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How about some TurboCAD help?

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Help! I'm overwhelmed. I'm trying to climb the mountain of learning TurboCAD to loft some blueprints. I'd really like to use it to transform this blueprint data into some actual building templates, etc. I know there is a "promised land" out there where these fantasies come true but I can't find it. My need is almost entirely about using TurboCAD. I get lofting (in theory. Haven't done it from start to finish yet). I get drafting (have done old-fashioned pencil and paper lots of times). TurboCAD is just too big a mountain to climb without a friendly guide. I've tried their training stuff but find it useless without a context to prioritize exposure to the features.


The kicker is I work in the computer security industry and am looking at computers all day. I get them too.


So why and I posting here? I'd like to try something novel. I'd very much like to engage one of you experienced TurboCAD users to actually guide me through the learning process using some easy-to-use remote one-on-one instruction technology. I even want to pay for your time. Something of a tutoring engagement on TurboCAD for openers and maybe lofting in CAD as a bonus.


I can supply all the software and remote connection technology as long as you have a computer and access to TurboCAD. I have TurboCAD Deluxe V21. I'm even willing to spend money on other options if required.


Here's the kinds of questions I'm trying to answer:


Just how far does TurboCAD go in the lofting process? Do I need more?

What parts of it do I need to know in what order to move from blueprint to building templates/drawings?

How can I enter primary data from blueprints and "flesh out" the rest of the details in TurboCAD?

What does it look/feel like to loft a few elements using TurboCAD?

What is the overall process to move from blueprint to construction drawings?


Some logistics:

I live in the Pacific Coast time zone and work full time so we're talking about potentially late-hour sessions if you're far from the west coast.

I'm more than happy to adapt to your availability within these limits including weekends. I have a full-time "real life" as I'm sure you do (including kids!) and don't expect an intense pace.


Did I say I look at this as professional tutoring and am willing/expecting to pay for your time?


If you are brave/crazy/creative/adaptable enough to explore this please let me know (shades of desperation showing) via Private Message on this board.


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Have you checked out for any community college or adult education classes?  One of the high schools down here offer (on an irregular basis) Adult Educaton classes on TurboCad, Solidworks, or Blender. No credit and it's weeknights one or two nights a weeks.   It depends on the quarter and other factors. Last time I saw TurboCad was year ago but the class was canceled because there's a minimum class size that wasn't met. 

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

                                                                                Wasa (Gallery)

                                                                                                                        HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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Why not take a deep breath and do it by yourself? Just take it a step at a time and ask the right questions of the online help as well as searching for the answers in the TurboCAD forum as Harvey suggests. I did this and whilst I can't claim to know every aspect of TurboCAD I now get along with it just fine -- from tracing out jpgs of plans to drawing up plans for deck furniture. The ordinary version doesn't handle pdfs, so you'll have to watch out for that one. But it's not too hard to convert pdfs to jpgs. Otherwise, after the initial shock  of having to come to terms with a whole complex new world of thinking, it becomes very straightforward. It's like a lot of software in that respect -- don't be overwhelmed by complexity. After all, we all learn very complex procedures by exploring how to achieve each particular step. It just takes an investment of time. I'd say it took about 3 months of sporadic fiddling with the programme to become comfortable -- but it was very sporadic as I only had a few hours each week to spend on it.



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This article by our very own Wayne Kempson is a "must read" for anyone starting out lofting in CAD:




I use TurboCAD (for Mac) and found Wayne's article a tremendous help, even though it's not TurboCAD-specific. The commands are all fairly common across software packages (I think). Wayne will also answer any specific questions you might have if you PM him.

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TurboCAD will do everything you need for lofting plans and generating patterns.  Frankly, only the most basic commands are mandatory given that the old guys used only straight edges, compasses and flexible battens (it's a little more ornate than that, but the point remains the same).  Read up on SNAPS and get a good handle on how they operate.  The HELP feature has all the information you need.


Grant was kind enough to mention my little treatise.  I wrote it many years ago as I was learning the process myself.  There are many things I would change today, but it has the general drift.  Today I don't think I would rely on Beziers but would use arcs.  Also, the section on entering the plan into the computer is very much outmoded and is way more complex than necessary.


All CAD programs seem daunting at first, even to folks who have used a different CAD program.  Just plunge in, educate yourself slowly on the basics, consult the HELP feature often, and don't be embarrassed to ask a question every now and then.  Also, there are some instructional videos on YouTube.  I find them laborious at times, but they do answer a lot of questions.  Inquiries specific to lofting can be asked here.


