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3D Home Planning Software?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the virtual-furniture-moving dept.

Graphics 73

thorar asks: "I'm willing to move to another flat in town (or to restructure the one I'm currently living in). I'd like to create a detailed map of the apartment to study alternatives without much pencil and paper, possibly with appropriate furniture and 3D rendering. I'm not an expert in Studio Max nor similar softwares. I'd like something as simple as IKEA Kitchen Planner, but all Google serches lead to some software suite that looks unprofessional or Windows95-stylish. What would you use?" There are numerous commercial alternatives for such an application, but is there anything like this available via Open Source?

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73 comments

I used POV-Ray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11871570)

It renders pics quite well.

Re:I used POV-Ray (2, Informative)

idiotfromia (657688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871716)

It's not smooth around the edges, but I'd try Moray [stmuc.com] . It's a modeling program that can use POV-Ray to render the images. Just create rough shapes in the size of your furniture and drag them around the room. The more time you spend, the better looking and detailed you can make the furniture.

Re:I used POV-Ray (2, Informative)

Kismet (13199) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871892)

POV-Ray is great for rendering images if you want a nice picture (and have the time to play with textures and lighting). However, POV-Ray is not great for modelling because it only supports its own scripting language natively. I doubt anyone would want to script their house-plans in POV-Ray SDL.

Others have suggested Moray, which is a CAD-like modelling program meant to be used with POV-Ray. It isn't free like POV-Ray is, but it is inexpensive, and well worth the price. Still, even Moray isn't the greatest CAD software, and it only runs in Windows right now (I tried Wine, but I couldn't get it to work).

Or for the mac... (2, Interesting)

Teancom (13486) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871594)

I went searching for something like this just last week, and didn't really find anything. I ended up going with a tract home where I'm picking from one of 10 different floor plans, but if I had gone custom, it would have been illustrator or nothing...

Lots of Mac CAD options (4, Informative)

green pizza (159161) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872352)

Illustrator isn't so bad with this plugin: http://www.hotdoor.com/CADtools [hotdoor.com]

But there are better options:
Microspot Interiors, etc [microspot.co.uk]
Sketchup [sketchup.com]
VectorWorks 11.5 [nemetschek.net]
Form*Z [formz.com]
PowerCADD [engsw.com]
VersaCAD [versacad.com]
Cadintosh [lemkesoft.de]

But there is no current Mac version of AutoCAD, Pro/E, or Microstation. Bad news if you're planning on designing a new aircraft carrier on your new Mac Mini...

Re:Lots of Mac CAD options (1)

Teancom (13486) | more than 9 years ago | (#11873595)

Well, I should have said that I was actually looking for what the op explicetly wasn't: something along the lines of 3D Home Architect, where there's a lot more handholding and templates. *shrug* Didn't find any of those, saw most of what you listed off. But I got the kind of software I'm thinking of for $40 on Windows a few years ago, and those are all in the multiple hundreds. No big deal.

Re:Lots of Mac CAD options (0)

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Re:Lots of Mac CAD options (0)

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the most free/popular building design software (3, Insightful)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871700)

Radiant [qeradiant.com] .

Widely supported, runs in Windows and Linux, has a huge community behind it, and I'm sure a little digging will turn up plenty of furniture for your lev^B^B^Bhome.

Re:the most free/popular building design software (2, Interesting)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871789)


This is a game level editor and visualizaer. I'm sure the modelling is strong, at least for primitives, but the focus on real time effects may make things like lighting effects suffer.

Re:the most free/popular building design software (2, Interesting)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872255)

From the posted question:
I'd like to create a detailed map of the apartment to study alternatives without much pencil and paper, possibly with appropriate furniture and 3D rendering.

If you want realistic lighting then go with something like POVRay or Yafray (yafray blows my mind with its realism). Radiant will give him some 2D plans to work with as well as letting him walk around in the rooms with some idea of flow. Perhaps a level written to run in the HL2 engine or Doom 3 engine would give you better lighting effects.

Re:the most free/popular building design software (4, Funny)

cgenman (325138) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872960)

Exactly. And how else would you find choke points in your house when you get swarmed by the undead?

I like to keep my respawn in the bathroom. That way I have an excuse to spawn camp.

