprint in a matter of a few hours.

The system I constructed involves a C++ project using the First Person Template. The person walks around picking up industrial-like barrels. I began the project using Unreal Engine 4.22. Since the tutorial I found was about four years old, the code had to be modified/corrected due to API changes over the years.

industrial barrels

The first step was to generate a new class in the editor.


After that it was a matter of locating the correct classes to include and adding the text in the below images to the header (.h) and cpp files.



In a few hours, I completed the task I set out to do and am confident that I can dive and start to push things considerably further. It took me a few years with C# and various APIs before I got to that same level of confidence. Since I can’t up and quit my career to find a mentor, I pursue this stuff on my own.  Because of that, I was hesitant to dive into something new. Now, I’m more excited than ever to figure out the API behind Unreal.

Dynamo for Civil 3D Part 4 – Node Colors

Personalizing content is often why people dive into customization.   I noticed a few examples online with different colors for their nodes in Dynamo.  It turns out we can adjust the theme and colors by altering the DynamoColorsandBrushes.xaml file here: Autodesk 2019\AutoCAD 2020\C3D\Dynamo\Core\UI\Themes\Modern. Unfortunately, to see the updates we have to close out Dynamo and Civil 3D then reopen them both.


Dynamo for Civil 3D Part 3

It was a bit of a speed bump to figure out the proper way to work between the Autocad and Civil 3D API through the Dynamo interface, but I’m there, and I love it. The information people have made available online is convoluted, difficult to understand, and frankly filled with unnecessary work (maybe even errors, misdirection). Perhaps they don’t understand they are making it harder than it needs to be.  Locating the libraries and understanding what the limits and capabilities of the Dynamo version of its “objects” took some time, but realizing that it’s not necessary to convert objects from Civil 3D types to Dynamo types and that I can use typical extensions and the API as is opened my eyes to a whole new world of visual programming. Now, with the ability to use the visual aspects of the node-based system, I can combine the power and functions of Dynamo with coding through Visual Studio to generate endless, scalable, dynamic, ever-growing procedural and generative designs.  You ever see something so big in your head it looks like a giant white whale, and wonder can you tackle it, or should you give up before it kills you?


Dynamo for Civil 3D

I used Dynamo for Civil3D for the first time.  I love that I don’t have to close Civil 3D constantly just to load and test code, and after writing hundreds of thousands of lines of code over the years it’s exciting to not have to dig through a few hundred for simple actions.  There is an enormous amount of power in its parametric abilities right away, as demonstrated by the Autodesk’s team themselves, but I’m excited to try and use it for production and geometrical challenges.