Blender in architecture

I Study architecture and I use blender a lot in my work, and i think there’s some good potential here that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The tools used in architecture today are made for final products, but blender has the ability to follow the design process as it develops.
It has great modeling tools, grease pencil, an image editor, sculpting tools and simulation tools that make it an extremely flexible tool for design development (I’ve seen many research projects that use blender for these reasons even though they could’ve use payed software and that means a lot!)

But then comes the awful part of exporting it to a drafting software and seeing autcoad crash when you try to get sections of your model(it works once in while but not very reliable nor comfortable and it kills any chance of changing the model)

And it leads to the question why can’t we have some basic drafting tools available in blender?

rhino has some and it’s really nice to model and draft in the same tool and blender has so many wonderful tools it’s just that final stage we’re missing.

I know it takes resources to develop, but I think giving a basic platform with good access for scripting(api with friendly documentation maybe some videos on youtube etc) and letting the community do the rest can make it possible for blender to become a really good tool for architects and designers in general.

+ it might encourage development of great modeling tools like grasshopper in rhino etc

in blender we have ‘windows’ (i don’t know the real name) like the node editor and 3d etc, and I think adding a drafting window is a really good solution.

what do you think?

Its a really a question of someone sitting down and writting the code. There are already several architectural addons for blender and the list is growing. So I think architecture is a field that recently has got a lot more attention in blender from the side of addons.

Dont forget that 50% or even more of blender is addons. So its just a matter of more and more people like you that are familiar the needs and have the motivation to sit down and code the functionality.

I don’t think it’s something an addon can solve we need something a bit bigger…
Then addons will come and make it better but we need the base to develop from and the base has to come from good programmers like the blender foundation has not by scripters with one free hour to fill during the day because that’ll never work.

I am afraid blender developers are very busy people and you will have to wait for a long , long time for them to focus on architectural features if ever. Addons is your best bet. You can cooperate with some existing addon creators to expand their addons with features you need, most likey they need them too.

A lot of additional functionality of blender comes from 1 hour free time scripters. A code that works is code that works. Does not matter where it comes from. Addons already work great for blender and some of them I cannot imagine myself living without. There is a forum dedicated for new addons with over one thousand submitions.

Here is one very useful for architecture

The add-on you suggested is an add-on for creating models.
All the add-ons I found create models in various ways, and some of them are really good, but they don’t address the problem in hand that is drafting(2d) - getting floor plans out of blender with dimensions, text, hatches and so on to print

getting printing abilities means:

  • getting sections of your model(create a plane, pass it through your model and draw a shape of the intersection between them)
  • an orthographic camera(we have that already) that zooms in and out to get the right scale
  • getting basic drafting tools(drawing lines, offset lines, trim/extend etc)
  • define line style to each layer
  • get it to print

when you have good 3d models you don’t need many drafting tools that’s what makes it possible (autocad itself doesn’t have much more than that and it has awful modeling tools!)

I am not familiar with drafting but will give you an idea about work arounds.

getting printing abilities means:

  • getting sections of your model(create a plane, pass it through your model and draw a shape of the intersection between them)

Getting sections could happen using booleans , shrinkwrap and Bsurfaces with snap to surface are alternatives. So already you have this ability.

  • an orthographic camera(we have that already) that zooms in and out to get the right scale

So the camera Zooms in automatically to fit the object size in entire view ? You could constraint a camera to an object and align it, but I have not tried this. It should be doable with a tiny bit of code in an addon.

  • getting basic drafting tools(drawing lines, offset lines, trim/extend etc)

Not familiar with these tools but Blender comes with vector lines (both for 2d and 3d) that are fully editable and can be converted to mesh object if you so desire

  • define line style to each layer

I suspect this where Freestyler render could help, it has ability to define line styles, I am not so sure about layers though. Probably compositor could play a role here.

  • get it to print

2d or 3d ? What kind of print we talk here ?

when you have good 3d models you don’t need many drafting tools that’s what makes it possible (autocad itself doesn’t have much more than that and it has awful modeling tools!)