Re:the most free/popular building design software (1)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 9 years ago | (#11874807)

I actually used to use the old Build Engine's level editor [build.exe that came with Duke Nukem 3D] to create 3d rooms and buildings. It works, not as intuitive as Lightwave, AutoCAD, or another 3d modeling app., but it works. That being said, try just getting a 2d CAD program and using a top-down view. You can get cheap ones in jewel cases on racks in stores like K-Mart for 2.50-10.00 USD, and I remember actually seeing something labeled 'home design' there. Many are older/lower end SoftKey [mindscape.co.uk] titles. Example:

http://salestores1.com/soswkdece3ds.html [salestores1.com]

Just go to IKEA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11871701)

Unless you are gay, or have gay friends that will do your apartment for you. The ideas IKEA has in it's showrooms will be far better looking then anything anything you can come up with.

Re:Just go to IKEA (2, Funny)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871731)

Yes, but only with Radiant will you ever be able to test the defensibility of your new home design.

Only on Slashdot (2, Funny)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871715)

Only on slashdot would someone be requesting software to perform a task that any woman would do for free or actually pay you to do. Next on Ask Slashdot: "Can someone recommend an open-source software tool that assists me in selecting shoes?"

GMD

Re:Only on Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11872170)

shut the fuck up, GayMannDude

This wants a +1 Insightful (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11873784)

Only on slashdot would someone be requesting software to perform a task that any woman would do for free or actually pay you to do.
Too true. It's hard work keeping my missus from constantly fiddling with plans and even real furniture. It's worse than new clothes for some of them.

Which morons modded the parent down? Repent! Or get married, and learn what women are really all about. (-:

Re:Only on Slashdot (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11874395)

"Can someone recommend an open-source software tool that assists me in selecting shoes?"

Try:

perl -e 'print "Go with the cheap ones.\n"'

Re:Only on Slashdot (1)

phallstrom (69697) | more than 9 years ago | (#11881950)

As someone who suffers from flat feet, let me just say that the one place you shouldn't scrimp is on your feet. Think about how much weight is on your feet all day long.

Scrimp on shirts and pants, but buy good solid comfortable shoes for your feet.

Re:Only on Slashdot (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11883804)

132.5 lbs per foot.

Luckily, I've done alright with cheap dress shoes for a few years now, though I'm about due for a new pair.

Moray (3, Informative)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871723)

I went for cheap and just downloaded Moray. I plugged in accurate measurements, added a few simple textures, and could imagine the space easily. Traced out in POVRay, the pictures are pretty and cost zippo.

You'll have to find good models for your smaller items, if you want to use models. I didn't use them. There are plenty of models for Pov-Ray, but not a lot for dedicated to Moray. I haven't looked into that side of it much. However, building your basic nighttable/bed/lamp is easy in CSG, just for verifying that your space will fill as you imagine.

Space planning and room "look" was very nice with this, and very quick, since Moray has some crude group tools. Sadly, it doesn't seem to do low-level renderings (non-reflective,etc) and the CSG Evals are still only wireframe (and messy on big pics). Your quickest bet for POV speed is smaller pictures, which are useless.

Export the scene text, plug the camera math into a "clock" POVRay variable and you can spit out a directory of frames, with pretty good quality, overnight on most machines/scenes. There's a cl MPG builder to link them up, allowing for frame pauses and other simple tricks. This gives nice walkthroughs.

It is more labor intensive than the pro tools available, but it costs nothing. You learn a simple modeller, and with POV-Ray you can raytrace shiny things to your heart's content.

Re:Moray (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11872157)

Screw all that crappy, hard to use stuff.

Wings 3D [wings3d.com] and Yafray [yafray.org] are what you want.

3D Software (1)

miyako (632510) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871725)

You shouldn't really need to be an expert with 3D software to approximate a new layout. Basically most furniture that people have can be approximated by various sized rectangles anyway.
The biggest challenge is going to be that your going to need some pretty close approximations of the sizes of all of the stuff in your house, within the nearest half a foot or so. Depending on how you plan to lay stuff out, you might find that you need something even more accurate. With this in mind, your biggest problem might be just getting accurate approximate measurements of all of the things in your house, and keeping to that scale when you put things into the program.

The Sims or The Sims 2 (4, Interesting)

Nighttime (231023) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871726)

I know that a lot of people don't bother to play with their Sims but rather prefer to use the game as a house design tool.

Granted that the grid-based system that The Sims employs for house design means you cannot get an exact scale model of a property. However, you do get a variety of different furniture items with the game and it is possible to design and import your own wallpapers and floor coverings.

