AEC Tech News (#290)

7 Apr, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff

User Profile: Picturing the Possibilities

Rendering powerhouse David Maloney gives architects and engineers a window on the future.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

When Cadalyst issued its Call for Renderings last year, we received many impressive submissions from professionals like David Maloney, a preconstruction designer. We selected one of Maloney's renderings for publication in the Fall 2010 issue, but when he told us, "I crank out several of these a week," we knew we had to learn more about this man and his design and visualization work.

Cadalyst: Tell us about your background.

Maloney: I was born on a drafting board — and reborn in the computer. I went through all of high school, three years at the University of Milwaukee School of Architecture, and even several years in the working world without any CAD system. It was pencil and paper, ink on mylar, protractor, straightedge, and Leroy templates until the late '80s, when my employer made the transition to CAD with Intergraph's EMS (Engineering Modeling System) software. As an early adopter whose projects produced "eye-candy" graphics, we were a reference account for Intergraph and were handed top-of-the-line hardware and software. In addition to the modeling system, we also had a license to the ModelView rendering and animation package. That was my entry into 3D modeling and visualization.

David Maloney is the preconstruction designer for Novum Structures.
David Maloney is the preconstruction designer for Novum Structures.

I took to the software quickly, with the help of many people and numerous tutorials. By the mid-90s I transitioned from detailer and CAD manager to sales and marketing support as a designer doing full-time modeling and visualization of our designs. One of my images was even featured on the packaging for ModelView software.

I presented a paper at the 1995 Intergraph user group conference entitled, "The Image of Sales — The Use of Visualization Tools in Marketing." Intergraph was amazing software to learn, and I still consider EMS to be the top CAD package I've ever worked with. Those were the days when lighting and animation were controlled with text strings that had to be placed in certain locations and at particular lengths for the rendering software to interpret. It was quite a struggle to make scenes come alive, but the results made a difference between being awarded a project or not. The design tools became an important part of sales as well. Unfortunately the software only ran on the UNIX hybrid CLIX, which was tied to Intergraph hardware, so at some point I needed to make the next transition into a PC-based environment.

In the late '90s, with Intergraph leaving the CAD/CAM industry, I took night classes at a local technical college to learn about Newtek's Lightwave. With the ease of use and the quality of the images, Lightwave surpassed my previous renderings, and the new tools quickly became second nature. Lightwave also became an invaluable design tool: The polygonal modeling makes revisions and model manipulation so much easier than a parametric model. Animation became an option on many more projects due to the speed and ease of the tools needed to create those scenes. In our industry, if a picture says a thousand words, then an animation speaks volumes. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's senior editor.

Paul Aubin


From the Trenches: Create Custom AutoCAD Commands and Toolbars

Looking for an easier way to access your custom LISP routines? This user-written tutorial will walk you through the toolbar creation process.

By Emilio Valentin

Have you ever needed to create your own toolbar or command in AutoCAD? Maybe you have some custom LISP routines you been using for years, and you need to add them to your current version of AutoCAD. Sometimes a toolbar may be an easier way to get to those custom routines — and creating one is a simple process. (Note: This tutorial was created with AutoCAD 2009, but the process is virtually identical through more recent releases.)

Almost all commands will now allow linking an icon. So to start, we need the icons, and a folder to store them in. The icons must be in BMP format, and 64 x 64 pixels will work fine. You can use Microsoft Paint to create them. As for the folder, check out Tools > Options > Files to see where AutoCAD looks for the icons.

Next is the folder where your LISP files or scripts are located. These need to be in the support path, and can be on a local drive or network location if you want to share them (the same goes for the icons). Keeping them separate from the program files/AutoCAD directory makes it easier to upgrade or do a repair, because you don't have to worry about them being deleted during an uninstall. Read more »

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Emilio Valentin has been a technical associate in CAD and drafting operations on civil and structural projects since 1997.

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

CMI Tech Tour
April 12–14, 2011
Various cities
At this one-day event from CADD Microsystems, attendees will see the new features of the Autodesk 2012 products during live demonstration. This event will be held in Richmond, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; and Washington, D.C. Read more »

Webinar: Quick Conceptual Modeling with Vectorworks 2011
April 13, 2011
11 a.m. PT
This Novedge webinar will demonstrate quick ways to make a 3D site model, create 3D recession planes for the site, and sketch in the adjoining buildings, all in Vectorworks. Read more »

Autodesk 2012 Product Launch Virtual Event
April 20, 2011
8 a.m.–2 p.m. PT
During this online event, Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen will explain the new capabilities of AutoCAD 2012 software. Lynn will demonstrate her favorite new tools in AutoCAD, including model documentation, reality capture, and 3D conceptual design, and she'll share an overview of AutoCAD for Mac. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at

On the Edge Solid Edge Tutorial: Quickly Rename Parts and Features
Change the names of parts, assemblies, and features from the user interface. Read more »

Inventor Professional 2012: Little Things Mean a Lot
The seemingly small changes in this release can make a big impact on your productivity. Read more »

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Battling Management Burnout
Feeling fed up? Throwing your computer out the window isn't the answer, but these simple strategies can help get you back to productivity. Read more »

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