Use Autodesk products? Yeah you do; if you don’t you’re gonna start missing out on some important tools. If you didn’t know, Autodesk gobbled up Alias several years ago and some aspects of the acquisition are starting to bear fruit. In addition to some steamy crossover plugin action, Autodesk has continued to develop Alias itself, birthing a brand new sketching application on top of some routine improvements to the core application. Hit the jump for some quick summaries and links for more info.
Before jumping into Alias, let’s detour through Autodesk Inventor’s new UI, graphics and Alias plugin functionality (bullet points link to relevant video demos)
- UI improvements for greater productivity (fewer dialogs, more tool popups)
- Viewport graphics update for quick visualizations using environmental reflections, ambient occlusion and high res textures
- Alias plugin for complex surface creation directly within Inventor UI environment
Those are the marketing bullet points, but the result is that Inventor stays mostly on par with Solidworks. Lacking any major advantage in my eyes, the decision would seem to lie more with the greater software environment in which you work. Because any changeover in software involves a lot of overhead in getting back up to speed, there needs to be a good reason to switch. Autodesk has continued to streamline their interoperability with other Autodesk formats and complement with applications like Publisher, so Inventor can make a lot of sense in right place.
Moving into Alias, the biggest thing is a brand new piece of software, Alias Sketch. Costing in the $500ish range, Alias Sketch lies somewhere between Sketchbook pro and Alias Design. I could best sum it up as Alias Sketch = Photoshop + Illustrator – [all the useless bloat]. If you’ve ever caught yourself transforming pen strokes inside Sketchbook Pro or trying to create a dynamic sketch-like feel inside Illustrator, Alias Sketch might be perfect. A forthcoming review copy should help confirm the awesomeness, but until then notable points and exclusive video below.
- Vector based sketch tools allow dynamic stroke effects that maintain pressure sensitivity of original line
- Vector blending tools for super easy fillet creation and curve smoothing
- Dynamic gradient fills that work inside vector boundaries
- Plus all the usual Sketchbook Pro features
Alias Design, itself, is inheriting some features from its bigger brother Alias Automotive like G3 constraints (for super smooth surface transitions) as well as UI improvements like simplified surface offsets, and interior surface selection. The endlessly repeated catchphrase of the event was “Going beyond 3D” and Autodesk has indeed put a lot of effort in becoming more streamlined and visually oriented in 2011. If you’re between CAD packages or are looking to switch, Autodesk has a lot of solid, well integrated products.