The folks at Architosh have asked me to review form-z for them. As a form-z user for 15 years I feel eminently qualified to review the software. As a form-z distributor in the New York area I feel more comfortable writing an overview of the power of the software as used in architecture rather than a conventional review.
Form-z has been described before as having a short but steep learning curve. Some of the interface conventions used in the program differ from the design of most 2d drawing programs but after mastering the form-z way it's easy to see why the program has been designed the way it is and to appreciate the power that their unique attitude towards interface design brings to a 3d modeling program.
There are several key factors that make form-z such a powerful architectural modeler:
- Ease of constructing and manipulating simple architectural shapes
- Ability to work on multiple levels of geometry
- Powerful and stable tools to add and subtract solid geometry (Booleans)
- Robust tools for rounding objects to cover almost any condition you may need
- Sophisticated organizational structures (layers et al) allow you to easily work on and view the model you've created
- Inherent ability to create very complex geometry when the need arises
- Comprehensive texture creation and mapping capabilities
- Extremely powerful cameras and view setting capabilities
My focus in this overview is to concentrate on the first three points to highlight the ease and precision of creating and manipulating architectural geometry and the ease with which changes to the model can be accomplished.
Often when one looks at the marketing materials for 3d programs the company that is touting its product will go to exhaustive lengths to show how easily they construct complex objects that we in the architectural area very rarely use. The single greatest strength of form-z is the ease with which one creates and manipulates the kind of simple yet precise shapes we use every day.
Simple Object Creation
Many things happen in form-z by making two decisions on the tool palette. There are a series of things that look like tools that are actually settings or preferences that can be changed on the fly. (see image 001) These setting "tools" are identified as having a green background color. Object creation is handled in this fashion. One first decides by selecting the object type modifier whether to create a 2d or 3d object that is either a regular solid or a wall type object (by the way, the tool palettes are "torn off" for viewing convenience).
The next decision is which type of 2d shape to draw to generate the desired object. form-z gives you a pretty full featured choice of open or closed shapes to draw to generate the object you are looking for.
Next Page: formZ 4.1 - Numeric Input
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