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  1. Doing all live elevations. It is a bit tedious at times to drawing in the detail we want, but it has been faster overall. I've attached a few examples of typical cross sections. These take about 20-30. min each and we do about 5-6 per plan for a average custom home. Has really saved us time in some cases where modifications are made to the plan and they automatically update with only a few adjustments. Once you get the first one done on a project, the following ones usually go faster since you can copy and paste a lot of elements over to the next cross section. We used to do all cross sections as all CAD lines, but going to live has cut our time in half at least. Example Elevations.pdf
  2. My two cents would be to get the fastest gaming laptop you can afford... maybe Alienware, Acer, or similar. Even if you don't raytrace much, it will run the programs efficiently.
  3. Great test! One interesting thing I noticed as I played with it - My computer would run it just fine with all 400 chandeliers in the plan as long as I was only looking at say 20-30 at a time. In other words, if my camera view only was viewing across the edge of the group it ran fast and smooth. If I zoomed out to include more chandeliers into my screen view it slowed down. The more I zoomed out, the slower it went. Also noted: I downloaded the plan and opened it from my regular drive. But when I "Saved As" the file to the SSD and operated the plan from that, there was a substantial improvement.
  4. Depending on the render style that you used in sending the elevation to the layout (watercolor, painting, etc) the elevation will show really pixelated. It will actually print to a higher quality. This is done to allow the layout to still function at a fast speed. So the jagged elevation is simply a rough preview if you will. I've attached a few examples to show the difference.
  5. Graham, Thanks for your detailed analysis. Its very similar to the experiences I've had... CA needing to rebuild with nearly every action really slows down the program. Bigger plans get worse and worse as detail is added or framing is generated. As you mentioned I've also seen good results with a bigger / faster computer. More CPU cores, fast SSD, and good GPU's will certainly speed things up. I've come to expect a $3,500 investment on a new computer every few years to keep things moving fast.
  6. Yep, I use live elevations and cross sections. This has really sped up my production and accuracy. As was mentioned, use the update feature sparingly, since it can take some time to update larger elevations. I usually avoid building out all the framing (joists, trusses, walls etc) and save 3D framing members for critical structural elements or when I need to make sure my load paths through the building work. Having the entire model build out all the framing will slow down the plan a lot.
  7. Dshall, Naw, just a working man like the rest of the bunch here. Had to learn some of this stuff the hard way, but I've also been given my fair share of chances. If my two cents worth of advice can help somebody else, then that's great. Designsyko is a jumble of what I do and who I am, kinda like a Bridge Troll or a Drawzilla. Drawzilla's.... didn't they have those in Jurassic Park? Well, back to basking in front of the two 40" 4K's to crank out the next epic plan. Draw on my friends!
  8. Put together a package - both examples of your work, references, your design process nicely laid out, helpful info for clients etc. Then go meet with builders face to face and leave them with copies of your package to hand off to new clients. Most clients want an easy program to follow, so make it easy to sign up, easy to get a hold of you, easy to pay, and easy access to what you are creating for them. Don't just e-mail two dozen local builders and say you are offering services. Make a point to go meet with builders you would like to work with and talk to them on how you can help them gain clients and make their job easier by offering good plans / specs. Show them how they can make money off of you. Again, make it easy for them to work with you. A good website, Houzz account, or other social media is helpful too - although bear in mind that most builders (in my experience anyway) are just barely getting into social media themselves and are probably doing it to advertise their services - not doing it to find a designer. To gain trust, you need to go shake their hand, visit their jobs, and build a relationship so they will trust you with their clients. It takes time and determination to build a reputation from the ground up. Undersell and over deliver. Be organized and responsive. Usually anyone willing to apply themselves can find a good degree of success. Best of luck!
  9. Yeah, this is a real problem - especially when you try to clean up any random lines on the elevations via the layout line edit tool. You can delete the line, but the shadow remains. Hope it gets fixed soon.
  10. I have had this issue as well. It is related to using a poly line box with a transparent fill. The box does not even need to be of a similar size as the whited out area in the PDF - it just has to exist somewhere on the page. I have used several PDF printing programs (even the "Chief save as PDF" ) and sometimes it clears it up, but sometimes it does not. This has made me simply stop using the useful tool of transparent fill, since it can easily ruin a final print set of drawings as Chopsaw mentioned. I am now in the habit of print previewing (as big as I can) each page before I print to try and catch the problem.
  11. Ditto what Joey said. I usually just start over and re-draw the plan.
  12. Using (2) 40" Samsung TV's - one is 4K and one is 1080p. I am blown away by the clarity of the 4K. In the past I've used (4) 27" LCD monitors, but the 40" 4K TV is even better. I still like additional monitors for bringing up webpages or e-mail on the side, but for my main drawing screen I can't see going back to anything less than a 40" 4K TV. Make sure the your graphics card can handle 4K output if you plan to go that route.
  13. Yes, I would say you are in the range. The midwest is a tougher market, but depending on your skill you might see a starting income of around $40K and perhaps if you're good, it will get to $80K in 4-5 years. Six figures is possible, but the market has to be strong. Once you reach a point where builders want your plans, and clients are calling you because of what you produce, then target the more qualified jobs and base some of your fees on a fixed price or percentage of construction cost. It is tough to make it on an hourly basis - even if you charge $60 or more an hour. Do all you can to build relationships with local builders. If they like your plans, they will recommend you to new clients.
  14. Thanks guys! Some great input here.