3D Painting with Piranesi 5
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3D Painting with Piranesi 5

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Industry News
3D Painting with Piranesi 5
by Susan Smith

This week Informatix announced the latest version of Piranesi, Piranesi 5. This new release sports a completely new user interface.

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Marco Crawford is an architectural technician and until recently, CAD manager/CAD facilitator for ttsp in the UK. He has just relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland where he still consults for the company. Crawford is a long term, established user of Piranesi and MicroGDS, CAD system developed by Informatix. The CAD system is the prime system within the practise and is used as a full blown CAD environment, but it is also an extremely good modeler and renderer and can export directly to Piranesi in all the file formats. MicroGDS is used to create the models for export to Piranesi.

AECWeekly: What made you decide to use the Piranesi product?

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Marco Crawford: For many years I have combined being a perspective artist with a career in architecture. One of the main faults I found with the virtual reality images created by most modeling and rendering packages, was that the resulting images lost the feel of the design being a concept and still evolving. Clients were being presented with design images which seemed to them to be final and excluded them. Piranesi allowed me to return to the sketch and loose feel required in the early stages of the design, but gave me the speed of productivity which I was not able to achieve when creating these images using traditional mediums such as air brush, marker pens etc.

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AECWeekly: Have you used other 3d painting tools in the past or do you use others concurrently with Piranesi?

Marco Crawford: I am not aware of other 3D painting tools which have the same capabilities as Piranesi. I have heard of other packages which mainly provide PhotoShop type tools, but do not have the built-in intelligence that the Piranesi EPX files have. I generally used Paint Shop Pro to create textures or cutouts I may need for use within Piranesi.

AECWeekly: Did you beta test the current release, Piranesi 5, and if so, what do you think are its most important features?

Marco Crawford: I did Beta test Version 5. The biggest change for existing Piranesi users is the completely re-designed interface. I believe this will take existing users a little while to get used to, but it is a big plus for new users. The new features that I consider important are as follows: the ability to record a style as it is being applied, multiple cut-outs, the style selector, new brush selection options, the new lighting tools and even to an experienced user the new "Help Assistant" is extremely handy.

AECWeekly: Have you been instrumental in giving feedback on the Piranesi product releases?

Marco Crawford: Yes, myself and many other existing users regularly contribute to Beta testing and provide feedback to Informatix about features we feel are needed to further enhance the product. We are also able to comment about the workability of new enhancements. As existing users using the product in real environments, we are able to provide constructive criticism which Informatix always take on board. I am pleased to say that users do have a big input into the product.

AECWeekly: How would you like to see the product evolve in the future?

Marco Crawford: This is a hard question, as with every release I marvel at the new functions and procedures which Informatix add to Piranesi, ideas which I would never have thought of myself, always thinking that it seemed pretty darn good as it is. I would imagine that the product could expand into more animation. Currently Piranesi can create linked MOV files with hot spots for 360 degree panoramas, which can have all the quick- to-add entourage, softens and sketch feel of the 2D image. Currently the hardware we use is not the perfect vehicle for the Piranesi tool, as we use a mouse and screen. The ideal is a tablet style touch screen with a pen. This would let artists have a greater sense of interaction with the product. There are tablet type screens currently available and Piranesi does function with them by providing pressure sensitivity on the stylus, etc. The ones I have sampled are not very good at the moment. As the tablet screen hardware develops and improves, I would like to see Piranesi exploit this area more by providing specific environments to allow a greater interaction between the artist, the product and the art work.

AECWeekly: How does the price point compare with other similar products on the market?

Marco Crawford: I believe that for what Piranesi provides in sophistication, features, ease of use, reliability, and sheer pleasure, it is more than reasonably priced.

AECWeekly: Can you describe a particular project that you've used Piranesi on that has made a large impact on those involved, i.e., stakeholders, owners, designers, etc.?

I work for a medium to large architectural practise and create the majority of the visuals within the organisation and every image is post processed in Piranesi. It is a vital element in the process of presenting ideas and design concepts to clients. The client base is mainly large corporate organisations. It is therefore essential to present professional standard images quickly. The best example I have was a scheme we were presenting for a redevelopment of a town centre. The brief called for concepts and ideas to be submitted to generate interest and funding for the project. Myself and one of the architects sat together in front of the PC and from a simple sketch plan created a simple model. This was then exported to Piranesi where it was enhanced and developed with myself and the other architect bouncing around ideas. The end result was a series of images which were conceptual, loose but full of life. All of this event took less than one day from the initial loose felt pen site sketch plan to the final images. This was literally designing on the fly and on the screen with MicroGDS and Piranesi.

AECWeekly: Is it necessary for Piranesi to interface with Autodesk, MicroStation or other CAD programs?

Marco Crawford: Piranesi already has an interface with many CAD and modeling products, MicroGDS (an Informatix CAD system), MicroStation, Form*Z, Cheetah3D, Art*lantis, ArchiCAD, and the now famous SketchUp along with other CAD packages, all have direct output to the Piranesi EPX files format. Other products can output an EPX file by using various plug-ins. I understand that the developers of the individual CAD and modeling systems have chosen to support Piranesi by providing export directly from the core product. Autodesk have not yet provided a direct export facility, but by exporting a 3ds file and processing through Piranesi’s sister program, Vedute, which is the translation program supplied on the installation disk, it is possible to create an EPX file.

Piranesi 5 Features List

See the website for pricing.


