✱ Exporting FormZ Models to Lumion

I've been using Lumion (7.5) a lot lately to do fast renderings with heavy entourage because it's a beast of a program for this kind of thing, and it does it all in realtime*. Here is my recipe for exporting my models out of FormZ (8.5/6) so Lumion reads them correctly:

Export to FBX format (the image below indicates where the settings are located):

Form•Z's FBX format export settings. Click to embiggen.

  1. Use Project Units, and set project units accordingly in Lumion. I work in imperial units, and Lumion defaults to metric.
  2. Export as Single Group. This assumes you have assigned colors or materials to your objects in fZ because that's the only thing Lumion cares about.
  3. Choose the Facetted option. I don't know if this matters or not, but I assumed Lumion wouldn't want parametric objects.
  4. Export Visible Layers Only. FYI This is a huge bonus that fZ has over SketchUp. What it does is self-explanatory.
  5. Click the Transformation button to bring up the Export Transformation dialog.
  6. Un-check Flip X
  7. Un-check Inverse Faces.
  8. Scale your model by 2.54 if you are using imperial units, because the FBX importer in Lumion thinks every model is in centimeters by default (you could also do this directly in Lumion after importing).
  9. Keep Fix Smooth Shading checked and set to 40, otherwise Lumion will try to over-smooth everything.

I didn't try to export textures because I do all my texturing in Lumion if possible. I would assume JPEG is the best option if you need materials. By default, fZ is set to TARGA format. Your mileage may vary.

This method worked perfectly for a complex terrain model with lots of additional detail covering a large site area. If you have questions, or a better way to do this, please do so in the comments below.

* if you have a beast of a computer to run it on.

✱ FormZ Fundamentals

Today marks the culmination of months of work and I couldn't be more excited to announce my new course, FormZ Fundamentals, is officially here. I've poured everything I have into this training, and I am proud it's now available to everyone. 

What is FormZ Fundamentals?

FormZ Fundamentals is 6+ hours of video training, and it's designed for both new users who've never opened FormZ and long-time users who want to get better with it. This course will get new users proficient and productive by creating a fantastic foundation with thoughtful explanation of many tools and techniques. And for the already-initiated, it will help develop workflows free of the bad habits other 3d programs sometimes encourage, which only come back later to haunt us designers when project deadlines happen. So if you are already a seasoned FormZ'er, it will make you better. Many of my valuable, personal workflows that I’ve developed over the last 20 years have been integrated into this course.

I’ve taught this program to hundreds of students at Cal Poly Pomona's architecture department and right here on the Method website, but never this succinctly and holistically. You could go scouring around the internet and piece some of it together but that would take a lot of time that you probably don’t have. Here it’s all in one place, where you can learn without a speed limit, and take your skills to the next level. 


My goal is to show you how FormZ can be the design companion that will enable you to build the best 3d models you've ever made, just as it has been for me.


Something I’m doing different in this course is how I’ve set it up for the learner. Instead of doing long-form videos like I have in the past, each of the 16 modules I’ve developed have been split into segments that make it very easy to digest the course in small chunks, or to come back to later and brush-up on a specific skill or tool. Overall, there are 143 video segments that flow seamlessly together to form the entire course. I can’t wait for people to see my course and make their best models yet. 

Throughout the course, I show you why FormZ is arguably one the best tools you can have in your toolbox. As architects and designers continue to move through the 21st century, our reliance on digital tools will not be diminishing — quite the opposite in fact. I believe this is the tool you should be using for the majority of your design work. It’s that good.

So if you’ve never used FormZ and you want to build the 3d models you’ve always dreamed of, or if you’ve used it for years and want to get better, this course is for you. Let me take you step-by-step from the very beginning and show you how to use it without creating any bad habits. Let me show you how powerful the program is. And let me show you how it will make you more valuable and save you time.

I’m excited to teach you how to use FormZ! Check out all the information — including the entire curriculum — on the sales page to find out more, and I hope to see you in class!

✱ Day 7 of 7 — Preview of FormZ Fundamentals — Curriculum Overview

Day 7 — Curriculum Overview

This is the last preview video for FormZ Fundamentals. Each day this week I've shown a small piece of my new course in a video. They gives you a better idea of what the course is about and how I teach it.

Today's video is an overview of the FormZ Fundamentals curriculum. I go through each module in the course and show how you can use the video learning platform to keep track of your progress throughout them. 

This is the last day for the pre-release discount! Make sure you sign up before the price goes up at  11:55pm PDT tonight.

Enroll in the course!

Great news: For a limited time, while this pre-release video series is running, you can use the coupon code METHOD100 at checkout and get $100 off the price of the course. This promotion ends at 11:55pm PDT on April 10, 2017 at which time the price goes back up. The discounted price is reflected when clicking the link above.