All the best to you.  



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Hi Wayne:


I'm also starting on using TurboCad to draft some frames, using your instructions.  You mention that there are many things you'd do differently now, so I'm a little concerned.  Can you give us some info on what you would do differently?





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The biggest thing has to do with loading in the photo of the paper plan.  Today, I would try to load in the plan as one image, or at least as one image for each of the profile, body and half breadth plans.  Using Beziers to trace the curves on the plan works well.  Today I might use arcs and reconciling arcs simply because that is closer to how it was done "back then."  If you use Beziers things will work out fine so this is more in line of a technical matter.  In fact, when i say there are things I would do differently they are mostly technical issues on this order.  I don't think you need to be overly concerned, just use what makes sense to you and proceed full speed ahead.



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Gentleman, thanks one and all for your replies. Looks like the elusive "easy button" remains just that BUT each of you has relevant thoughts. I also know that most, if not all, of you learned this the old fashioned way, one step at a time.

There is only one high school in my county and they are lucky to keep an athletic program. Adult education is beyond them. There is indeed a community college about 45 minutes away but nothing turned up searching their web-page. Other potential resources are further away than I’m willing to drive.

I checked out the TurboCAD forums and was delighted to see topics on lofting specifically. My hopes are twitching with reanimation…

Tony I absolutely believe you, I’ve just reached a beaten-down state in trying this one. There is enough meaningful information here that I might be able to rally again… maybe…

Wayne! Oh my! 79 pages of how to do it in an already-assembled guide? I’m beginning to hear angels singing…

Based on the collective ideas so far this looks like the path:

Become a member of the TurboCAD community.

Read Wayne’s tiny treatise, taking each working section to the actual software. Use the forum (this and TurboCAD) to explore each functional area for currency/efficiency and thoughts on current best-practices.

Frank, since you are starting the TurboCAD climb as well perhaps we should start a mutual support group/survivors club?

Wayne, have you thought about tutoring? Did I mention I’m paying? <one last shot at the easy-button>



Thanks all,


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And don't be frightened of asking here too. There's enough TurboCAD users on the forum to give it a bash as a first try, and at least you'll know they're all using it for ship modelling!


I found the following key learning points:


1. Importing jpgs. You can't just plonk them down. You need to follow the instructions on the bottom left of the screen. It'll tell you to place the first point of a corner first, then the second. That will give the dimensions on the page, which you will then have to re-size to suit your purposes.


2. It's handy to get to grips with how to measure things. Use the orthogonal icon.


3. You may well be confused at first by the layers. These work just as they do in Photoshop (in case you know how that works!). It is highly important to check that you are working in an 'active' layer as otherwise you won't see anything happening when you try to draw lines etc. I generally place a drawing in the bottom layer and use other layers to trace, to get dimensions, to place other aspects of the model.



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OK gents, I got some basic direction about how to tackle TurboCAD for lofting my drawings and have already gone splat. Wayne, I was reading your tutorial on reproducing plans in CAD and it started me thinking. Before I get into the mechanics of importing and "converting" my drawing there seems to be some fundamental approach questions I need to review. At this point my thinking is a dangerous and unbounded activity since I'm not grounded in CAD reality yet. I find myself stuck with some higher level "approach" issues I need to work out before I begin.


I started by wondering if TurboCAD had a tight definition of an "object". Meaning if I was drawing any object, are overlapping line segments making an outline enough or do they have to be "joined" in some mystical TurboCAD way to become an object? Or is it just a "grouping" function like Visio might use?


Then I started thinking again (Oh oh) about how much more effort is it to make these 3D objects? Seems like a reasonable extra step that brings some interesting benefits? If I want to do renderings of the CAD objects doesn't that require 3D data?


If I am interested in fleshing out model/framing details in CAD and not on the building table does that also suggest 3D?


Finally, 3D data is also a requirement for 3D printing, yes?


Wayne, if you were to do this again would you take the step to 3D? When? What practical solutions/uses does it provide that 2D just can't do?


Grant? Tony? Harvey? All of you have travelled this path. Your thoughts? 2D vs. 3D? Others?


Wiley the Apprentice

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I'm not sure I understand your question about objects.


One can do some pretty impressive modelling in 3D with TC.  Creating a hull form such as we deal with in the eighteenth century is something of the Holy Grail of TC modelling.  One can get pretty close, but one almost always runs into a quirk or two for various reasons.  At any rate, the 3D hull is built off 2D lines anyway.  After drawing up plans for Euryalus in 2D I did put together some 3D modelling.  For the purposes of making patterns for cutting out timbers 2D was sufficient.  That said, I did use 3D to test fit parts.  Also, I found that using 3D was an easier way to project the stern timbers, and maybe the head timbers, but that's about it.  


