Converting Your CAD Drawings Into Full 2D and 3D Animation

Converting Your CAD Drawings Into Full 2D and 3D Animation

Engineers face a dilemma. Both offer some of the most expensive products and services in existence. Neither one can show their products to prospective clients ahead of time, however, as they don’t exist yet. 

This means you could be asking a client to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, for something they can’t see or touch. It’s a hard sell. 

3D modeling can fill this gap, allowing you to showcase your vision to prospective clients to help seal the deal by bringing your CAD drawings to life. That’s a big reason why the 3D modeling industry grows and grows with each passing year. 3D modeling software is projected to be a $5.72 billion industry by 2025. 

3D animations are particularly useful for architectural presentations. They allow engineers to showcase their work in their best possible light in the way it’s intended to be seen. Architectural animations are becoming an art form in their own right.

But what if you don’t possess the skillset to make masterful 3D animations? Here are some steps you can follow to translate your 2d CAD drawings into mesmerizing 3D animations!

Transforming Your 2D CAD Drawing Into An Animation

Transforming a CAD drawing into a 3D animation isn’t as difficult as it might seem. It’s far easier than converting an analog blueprint into an animation. At least your CAD drawing’s already in the computer where there are many powerful tools for creating computer animations. 

Nearly every CAD software has an option for creating animations. We’ll showcase some of the techniques you can use with AutoCAD as that remains the industry standard for CAD drawing. 

Open Your 2D CAD Drawing

For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll assume that you’ve already got a 2D CAD drawing. If you don’t, there are copious free CAD designs available on the internet. Find one that sticks out to you so you can follow along. 

Select your 2D CAD file using the “Open” command from the “File” menu. Open the file using the “Perspective 1” option. This loads your design with perspective like you’d find in the real world. This makes for more realistic designs than parallel perspective. 

Convert To 3D

Once your 2D design is loaded click the Cube icon on the top-right corner of the canvas. Choose the top, right, and front facets of the cube. This will convert your 2D drawing into 3D. 

Next, you’re going to turn on the 3D modelling option. Select the “Workspace”  toolbar at the bottom of the screen.

If you don’t see this toolbar, you can right-click on an empty part of the screen and select ‘Workspaces’. Select the ‘3D Modeling’ option. 

Once you’ve activated the 3D Modeling workspace, select the “Home” tab from the “Modeling” panel. This will reveal the “Extrude” function which converts 2D shapes into 3D blocks. 

Extrude Your Designs

The next step is to translate your 2D CAD drawings into 3D shapes. Select each shape you want to render in 3D and then press “Enter.” You’ll be given an option to select the depth of the 3D.

If you want to convert circular or cylindrical shapes into 3D CAD drawings, you’ll need to navigate to the “Surface” tab. Find the “Create” panel and use the “Revolve” command. Hit ‘”Enter” again to rotate the circular elements you want in 3D. 

Create an Animation

Once you’ve converted your CAD drawing into 3D, there are numerous ways you can transform your model into a 3D animation. We’re going to show you how to make a Motion Path Animation for the sake of this tutorial. 

Start off by deciding what path you want your animation to follow. Think of it as taking your customers or clients on a virtual walkthrough of your design. 

Next, find the “Animations” panel on the “Visualize” tab. If you can’t find it, you can right-click on “Visualize” and select “Panels > Animations.”

Find the “Motion Path Animation” dialog box. Here you can create new cameras and new paths. You can also create target points and target paths. 

Paths can follow curves, circles, and ellipsis as well as straight lines. This can help you create smoother, more fluid animations instead of harsh corners and angles. 

You can also set the height of the animation. We recommend setting the height at around 6 feet, which is around eye level, to create a convincing walkthrough. 

The Animations Path dialog box lets you specify the path your animation will take. Select the path you’d like to animate. Select the path of your walkthrough and choose “Okay.” 

Now you’ll be given a dialog box for your animation settings. We’ll use around 15 frames-per-second to give a smooth animated look. You don’t want to set the frame rate too high, however, or your video will become prohibitively large. It can also take a long time to render. 

You’ll also be given options for choosing an animation style. Select “Realistic” for a detailed visual style to showcase your design in its best possible light. Then you’ll be given an option to select the length of your video. 

30 seconds is a good pick for most architectural presentations. 

There you have it! You’ve transformed your 2D CAD drawings into a living, moving animation! 

Benefits of 3D CAD Animation

A 3D CAD animation is a wonderful opportunity to add some flair to your architecture presentations. It’s a way to show your clients what you’re envisioning rather than simply telling them. Even better, you can showcase your work as you intend it, with all of the style elements and details that make your design unique and special.

It also a way to break up a simple talking head-style presentation. It makes your presentation a living, moving thing rather than simply a static, uninteresting corporate video. A 3D CAD animation can add drama and narrative to your video presentation. It can accelerate when you want your clients to get excited or pause when you want them to take a breath. 

Finally, 3D CAD animation makes the most of the video medium. Movies are a summation of nearly every other artform, from writing to visual art to drama. With an architectural video you can add text to your visuals to deliver extra information or context. It can also do things no other mediums can do.

3D architectural animations can take apart an element to show what it’s made of. If you’re looking for an opportunity to showcase your building materials or processes, you need to be considering adding a 3D architecture animation to your project. 

How to Make the Most of the 3D CAD Animation Process

Engineers aren’t necessarily filmmakers. Chances are good that you’ve never had to write a script let alone implementing one, from a technical standpoint. These are some of the benefits of working with a video production company. 

To have a smooth and easy time making your movie, it helps to have a vision of the final version of your presentation. Think about where the camera will enter and where you want the journey to end. If you decide to work with a video production company, you simply have to walk the production company through your vision. 

They’ll handle the rest. 

A video production company will take your walkthrough and turn it into a detailed, thorough shot-by-shot script. If you’re making your own video, you’ll need to do the same. You’ll need to break down individual moments into camera angles and movements as well as the individual elements you’re hoping to emphasize in each scene. 

When working with a video production company, you can ask for status updates as the process progresses. Ask for images from some of the key moments of your video to make sure their visuals are matching up with your vision. 

Ask to see a copy of the script, as well. This way you can check the text for the narration and make sure you like what you see. It also gives you an opportunity to think of things like tone. You can check to make sure the video is exciting, engaging, and optimistic. This helps leave your customers and clients with a feeling of possibility that will help carry them through until the building is complete. 

Working with a video production company to create your architecture animation video lets you stay where you’re most comfortable so you can focus on making your work its absolute best. The video production company will turn your CAD drawings into a work of living, moving art that will move your clients. It will showcase your vision in its best light, helping your clients to understand your vision and share in your passion. 

Need Video Services?

There are a lot of businesses out there. Video marketing is a way to stand out no matter what industry you’re in. It brings your business to life and helps your customers relate and engage, ensuring you’ll stand out when they need your services. 

Whether you need help converting CAD drawings into animation or behind-the-scenes footage of your business in action, we are here to showcase your business in your best possible light. Contact us today with any questions or to schedule a consultation!