✱ Day 6 of 7 — Preview of FormZ Fundamentals — Talking with Rhino

Day 6 — Talking with Rhino

This is the sixth preview video for FormZ Fundamentals. Each day this week I'm showing a small piece of my new course in a video. This will give you a better idea of what the course is about and how I teach it.

Today's video is an introduction and overview of FormZ's Rhino importing capability. Do you already do some or all of your modeling in Rhino? If yes, this shows off how easy it is to continue working on your parametric surfaces inside FormZ. That's right—you can manipulate your Rhino geometry in FormZ with it's powerful NURBS tools without having to go back and forth between the programs. Check out this video from my course and see how easy it is.

Come back tomorrow for another preview video from the course.

Ready to find out more? Read the class curriculum and enroll!

Great news: For a limited time, while this pre-release video series is running, you can use the coupon code METHOD100 at checkout and get $100 off the price of the course. This promotion ends at 11:55pm PDT on April 10, 2017 at which time the price goes back up. The discounted price is reflected when clicking the link above.

✱ Day 5 of 7 — Preview of FormZ Fundamentals — Clipping Planes

Day 5 — Clipping Planes

This is the fifth preview video for FormZ Fundamentals. Each day this week I'm showing a small piece of my new course in a video. This will give you a better idea of what the course is about and how I teach it.

Today's video is an introduction and overview of FormZ's clipping planes. They are a great way to get inside your model so you can do more work in there, or cut away parts for section diagrams. I'm sure there are many more uses but these are the ones I use clipping planes for most often. The clipping plane tools have lots of other options that I cover in the course like animation, automatic hatching of objects, custom color fills where they clip geometry, and more. For now, enjoy this introduction and overview of this powerful tool in the FormZ toolset.

This video builds on other sections of the course and assumes the viewer already knows some of the shortcuts taught earlier.

Come back tomorrow for another preview video from the course.

Ready to find out more? Read the class curriculum and enroll!

Great news: For a limited time, while this pre-release video series is running, you can use the coupon code METHOD100 at checkout and get $100 off the price of the course. This promotion ends at 11:55pm PDT on April 10, 2017 at which time the price goes back up. The discounted price is reflected when clicking the link above.

✱ Day 4 of 7 — Preview of FormZ Fundamentals — Sweep Tool Handrail Example

Day 4 — Sweep Tool — Handrail Example

This is the fourth preview video for FormZ Fundamentals. Each day this week I'm showing a small piece of my new course in a video (usually under 5 minutes long, but not this one). This will give you a better idea of what the course is about and how I teach it.

Today's video is an introduction to FormZ's sweep tool. There's so much that could be said about the power and options of the sweep tool, but this video starts that conversation showing it's most basic functionality and how I use it about 90% of the time. The best part? It's completely parametric—both the source profile and the path being swept. This gives the user the option to easily make changes during and after tool use.

This video builds on other sections of the course and assumes the viewer already knows some of the shortcuts taught earlier.

Come back tomorrow for another preview video from the course.

Ready to find out more? Read the class curriculum and enroll!

Great news: For a limited time, while this pre-release video series is running, you can use the coupon code METHOD100 at checkout and get $100 off the price of the course. This promotion ends at 11:55pm PDT on April 10, 2017 at which time the price goes back up. The discounted price is reflected when clicking the link above.

✱ Day 3 of 7 — Preview of FormZ Fundamentals — Controlled (Parametric) Rounding

Day 3 - Controlled (Parametric) Rounding 

Welcome to the third preview of FormZ Fundamentals. Each day this week I'll be showing a small piece of my actual course in a video that is under 5 minutes long. This will give you a better idea of what the course is about and how I teach it.

Today's video is an introduction to FormZ's controlled rounding tool. While FormZ has regular (destructive) rounding of points, edges, and faces, we also have a tool for parametrically controlling the rounding on objects. What does this mean? It means we can go back later (as I repeatedly say in the video, sorry) and make changes to our decisions. This is a fantastic tool that shows how flexible designing in FormZ is compared to the other 3d modeling tools out there. It really does allow for easy design changes later which keeps us from having to redo work when things change. Again, this is just a small sample of the videos in this course and of what FormZ has to offer.

Come back tomorrow for another preview video from the course.

Ready to find out more? Read the class curriculum and enroll!

Great news: For a limited time, while this pre-release video series is running, you can use the coupon code METHOD100 at checkout and get $100 off the price of the course. This promotion ends at 11:55pm PDT on April 10, 2017 at which time the price goes back up. The discounted price is reflected when clicking the link above.

✱ Day 2 of 7 — Preview of FormZ Fundamentals — Extend Tool Introduction

Day 2 - Extend Tool Introduction 

Let's continue the 7 day preview of FormZ Fundamentals. Each day this week I'll be showing a small piece of my actual course in a video that is under 5 minutes long. This will give you a better idea of what the course is about and how I teach it.