CDV Systems, Inc. (CDV), providers of Autodesk® Revit® and CodeBook® implementation services, training, consulting and courseware to the AEC market, nationally and internationally, proudly announces the formation of a partnership with London Infotech, Inc., (LII) of Ahmedabad, India. LII has been providing Revit Building®, Revit Structure® and Revit Systems ® modeling services to architects, contractors and building owners for the past 20 months. As worldwide Alliance Partner, CDV now offers to their clients LII’s full scope and comprehensive Revit Production services.


Caligari Corporation and The Renderosity Digital Art Community announced the premiere opening of the Renderosity 3D Gallery. Held April 16 at 9 a.m. CDT, it will showcase the work of 2006 Artist of the Year Matthieu Roussel.

The Renderosity 3D Gallery was created using Caligari's truePlace software platform. Attendees will experience the feeling of being in a realistic, well-designed-and-lit public space where they can walk from image to image among the presence of other gallery visitors -- just like being at a genuine brick-and-mortar gallery. Attendees can discuss the artwork live with anyone present in the gallery in real-time text or voice chat as they move. Mr. Roussel will attend the opening and provide live commentary as visitors tour his artwork.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced that former Vice President Al Gore will be the closing keynote speaker for its 2007 Annual Meeting on October 8 in San Francisco. He will present An Inconvenient Truth, the visually stunning multimedia presentation that inspires audiences to confront environmental issues in the world today.

Nemetschek North America announced that it has donated VectorWorks Spotlight 12.5 to a winner of the Behind the Scenes raffle held at the 2007 USITT Conference. The Long Reach Long Riders and the ESTA Foundation raised a total of $17,800 for Behind the Scenes at the annual trade show for entertainment industry. Behind the Scenes, an ESTA Foundation initiative, provides grants to seriously ill or injured industry members that may be used for medical care and living expenses.

Meridian Systems, a provider of enterprise project management software for optimizing capital projects, programs and facilities, announced the speaker lineup for its 2007 User Conference General Session program. Taking place April 24-26 in San Diego, Calif., the 3-day customer event will be held at the Hyatt La Jolla at Aventine. Complete conference details are available at: http://www.meridiansystems.com/

Conference attendees will enjoy three general sessions chaired by McGraw-Hill Construction/ENR consulting editor Scott Shuster. Highlights include a Meridian and Trimble executive interview, technology demonstrations by Meridian technical staff, a panel discussion featuring construction CIO’s, best practices on implementing project management technology, and a panel discussion on 3rd party technologies that extend Meridian solutions.

New Products

Autodesk, Inc. announced that Autodesk Design Review 2008, its comprehensive review, mark-up and design collaboration software, is now available worldwide for download free of charge.* The company also released its free* Autodesk Freewheel on-demand Web service that enables CAD teams to view and print designs within a Web browser, without installing any software. For design professionals who work in the manufacturing, geospatial and AEC industries, these solutions strengthen their ability to share and communicate design comments from non-CAD reviewers-digitally and globally.

Strata, the company adding the power of 3D to the designer's toolset, announced three new plug-ins for Adobe(R) Systems' Photoshop(R) CS3 Extended software. Each of these 3D[in] plug-ins will be priced at less than $149 and will ship spring of this year. The three plug-ins add 3D model-to-photo matching, Raydiosity(TM) rendering, spline and subdivision surface modeling, 3D model construction from photographs, and real-time 3D output for the web and PDF documents.

Trimble announced that it has significantly expanded its portfolio of training products with a suite of modules for the engineering and construction industry. Facilitated through a state-of-the-art Internet-based enterprise learning management system, the training modules will be available to distribution partners and customers anytime, anywhere.

Oce announced the immediate availability of an upgrade to its Oce Repro Desk(R) Server software. Customers operating on Oce Repro Desk Server 1.X and Oce Repro Desk 4.X platforms can now upgrade to Oce Repro Desk Server 1.6.5. Oce Repro Desk Server software enables commercial reprographers to connect their print shops electronically with their AEC customers and streamline workflow from design desktop to digital print room.

Artlantis family welcomes 2 new CD-ROMs of professional 3D objects:

Industrial detailsthis CD-Rom contains 100 specific Artlantis objects for workshop, factory and warehouse environments. Pallet jacks, container & tool carts, trash containers/bins, hand trucks, product slides/conveyors, drums, scissor lifts/platforms, various shelves, cabinets and storage units, pallets, metal crates, warning signs/barriers, ladders and more.

Architectural detailsthis CD-Rom contains 200 specific Artlantis objects for professional architectural visualization, including: garden furniture, mail-boxes, park benches, lamps, balconies, columns, fences, umbrellas, escalators/elevators and more.

Around the Web

Beaming Up 3-D Objects on a Budget Peter Wayner, April 5, 2007, The New York Times - Now hobbyists and small businesses are starting to benefit from low-cost versions of 3D printers and scanners.

H.P. Tries to Create Printers That Love the Web by Damon Darlin, April 9, 2007, The New York Times - Vyomesh I. Joshi, the senior vice president in charge of Hewlett-Packard printing division wants H.P. to figure out a way to get people to print more Web pages.

Video of the First AutoCAD 2008 Shipping (Between the Lines Blog)

Google backs character-recognition research April 11, 2007, CNET News.com

Upcoming Events 

COFES 2007  
Date: April 12 - 15, 2007 
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Attend this conference to learn the new strategic thinking, processes, and tools that are raising the productivity of capital; lowering overall infrastructure expense; and moving corporate and institutional management models toward an integrated solution to capital programs, projects, and operations.

Here you'll learn the details of:
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