To produce an quick to learn CAD software for quick concept sketching in 3D space, think sketching your ideas on a napkin in 3d.
So I started this with an idea and coded a proof of concept using the JMonkey engine (See logs 1 and 2). Seeing as by the looks of it this idea could actually work, its now time to research and figure out how best to actually make this idea real.
First lets define the problem,
The problem deals with the current approach to concept sketching and ideation, this phase in design is still done predominantly using pen and paper, with powerful computers, the array of software available, and with monitors like the Wacom Cintiq and the array of alternatice Pen Display Graphic Tablets available to facilitate pen and paper like sketching on computers, why hasn't this phase of design moved to the digital side? I believe the answer is simple, while the computers and hardware are capable now, the software available isn't.
Sure there are high performance and very capable digital art software available, sketchbook pro, krita, photoshop and cad programs such as Solidworks, sketchup and autocad, the issue with all of these various programs is usability, sketchbook pro is ideal for the drawing and colouring phase of rapid sketching and concepts but its just a digital version of what can be done on paper, it fails to add any new approaches to concept sketching. Most CAD softwares such as autocad and solidworks are overpowered for concept making and have too high of a learning curve, sketchup solves this with its easy to use approach to 3d modeling but it doesnt produce visually appealing outputs for images.
Whats needed is a simple to use drawing software that allows the designer to sketch their concepts as they would like, then extend the same sketch into 3d. The aim is not to produce another 3d modeling program but instead just to have a 3d element added to allow for easier sketching of perspective and 3d drawing.
The program being created needs a simple and easy to use interface, not like the one above, the core focus should be the work page with menus hidden to the sides only to be expanded when the mouse hovers over an expand arrow.
A simple quick to learn design for the interface is ideal, along the lines of how Keyshot 5 was designed, quick and easy to learn within a half hour of playing around with the features.
I like the simple interfaces of sketchbook pro and sketchup. The programs controls can be divided into 3 sections, 2d editing, 3d editing and view control.
2d editing being the drawing and colouring controls, 3d editing being making the pages in 3d to draw on and positioning them and view control being orbiting the view around the sketch and positioning your view for sketching.
OK hopefully log 3 can explain everything I'm intending to do with this and what the actual purpose of this idea is, for now though, I've gotten a program working that shows roughly a working idea.
The idea is to allow the user to create translucent sheets parallel to the camera view, sketch on them like any traditional 2d drawing software such as like krita or sketch book pro, then position these sheets in 3d space, move the camera view and create more sheets to sketch on to form a full 3d concept, after which all the sketch sheets can be rendered invisible so that only the drawn design remains visible.The aim of the program is to ease the dificulty of penning your idea's to paper ( digital paper in this case), with many CAD software difficult to learn or containing too many features your never going to use or otherwise being too expensive, the aim of this software is to make it quick and easy to produce three dimensional concept designs with no hassle.
this ends log 2, I just wanted to post an update to show that there is a possibility of being able to make this idea real, I'm a long way off having a truly working program, but as soon as I do, I intend to release it free and after a while depending if there is interest, I'll release the source code.
Core to all 3D CAD software is the view camera, how it orbits, rotates, zooms in and out, essentially how it allows you to view the model in which you are interacting with. Various CAD software implement this slightly differently, I'll likely talk about this more in future logs. The following is a demo video of how the camera in my software test is working so far. I have it capable of orbiting around the model, zooming in and out, the next piece to implement is the ability to move the focus around.