Thea for SketchUp Now Supports SketchUp 2016

A new service has been released for Thea for SketchUp which includes support for SketchUp 2016.
This is a free update for all licensed users and can be downloaded here.

Thea for SketchUp v1.5.04.356.1413 (21st November 2015)

  • New: SketchUp 2016 support
  • Improved: Significantly improved Animation export speed when it has more then 300 frames
  • Improved: [Win] Double-click TheaTool top bar to collapse the whole window
  • Fixed: BatchRender – single check-box can be clicked now without selecting a proper row #2049
  • Fixed: Wrong mapping of a texture in copies of a component using a material with Cubic mapping #2139


SketchUp Pro 2016 is here! So, what’s new?

There are many improvements in SketchUp 2016, and specifically SketchUp Pro 2016. Layout improvements see vastly improved layer handling and now serious file export handling – making those awesome presentations now email-able. Read below for more detail or contact us at CAD Software Direct if you want to get your copy of Sketchup Pro 2016.

Trimble Connect direct integration in SketchUp
Integration of Trimble Connect directly into SketchUp. Trimble Connect is the Trimble Buildings online collaboration platform. Think of it like a private 3D Warehouse, just for building project assets. Upload SKP’s, DWG’s, DXF’s, IFC’s PDF’s and share with team members. Trimble Connect is built off the GTeam platform, meaning that it enables sharing, reviewing and commenting in a web browser.

Reload 3D Warehouse models
In SketchUp 2016, a right-click on a component gives you the opportunity to reload (or swap out) a new component directly from 3D Warehouse. This action will reload every instance of that component in your model (similar to the same action in the Components Browser), so it’s a helpful method for working with proxy models. And if your component was downloaded from 3D Warehouse, you can also use the context-click to quickly access its 3DWH details page.

LayOut cloud references
With this release, LayOut’s reference objects are now web friendly. That means your LayOut projects can reference and update files that are stored and synced with services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Trimble Connect Sync. When you reference a file from any of these services (.skp or otherwise), LayOut will notify you when an update is available for your ‘web reference.’ Say goodbye to missing references when different people are working on the same .layout document within a cloud sync folder that also contains the referenced files.

Enhanced Inferencing and Tool Improvements
Learning and utilising SketchUp’s inference engine makes for fast and precise modeling. In this release, the process has been improved and enhanced. This improvement is the result of many smaller tweaks and adjustments:

Off-axis inferences: Improved parallel and perpendicular inference display along with the ability to force the last referenced edge or plane (depending on tool) with the down arrow. This is particularly handy for extending edges on off-axis planes. (Keep an eye out for the new “Extend Edge” tooltip with purple highlighting). The up arrow is now the default locking mechanism for the blue axis.

Expanded Arrow Key locking: More tools now allow use of arrow keys to quickly lock to an axis. Additionally, you can now lock normals or rotation axis prior to first click for tools that require a rotation handle, including Arc/Pie, Rotated Rectangle, Rotation, Protractor, Polygon and Circle.

Arc/circle: SketchUp will now easily inference circle and arc center-points. SketchUp’s ability to inference arc segment endpoints has also been improved. Furthermore, you can now change the number of segments using new modifier keys (check out the status bar right after you’ve drawn an arc/circle).

Axes tool flexibility: A small but useful change: when selecting new axes, you can now toggle through the exact axes you’d like to pick first using the Alt (PC)/Command (Mac) modifier.

Inference hidden section planes: SketchUp will now recognize intersection points with hidden section planes. This functionality extends to snapping to elements of a SketchUp model in LayOut too; you’ll notice a big improvement when dimensioning models with section planes..

Miscellaneous improvements: There have also been additional improvements to the Move, Protractor, Offset, and Rotate tools.


Customisable Utility Trays on Windows

On Windows machines, SketchUp’s floating utility dialogs (Styles, Scenes, Components, etc.) have been rebuilt so that they neatly stack inside customisable, completely collapsible trays. This functionality also allows you to group dialogue boxes that you may often use at the same time, and is incredibly useful for hiding, browsing, and revealing your most-used utilities.