Re:The Sims or The Sims 2 (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11873526)

I was going to mention this myself, the wife being an avid Sims player. As mentioned, the grid system makes it difficult to get anything better than an approximation of size and space, but I found that using the furniture pieces as a base to work everything else around worked pretty well.

Regardless, we had fun messing around with the layouts for what is now our new house, and it was a lot easier than trying to do it all in my head.

Haven't really had a chance to mess around with Sims 2 yet,but it looks like you'd get more latitude with it.

Re:The Sims or The Sims 2 (1)

TeeJS (618313) | more than 9 years ago | (#11880076)

Yea - I just actually did this to help my wife and myself visualize an addition we're working on. The big thing to remember is that their furniture is NOT to scale, so don't use it as the only guide for how big your space needs to be.

Duke Nukem 3D (1)

Oen_Seneg (673357) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871733)

In about 1998, the "Computer Life" (no longer published, but it was the best PC magazine ever, with everything from the latest screensavers to modding an exercise bike to play doom) magazine ran an article about doing this with the Duke 3D level editor. I don't have the magazine/cd still, or I'd scan in the article and upload the level files, but you mioght find something if you google long enough.

Jordans (5, Informative)

AlexisKai (114768) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871738)

Jordan's Furniture has an online room layout program [jordans.com] . In theory it's designed so you lay out a room and then get advice about it from Jordan's, but that didn't prevent me from creating a 2D representation of my entire apartment, sizing furniture to match my own, and dragging things around for hours. Even though it's Web-based, you can save multiple layouts and come back to them months later.

The Sims (0, Redundant)

Fred Nerk (128328) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871742)

I'm being completely serious. The Sims 2 lets you build an apartment and place lots of furniture wherever you like. You can then have people walk around it and see how efficient the layout is.

Sims 2 is fully 3D so you can get a proper look around as well.

Re:The Sims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11876023)

If I had mod points I would mod you up. I thought I was the only one who did this. I am always using the Sims to make design plans for my home...

There's Quake mapping tools (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11871958)

These are actually quite good for mapping buildings. Quark [planetquake.com] is quite good. But yeah, I would recommend against using 3ds max. I just spent a day modelling a japanese house for the LessShift [freeartfoundation.org] project. Such a pain in the arse. Even people who are good at 3ds max probably find it a dog to work with.

Re-evaluate your criteria (5, Interesting)

Wwolmack (731212) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872010)

"I'd like something as simple as IKEA Kitchen Planner, but all Google serches lead to some software suite that looks unprofessional or Windows95-stylish."

You're doing something on a non-professional level, and expect professional level results on the cheap? I don't think its going to happen.

You could use some fancy 3d modeling program, but it sounds like all you really need is pencil and paper:
1. Draw out a floorplan. Its not that hard, just use graph paper. You were going to measure it out anyways (RIGHT?).
2. Make photocopies of the floorplan. These are to come up with layout ideas on.
3. Sketch or take photographs of the area, maybe move some furniture around so you mostly see the walls.
4. Photocopy the sketchs/photos, and draw over them so you can get an idea what it would look like furnished.

Pencil and paper are great tools, you shouldn't be so quick to discount them just because some program exists. They've been around for a long time, so there must be some advantages to using them.

The majority of people who probably use home design software are probably not OSS geeks. I'm willing to bet a lot of them are (gasp!) interior designers, landscapers, and architects. Hell, they just might still use Windows 95.

In any case, here are two possible candidates.
http://www.imsisoft.com/prodinfo.asp?t=1&mcid=244& cid= [imsisoft.com]

https://secure.chiefarchitect.com/xcarthd/customer /home.php [chiefarchitect.com]

Re:Re-evaluate your criteria (2, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 9 years ago | (#11874101)

I second this.

Using a computer here is a real crutch. At least in the way you want. Pen & paper will save you gobs of time.

For lamps, TVs, computers, phones, etc, make sure you have the measurements for the power and network lines. Nothing worse than having a perfect layout only to discover that your phone is all the way across the room because that's the only jack.

If you want to be real geeky, use HalfLife2 and create a level of your apartment. Furniture won't be that hard and you walk around and get a feel for it. If you enable physics and tweak them a bit, you could even move furniture around inside the level.

Take pictures of your floor, walls, celing, couches, etc in order to texture everything properly.

You could probably do a HL2 level of your apartment in a few days.

P&P would take an hour.

