Tuesday, August 27, 2013

InfraWorks - Tricking Roads Into Thinking They're Parking Lots

Awhile ago I made a post about using coverage areas to represent parking lots by using some "strategic tiling" when creating and assigning a material to the coverage area.  This post is similar but applies it to a road rather than a coverage area.

I'll start by creating an image which represents a single parking stall.  This is done by opening paint and creating a 100 x 200 pixel image and placing a white stripe along one side.

Next I'll go into InfraWorks and create a material that represents a row of parking stalls.  I'll select my parking stall image file and set the dimensions to 10x20.  InfraWorks will copy my image file to its own location where it likes to store style content.

Next, I'll create a material group that includes the different components that I might need for a parking lot. This includes an aisle, parking stalls, and a white stripe.

Now I'll define a road style using an arrangement of these components.  For this example, I'm going to build a parking lot with a center aisle, two double-rows of parking, a pair of outer aisles, and a pair of outer rows of stalls.  So working symmetrically out from the centerline that would be a 12-foot lane, row of stalls, white stripe, row of stalls, a 24-foot lane, and a row of stalls (the preview looks funky but the actual result in InfraWorks looks pretty sweet):

Notice above that I only assigned a "type" of Roadway to the aisle, that's it.  That will become important with a little trick later.

Now, I can create a "road" in InfraWorks and use my new road style.  They look even better when you create a few and use curves.

Then I can create another style for just the aisle part and use that to connect parking lots.

The distortion of the parking stalls while transitioning from parking lot to road is kind of odd, but it gets the job done.  Also, remember that I assigned the center aisle of the parking lot as a "Roadway".  I used this same assignment for the connector road style and it keeps the transition from getting really crazy.

The styles I'm using here are very basic (for example, just using black instead of an actual pavement texture) but they do the trick nicely.  Use this concept to make parking lots that are way more awesome than these!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Autodesk Point Layout Enables Stake-Out from Within Revit, Navis, and AutoCAD

Interesting new product release coming from Autodesk.

It appears that this tool has come out of the Building side of the company rather than civil/infrastructure.

Check out the video!

I downloaded and installed the free trial here.  It plugged right in to Civil 3D 2014.  I couldn't figure out how to get to it until I read the Preview Guide document that came with the install.  There I discovered that it's all done through a right-click menu.

It's definitely building-oriented:

Please comment if you've worked with it and can share anything the rest of the world would want to know.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Parking Stalls in InfraWorks

The first thing you need to come to terms with is this:

InfraWorks is currently a tool for conceptual design.

So, if you're creating parking lots in InfraWorks, and you're trying to lay out every nook and cranny of every parking stall, island, etc. - you're not thinking about it right.  It would be like trying to paint the Mona Lisa with a spray can, or chopping vegetables with a chain saw.  You're not properly matching the job with the tool.

Anyway, with that in mind, we can make some pretty neat-looking parking lots with a little ingenuity.

First, I'm going to open AutoCAD (or Civil 3D, or whatever AutoCAD based product you have handy) and lay out a few short rows of parking stalls.  Then I'm going to use a screen capture program like Jing or SnagIt to grab a "tile" of this layout (indicated in red below)

The resulting image looks like this:

You may need to go into an image editor (even Paint will do) and clean it up a bit.

Now I'll create a material in InfraWorks.  I'll open the Style Palette and go to the Material tab.  I think Land Cover is probably a good place for this so I'll open that folder and click the green plus sign to create a new material.

In the Define New Material dialog box I'll do the following:
  • Pick Texture as the type
  • Browse for my newly created image
  • Set the height to 52 (20' stall + 20' stall + half of a 24' lane)
  • Set the width to 10'

I'll name the new material Parking Stalls and then drag and drop it to a coverage area.

If you grip edit the coverage area and pay attention, you'll notice that the parking stalls always stay aligned with one of the sides.  You can use this to your advantage by setting the direction of that side and rotating the coverage area to get a decent result.

To make more eloquent layouts you could experiment with different tiles, multiple coverage areas, maybe add some roads - but remember, if you're spending a ton of time getting the perfect layout - is that really what you should be doing at the stage of the project you are in?  If so, maybe you should go into AutoCAD and lay out your parking there, and then import it into InfaWorks?

In a future post, I'll look at tricking a road into thinking it's a parking lot - even cooler!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

InfraWorks 360 Pro - Clarification from Autodesk

If you read this post from last week, you probably noticed there were a few unanswered questions about the release of InfraWorks 360 Pro.  Justin Lokitz from Autodesk picked up on that and was kind and diligent enough to send me some additional info.  I can't say it better than he did so here is his message:

Hi Eric,

I Just read your recent blog post about InfraWorks and I would like to help clear anything up that I can.  Firstly, it looks like you did get an answer to your terrain shaping questions.  Having said that, we are also working on plans to ensure that we have new features documented and/or videos published in order to help users make sense of what we’re releasing.  With a schedule that has us releasing product more than once per year, we’re continuing to refine how we document what we’ve released.  And your blog does a great job pointing this out.

Regarding the naming and multiple icons, with several new releases hitting the market at the same time (i.e. InfraWorks 360 Pro, InfraWorks 2014 R2, and the IDS-U version of InfraWorks 2014) we made the decision to go with a single install rather than sever different releases and installs.  While I agree that this is confusing at the moment, given the three separate icons, you have the right of it: each one represents a different licensed product.  In the future this will be much more obvious.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, by all means let me know.  Thanks for all of the great product coverage.