Refreshed Textures
SketchUp default material libraries have been reworked, adding contemporary textures and entirely new categories.

Small Dimensions
New ‘small dimension’ leaders in Layout ensure that text never interferes with arrows or extension lines, and that your dimensions always have room to stretch out when you’re working in confined spaces. When LayOut detects that your text strings are going to interfere with dimension arrows or extension lines, it will automatically pop-out your strings using a leader, which is customisable.

LayOut Layer Improvements
There have been many improvements throughout LayOut’s layers. Whether you’re grouping objects across layers, drawing objects on shared layers, or unearthing the bottom of a stacked viewport, the new layers are just much better.

Multi-Layer Groups: Entities on different layers can now be grouped together.

Maintaining Layers During Copy/Paste: Copy/pasting entities now respects the layer assignments of the original entity. This should make it easier to copy/paste a SketchUp viewport (along with any grouped dimensions and labels) from one page to another and maintain layer assignments.

‘Move to’ layer on right-click: You can now move entities between layers with a right-click. Use the new ‘Move to’ command, and then select from all unlocked layers.

Differentiating between shared/non-shared layers: In order to help users understand when they are creating or manipulating entities on a shared layer, new highlighting displays a different colour (red) when you are drawing or selecting elements on a shared layer. (You can customise this highlighting in LayOut Preferences > General).

Layer visibility maintained on new pages: If a layer is hidden on the current page, it will also be hidden on a newly added page.


Other improvements

Optimised PDF Export from LayOut
You can now choose to compress JPEG’s in your LayOut files when exporting PDF’s. Since every raster or hybrid rendered .skp viewport has a JPEG image, this leads to drastically smaller PDF exports from LayOut that still have a very high output resolution, but are much easier to share with others. Now file size savings of up to 80% are possible, depending upon compression settings.

Extension Security and Moderation
In SketchUp 2016, users can control which extensions to load based on their security level. There are three extension security options to choose from (see below) and they are accessible via the Extensions panel in Preferences dialog:

Off: SketchUp will load any extension (This is how previous versions work).

Approve Mode: Users will be prompted to load extension that have not been certified by SketchUp.

Secure Mode: Only extensions that have been certified by SketchUp will load.

High DPI toolbar icons, cursors, graphics
All SketchUp, LayOut, and Style Builder toolbar icons are now rendered from vector graphics. This means they will scale well for anyone’s resolution settings, with a much cleaner look and better sized icons on High DPI screens in particular.

Support for El Capitan and Windows 10
SketchUp 2016 is fully compatible with Apple’s El Capitan and Microsoft’s Windows 10.


Last Day to Save on V-Ray for SketchUp!


Calling all V-Ray for SketchUp users! Today is the last day to save 15% on additional licenses.
Take advantage of the amazing offer while you still can!

To buy, simply select the additional license promo option on our product page, call us on 01206 804984 or drop us a line at

New Features in Vectorworks 2016

With the Vectorworks 2016 release, much has been improved. In addition to the underlying code being improved for the latest generation of operating systems, there are some seriously useful feature upgrades that will not only improve productivity but can probably reduce the need for, and cost of, other external software.

New Features

  • Marionette
  • Subdivision Surfaces
  • Point Cloud Support
  • Energos
  • Horizontal Sections from the Clip Cube
  • Roof Components and Styles
  • 3D Modifiers for Slabs
  • Improved Vectorworks Spotlight Objects
  • Door and Window Improvements
  • Hardscape Improvements
  • Exciting Site Modelling
  • Hoist Tools
  • Subdivision Surfaces
  • Point Cloud Support

Project Sharing

Potentially a major step change in productivity, the new project sharing functionality means a job can be split out amongst contributors – with each user’s jurisdiction protected from another user’s edits. Project Sharing enables two core features – version control and task splitting. For some organisations, this is a huge, game-changing feature.

