Hi Core77 community.
Im officially the evangelist for the ID products at Autodesk. pretty cool job and lets me work with some awesome design talent.
I have been a Alias user over 10 years. These days, its just the medium I use. I feel like im able to drive the software instead of the software driving me and my designs.
out of curiosity, What are the reasons that you use Alias?
Alias, despite having a fairly steep learning curve delivers me results I still to this day don’t think I could as seamlessly pull off in any other package when it comes to complex, curvature continuous surfacing. It’s not the be all end all of development, but in the ideation phase especially I can be lightning quick in generating geometry and then knowing where my flexibility is downstream.
And marking menus. I can’t even begin to understand how much time and mouse movement I save by being able to gesture my thoughts instead of clicking buttons and picking icons from menus.
Now just get showcase up to speed! Why can’t I export an animation of a turntable. Why!!!
I’ve had exposure to a couple other programs here in college (Rhino, AutoCAD, and soon Solidworks), and after learning Alias I’ve found it’s pretty much my first go-to in any situation. Other students find Rhino more user-friendly, but the accuracy and detail I can achieve with Alias is pretty unmatched.
I agree with the previous poster about the marker menus… love em! And you can customize them! Even better!
Also, it seems with the widespread use of Alias in more professional settings, I can sign online and find a well-detailed video or tutorial explaining what it is I need to know, or sometimes explaining something I had no idea I could do. Choosing Alias as my primary 3D-CAD program of choice has really sped up my ideation, prototyping, and presentation process.
I’m use ProE and Rhino the majority of the time, but I caught that IDSA Webinar a couple months ago and was reminded how awesome StudioTools can be when you combine the sketching and modeling in one program. It was impressive and really makes me want to get back on it…
I was an early adopter. Learned on version 4 I think back in 1990–the pre GUI days when it only ran on $30,000 SGI/IRIX workstations! I became a “certified class II user” I think?? Back then it was the only game in town, and was lucky that Alias donated stations to my ID department. The skill alone definitely helped me get a job because there were so few people who were using it back then, but the benefits were obvious. Back then the seats were so expensive that we literally used it in two shifts around the clock.
I stopped using it when I moved up the chain into strategy/management. I started relying on tools like Sketchbook Pro and Illustrator where I could bang out 2D renderings quickly. And of course foam 3D models. The results definitely aren’t as sexy or as resolved, and I admit, I miss that!
ditto cg’s post. user since 1990, sgi iris 2400/3000 workstations (motorola 68000 series cpu, same as macintosh). so one reason is i’m too spoiled and lazy to learn rhino.
nowadays i still like the speed of marking menus and ease of fluid, complex surface creation that no solid modeler has. direct control over isoparm and vertex placement, x-section and curvature eval = low poly count on export or render, predictable texture mapping, class A surface continuity (when i work at it). real time eval color/reflection shading has an interface with options that are light years beyond solidworks, though i haven’t tried sw09 or sw10 yet. ever tried to change the range on the curvature color shading in sw? how about texture mapping the reflectivity channel in photoworks?
qtvr output is finally usable. and, of course, the easter egg splash screen that occurs on the numeric day of the month corresponding to the release version number of the software.
removal of all non-scan related poly tools sucks, but there’s always maya.
I started my days in school here in sunny singapore learning alias. Think it was version 10 then. After learning rhino and a whole bunch of other software, alias remains my choice for banging out stuff with sleek curvature and great surfaces =)
thanks for everyone’s responses. its great to hear and get a reading for what really separates Alias from the pack.
EPIC : student versions.
goto the education or student website to join the Student community and get access to FREE software. Get full versions of Alias, Showcase, Inventor, and Sketchbook amongst other Autodesk software.
I’d be curious to learn more about Alias myself. I own a copy of Studiotools v10.5. I’ve tried it and I just didn’t like certain aspects of it. I have been using another CAD application that’s a surface/solid modeler and very recently made the move to SolidWorks. What I like about SolidWorks and the last CAD app I used is precision and the ability to dial in dimensional information to define the parts.
And I am talking about doing things like an iPhone where I was able to create the bottom surface, quite precisely. So I don’t build mechanically simple parts, but organic forms too. The surfacing tools in SolidWorks surprised me and I felt confident enough to know I could keep up with Alias with curvature continuous surfaces. And the other big reason I chose SolidWorks is my clients use it and I can deliver a file with zero worry that the design intent is lost.
I am not putting Alias down, but I’ve worked in studios using it and I could not see how they created precise parts (dialing in dimension while building the surfaces) and there’s the need to be careful when exporting to mechanical engineers. (I’ve witnessed issues where the file had issues coming into Pro-E or Solidworks. I think they had to set the precision in Alias to a particular value) I’m not saying it’s impossible, it’s done and I’ve seen it done. But I don’t know how it’s done.
I’ve actually thought about going back and giving my version of Studiotools another try after I really become a master in SolidWorks. One thing I have done in SolidWorks that I like, and I see Alias works this way, is to take a hand drawn sketch and trace it within SolidWorks to define the forms. Works great in Solidworks. Since I work on a Cintiq, I can easily do that in Alias as well, but currently with Sketchbook Pro.
Also, it seems I see less use of Alias in my experience with other large design studios.
The Alias->Production workflow is complex initially, but not impossible.
We use Alias for all of our production surfacing integrated with Pro E. Once you have your tolerances set up and a few variables tweaked in Pro it’s very easy. You can even do individual surface swapping to give parametric like controls over your surfaces. This gives us 100% control with the knowledge that our surfaces are what makes it through to production with zero impact to the design intent.
The only time design intent is lost is when your engineers, manufacturers, and designers can’t speak or use the same tools and knowledge. If you hand off a file with the wrong tolerances, complex and dirty geometry, you can expect to lose design intent because your intent wasn’t up to Class A standards.
Solid tools are great for a lot of things, but when you do a lot of truly freeform surfacing Alias is still the king IMO. Updates in Solidworks and Pro E ISDX may be completely acceptable for 95% of users, but theres still going to be a niche for Alias which they can work on growing if they try hard enough. Alias is an exceptional design tool. Pro E is a very good engineering tool. Even if they overlap 75% of the functionality - what Alias excels at is still highly valuable to the designer.
I’d like to understand what those practices are to improve the integration to Pro or SW.
Another cool thing I liked about SolidWorks is the ability to change a curve or curves that define a surface in the event that the engineer tells me, sorry, I need to use a bigger connector. Can Alias deal with that? Can you go back a history tree?
And in terms of design intent being maintained, I was referring to the many clients I work with who all use SolidWorks, so from a practical point as a consultant, I need to make them happy!
CAD selection can sometimes be driven, as mentioned earlier, by the needs of the employer and or engineering needs. I had worked with one mechanical engineer who just could not get onto his head why the industrial designer had to build the design in CAD. Can you believe that. He fought me on it. He let me do it, but felt it was a total waste of time. And went to alter some details because he felt it looked better that way.
Alias can absolutely deal with changes downstream, it’s all about understanding where you need to build flexiblity. I’ve had plenty of times where dramatic changes needed to happen. A detach here, a trim there, and it’s easy to modify a specific patch or surface to accomodate changes like a PCB growing, etc.
With surface swapping in Pro E I can then have the engineers bring that patch back in (or have it dynamically update using Granite files and Intralink/Windchill, but thats a little fiesty) and if they built their model tree right, almost everything can update automatically. The interface for doing this sucks in Pro E unfortunately. My favorite is their “redefine feature” functionality which tells you to pick an edge. Then another edge. But oh wait, they’re now both the same color so you can’t tell what you’re supposed to click!
Problems can happen though if you wind up building surfaces that are super complex, won’t shell or offset, etc. Then the engineers will either disregard your data and rebuild it themselves, or change things without your knowledge. This is usually the case in consultancies where you only have so much feedback to the engineer actually building the part. I’m in a corporate setting so its much easier for me to walk over to someones desk and yell than it is to try getting them to change something from far away.
Yeah - it’s not an intuitive workflow between the two at all. It’s not something I could have ever figured out on my own, it’s a process I learned through my job. Theres just a million processes, techniques, and best practices that work effectively. Of course thats still assuming the engineer understands how to handle your data even if it is clean and properly prepared.