Best Regards,

Getting the Look you Want in InfraWorks - Part 2: Creating a Custom Road Style

Before continuing, you should probably read: Getting the Look you Want in InfraWorks - Part 1: Using the Style Palette

In the previous post, we created a new road and changed its appearance using the Road styles provided in the Styles Palette.  None of those "out of the box" styles really did the trick, though - so lets look now at making our own.

Right now, the road looks like this:

This road happens to be a two-lane asphalt road with asphalt shoulders.  It has a double yellow center line and white lane lines.

I'll start by copying the "Old Paved Road" style and naming the new style "Rural Road"

Then I'll edit the Rural Road style:

In the ensuing dialog box, we see several configuration settings that set the stage for how the style will be built.

They are:
  • Road Type - Choices are Road, Bridge, and Tunnel.  Your choice here will determine additional geometry settings (walls for bridge, pylons for tunnel, etc.)
  • Material Group - A group of materials that you choose from to build out the style (pavement, grass, paint, concrete, etc.)
  • Road Intersection Material - The portion of the road that gets twisted and morphed when another road intersects with it.
  • Lane Markings Material - The style will use this material as a thin dashed line that is drawn between lanes.  This is very limited.  It only does dashed lines and it only does the line between lanes.
  • Decorations - 3D models that are copied along the length of the road (guard rail posts, light poles, hydrants, utility poles, etc.)
Since I've discovered that none of the material groups really provide what I need, I'm going to create my own.  I'll Cancel out of this dialog box and go back to the Style Palette.  Then I'll click on the Material Group tab and click the green plus sign to create a new material group.

I'll click the green plus sign again to create a new material:

I'll enter Asphalt for the name and click in the Material column to open another dialog box.  Here I'll choose Surface Black Asphalt in the material list within the Roadway folder.

I'll add a Yellow Stripe material, this time picking a yellow color rather than a material (raster image).

I'll add a White Stripe and Shoulder material.  For the shoulder, I'll use a lighter asphalt material.

I'll name my new material group My Road.

Now, back to editing the Rural Road style.  I'll select my new material group and then create widths and materials to build out the road surface.

Now I'll apply my new style by dragging and dropping it on to the road and...much better!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The New Shape Terrain Command in InfraWorks 360 Pro

This one had me scratching my head a little bit but Jack Strongitharm at Autodesk threw me a breadcrumb that helped me figure it out.

We'll start with a coverage area.  You can see how it drapes itself over the existing terrain.

 In the new version of InfraWorks, you can right click a coverage area and launch the Shape Terrain command.

When you do, a blue arrow shows up and a ghosted image of a plane.

If you click on the blue arrow, an Elevation value box appears.

You can type in an elevation or drag the arrow up or down to set it graphically.

Then the coverage area becomes flat, at the elevation you've indicated.  the sides do some form of tie-in that looks pretty sweet.  It's not a simple 3:1 or something like that, it's very rounded and natural looking.

After running the command, you are not stuck with a flat area.  You can click on the area again to access it's grips.

And then make adjustments if you want the area to slope.

If you run the Shape Terrain command again, it will flatten the area out once again.

Happy terrain shaping!

Autodesk Officially Announces InfraWorks 360 Pro

To get the full scoop, you can read this article:


Here are the highlights:

  • InfraWorks 360 Pro has new features:
    • Connection to WeoGeo, which if you're not familiar, is a site that hosts geospatial data - some free, some not.
    • Terrain grading and shaping - I haven't actually seen this in action yet but I'm assuming this is some incarnation of the the Interactive Terrain Shaping stuff we saw awhile back on Autodesk Labs
    • Better rendering with a choice for high quality rendering or lower quality/faster performance rendering
    • Enhancements/improvments with pipe networks
  • It is being sold on a quarterly "rental" basis
At this point, I'm a little confused about what's going on.  I downloaded the InfraWorks R2 update on the subscription site and installed it.  It gave me three ways to launch the software - InfraWorks 360 Pro, InfraWorks, and InfraWorks Ulitmate (those aren't the exact names).  

The Ultimate version does not get a license.  I'm guessing this is because I have IDS Premium, not Ultimate - but I'm not sure.  I'm waiting to hear back from Autodesk on exactly what's going on.

The other two products launch.  I'm most interested in the Terrain shaping so I immediately searched for a new ribbon or something of that nature.  No Terrain Shaping ribbon tab.  The best I got is that when I right-click a coverage area, I get a Shape Terrain command in the context menu.

After clicking the Shape Terrain command, I get a nifty blue arrow and some blue coloring at the corners of my coverage area, but that's it.  I can drag the arrow up and down but it doesn't do any more than the z-axis arrow on the gizmo that accompanies Infraworks objects.  I get the feeling that there is some feature-unlocking that needs to be done somehow.

Currently I'm working on downloading the 30-day trial.  I'll update this post if I make any progress there.


  • Just got a little more info on the Shape Terrain command.  It takes a coverage area and flattens it out to a single elevation.  Separate post coming soon!

Check Out this InfraWorks 360 Pro Google+ Hangout

I had the pleasure of participating in this hangout this morning!