To give an example.. Say you had a project in Dubai. Some team members are in Dubai, others are back in London. The project needs to progress fast, but there’s no way everyone can be on site. Additionally, saving files to a VPN or Dropbox account only goes so far – there are inevitable moments of overlap, or staff are held up whilst another user or team edits the principle job file. Perhaps worse, elements are built separately and some poor soul has to compile them at some late stage. With Project Sharing, this chaos can be avoided. A single project can have multiple contributors, each is protected from clashes with another. There is no limit to the number of users that can be working on a project at the same time. Time zones become irrelevant. Carefully saving files or merging changes is no longer a manual task. The gains are enormous. Take a look at the video for more details – or talk to us about a trial of Vectorworks 2015 if you’re not already a user.


Ideal for those in architectural or civil disciplines, Energos is a built-in building energy analysis tool. Use to improve the energy efficiency of a design, generate information for interested parties or even export for further analysis. For more information, take a look at this article on using Energos in Vectorworks.

Subdivison Surfaces

Quite a significant modelling addon, now that Vectorworks has SubD modelling, it becomes easy to create more organic forms without the use of external tools.


Cloud Services in Vectorworks Software

If you are on Vectorworks Service Select (VSS), you can now use built-in tools to save project files to Vectorworks cloud storage and publish drawings to the cloud or a DropBox account. These features, combined with the new Project Sharing functionality mean potentially huge productivity gains for users working as part of a team.

Point Cloud

Save time on projects that interact with historical structures. Vectorworks 2016 can process cloud point data in an intuitive way. Snap to cloud point data in order to dimension or draw up reference geometry.



Marionette is a visual scripting interface based on Python. Specifically, it’s designed to allow easy creation and manipulation of calculated objects. Users of Rhino may see a lot of familiarity with Grasshopper. If you’re willing to spend some time with Marionette, it can become a powerful way to create organic geometry, develop repetitive forms that adjust incrementally based on a custom formula or use it to apply model-wide adjustments to particular parametric objects.


OBJ and STL Import

Further enhancing interoperability with other packages and systems, OBJ and STL import functionality means it’s just a little bit easier to load in objects from clients, suppliers, colleagues on other systems and object libraries.


Landmark Data Improvements

Small but significant improvements to the interface and live linking with the plant database should make life simpler for anyone routinely using the plant tools and database.

Renderworks Upgrade and Improvements

Easily modify line thickness and ambient light in OpenGL render. Use panoramic JPEG and PNG images as backgrounds as well as HDRI. Speed enhancements in full screen preview rendering and various UI improvements mean Renderworks is easier to work with than ever before.

Create Stage Improvements

Site Modelling Improvements

User Experience Improvements

Slab Improvements

Database Worksheet Improvements

Horizontal Sections from Clip Cube

Visualisation Techniques

Roof Components and Styles

Door and Window Improvements

Greater control over windows and doors including multiple glazing settings, new louvre settings, ‘span-wall’ window feature and other minor enhancements within the UI.


3D PDF Export

Easily export simple or detailed PDFs of your model for clients or collaborators. This incredibly useful feature can save time, reduce in-person meetings and means it’s no longer necessary to go to an external application for this functionality.

DXF DWG Improvements

Improvements to DXF & DWG exporting mean it’s now possible to store mappings and settings of classes to meet external requirements. Save one set of mappings and reduce time on every subsequent export.



Hardscape Improvements

Improvements to paving tools, allowing multiple gradients in hard surfaces and variable heights for kerbs and borders increase Vectorworks Landscape 2016‘s usefulness for users creating external environments.

Hoist Tool

The new hoist tool for Spotlight and Designer users allows hoists to feature as specific hoist objects within drawings and with associated settings – making them easier to create and edit.