This is exactly what i’m saying we already have most of the tools we just need to wrap it in a better package instead of workarounds - giving you a paper layout mode that use these tools to get a good 2d presentation of the model with some 2d drafting on top of it.

i’m talking about 2d printing just 2d printing.

Then we go back to my original post , an addon would be an ideal solution . Getting things inside blender C source is not easy because one needs to know how to code in C , while addon are made in python which is far easier - hence the popularity of python in blender, and developer have their plates full. If blender users really needed the tools you describe then obviously some of them would have been included by the devs. Devs are quite picky on what goes in. But I dont and I cant see how the average user would want them too. I am far more excited to see improvement in the Viewport that are planned for next versions, or improvements in texturing and sculpting.

So you either learn python and make the addon yourself. Or you pray that some other user comes that does this for you but I would not hold my breath if I were you , people who code in python are far less than the ones that prefer to use Blender as is for obvious reasons.

To give you an idea I made a random material and texture generator addon for Blender internal years ago. Very complex addon and quite powerful. I decided not to port it to Cycles as I assumed with the popularity of Cycles someone would have made a similar addon anyway. I am still left with this assumption :smiley:

I’m sorry to say that this has come up before… and multiple times. The answer has always been the same. Blender is not a drafting/CAD tool and there is very little interest in making the necessary changes to be a proper drafting tool.

Although on the surface it may appear otherwise, Blender really is not that close to having the necessary tools for drafting. Codewise, the approaches are very different for a drafting tool compared to a more art-based tool like Blender. One of the biggest factors is that Blender simply doesn’t have the requisite precision necessary for most drafting tasks. The data structures don’t support it and primitive types aren’t suitable for drafting (an edge is not a line, for example). I could go on, but the point is that Blender isn’t (and likely won’t be) the right tool for drafting. It’s quite good for making visualizations of architectural work once the drafts are done, but that’s about the extent of it.

But i’ve seen addon’s that could add measurement lines, and the community of architects using blender, like the thread starter is growing. I think partly one of the early success factors with autocad was that it supported command line input. And its ussers community made great solutions that way using Autocad, same counts for Blender, Blender has a Python based command line and most scholars if they learn coding start with python. (a good language for explaining many coding concepts).

Better help integration might perhaps be something for all those starter, or more youtube.
Perhaps an online web training ?? with short code samples ?? ea http://
For myself i like the way powershell is a self explaining languag (but its not for Blender).
People who start with blender usually come from artistic backgrounds, but as time goes on, more people get into blender architects, 3d printing people, animators, game developers, movie makers, product designers, etc etc.
They like Blender often for a specific thing and learning later its a whole lot more.
People often get scared of coding, but perhaps some online lessons could solve that.

As for an edge is not a line, but an edge can intersect with a plane, to become a line, and perhaps use empties to do the measurement lines, text etc (new type of text ?), it might not be that hard if a few architects tackle their wishes into blender python together (ea try to unite )

I think that you might be way better luck with freecad ( One of their devs is an actual architect and probably you will have better luck working with them.

there are so many projects architects and designer do in blender(from research to production) we shouldn’t miss this opportunity especially when community is growing
you see for yourself:

this has come up before… and multiple times
they work with maya! it cannot be done using traditional drafting tools, we can do it using blender or other animation tools because it allows us to work in 3d.

rhino has drafting tools and it led to development of plugins like grasshopper (show me one blender user that wouldn’t like a parametric node based modeling tools)

we don’t need just another drafting tool we have too much of these and to be honest they all suck…
we want blender with drafting tools.

if we could render bgl, it would be a good start.
currently we cannot render measurements, we have some parametric object addons (external from blender) & we can import cad models & designs & visualize them.
Fweeb is right, primarily Blender is designed to be a tool for artists.
It’s common place to use a few tools in a specific workflow, freecad (or your chosen tools) & Blender can make a good team.

Hi there

I teach product and interior design and also use Autocad (yuk yuk yuk) Revit and pair that also with Blender/Rhino/Alias.
So I am quite diverse in my approach.

You brought up an interesting point using Blender as a conceptual tool for the ideation phase and not the construction part
that only is the last step in the project.