Re:Re-evaluate your criteria (1)

Carik (205890) | more than 9 years ago | (#11878051)

Another worthwhile thing to try:

1) Draw a floorplan. Make sure your dimensions are accurate.
2) On a seperate page, draw your furniture.
3) Cut the furniture out. Then you can try a lot of different layouts with minimum waste. When you've got what you want, tape the cutouts to the floorplan.

I've found it to be better than almost any other option.

Re:Re-evaluate your criteria (1)

Don'tTreadOnMe (686201) | more than 9 years ago | (#11878087)

After you have your copy on the gridded paper, you can make little cardboard cutouts of your furniture, to scale, and then slide those around to see how they work on the plan.

Like the parent says: Sometimes a low-tech solution just works better. Of course, the geek quotient is pretty low, unless you use your computer guided cutting tool to make the cardboard furniture profiles.

Re:Re-evaluate your criteria (1)

SnowCzar (726517) | more than 9 years ago | (#11880980)

You're doing something on a non-professional level, and expect professional level results on the cheap? I don't think its going to happen.

Nah, [kernel.org] that [mozilla.org] could [openoffice.org] never [mysql.com] happen. [winscp.com]

3D Home Architect (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11872190)

Not sure if it's still made and it's not free, but I've used 3D Home Architect in the past. It does exactly what you want. DON'T use level editors.

Re:3D Home Architect (1)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872330)

3D Home Architect is indeed a fun program and does exactly what the poster wants, except there are the words "Open" and "Source" with the question.

Such as strong statement against level editors. What's wrong with them?

Re:3D Home Architect (2, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872756)

Um, no there isn't. The original poster made no restrictions on whether or not the product is open source. The little open source comment is outside the italics so it was made by the editor. IE this is /., so the words open source have to be thrown around everywhere, even when they don't matter.

Doom! ;-) (1)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872222)

Please, do not laugh, but I do remember that there was an archtecture department in one of the colleges which relied on Doom engine to visualize walk-through the building. Perhaps now in the 21st century Quake is more appropriate (will give you true 3D view, not 2.5D like Doom did).

Paul B.

Lego (0, Flamebait)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872747)

I've done the same thing and by far the slowest and most difficult tool is 3D CAD. The easiest and fastest tool, quicker even than pen and paper, is Lego.

By the way, it's "Lego". Note the absence of a terminal 's'. Lego is the name of the system. The individual pieces are known as "bricks", There are no such things as "Legos". Ask the Lego Corporation if you fail to understand this.

Once more for those too stupid to understand: The word is "Lego". There is no such word as "Legos". If you say "Legos" you just make yourself sound poorly educated.

Re:Legos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11872955)

Wow. Parent either works for the Lego Corporation or he's not getting enough quality playtime. When I was a kid, I played with Legos [sic]. My bricks were 12" x 6" x 3" and made of cardboard. Both were fun, but I didn't have any trouble telling them apart.

Newsflash: The English language is not defined by teachers, dictionaries or corporations. Instead, it is defined by the common folks who speak it. If you have a problem with that, then I just have one thing to say to you: Lego my language, brick head.

Re:Lego (0, Flamebait)

CTalkobt (81900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11873538)

>> By the way, it's "Lego". Note the absence of a terminal 's'. Lego is the name of the system. The individual pieces are known as "bricks", There are no such things as "Legos". Ask the Lego Corporation if you fail to understand this.

You say yugo, I say legos. Get a grip man. This is being english pedantic way too much.

Ain't no coporation gunna tell I what not 2 speak. (THere, have fun on that. )

Re:Lego (1)

CTalkobt (81900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11877012)

I'll remove the Karma Bonus on this posting so as to keep it off the main thread but I'm curious as to the rating of the above message. Somebody criticizes spelling and isn't moderated as flamebait. I call them on it and it's flamebait.

Odd.

I don't really care about my Karma - it'll be what it wants to be ( good ) but I do get peeved over idiots moderating. (Hmm, it'd be nice to have a reply to anonymous moderators function so I could grumble to them instead of on the main thread).

Re:Lego (1)

Spamlent Green (461276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11877080)

If you want to split hairs, there's no such word as Lego either. "Lego" is as much made up as "Legos." Just because some trademark attorney would like us to believe it doesn't make it so.

I can remember reading this piece of bogus corporate PR on a Lego brochure when I was a kid. Something to the effect of: "Parents, when referring to Lego-brand construction blocks, please make sure your children say 'Mother, I would like ever so much to play with my Lego-brand construction blocks, please'".

