design program


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Are there any programs to make set designs on computer out there? Especially onse with demos!
i use 3D architect, a construction proggie, its helpful for positioning furniture and stuff- then it gives you a walkthrough that you can control
you can pick colors and styles etc.,etc.
Some of the inexpensive home design programs work pretty well for getting general layout done. Some of them also allow you to play around with lights.

I've been playing around with Punch Home design software Architectural Series 3000. It has some limitations but not bad for scketching up ideas.

I can send you some images if you are interested.


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So people do do sets in AutoCAD? That's what I thought, but it would be complicated, not being specifically designed for set. Thanks.


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Radman said:
So people do do sets in AutoCAD? That's what I thought, but it would be complicated, not being specifically designed for set. Thanks.

Fundamentally you're drawing plans no different than if you were doing a set of plans for house, commercial building, what have you. AutoCAD is an extremely powerful program, takes a lto fo practice to get good at it, but, it pays off. I know enough to be dangerous, but, I've watched architects sitting in front of a CAD workstation and they just fly. Once you know how to do everything with the command window in AutoCad you're going to be moving very very quickly.


For set construction and design Autocad is the best. You can downoad a 30 day free trial. I also use Accurender to texture and render scenes. They also offer a trial version. I have been able to get cad drawings from theaters and install my sets. Great results. Also check out 3ds Max.
Good luck.


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I just obtained AutoCAD, so I'll have to mess around and figure out how to plot the venue into it.



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Premium Member
Some of the more modern set design books have chapters on using AutoCadd.

Even earlier texts from the mid 90's will cover it and though a different version, most of the primary techniques will be the same. Amongst them is Dennis Dorn's "Drafting for the Theater", otherwise Payne's Scenographic Imagination has a good chapter on it and what gear you need in setting up your design studio.

Two other books, one by Payne again would be "Computer Scenographics" , the other by Rose "AutoCAD Onstage" would be useful in learning Cadd - no matter the program of it, given a specific theater base to the training. These books are designed to take you step by step in learning Auto Cadd from scratch, but with a theater slant to that training.

Once you get used to and templates for say drafting rear elevations of the scenery, it will go really quick. Hardest part on using AutoCadd is getting used to it - the how you do it, setting it up to do what you need and techniques for speeding you up. Many theaters also have their stages already on the net for free download in quickly drafting to them. Believe the website is "stagespecs."

Need to place a keystone or corner block, you don't have to draft it each time, you just click on your respective template for each and place it. With time, most stock scenery will already be in template form. Otherwise once drafted, new scenery in the inventory is just a few mouse clicks away in copying.

"Architectural Graphics Standards" John Wiley & Sons, Inc. if by way of disk would have such AutoCadd templates to it for anything from a toaster to a structured MicroLam beam. This would be an extremely expensive template package but well worth the investment.

Might be a good project for the summer vacation to sit down in learning the program and doing some initial steps such as templates and the theater itself.

Otherwise in high school as part of the drafting/architecture program we had Cadd drafting where we were to draft a garage on the Cadd Cam. Not as easy as it might seem in the days of the Apple IIe without a mouse thus using XYZ polar coordinates. Later in college, before the theater started it's own Cadd program, I went to the IT section of the school to learn. Not similar stuff drafted but once you learn the basic steps, it's easy to adapt to theater.

Now I have both Vectorworks and Autocadd, but no time twelve years later to sit down with them and re-learn. One of these days type of thing.

Various architectural template programs are also on the market at a price or available from the manufacturers for free. At one point early in the Cadd industry, I had both an Anderson Windows template program and one from Morgan for their Mortrim foam molding Custom Decorative Moulding, CDM templates; - Greenwood, DL. (800)543-0553. Both were useful especially the molding template book. I'm sure most architectural gear at this point is downloadable.

I highly recommend that if you go Cadd that you get a tablet. This side mouse like board will speed up your drafting and add much more ease in accuracy especially once your hand gets used to the template and you no longer really have to look at it for it's quick picks etc. Get at least a 16" wide one if not larger. All the more room for a wider screen area and quick picks. Beyond the template, having a dual screen monitor might be of use. One huge screen to draft with that has a very high DPI count, the other to have your template page open on in mousing over to pick the various ones (if possible in doing this.) At that point you have tablit, mouse, and two monitors in flexibility and ease of use.

Some sources I have or am aware of (many would have updated editions by now.)
-3rd Edition, AutoCAD Quick Refrence, by Craig Sharp; Que Corporation - Carmel IN. 1992 ISBN: 1-56529-024-0
-AutoCAD Onstage, by Rich Rose; Betterway Publications, Inc. - White Hall, VA. 1990 ISBN: 1-55870-164-8
-AutoCAD 2000 Basics, Construction Savvy - Dist. #AF3905
-AutoCAD 2000 for Architecture, by Alan Jefferis and Michael Jokes; Construction Savvy - dist. #AF3903
-The AutoCAD 2000 Tutor for Engineering Graphics, by alan J Kalameja; Construction Savvy - Dist #AF3904
-Building Interactive Worlds in 3D: Virtual Sets and Pre-visualization for Games, Film and the Web, by Jean-Marc Gauthier.
-The Complete Book of Drawing for the Theater, by Harvey Sweet; Allyn & Bacon - DesMoines 1995
-Computer Scenographics, by Darwin Ried Payne; Southern Illinois University Press - Carbondale, Il. 1994 ISBN: 0-8093-1905-5
-Drafting for the Theater, by Dennis Dorn & Mark Shanda; Southern Illinois University Press - Carbondale, Il.1992 ISBN: 0-8093-1508-4
-Learning CAD with AutoCad, by Mihir Dumar Das; Prentice Hall - Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 1988 ISBN: 0-13-527599-7
-Scene Technology, 3rd. ed. by Richard L. Arnold (372pp); Stage Step - Dist. #TE709
-Scenographic Imagination, 3rd Ed. by Darwin Reid Payne; Southern Illinois University Press Carbondale, Il. 1993 ISBN: 0-8093-1850-4

Other books (lighting) known to have Auto Cadd info sections in them:
-Concert Lighting: Techniques, Art and Business 2nd Ed, by James L. Moody; Focal Press ISBN: 0-240-82934
-EC&M’s Step-by-Step Guide to Lighting, by John Paschal 1998; ISBN: 0-87288-695-6
-Lighting and the Design Idea, 2nd ed. by Wadsworth/Thomson



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For some reason I am at a loss as to what a corner block is...

Wow, thanks ship. This should give me plenty to look into.

I actually do own a tablet already, but the drawing area is SMALL, only 6" diagonally. I am left handed so it helps for freehand drawing stuff, but I prefer my trusty Logitech MX Laser mouse for drafting. The tracking power is amazing. I can to intricate detaild drafting on my bed sheets! It is like $81 at Best Buy, but I had $80 in RewardZone dollars, so it only cost me $1 really. "Its a friggin' 'laser'"

I also will have an extended desktop. I got a super marked down used HDTV at Best Buy (I shop there alot) that I will hook my laptop up to once I get it back from my grandparents, who borrowed it. It is something like 17" widescreen, not huge, but still, not bad.

My neighbor is a graphic designer and sometimes dumps his old stuff on me, I'm waiting for the 21" flat panels! ;) I actually got one of his 21" old style ones, but it is an old mac one, so I need to wire a vga plug on it to use it, and it is so huge I can't fit it in my room anyways. "One of these days..."

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