Vectorworks and Morpholio Join Forces

Image courtesy of Susan Knof of KNOF Design.

Imagine a seamless fusion of precision drafting and modeling tools with intuitive sketching capabilities, where ideas flow effortlessly from concept to realization. That's the promise of the Vectorworks and Morpholio partnership — a marriage designed to empower you at every stage of the design process.

In this article, you’ll read through the recommended workflow between the two programs and find some tips and tricks to improve your designs.

Before Getting Started…

Morpholio Trace is an iOS app, so you'll need an iPad to take advantage of it. Morpholio Trace mimics pencil and paper but does SO much more … including being able to import and sketch on top of your Vectorworks models!

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Image courtesy of Amin Zakaria.

What Should You Use Morpholio Trace For? 

Morpholio Trace serves as an excellent option for creating stunning imagery of your Vectorworks project. The following scenario illustrates an effective use of the application alongside Vectorworks.

  1. You’re designing a site for your client. You decide to create simple massing models in Vectorworks to show intended forms for the site’s buildings.

  2. You want to show the client your ideas, but don’t want to spend time detailing the massing model in Vectorworks yet. For now, speed is your goal.

  3. You import the Vectorworks massing model into Morpholio Trace and, on your iPad, sketch over the massing models to achieve your preferred style. You also sketch over areas of the site to indicate planting areas.

  4. You navigate around in Morpholio Trace to get your favorite view on screen, then capture an image to send to the client.

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Image courtesy of Joshua Gregg.

Ultimately, Morpholio Trace provides a way to maintain your artistic hand drawing style with a more effective and efficient workflow that coincides with your production software.

Now, let’s talk about the workflow.

Step 1: Design in Vectorworks

Use Vectorworks to create your drawing or model. There’s so much to discuss when it comes to creating in Vectorworks — but that’s beyond the scope of this article. If you’re new to Vectorworks, start your free trial here and visit Vectorworks University to get acquainted with 3D modeling.

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Bonus Tip – Maintain an organized file structure in Vectorworks. This allows you to easily keep track of your project and the edits you make in Morpholio Trace. Read more about improving your Vectorworks file organization here.

Step 2: Export to Morpholio Trace

Once you have a design that you want to draw over, export it to a format compatible with Morpholio Trace. Common options for 3D models include OBJ and STL. Note that an OBJ export will include Vectorworks textures while an STL export won’t. Either scenario could be helpful for you depending on your needs. JPG or PDF are also valid formats if you’re exporting 2D imagery.

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Image courtesy of Amin Zakaria.

Consider the complexity of your model. You may want to simplify it for more effective performance in Morpholio Trace. If you have a fully fleshed-out BIM model, for example, you’re best served exporting only the classes and layers that comprise the model’s visuals.

Bonus Tip: You can connect to Vectorworks Cloud Services with the Apple files app to keep your files synced. This means you can reference your Morpholio sketches directly into Vectorworks and keep them updated as you iterate in Morpholio.

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A model designed in Vectorworks shown in Morpholio Trace. Image courtesy of Susan Knof of KNOF Design.

Step 3: Enhance & Refine in Morpholio Trace

Importing into Morpholio Trace opens a world of creative possibilities. The program's powerful tools in sketching, tracing, and annotation allow you to infuse your designs with an artistic touch.

You can elevate your work with features such as auto-aligned perspective tools, realistic brushes and pens, and amazing entourage stencils. These elements serve as the secret ingredients that can truly set your design apart and leave a lasting impression on both your collaborators and clients.

Bonus Tip: You can use Morpholio Trace at various stages of your design process. Consider using the application to refine early conceptual models to share with clients. Then, as you add more detail to the project in Vectorworks, you can export again to draw over later versions in Morpholio Trace. Learn how here.

Step 4: Iterate & Refine

With Morpholio Trace, you can effortlessly make quick edits and create visually appealing hand sketches. The application grants you the freedom to experiment and fine-tune your drawings until they meet your satisfaction. With more use, you’ll develop certain preferences for how to use the tool. Eventually, you’ll have a signature style that you keep coming back to.

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Image courtesy of Joshua Jones.

Note that Morpholio Trace is scale aware. As you iterate, you can rest assured that your work properly aligns with the scale of your Vectorworks model. This makes it possible to quickly calculate areas, for example, if you wanted to include a quick-sketched annotation in Morpholio Trace.

Tips & Tricks for Drawing in Vectorworks

Using Morpholio Trace on your Vectorworks projects is ultimately a great way to add a personal touch of creative flair to your presentation materials. Click the button below to learn more about elevating your everyday drawings in Vectorworks with some techniques handpicked by our product experts.


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