I knew it was a load of BS then just as it is now.

Legos. Legos. Legos.

Re:Lego (1)

ponos (122721) | more than 9 years ago | (#11878535)

please make sure your children say 'Mother, I would like ever so much to play with my Lego-brand construction blocks, please'".
Maybe "Legos" is a terrible insult in Mongolia or some other country. Or, quite possibly, "Legos" is a trademark for some sex-related product used in Africa. Being a multi-national company they have to think about that stuff, too.

P.

Re:Lego (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11877325)

Lego is cool but it is difficult to get fine measurements unless you have an absolute assload of bricks. 2D CAD representations can easily be made into 3D representations by extruding them. 2D cad representations are easy to work with if you understand how to use the tool.

As for your lego rant, I've been playing with Lego bricks since I was a little kid, and the colloquial use has always been "Legos". I still have a pile of them, and I still call them Legos. Saying "Lego Bricks" is too cumbersome, and saying "Playing with Lego" makes me feel like I should pronounce the TM. I clearly am not as worried as you are about trademarks.

Re:Lego (1)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 9 years ago | (#11884056)

"Legos" is only colloquial use in the US, i.e. it's not used at all in the rest of the English speaking world. The same as with "nucular" (and we know what we think of people who say "nucular" don't we?).

On more serious matters, you're spot on about having to have quite a lot of bricks. Especially if you're designing a large house, ha ha. For simplicity's sake (and to avoid the need for lots of expensive nonstandard pieces) its best to build to a scale where a standard 4x2 lego brick equates to a standard housebrick. That way you can easily substitute the cheaper knock-offs which can be bought by the bucket load from Toys R Us. If the purpose is just to be able to visualize the 3D layout, you don't need to worry too much about putting in door and window frames etc. You're not trying to win any prizes; plain holes will do.

Sierra's home architect (1)

Goeland86 (741690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872773)

Ok, so my mom wanted something like that just a few years back. Turns out that Sierra has a product suite for $30 called Home Architect. You can recreate your entire house easily. I'm a blender adept, but for something look for that thing. It's got fairly comprehensive tutorials, many templates and you can take digital pictures of your furniture and have your existing home in place to later modify and experiment with. Hope this helps. It works on windows XP. I might try it on wine, but since I still have an XP box at home, I just let my mom use that.

a number of non-free options (5, Informative)

NaturePhotog (317732) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872833)

I recently designed an addition to our house. (It's currently in to the city for design review and building permits). I tried a number of software options, including Punch! Pro [punchsoftware.com] and Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer [homedesignersoftware.com] . The latter is produced by Chief Architect [chiefarchitect.com] that makes the professional level Chief Architect series -- heavy-duty stuff, even more than I needed to make permit-ready quality drawings.

Punch! Pro and BH&G Home Designer are each $100 or less, and even those are probably overkill for what you need for redesigning an apartment, but either would get the job done. I settled on BH&G Home Designer (the Pro version, about $500, because it had features I needed for the design approval and permit process). Both have some annoying aspects, but are pretty easy to use to lay out a house or other building. Punch! Pro is probably the easier to use of the two, but BH&G Designer is more powerful, and produces nicer-looking overall results and particularly nicer-looking 3D renderings. The 3D renderings part was important for me not for the design and permit process, but because my wife has a harder time visualizing things in 3D, and the renderings I could create with BH&G Home Designer let me easily show her what different design changes would mean.

One definite advantage that Punch! Pro has is that it lets you design your own 3D objects, which is nice for rendering a particular fixture or piece of furniture that's not included in the library. Making your own objects is definitely harder than just drawing a house, though. And that's where a fair number of the quirks in Punch! Pro reside -- the 3D custom workshop where you create your own objects.

All that said, I'd be interested in hearing about any open source alternatives as the follow-on question by Cliff asks. I've learned enough in the process of designing my own addition (and rendering the current house) that I'd be interested in contributing to an open source program of this nature, too.

Party Planner Software (2, Informative)

astrojetsonjr (601602) | more than 9 years ago | (#11872961)

You might want to try Party planner [hufsoft.com] From the site: You can use PartyCAD to design parties, weddings, banquets, conferences, meetings, trade shows and mall shows. You can also design stores, residential interiors, offices and libraries. In fact, you will find that the package is flexible enough to design nearly any space.

