At Autodesk University there was a lot of talk about “Vespa” but it didn’t refer to cute little Italian scooters (right).
What is Vespa? An “application concept” being previewed at AU. This is not a product, or even a beta, and the presentation was subject to a disclaimer* that you may never see any of it in a release product….
So what does Vespa do? The idea is to take precise, too precise, 2d output from CAD applications as an AutoCAD Drawing (.dwg) or Design Web Format (.dwf) export and transform it into an artistic sketch/illustration.
I can do that now with illustration/photo software? You can import CAD vector data into programs like Photoshop or CorelDraw/Paint and use their tools with the CAD file as background. I often do this for building elevations and it’s why I was interested. The difference is Vespa “knows” CAD.
“Vespa knows CAD”, what does that mean? It does not treat the CAD import as simple geometry. It applies artistic styling to lines, fills and objects in dwg/dwf files based on the CAD objects (lines, blocks, regions etc) and layer definitions.
How do you use Vespa with the CAD file? These screen captures from the AU Presentation Video show a 2D CAD export being opened in Vespa. The Style Palette (top left) has object styles which are applied to layers in the Layer Palette (top right) or directly to objects in the file.
Line effects and fills are applied based on objects, layers and/or closed boundaries. Blocks can be replaced by objects containing an image or image collections. For example a single tree block can be replaced by a “artistic tree” or “artistic tree collection”. The variations within a collection could be applied randomly, simulating a human factor, or selected for each block insert.
These object associations are retained and all the Vespa objects are “Styles” with definitions that can be shared easily. You could create personal styles to match your hand drawing techniques, even scan hand drawn content to incorporate in Vespa styles.
The final image, below, shows shadows added to achieve a finished elevation suitable for a proposal. It’s fairly simple but took literally a few minutes to do.
That’s all wonderful, what happens when the CAD file changes? This the big difference between Vespa and paint/illustration software.
Vespa styles can be shared between files and users. Once established a style template can be applied to other CAD files, other elevations/details in the project, in seconds. If the design changes just apply the style template to new cad exports.
This also allows multiple users using the same style template to achieve consistent results and maintain project or company standards.
Will Vespa help with concept design? At the time, I lamented the demise of Architectural Studio as it was the only tool in the Autodesk product line that even attempted to address the conceptual stage of the design process (for architecture anyway).
There is a real need for tools to bridge the barrier between CAD and concept sketch/illustration. Photo-real or shade renders from 3D models are wonderful but the precision can be a barrier to communication. Often the client gets the impression the design is “finished” long before it actually is. The downside of hand/image based illustrations is they are slow to produce, individual and not associated to the CAD design. Maybe Vespa, whatever it becomes, will scoot into the void between hand Illustration & CAD Rendering.
I could use it, could you?
* The Vespa presentation was not subject to non-disclosure but began with this disclaimer; “Autodesk makes no promise that anything you’re going to see will ever appear in an Autodesk product. We will not comment on, indicate or otherwise hint as to when any of the things seen or discussed might or might not appear in the marketplace. We also will not comment about potential pricing of anything you’re going to see.”