Can I import to Blender..?

When working architectural visualisation projects for yourself or others you will have some kind of starting material and in most cases you will need to import something into Blender. There are lots of ways to start a project and I will try to cover them here.

One option is modeling outside Blender, then importing and using Blender for texturing and rendering. I am thinking here about people used to cad and other software from the architectural field – usually commercial software – who are trying to test and get a feel of Blender. I realised over time that modeling in Blender is a better choice for the overall work flow. However, making the switch can be difficult so people might give Blender a try this way first. One format that imports well is .3ds from Autocad and Sketchup-pro. Obj and Collada .dae also work.

When building the model in Blender, one common scenario in architectural visualisation is having to use a 2d cad file as a starting point for the project, usually an Autocad dwg file made by someone else ( hopefully a paying client 🙂 )

There are two ways to get the 2d reference into Blender:

a. You can put it on a plane as a raster image and scale it to size. This is really easy to do, you don’t have to clean and prepare the file, the plane does not add much to the blend file, the reference looks exactly as in the cad software, with lines in different colors or weights. On the down side, being just an image you can’t snap to it if you are going for precision.

b. You can import the 2d drawing as a mesh. This requires preparing the file which can get a bit time consuming depending on the project. The imported result will not retain color information so it might be a bit difficult to read. According to the complexity and size of the cad file you could also get an object with a big vertex count. The big advantage though, you can snap to it and maybe even use some parts in the model.

I successfully used the image on plane method but there were some cases in which I could have used actual parts of the drawing as objects.