Blender for 2D Drafting?

I’m a college professor in scenic design and have been teaching my students SketchUp and Vectorworks for years, but as our budgets are being cut Trimble and VW keep raising their prices. Seems like Blender is SO CLOSE to being able to take their place but what’s missing is a “Layout” style output for 2D drafting. I’m aware of the Maker Tales add-ons and MesureIt CAD Transforms etc. The issue isn’t getting precision in the viewport its getting it onto paper. Is there an add on available that allows for section cuts of a 3D model to easily be exported to a 2D drawings where scale dimension lines, call outs, title blocks etc can produce an actual plate of drafting? I’m so eager to cut the cords with my current tools. Thanks

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There is a free addon called Export Paper Model which is bundled with vanilla Blender, but I have never used it. It might be worth checking.

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Yes, thanks. That’s a fun tool but its sort of like printing the UV layout. Its for making paper models from mesh. Its not quite what I need but that one like so many other tools are CLOSE to what we need that it makes me feel like there must be some tool or workflow out there.
Thanks

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This is something that I’m working on at the moment and I’m fairly close to an Alpha release. The functionality I have at the moment is basic - Multiple orthographic views, section cuts, drawings scaled to paper size (UK A sizes at the moment), dimensions and text blocks - but the pages can be exported to .svg so additional edits can be made in vector based software (Inkscape for instance). If you are interested in taking a look at the Alpha once it’s ready, to see if it would meet your requirements, let me know and I’ll send you a copy.

This is something I think Blender is desperately missing and it will be a real game changer for all of us that want to ditch the likes of Trimble.

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That sounds great. Yes please sign me up. Do you have a Patreon page or something? Basic is good. I have 10 weeks to teach undergrads (basically 6th formers) and the big tools VW etc are getting so complicated and BIM focused it just overwhelms them. And SketchUp is a mess since Trimble took over. I don’t need them to learn how to design a 20-story office tower, but I need more than a little 3D print part that you could do in Tinker or FreeCAD. There is really nothing out there in the middle at the moment. I wish I could go back in time and get Google SketchUp Pro c2015 and keep it forever.

Great, I’ll let you know once I’ve got a stable (ish) version to look at.

It’s really sad what has happened to SU. Trimble has made such a mess of it, as you say and I think the subscription-based payment model has really put a lot of users off. I still use it for a lot of my work, purely because of the lack of a Layout type tool in Blender but once I’ve got this add-on up and running, I’ll be switching completely. So there is a lot of motivation to get this done.

I don’t have a Patreon page but any money I make from my Construction Lines add-on goes into development days for this (and updating Construction Lines).

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Oh that’s you? I came across Construction Lines yesterday searching on Blender Market. I have it in my basket right now. Have you come across Tieman’s Add-ons Cross Section Maker? That looks pretty useful too. Thanks for doing this work. I’m excited to see how it goes. Let me know if I can help.

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No, I’ve not seen that. I’ll take a look now.

Thanks for the offer, I’ll definitely be in touch as I’ll most certainly need input on the new add-on. I work mainly on interior design and joinery projects so I’m sure my use cases are quite limited.

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You might want to take a look and a special build of Blender strictly for cad, called PYCLONE

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Thanks. I’d come across Andrew’s videos but dismissed Pyclone as he doesn’t actually show the output tools that Justin shows in the video you posted. Talk about burying the lead! I’ll have to go back and look closer. Thanks!

@Sean_O_Skea I just want to wish you luck with replacing closed/proprietary software.
I work in a similar environment with similar kind of problems.

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Yeah, Vectorworks is trying so hard to compete with Revit it isn’t the same tool it was even 5 years ago. And they are switching to a subscription model this month. And I have argued with the Trimble people for years that $50 is a lot for a college student when everything else has free student licenses. So stupid. How much could they possibly be making on student licenses? Meanwhile, all the old one-person shop architects and designers who use it are retiring and they aren’t getting replaced by students. I’m really hoping Dan, Andrew, or some Dutch guy can come out with some kind of Layout style tool. Once that happens its all over. Viva l’Blender! Viva l’revolucion!

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I don’t have much experience with the software you are mentioning. Our Architecture/Interiors people have free educational versions from Autodesk, so they are happy until they are out of the Uni and need to buy a license.

But Design and Graphics (me included) have to deal with Adobe. And let me tell you, people in that area have top-tier, hardcore Stockholm syndrome.
Blender is seeping in thou, and we started implementing it last year.

Oh you have so many more options: Krita, DaVinchi, Inkscape, etc there’s a pretty good Adobe-free alternative for just about everything. For CAD we’re screwed. There’s $5k pro packages and toys. Nothing in between.

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I’m seriously considering Krita as Photoshop replacement for our younger students, but personally will need to spend more time in it.
DaVinci is ok as Premiere replacement, but AfterEffects at this moment have poor competition, at least according to our animation guys.
Inkscape IMO is not there yet as free Illustrator, but I’m checking it from time to time.

Ouch. That’s really bad. I guess FreeCad has a long way to go?

Yeah. I so want FreeCAD to be good but its impossibly complicated. Its like eight steps to draw a square, something you can do as fast as you can say “click drag click” in any other tool. Its fine if you’re making a little part to print in 3D but I can’t imagine how hard it would be to do a whole set. I teach at Southern Oregon University in Oregon, USA. I’m assuming you’re a Brit? Where are you teaching? When it comes to PS I’m one of those hostages (although I’m using my CS6 perpetual license that I keep in a safety deposit box) but most of my students don’t even bother they just use Krita or Procreate or Affinity or some new fangled thing I’ve never heard of. I think PS is in the same boat as Sketchup. They are big now but ten years from now…?

That’s the only thing I have ever done in it, to be honest. This, and some simple drawings for waterjet/plasma.
Every time I need to do something in it I need to rewatch tutorials how to use the bloody thing.

I teach at a University in central-eastern Europe. I also have CS6, but I stopped using it some time ago and moved to Linux with all my creative work.
The problem is that most of our older/middle aged staff don’t want to let Adobe go and move on. Or at least test new waters. This is also perpetrated by students. We have anonymous surveys and Adobe classes are at the top of request every year since I remember.

Yeah, I think Photoshop is way less important than it was 10 years ago.

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Have you looked at Moi3d? I use it to draw up 2d plans for building permits and 3d models for home design. It works great with blender. It kind of like sketch up but nurbs based.

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Thanks. Looks like a fun tool and the first thing that comes up when I typed it into Google was “Moi3d to Blender” so that’s promising. However the $300 price tag is a deal breaker. I’m trying to find something my starving students and my starving university can afford. And its not the 3D modeling I need (when ya got the big B what else d’ya need?) its the 2D scaled drawings that I need.

fair enough, there is nanoCAD 5 it’s free and fairly easy to use it very similar to things like autocad. I have used it I find it to work fairly well. you can import dxf files from blender.

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