CAD software generates picture-perfect designs

Oct. 25, 2007
I started using the TurboCAD solid modeler in 2002, and still get excited about it.

Donald B. Cheke

I first stumbled across the program at a local office-supply store while seeking software that would let me create striking 3D illustrations for a book. The CAD software is now my trusted business partner. I have no experience with other CAD programs because they are cost prohibitive and there is no need to look further.

Over the years, TurboCAD has helped me develop a design and illustration business with regular, long-term customers in North America and Europe. A U.S. firm that helps businesses promote themselves has been working closely with me for the past three years in providing graphics and furnishings for trade-show booths. My job is to create virtual booths. TurboCAD Pro helps me build them in 3D and then save presentation pieces as quality rendered images from the software. Customer response never fails to be positive. One customer even has me create large-format graphics that go in real-world booths. I draw them in TurboCAD at full scale and save to PDF for printing.

Overall, solid modeling in the software is like building in the real world, but without the limitations. Users can work with modifiable 2D profiles and primitive 3D shapes to quickly create quite complex models. Tools in the software make creating models a breeze, whether they are large buildings or small mechanical components. Drawing a model once in 3D lets users generate countless 2D and 3D views with only a few mouse clicks. And the customizable interface lets users easily organize the software’s many tools.

Such tools include ones that let users make topnotch multipage paper presentations complete with viewports and drafting-palette sections. And a broad array of dimensioning and annotation tools provide 10-decimal-place precision for blueprints, plans, brochures, and other graphic illustrations. The software is vector based, so printing anything to large-format media is easy.

The software lets users create large libraries of 2D and 3D objects as well as complete models. This capability makes it easy to continually create new tradeshow booths or quickly remodel them. I need only drag trusses and a variety of furnishings from the Library palette and position them in drawings.

CAD compatibility is rarely an issue, and I have never had problems supplying model components that are to be 3D-printed or routed to machines. The software includes many import filters, helpful when incorporating third-party models.

Like any complex software, TurboCAD has a steep learning curve that requires an investment of time. However, the developer supplies a lengthy user manual and extra learning aids that can be purchased through its Web site, at In addition, users can find excellent no-cost help from the TurboCAD User Conference Forum available there. A kind and gentle group of long-time users help new and not-so-new users. Most questions are answered in a few minutes.

One final note: I must admonish the old-school draftsman who sometimes balk at using software such as TurboCAD that produces “pretty pictures.” They deem it superfluous. But experience has shown time and again that pretty pictures are a must in today’s world of choice. They are what often makes a first impression — and first impressions are the ones that last.

The software comes from IMSI Design, 100 Rowland Way, Suite 300, Novato, CA 94945, (415) 878-4000.

Besides design and illustration work, Donald (Don) B. Cheke also tutors new users in TurboCAD and creates in-depth tutorials for the software, available at Textual Creations, Contact him at 51 - 425 Bayfield Crescent, Saskatoon, SK Canada S7V 1E6, (306) 242-9690.

The image of an industrial shock shows the actual printed papers that were scanned and then image-wrapped in TurboCAD to become part of the final rendering.

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