Today's video is an introduction to FormZ's extend tool — one of my favorites. Just click a face and it moves parallel to itself at whatever distance you want. You might be thinking this is a simple thing... yet many other programs don't have this powerful tool. Watch to see it in action and learn how it works. Oh, and it works on edges too — this short video just doesn't go that far.

Come back tomorrow for another preview video from the course.

Ready to find out more? Read the class curriculum and enroll!

Great news: For a limited time, while this pre-release video series is running, you can use the coupon code METHOD100 at checkout and get $100 off the price of the course. This promotion ends at 11:55pm PDT on April 10, 2017 at which time the price goes back up. The discounted price is reflected when clicking the link above.

✱ Day 1 of 7 — Preview of FormZ Fundamentals Course Launch — Live Booleans

Day 1 - Live Booleans 

The preview of my new course FormZ Fundamentals begins today! Each day this week I'll be showing a small piece of my actual course in a video that is under 5 minutes long. This will give you a better idea of what the course is about and how I teach it.

Today the video is an introduction to FormZ's live booleans — just one of the reasons of what makes FormZ so great to use.

Come back tomorrow for another preview video from the course.

Ready to find out more? Read the class curriculum and enroll!

And I have some great news! For a limited time, while this pre-release video series is running, you can use the coupon code METHOD100 at checkout and get $100 off the price of the course. This promotion ends at 11:55pm PDT on April 10, 2017. The price is reflected when clicking the link above.

✱ Sneak Peak: FormZ Fundamentals Course

Since my last post I've been working hard on my most ambitious project yet here at Method—it's a new digital course called FormZ Fundamentals. It will be available very soon, and I wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what I've been up to.

This is a fully structured course based on how I've taught FormZ in the architecture department at California State Polytechnic University. It's not simply a tutorial, and it's not just for architects. It's over 6 hours of training for anyone who wants to learn how to use the program from the beginning—or for those who already use it—to become better at it. You'll have fun either way, and I think that's an important component of any tool you'll be using all the time.

Here are some screen grabs from the different sessions in the course:

I expect the course to launch later this month if all goes as planned. FormZ Fundamentals is going to cover a lot of ground. I'd be remiss not to mention that I'm an expert FormZ user and have been using and teaching it for more than 20 years. 

Why FormZ?

If you're a regular at this site, you already know it's my tool of choice. It's my experience that it's the most well-rounded, feature-filled modeling program (especially for, but not strictly limited to architecture) that's available today. It does so much more than some popular programs (like SketchUp) and doesn't lock you into a specific set of architecture-only tools (like Revit). Nor does it intimidate (like the interface and commands in Rhino). It hits the sweet spot most programs miss. 

I have no doubt it will make you much more valuable if you take an honest look at it and devote a little time to learning it. After all these years, I keep coming back to FormZ. 

This course is for you if: 

  • you’re a SketchUp user looking to move on to a more powerful 3d modeling and rendering toolset, or a Rhino user looking for a faster, less complicated workflow.
  • you’re new to 3d and want an all-in-one program.
  • you want a 3d program that can play well with all the other 3d programs.
  • you want parametric tools to create your designs, which makes it easier to change your designs later.
  • you’re tired of endlessly searching for extensions to try (and buy!) for every little thing that isn't built into SketchUp.
  •  you’re looking for a one-stop solution for all of your modeling needs.
  •  you want tools that allow for more creative freedom to realize your design ideas.
  •  you want to make more precise, higher quality 3d models.
  •  you’re intimidated by the Rhino interface and don’t want to remember all those commands.
  •  you want your models to be ready for 3d printing without extra work.
  •  you want to be more valuable to you clients, colleagues, and firm.

I'm trying to accomplish a few things with this course:

  1. FormZ is a fantastic program that's fun to use. More people should learn it. Are you tired of SketchUp holding you back? Are you tired of searching in the Extensions Warehouse for plugins that may or may not work? Do you want to realize more of your fantastic designs that you are having a hard time modeling in SketchUp? Chances are that FormZ has everything you need already built in.
  2. Let's start with the basics. This course lays the foundation and will make sure you understand how most of the program works. It's not all-encompassing, but the program is deep. Many tools are more advanced, and I will make more courses (if there's demand, and I hope there is...) in the future. For now, this course covers most of them and ensures you're using them the correct way.
  3. Many people don't know what FormZ is capable of. It's my favorite modeling program for a few reasons—it's powerful, fast, easy to use, and smart. It runs circles around other architectural modeling applications. If another app has a better tool for something specific (like a visual scripting tool such as Grasshopper for Rhino), I like to think of those as plugins for FormZ. I can't model all day long in Rhino without beating my head against the table. Some things are just too hard to do in it. FormZ plays so well with others that you can take your Rhino objects directly into FormZ, modify them further, and have more fun.

Hopefully this will whet your appetite. I'm excited to to share all the details of the 6+ hour course with you very soon. I will be offering special introductory pricing to all of my newsletter subscribers so if you're not signed up, make sure to get in on the early bird discount