By Elvis R. Sverko
A few weeks ago, I posted part 1 of Creativity Using CAD and talked about being innovative when creating models in CAD. Today, we’ll expand on that notion.
CAD can be an engineering tool as much as an artistic display. And when I say that it can be both, I mean that it is both at the same time. It can be used by engineers, architects, or other designers to do design work. But at the same time, when they use CAD, the models (or drawings) need to be presented in a way so that others can understand it, and maybe even appreciate it as if it were a piece of art (ie, when presenting the design to potential clients).
CAD is both very exacting and artistic. Just like math is both. And just like math, it is ‘very hard creative work’ according to Paul Lockhart ( “A Mathematician’s Lament” , Mathematical Association of America). Lockhart also adds that in order to excel and enjoy math, you need to ‘amuse yourself with your imagination’, and at times be ‘creatively frustrated’. That sounds just like CAD to me.
When being frustrated with CAD, is usually when you need to be creative with CAD. Take for instance when using AutoCAD and you are trying to evenly distribute objects along a path. If you’re not an AutoCAD expert, before AutoCAD 2012, you probably tried to use some math formulas to figure out locations and orientations of these arrayed objects. (Or you just guessed, which I hope you didn’t.)
But even if you were well versed in AutoCAD, if may take your imagination to realize which tools to use to accomplish this task. You first needed to create a block (if you didn’t have one already) that you wanted to array along the path, which you also had to create. Next, using the MEASURE tool, you selected the object representing the path. After you select this object, at the ‘Specify length of segment’ command, you type “B” for block and press Enter. You next enter the name of the block you wish to array along the path. Next, you have the option to align the block with the object. And finally, after entering the length of segment (ie, the distance between each block object along the path), the arrayed path is populated. Each object along the path is an individual object, and not associated. If any changes were needed, you had to delete them all and start over.
Users had a need, and used their creativity to make it happen. But let the sun shine now. Autodesk saw the need, and with AutoCAD 2012, they got creative and added the Path Array command! Now you can easily create associative arrays along a path, and modify them via the Array contextual tab, which allows you to modify the number of items along the path, the distance between them, the base point, and various other options to edit individual items in the array.
So, continue to use your imagination and creativity when you feel frustrated that there isn’t a simple solution to your task at hand. The days will get brighter. And the makers of the CAD software you use are listening and responding.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou