October 30, 2012

Tips in Avoiding Architecture School Freshman Workflow Errors

Simple reminder, but can be easily forgotten or when the stress of architecture school hits...you can easily lose some focus and attention to some crucial things. Some are fortunate to not follow these tips and remain unscathed, some students have bad experiences losing their work. Freshmen, here are some things to keep in the back of your head.

Back that thang up!
Simple reminder on an error that I know freshman and sophomores will make in their journey through undergrad, and this will save you a lot of time. You want to develop an organized way of storing and saving your work on computer so that you won’t lose time wondering where that file is...in addition, saving a copy on another computer/usb key/hard drive. The last thing you want to see near the end of a deadline is losing all your work because of a virus, power outage, or computer/usb crash – I’ve seen some classmates in my second year lose all their work for a group project the morning our term projects for structures were due. You’ll you’ll lose all that effort in an instant, and have a harder time to find people to work with on the next project. Save your work and back it up.
You need to constantly save backups of your work. Copies of your process dated on file so that in case you have to go a step or three back in the design process, you won’t lose a day...perhaps an hour or less or time.
Constantly press ctrl+s or command+s when you work on a file. Some programs can save backups if you set it up on the properties menu for that particular program (Mostly Autodesk software) whereas some other design software do not save backups.

Keep it organized!
Some firms will have CAD Standards and Folder conventions that you have to uphold. If not, it’s best to ensure that your work is organized by taking the initiative to keep it in order. Have a habit to uphold your own filing and layer conventions in your project – you’ll be grateful for this. There`s a reason why AutoCad, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Sketchup, Rhino3D and other programs have layer to organize your work.

Name your layers and your files consistently so that you can easily look for them on your computer or external hard drive and know how your drawings and digital model are organized.

Keep your digital models organized as much as possible. Keep your walls, doors, window frame, glass in different layers.
These tips will save you time and for some programs, making it easier to make a whole selection for...applying lineweights in CAD or changing the material mapping or colour for 3DS Max.

Here's how to NOT organize your layers:

One of my good friends did this in his first year...it got a lot of likes on facebook and a few laughs.
However, if you're a senior student, i'd expect more organizing. (Image courtesy of Jay G.)
Here's a better way organize your layers (note: firms will have their own standards, but establish your own for school):

Keep it editable!
One experience that you will run into dealing with group projects is to keep your work useable for other people to understand and carry on the work they have to do for the team. For instance, Bobby does the CAD work for a mapping exercise, and Jenny and Michael need the files to make a digital model and the other to take the drawings to illustrator for her urban analysis.

First things first, if you are consistent with filing conventions and the way your keep your layers organized, they won`t have a problem. They can easily plug in and continue from there.

I remember working on a student-magazine for my school. I was responsible to layout one section of the magazine with the work students submitted – BEFORE leaving for the summer. It got really frustrating at times when we got an a jpeg of a dark low-res image instead of the photoshop. The .pdf file of floor plans with no lineweights, or the giant .TIF file of the presentation sheet with everything rasterized. It either went to emailing back the student for the files...and if they did not email us on time, it either meant that it had a less chance of being shown in it’s best state as possible or not shown at all. Keep your work editable for your teammates.

So here's some tips I noticed alot of friends, colleagues, including myself have run into. What's your studio nightmare? Sometimes you actually learn when you make these errors once...or thrice to be more organized. Here's some words of advice to those new to architecture school.

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