I've used an earlier version of this to do office and house layouts. There is a 30 day demo version available.

Trash Paper (3, Interesting)

digitect (217483) | more than 9 years ago | (#11873096)

I'm an architect and my best tool is trace paper and a pencil.

We have a full blown suites of AutoDesk software, but in early design phases you want to explore ideas so quickly that no software is going to react as quickly as sketches suggesting what your brain is thinking. That's the trick. Depicting reality before you've considered the possibilities locks you in, it restricts what your mind can consider. Once you're confident of having tested all kinds of crazy approaches, then you can start trying to depict it. Using light scribbles still keeps it fuzzy and flexible enough until you've worked out the next level of design.

What then? If you want to waste a lot of time learning software, by all means use CAD. That can help you build a scale and measurable model that can be dimensioned and taken off for construction quantities. I've been using CAD for 16 years now and it is certainly my tool of choice for drafting. (As opposed to the old ink on bond/vellum/mylar.)

After that, you might want to use some sort of visualization software. I've used Max and Vis, but have been learning to use Blender lately and find it can do just as well. (Plus it's Free! And multi-platform.)

But you are going to spend weeks and months coming up to speed on software when you could much more easily draw some scaled drawings that will do just as well. Remember, it's only been the last twenty years that *any* building has been digitally rendered... there is quite a bit of architecture accomplished without it.

I learned in school that you can't draft what your mind hasn't yet conceived. Drawing is a tool to help you see, to explore something that doesn't exist yet and to consider it's properties on your own terms. Of course it might be fun to make a huge solid block in Blender and slowly carve it away into a room. But it's certainly not the easiest!

Hope that helps.

Re:Trash Paper (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11877282)

Okay, so I'm no architect, but I've used autocad a bit and it seems to me that while doing an initial sketch is faster on paper, there are two things you're forgetting. First, drawing an attractive sketch is hard, especially if it's not all straight lines. Sketching as it is used in drafting is a learned skill, even discounting stuff like labeling rules which are not important in this application since no one else has to read it.

On the other hand, you certainly CAN sketch in autocad, and for me it's faster than paper. Turn on a grid snap, and lay out your basics, then the power of the computer becomes apparent because you can resize and move things - not possible on paper. You can make cutouts of furniture and draw everything to scale, but using autocad (or similar) will simply take care of that for you.

You may be used to generating several high-quality sketches that are worth looking at, but I think the average person would do better to use a drawing program. Granted, it might be closer to visio than autocad, whose interface is less than friendly.

Re:Trash Paper (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11883100)

First, drawing an attractive sketch is hard,

Forget "attractive". Sketches are only hard if you're doing them wrong. The whole point of sketching is that you do it quickly, with really simple shapes. You seem to be reading the word "sketch" and substituting "artist's rendering", which is not what he was talking about.

Re:Trash Paper (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11883795)

If you had taken a drafting class, you would have learned that there are rules for "proper" sketching. I was operating under the assumption that he was discussing the draftsman's concept of sketches. Perhaps faulty, but he did talk about drafting. And, I am not talking about an artist's rendering, which these days is often just prepared from a 3d model anyway.

What the guy needs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11877940)

The guy needs something that will actually help him design. He probably doesn't have great visualization skills and needs to be shown what things look like. He also needs something to tell him how much things will cost. Paper and pencil probably won't do.

Rather than diving into design using whatever tools, he would be much better off doing research. He should page through magazines and find stuff he likes. He should go to open houses and take notes. Once he has a clear idea of what really excites him then the design will almost do itself. On the other hand, if he insists on doing the design straight out of his own mind, he probably won't like the results. In that case he would probably be better off getting something 'off the rack' as it were (ie. shamelessly copy).

Since when is looking Windows-95ish. . . (2, Insightful)

munpfazy (694689) | more than 9 years ago | (#11873770)

. . . a reason not to use software?

Surely the decision to make one-time use of free software for performing a quantitative task in a non-professional environment ought to be made based on something other than whether it comes with super-nifty 3D shadowed buttons in your favorite candy-apple color.

I say, give those windows95ish program a try, and don't ask for alternatives until you've found them lacking in function rather than style.

Besides, just think of all the fun you can have with those extra cpu cycles that won't be wasted drawing pretty pictures around the border of your software.