Creating Killer Visuals with ZBrush and KeyShot

(Level: Advanced)

Guest presenter and 3D Artist, Andy Jones, breaks down the process of going from ZBrush to KeyShot, showing how to level up your texture game with tips, tricks and techniques to create absolutely killer visuals. This is expected to fill up quickly so grab your spot fast. In this webinar:

  • Background and experience
  • Prepping your mind and model
  • KeyShot textures and materials
  • Lighting setup in KeyShot
  • Renders options and output
  • Tips, tricks, and techniques
  • Q&A


Thursday 6th August, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM BST

Best CAD/3D Programs for Mac

This is a pretty open question but we thought we’d give it a go. There are a tonne of questions you will need to ask yourself before it’s even worth looking at a package; we’ll try to break it down a little here. It’s worth noting that some packages (such as AutoCAD LT) are 2D only, whilst most others can produce 2D and 3D work. Many people think ‘CAD’ means ‘AutoCAD’, whereas AutoCAD is simply one of the best known product brands in the market. In reality, AutoCAD is only best suited in certain scenarios and other applications are worth considering for the best functionality and budget match.

What type of work are you undertaking?

  • Basic 2D drawings
    Consider: TurboCAD for Mac, Rhino for Mac (2D & 3D), AutoCAD LT Mac.
  • Planning a house/extension (enthusiast level)
    Consider: TurboCAD, Sketchup (& Sketchup Pro).
  • Professional Interior Design / Architecture
    Consider: Sketchup Pro, Vectorworks Fundamentals or Architect, AutoCAD for Mac, Cinema4D Visualise, Modo.
  • Furniture Design (Non-complex surfaces) /Kitchen Design
    Consider: Sketchup Pro, Vectorworks Fundamentals, Modo.
  • Product & Industrial Design / Furniture Design
    Consider: Rhino for Mac, Cinema4D (Prime/Visualise), Moi 3D, Modo.
  • Engineering Drawings
    Consider: AutoCAD LT, TurboCAD for Mac


The Applications

TurboCAD for Mac
A cheap program best suited to infrequent users. TurboCAD for Mac offers functionality similar in many respects to AutoCAD but with a much smaller user base.

Pros: Cheap
Cons: Not easy to get started with. Limited documentation and user-community. Features not as robust as other packages.


Sketchup (& Sketchup Pro)

Sketchup offers a free version (Sketchup Make) for non-commercial use. It shares much of the basic functionality of the pro version but lacks the import/export options, certain pro-tools and the significant ‘Layout’ application – which is extremely powerful for producing 2D visuals for clients, planning applications, brochures etc. The user base for Sketchup is enormous and the wealth of plugins available is considerable. Sketchup Pro is around £500 inc. VAT, making it a little expensive for enthusiasts but one of the most cost-effective 3D programs for professional use.

Pros: Low price, huge user base, plenty of third party addons available, free resources in the 3D Warehouse [ Pro: BIM functionality for professional architectural users, powerful Layout application included, import/export in AutoCAD formats ]
Cons: Poor handling of complex surfaces, no 2D interaction when creating/editing models. 3D warehouse files often poorly built and can cause crashes.


Vectorworks (Fundamentals / Architect / Spotlight / Landmark)

Vectorworks comes in various flavours – with Fundamentals being the entry level package. Vectorworks has been used by Architects on Mac for a very long time. It remains one of the most popular architectural packages and possibly the most popular for Mac.

Pros: Proven track record on Mac. Specific versions include powerful tools for the specific industry (Architect – architecture/interior design, Spotlight – event/exhibition/public venue design, Landmark – landscape design, urban design). Works with AutoCAD file formats. Wide user base.
Cons: Pricier than other options – £1100 – £2500.


Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is a solid modeller with a firm foothold in 3D design for broadcast/TV and architectural visualisation. It has a professional interface, is robust and its users are often very enthusiastic evangelists of the software. Its popularity is less than, say, Sketchup, but it remains well used and well documented. It comes in a basic form, known as Prime, but also comes as Cinema 4D Broadcast, Cinema 4D Visualise and Cinema 4D Studio (all packages combined).

Pros: Cost effective entry level package. Great track record on Mac. Visualise includes great rendering software. Support for polygonal and NURBS modelling.
Cons: Limited plugins. Costlier than some options.



