In this click saver I want to talk about Autodesk FormIt. Some of you might have been trying out FormIt already but at the Chicago AIA Conference they previewed a significant update with some enhanced features that really takes FormIt to the next level.
FormIt can be used on multiple platforms; IPad, Android, or through your browser. Autodesk has been working hard to make all of the platforms behave the same way and have the same features in it. For this article I’m going to be using the browser version.
Also, if you would like to be on the beta please contact Tobias “DOT” Hathorn “@” autodesk.com (trying to filter the spam for him), he is the Sr. User Experience Designer for FormIt.
The website to get started is: autodeskformit.com and from here is where I’m going to start building a conceptual design model. Take note that you will need an Autodesk 360 account which is free: 360.Autodesk.com. The reason for the Autodesk 360 account is for saving the FormIt models. Along with saving the conceptual design model as an AXM file it also automatically converts it to a RVT file. With that said, Autodesk is bridging the gap on being able to take the conceptual design model directly into Revit, no more throw away models.
Here are a few examples, if you pick on the Gallery button on the website you can see many more.
As for navigation most of it can done though the mouse. The wheel does the normal zoom that we all know and love, holding down the wheel will do pan, and pick and drag on the drawing plane will orbit. There is a toolbar on the right that you can also use.
All of the main tools are at the top. When drawing lines to create a closed shape remember that it is a pick and drag motion. If trying to create a line from an existing line make sure your cursor is over the endpoint and drag again to draw the line.
Once you have a closed shape a surface is created, just double-click on the surface and drag it to turn it into a solid. While dragging to create the solid you will notice a temporary dimension. You can pick on it so a dialog box pops up so you can type in an accurate dimension.
You can also double-click an edge and drag the edge to taper it.
FormIt automatically detects when you are on a surface when you draw lines. With that in mind you can create recesses or additions to the model by drawing additional closed loops.
When dragging an edge and you want it to align to another edge just drag your cursor over to the edge that you need. You will see a icon showing that FormIt sees the edge.
This will help you start modeling in FormIt but let’s put some context to the shape that you are creating. On the bar at the top is the ability to set the location of your design which will give you accurate shadows.
Once this is done you will probably want to move the model to the desired location. Just double-click on the model to highlight it and right-click to see the editing tools. You have the standard move, copy, rotate, and array. You can also select two solids using the CTRL key and Join them together as one object.
You can adjust the sun settings using the top bar to get a real-time daylight study.
One of the last things to look at is adding materials to the surfaces to make the model a little more lifelike. On the left is a tiny vertical bar that if pick on it will open the material manager. To use a material first double-click on a surface and then select the material that you would like to use.
The great thing about FormIt is when I want to take the model into Revit I just need to login into my Autodesk 360 account and download the RVT file.
Next month we will look at taking the model into Revit and the tools to covert the mass into building objects. Hopefully be then they will have released a few other beta features that I been working with to enhance this great tool.
Talking about design tools, another tool to keep a watch on is InfraWorks. This tool is great at site design and pulling together all of the GIS and 3D terrain. This year Autodesk is really getting focused on bringing us conceptual design tools that easily come into Revit when we want to move further into design development. See you in class or at your office, Jarod