Wednesday, April 10, 2013

FormIT 3.0

Sporting a new startup screen and a funky new icon, FormIT 3.0 has been released on the Apple App Store. So lets quickly take a look at some of the enhancements.
Starting with view functionality; you now have the ability to view and navigate your model from a top view. This is particularly useful when needing to sketch in plan. The ability to import a site plan or even a scanned floor plan and start to trace over the top is made a lot easier with this view. During my experimentation, I found this to be a very valuable improvement. Don't forget, if you are doing shadows studies, this can be helpful to get a sense of the impact of over shadowing on surrounding buildings.
We can now toggle the display grid on or off. This is achieved via the settings icon. Another huge enhancements which I believe designers will appreciate is the visual styles. Again, accessed from the settings menu.

These styles can include any combination of sketchy lines, hidden lines and extended lines. In this example, I have just displayed as hidden lines only.
This example is a combination of all three styles applied to the view.
Since its inception, we have been able to import images from our photo library as well as images from Google maps. In FormIT 3.0 this functionality has been extended further, as we can now control the transparency of images. To do this, just tap and select an imported image; go to the properties dialogue, which will slide out from the right hand side of the screen. There you will find a new transparency slider, which will allow you to control the transparency of an image. You will also notice something called vertical order. With this you can control the stack order of images. Simple drag one image above another in the stack, to sort how they stack above one another.
Painting geometry has seen some further improvements. As well as using solid colours, FormIT 3.0 includes a small number of bitmap textures, which allows us to improve the graphical display of our designs further. You can override the texture colour, but right now we can't use custom bitmap materials. Playing with these, dd yield some pleasing results.
You've probably worked out by now that I like FormIT. Whilst it does have some limitations when it comes to modelling, for instance I would love to see a mirror feature and better precision input would help, it's brilliant fun. In the right hands, you can produce some really cool models. Now, I am not suggesting that modelling Star Wars AT-ATs or AT-STs is something that you should rush out and copy; this is just me dorking around. But typically, I do these types of exercises to better understand the tool set, technology limitations and how you have to apply some lateral thinking to produce results.
I have been reading a lot about Start-ups recently. What I now recognise is that the FormIT and Vasari team are exactly like a Start-up, yet they sit within the larger Autodesk machine. They push things to market very quickly to gauge market feedback. Particularly FormIT, which is going through a rapid development / release cycle. FormIT also addresses and engages execs or senior designers who typically prefer tablet technology compared with say a desktop pc or a laptop. I have observed that the more "mature" designer can quickly jump in and be up and running, producing designs without any serious training or technical know how. This is exactly the intention of FormIT.

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