Blender is only a modeler.

That means you will never get:

  • The ability to create a layout like in ACAD and display a model to a specific scale so you can print it on a plotter.
  • Blender will never be able to assign line weights and such to the polygon model. That is a unique feature of the 2D drafting engine in ACAD.

Via Add-ons you can get:

  • Drafting tools such as fillet offset and blend curves
  • A dimension tool that reads out the dimensions interactively
  • 2D Section views as easily as in Autocad (but they are possible in Blender 2D drawing and in a 3D model)

In general I would say all the drafting tools I would use in Autocad I have in Blender. I miss nothing.
The workflow or process however is different. The UI for Blender is not as efficient or eye friendly as ACAD.

However on the other side modifiers in Blender are pretty much what the solid construction history is in ACAD and I feel the.

Why does your ACAD crash when your bring the Blender DXF export into ACAD?

FreeCad btw is a pretty solid tool but when it comes to conceptual modeling Blender might offer a faster maybe less constraint
and freeer workflow.

On line weights: you could look into freestyle rendering to control the weight of lines. probably not as straightforward as autocad, but at least you can set up custom linestyles without carving ancient runes into stone tablets. (the file formatting for custom linestyles in ACAD was developed in approximately 1834)

why ACAD crash is a good question it sometimes do and sometimes don’t but that’s not the case ACAD has so many flaws in the design process that even if it worked perfectly without a single bug it still wouldn’t be as good as blender
nor do other cad software iv’e used…

blender is a tool for artists and this is why it’s good it has the freedom and tools we need to let our design develop as we go (instead of just getting a final product graphics)
you say we can never have a layout system like ACAD but that’s actually what I’m asking for
we need a layout system that can help us get the final stages of a project without needing to go to another software.

assume you work with blender/max/whatever and you make your design and then import it to autocad/freecad/whatever
you start detailing it and then you decide to change your design(we learn new things on our design as we go) now go back to blender fix it and re-draft everything again - have a nice sleepless night

now, the only thing i like in revit is the ability to change your model as you go without re doing everything(other than that it’s a creativity killer! it’s good for project managers not for designers)

i still think it’s something worth getting in blender it might be a big project(not a programmer and won’t judge it from this point of view) but it has so much potential that we cannot miss it.

for printing I see one problem
if we are talking about architect drawing size like 36 X 42 inches
this is a big piece of pater and blender works with pixels per inch
so for large paper size blender will generates very large size of files!

happy bl

Well I am not an architect while I teach in interior design - my main focus is industrial design.

The layout tool in ACAD is not bad but not the only way.

For product documentation in Rhino I generate the views add the dimensions and then either save it as a DWG to be shared with manufacturing or export it as SVG and design my board in Illustrator.

Blender is polygon model based but with Freestyle you can render out an outline and save it as SVG and then load it into Illustrator
or inkscape and add dimensions by hand. Obviously you need a reference model for scale because that is the lack of Blender/AI
you cannot dimension the stuff like you could in Autocad - adding annotations and then even selecting the view scale.

But when you are in architecture the model complexity is a fraction of that of product design and doing the dimension by hand
should not be a problem.

That’s not the point I’m making. Sure there are those add-ons. But for Blender to truly be a CAD-ready drafting tool, it doesn’t have the necessary precision under the hood… in it’s very design at the low level. Let’s take your intersect example. Sure, you can place an empty where two edges appear to intersect. But on different hardware, even in different sessions on the same machine, the precise location of that intersection will not be the same.

Now, if you’re only working in meters and you don’t need accurate numbers on sub-millimeter scale, then perhaps that’s not a big deal to you, but that kind of accuracy and precision is what’s come to be expected in modern CAD and drafting software. Blender isn’t designed to provide that. And if you provide explicit drafting tools in Blender, then you’re opening up the expectation that Blender will have that accuracy… which it doesn’t… and won’t without a lot of work.

but there should be a way to increase precision or resolution
right now blender is limited to 7 digits
but processors are getting faster and with GPU it should be possible to get a bl version working with full 16 digits!

happy bl