AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue
#7 (June 26, 2006)
Converting a VectorWorks Viewport to a Design
President, Coviana, Inc.
The addition of viewports in VectorWorks v.11
and section viewports in VectorWorks v.12 has
greatly expanded the presentation capabilities
of the program. In many cases, the use of viewports
allows the user to create layouts that were impossible
in previous versions of the software.
The annotation capabilities of viewports allows
for detailing of many objects in a live linked
view. However, in some cases, it may be more desirable
to move the objects shown in the viewport back
to a design layer to be able to use all of the
drawing tools. One example is a detail that requires
multiple line weights, when the overall plan must
have all line weights the same.
This tutorial shows how to convert a viewport
to an object that can be moved to a design layer
for further modification while retaining its proper
scale. We will use a section viewport for this
example, but this tip can be used with standard
viewports as well.
In this example, we will cut a section viewport
of a portion of a 2 story garage/studio, shown
below. In our sample file, we have used Layer
Links to create a single 3D model out
of four design layers. We will use the model layer
to cut the section. Our section will be through
the front wall, the extended front window, and
the garage door. We are using the Architect
workspace of Vectorworks 12.0.1 on the Macintosh.
The process is the same on the Windows platform.
Creating a Section Viewport
1. First, we need to arrange the drawing so we
can see where to cut the section. Set the Model
layer to be active, the layer options to Active
Only, and the current view to Top/Plan.
Zoom in or out and pan as necessary so you can
see the part of the drawing that you want to section.
2. Select Create Section Viewport
from the View menu.
3. Click once below the wall to start the section
line. Draw a vertical line up past the inside
of the walls and make a second click. A large
black triangle will appear. Move the mouse to
put the triangle on the side you want to look
toward. Click a third time at the same end point
to complete the section line. If you miss the
end point with your third click, double click
to end the section marker.
4. After you have completed the section line,
the Create Section Viewport dialog
box will appear. Click OK to
accept all the defaults.
5. A new viewport will be created and the view
will move to be centered on the new viewport on
the sheet layer.
6. By default, the section viewport cuts across
all of the objects in the design layer. Let's
limit the view to just the portion we marked with
the section line. With the section viewport selected,
click the Advanced Properties...
button in the Obj Info palette.
7. This will bring up the Advanced Section
Properties dialog box. Set the Length
Range to Limited by Section Line
Length, and set the Depth Range
to Finite with a depth of 1".
8. In the Obj Info palette,
click the Update button to update
the viewport. The viewport will now show only
a small portion of the overall building and a
very small depth of cut to hide the door on the
interior wall that was visible earlier.
Moving the Section Information to a Design Layer
The objects in the viewport are scaled by the
value set for the viewport Scale
in the Obj Info palette. To move
these to a design layer and have them be at real
size, we must change the scale of the viewport
before moving them.
1. Start by making a copy of the viewport. Select
the viewport and go to the Edit
menu and select Duplicate. With
the copy selected, change the Scale
in the Obj Info palette to be
1:1. This will cause the viewport
to become very large. In order to see all of the
viewport, zoom out.
2. Before we convert the 1:1 viewport, we want
to change some of the attributes of the viewport.
In the Obj Info palette, click
the Advanced Properties button.
Select the Attributes pane and
set the Section Plane to
Separate Cross Sections, and check the
Use Attributes of Original Objects
3. Click OK and then click the
Update button in the Obj
Info palette. The section will display
each component separately.
4. Finally, we will convert the viewport to objects
that can be transferred to a design layer. Make
sure the 1:1 viewport is selected and choose Convert
to Polygons from the Modify
menu. A group is created containing a polygon
for each object in the viewport. If you edit the
group (Modify menu > Edit
Group), you can see all of the individual
5. Click the Exit Group button
to get back to the sheet layer.
6. To move the group to a design layer, you can
either use copy & paste, or you can change
the layer in the Obj Info palette.
Using the Obj Info palette, set
the layer of the group to 2D-building
sections. The group will disappear from
the sheet layer.
7. Change the active layer to the 2D-building
sections design layer. The group will
be there, showing properly in the scale of the
design layer. The section fits easily on the page,
compared to the very large size of the 1:1 viewport
we began with. You can now use all of the 2D tools
to add details or modify the attributes of the
polygons to create the image you need.
In this example, we cut a section of a single
layer linked model. Instead, we could have placed
the section marker on one of the design layers
and then used the Layers... button
in the Obj Info palette to add
the other design layers to the viewport. The end
result would be the same.
By using a simple workflow and a few built-in
commands, you can easily transfer information
from a sheet layer and viewport to a design layer.
On the design layer, the objects will be to scale
and readily modified. One important thing to remember
is that the transferred objects will not be linked
to the original model, so this technique is best
suited for late in the design process for the
generation of specific details that are difficult
to achieve in the annotation of the viewport.
About the Author
Patrick Stanford is the President of Coviana,
Inc., a VectorWorks consulting and training firm
based in El Segundo, CA. Patrick has a degree
in Electrical Engineering and has been using VectorWorks
(and MiniCAD) since 1991. Patrick is also the
leader of the Southern California VectorWorks
Users Group. He can be reached at email@example.com
or at (310) 322-4205. The sample file used for
this demo can be downloaded here.
Tricks > Converting a VectorWorks Viewport