There are plenty of photo editing apps for iOS and Android that demonstrate how good a touch environment can be for sketching and intricate image editing. While such photo editors are not often used for professional purposes, they do showcase the potential that devices like the iPad can offer. Autodesk FormIt is a new iPad app that can be used for 3D modeling of buildings and other objects. There are other apps that let you do that, but FormIt has the edge over them due to the fact that it lets you load maps of any area, so that you can place your model on them and check out the effects sunlight will have on the structure during different times of the day (Shadow Study). You can import images too, merging existing photos (or rather, satellite images) with maps and models.
Autodesk FormIt can be used to measure the dimensions of objects from photos and maps. Measurements can be done using the line and arrow tools available in the toolbar at the bottom. Before you do that, though, you will have to decide whether you want to start modeling from scratch, load images from the camera roll or make changes to the satellite image of an area.
Modeling can be carried out over map, or you can start building on the displayed grid. To load the map, hit the second icon from right in the toolbar.
To begin modeling, tap the button in the bottom-left corner, choose a shape from the second toolbar that appears above the original and tap once wherever you want to place it.
Once an instance of the selected shape has been added to the screen, you can resize it by using the pinch-to-zoom gesture. It is also possible to tinker with the depth and orientation of each object by swiping across it. Holding down on selected shapes reveals additional options, such as copying, rotating, adding color or grouping the shapes together. If you make a mistake, you can always turn to the undo and redo options at the bottom.
While you are in edit mode (that is, whenever a shape is selected), FormIt will display the object’s exact measurements according to the scale you specify in the app’s settings. To view the overall dimensions of the model, hit the second button from right in bar at the top. Just by specifying the structure’s “Floor height” here, you will get estimates for gross area, number of levels and gross volume.
Shadows and sunlight effects on buildings have a menu of their own as well. The app takes stock of the structure’s chosen location, and lets users view the shadows for any time of the day, during any month.
All the work you perform in Autodesk FormIt is backed up to the cloud if you sign in to the app using your Autodesk 360 account, that is.
Autodesk FormIt is an iPad-exclusive app, and is available for free on the App Store.