Some of the fun of drawing (actually, redrawing) plans is connecting with the methods used by the old guys in the loft.  


Just for laughs, attached are some 3D renderings.  Other programs are better than TC for making and texturing 3D ships.









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Here are some YouTube videos that may be of help:




If you're interested in 3D printing, I suggest holding off a bit until you have a better understanding of TurboCad and its capabilities. Regarding 2D vs 3D, I was used to using CATIA V5 at work, so we were always creating 3D models. But years before, I used this tool called CADAM-strictly 2D, and it worked fine for what we needed. When I started looking at TC, I was very interested in the 3D aspects of it. Since then, I've found that building TurboCad models in 2D works well for me.


A couple books you might find intersting are:

HMS EURYALUS (36) 1803

by Allan Yedlinsky
and Wayne Kempson (yes, that Wayne




The Naiad Frigate (38) 1797
Volume 1
by Edward Tosti


Both books highlight the use of Turbocad to produce drawings for their associated scrathbuilt models, and I've found both to be very helpful. Both are available through SeaWatch Books (just down the road from you)


Hope that helps.





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I did some 3D with TurboCAD in developing the ship's boat for my Sherbourne, but really it was only to get an idea of the shape and checking whether I was going in the right direction with the keel and frames. In reality for me 2D is quite enough, as Harvey and Wayne have intimated.


I did look into the idea of going with 3D further, but it seemed I would have to invest so much time in it without it being much/any use to the modelling that I gave up. I have found that visualising 2D plans has become easier as I have come to grips with constructing pieces from them.


There are some issues with rendering in TurboCAD, but as you can see from the examples they're small. As to the building of objects, as long as lines meet (which you do by working with the Snap function) I think you can just select the whole object and then extrude most of the time. I found getting the curves right on the 3D rendering took quite a bit of time, but that may well be because I didn't invest time in understanding how to do them properly. As I said, I am a real novice as far as the complex areas of TurboCAD are concerned.



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Excellent feedback, let me reflect back what I read here...


Wayne, my question of "objects" was the assumption that the various lines describing an object somehow had to be joined together so TC recognized it as an actual object (i.e. rectangle) with properties like height and width. I suspected 4 lines could be "joined" somehow to make a rectangle instead of starting with a rectangle object. I think I've learned part of the answer. Looking at various on-line training aids it appears the object is defined by what tool you use to draw it and TC prefers to build a rectangle with the rectangle tool instead of 4 lines from the line tool. I suspect there are ways to “translate” object types from one to the other as required but I’ll figure out those capabilities a bit later. You mentioned test fitting parts with 3D. That’s exactly what I was thinking of when 3D popped into my head.

I caught your statement “Also, I found that using 3D was an easier way to project the stern timbers, and maybe the head timbers, but that's about it.” I think that answers my question about using 3D throughout. The value is limited to a few specific purposes.

Your attached renderings are certainly the “sizzle” driving me to consider 3D. Thanks for sharing the eye-candy.


Harvey, I registered your observation that having working experience with 2D and 3D you find 2D works fine for ship modeling. The books you mentioned are actually already on my bookshelf. Thanks for pointing out their value in this particular discussion. The youtube videos… I found the same guy while digging around last night and watched some of this stuff. I noticed the 2 videos of his I sampled were using TC with the “old interface”. One of the MANY things I learned last night was TC went through several user interface updates with the most recent being version 18. Classes done in an older version won’t sync directly unless you reset the newer software into the old UI mode. None-the-less the basic functions are very similar and I appreciate you passing on this source to me. It looks close to an online reference to TC functionality.


Tony, you seem to echo Wayne and Harvey in your feelings about 3D not adding much to your modelling experience. That makes it unanimous.


Just in case I’ve done an inadequate job of saying so, THANKS. These thoughts and comments are helping me navigation a complex path through a deep topic.

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  • 5 months later...

I also need help with turbocad. I have the deluxe 18 version and have downloaded Wayne's tutorial. I can inset the plans, draw the line for the top of the rabbit and the curve of the rabbit, but can't find the tool for the perpendicular lines.


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If you click on the generic line tool you'll see a box with what looks like an inverted T. That allows you to select a line to which you'd like to draw the perpendicular, then the length of the perpendicular and finally the end point of the perpendicular.



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