A First Impression

As an admitted geek and lover of all things beta, I love playing with the stuff Autodesk Labs spits out. An admitted knockoff of Google Labs, this is where pet projects go to thrive. A few months back, Angel mentioned Autodesk Impression, and I finally had a chance to play with it last week. My thoughts are below.

The initial interface is similar to most paint and drawing programs that aren’t CAD. Floating palettes, icon and menu driven, it felt similar to Photoshop to me. After running through the three basic included tutorials, I wanted to see if I could make it do something for a CE firm, so I opened up my AU Styles base drawing.

First issue: Impression doesn’t like C3D. Impression will directly read many Acad objects, but doesn’t appear to like C3D objects in the slightest. Maybe it likes ADT stuff, but as Civils, we’re out of luck for a direct use. After checking out the Impression Community (gee, that looks familiar, I wonder if it’s the same firm doing this one…) I found a suggestion to DWF my drawing out and use that. Perfect. By the way, your Civil Community login works on the Impression one as well.

Knowing a little bit about layers in photo editing programs, I made two DWFs: the sitework and the surface. I imported these into Impression using the default settings. They lined up perfect, and having the contours on a different layer meant that they didn’t interfere with the fill areas of my parcels.

I played with the fill options for a few minutes, but since I was trying to see how fast I could knock something out, I stuck with some predefined pencil shading materials I found inside the installation. From opening my dwg in C3D to this screen grab was 15 minutes. Here’s my quick and dirty site plan:


I don’t think any Planners or landscape architects are going out of business soon. The level of human touch that the final marketing boards require just isn’t there yet. This is pretty cool stuff, and could really cut down the time spent on the first round disposable renderings. If you find your projects need lots of quick renderings, or you find that the frequent changes in Land Development make you feel like you’re wasting some of those efforts, Impression is worth checking out!

Final warning: it’s pretty intensive, and still an obviously alpha/beta product. I managed to lock up my machine a number of times, but after playing with C3D for five years, what a few more hangs between friends?

Oh, and Happy New Year!

One comment

  1. and here I am, with $1000 worth of pantone markers that i will never get to use again. maybe i can stick them on ebay and make enough money to take the entire civil3d.com team to mcdonalds.