A superb all-rounder, Modo offers a modelling interface similar to Cinema4D or 3DS Max (Windows) and importantly bundles modelling, animation and rendering in one. This makes it one of the most cost effective packages available for Mac.

Pros: Solid, tool-rich application. Animation and rendering included.
Cons: Smaller user base than some applications. High quality surface modelling (NURBS) available as a plugin.


Rhino for Mac

The version of Rhino for Mac captures most of the proven functionality of the Windows version and is arguably the most cost-effective professional 3D modeller for Mac available. Currently there some features yet to be released to bring parity with the Windows version and plugins are not currently supported. Nevertheless, for a high quality surface modeller with powerful 2D and 3D capabilities, it is extremely good value.

Pros: Extremely cost-effective. Large user base. Polygonal and NURBS modelling.
Cons: No plugins yet. Some limitations on features currently available in Windows.

MoI 3D

MoI (Moment of Inspiration) is a lightweight modeller with similar principles to Rhino. It was in fact created by a former Rhino developer. MoI is a competent 3D modeller with a simple interface – ideal for users wishing to create organic shapes without the complex interface or cost of some of the other applications here.

Pros: Low cost, competent 3D modeller. Simple interface.
Cons: Fewer options than other applications. Simple interface.


At the time of writing, we’re making recommendations based on Mac OS X 10.10+. Beware of expecting too much from a Macbook or Macbook Pro in 3D terms or older iMacs; check your machine against minimum specs for the software before investing. A Macbook Pro with 8Gb RAM and an Intel AMD HD graphics card can run out of puff on complex models quite quickly.

New V-Ray for Rhino Update

A new V-Ray for Rhino update is available. It includes some important bug fixes and changes to the plugin:

  • An issue with Material updates is now fixed.
  • Material previews in “Rendered” display mode are now faster.
  • Improved stability when detaching from a work session.
  • Fixed VFB and mouse freeze.
  • Removed bug which led to large files crashing BatchRender.
  • File loading is optimized and much faster.
  • V-Ray displacement uses less memory and is faster.
  • Added support for HDRLS 5. Painting lights in a scene is easier than ever. Support for HDRLS 4.0 is still available.
  • Newly optimized “ignore objects” code to improve diamond rendering.

Download Update.

New Features in VisualARQ 1.9 – Webinar

Join Francesc Salla, VisualARQ Product Manager, for a fast-paced and exciting demonstration of VisualARQ 1.9. (in English). The webinar will show an overview of VisualARQ 1.9 and will focus on the latest new features and enhancements, including:

  • IFC Import & Export
  • IFC Tag and Export options
  • New Plan View features
  • New Slab object features
  • New way to insert doors and windows
  • New Curtain wall features.
  • Create columns from 3D and 2D blocks
  • Overview of VisualARQ Grasshopper Components WIP IV

Who is this webinar aimed at?

  • VisualARQ users: new and existing users
  • Rhino users working in architectural models
  • Architects interested in the BIM workflow VisualARQ adds to Rhino, and the comunication with Revit through IFC file format.

The webinar is free and will last about about 1 hour, including the Q & A session.

Register Now

Wednesday 8th July 2015
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM BST


Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood with MODO 901

Ingenuity Studios put MODO 901 through its paces, along with HIERO, MARI, NUKE and NUKE STUDIO to bring pop megastar, Taylor Swift’s latest video to life.

On May 17, at 8:00 p.m., the Billboard Music Awards rocked pop culture with the premier of one of the most anticipated videos of the year, Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.” Within 24 hours, the video broke the Vevo world record, with 20.1 million views.

While Taylor heavily promoted the video on Twitter in the weeks leading up to the Billboard Awards, the team at Ingenuity Studios methodically (and slightly feverishly) pounded away, creating the visual effects behind this film-noir style video. From trons to explosions to the London sky-line, Ingenuity Studios put MODO 901 through its paces, along with HIERO, MARI, NUKE and NUKE STUDIO, to create what Forbes Magazine called “an action-packed epic, and a major production by anyone’s standards.”

Read the full article here…