Open Source home designer (1)

sessamoid (165542) | more than 9 years ago | (#11874379)

For an open source home designer, I think it would be a grand idea if somebody were to base one on one of the quake engines that have been open-sourced. It seems that the ideal engine to use would be the Q3 engine once id software GPLs the source (which ought to happen some time this year). Since there's already an open-source GUI designing tool, it sounds perfect.

I'd do it, but I'm not a coder. :(

Try this (1)

realkiwi (23584) | more than 9 years ago | (#11875238)

http://www.cycas.de/

The free limited Linux version is all I have ever needed up till now. I am about to design a hous for my family so we will see how it goes.

Re:Try this (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11896709)

I've been using Cycas some on my Suse box. It's not the most intuitive interface, and the documentation translation to English isn't as good as it could be, but with very little 3D CAD experience (virtually none), I got a simple drawing of our master bedroom, bathroom, and an addition we were going to put on the house. I couldn't get stairs figured out, though there's a staircase generator (the documentation is poor here), and a few other things were a pain. Still, for general visualization it did well enough. I feel that if I spoke more German, I'd really be able to work well with it.

There are a couple of tutorials built in that more or less get you to the goals you want for basic drawing. Don't expect too much, and plan on figuring out what they mean rather than what they say in a few places. Overall, though, the self-guided tutorials are worthwhile.

Why use a computer at all? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11875325)

A few years back I tried all the different specialized applications and even experimented with CAD software.

In the end I used models build using Lego. Accurate upto 5cm in my models, which was good enough.

My parents are now using cut-out paper models to plan the furniture rearrangements of their new home. Use sticky notes for the furniture if you want to keep your designs ;)

Unless you want perfect lighting/coloring preview and are willing to put in the huge effort, I'd just go with models you can drag around with your own hands; it's a LOT faster and more flexible to experiment with.

Been there before (1)

Koyaanisqatsi (581196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11876324)

I once had to re-arrange furniture in a *very* small studio apartment that was shaped more like a long rectangle. I had the space divided with a closet so that one part was TV/soho, and the other was bed area.

I used MS VISIO.

When planning for it what I've done is to setup a detailed (to the mm) floor plant and mark all electricity points, doors, windows, etc.

Next, I would draw a top view of all the furniture pieces, again, detailed to the milimiter.

Then, it was just a matter of dragging/rotating them around in the canvas to play with different setups. Sure it was not as prety as a 3D rendering, but it was very accurate and gave me good insight before I started moving the actual pieces in real world.

just my 0.02 ;)

room arranger (1)

lotsofgadgets (723829) | more than 9 years ago | (#11877344)

I have not actually used this, but I saw it recommended somewhere http://www.roomarranger.com/ It is shareware now, but the older version is freeware.

SketchUp (1)

SoulMaster (717007) | more than 9 years ago | (#11877393)

For a super-cheap, excellent modeller, try SketchUp [sketchup.com] . Cheap to buy, and a 14 day free demo.

We use this tool to concept for our MMORPG (it exports) that is in development, it is incredibly powerful, superfast and so simple, my mother could use it.

In the SketchUp in Action [sketchup.com] section, they have a couple of vids that you might want to check out.

If you are looking for more interior design options, make sure you pull the "components" stuff from thier download section.

Good Luck

Yes, try SketchUp! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11897076)

I can second the recommendation of SketchUp. It works very well, it's pretty easy to pick up, and it looks darn cool. Well worth playing with for the 14-day demo period, if not buying.

BH&G and 3D Architect (1)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 9 years ago | (#11883530)

I had the same problem. I'm moving into a house next month and I would like to "see" how our current furniture fits the house. Over at Amazon, it looks like the two most popular products are Broderbund's 3D Home Architect [amazon.com] and the Better Home & Gardens Designer [amazon.com] .

There is a downloadable demo of 3D Home Architect available online (I'd link to it, but it seems to be slow right now. Just Google for it). I wasn't very impressed with it though.

I don't know if there is a demo of the B&G product, but their web page is here [homedesignersoftware.com] .

Cheapy software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11899981)

Next time you are at the cash register at the computer store, take a look at the rack of cheap software titles that they usually place near the cash registers. They usually cost about $5. When I used to work for software company that made 3D home modeling software, the bulk of their customers came from that rack. Sure the software is usally one or two versions older than the current one, but they will still meet your needs.

boconcept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11951073)

design your house plan with boconcept's design software (free), includes their furniture, and play it with the easier ikea kitchen planner for 3d purposes. They are both fpf files. Works great!
(As long as you add the databaser files to both their databaser folders)
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