The drafting face-off: AutoCAD LT and Vectorworks

The drafting face-off: AutoCAD LT and Vectorworks

Deciding on new software means thinking about what you need it to achieve. For an all-in-one, affordable 2D drafting solution, AutoCAD LT is a great choice, but if you want to add 3D drafting to your workflow, Vectorworks Fundamentals is the way to go.

We’ve weighed up the main points in favour of each program, so you can see which you should be looking at before you make an investment…

Drafting tools

AutoCAD LT is promoted for entry level 2D drafting and detailing, but now offers everything you need for general CAD work. It can work with Xrefs, raster images, dynamic blocks and PDFs, and Autodesk have added new features to the most recent versions of LT that were previously reserved for bigger brother AutoCAD. These include support for the AutoCAD WS mobile and web app, the Sheet Set Manager organisational tool, and other powerful tools such as Associative Arrays (maintain relationships between arrayed objects), Multifunctional Grips (now for lines, arcs and dimensions) and Delete Duplicate Objects (removes unnecessary geometry).

You wouldn’t expect to see a professional modelling solution within an entry level program, but Vectorworks Fundamentals punches above its weight, providing conceptual design tools and powerful 3D modelling functionality for professional free-form solid modelling designs. In that sense, it should be compared to the full AutoCAD package’s range of 2D and 3D tools for drafting, modelling, annotation and presentation.


While LT doesn’t have solid modelling capability, it manages to produce some excellent 3D surface models in the hands of the capable user. There’s no rendering capability either, but again you wouldn’t have to look too far to find a compatible and affordable renderer such as Photoshop or Shaderlight for Google SketchUp. With Vectorworks,you have the option to add the Renderworks integrated renderer module, and the new CINEMA 4D rendering engine provides advanced functionality to produce quality photorealistic and artistic render images.


LT shares the same flexible user interface as the fully-featured AutoCAD and as it’s customisable, you can set up the screen to look and function how you want. Vectorworks also features a customisable GUI, with tool palettes and drop-down menus to suit the user’s way of working. Both programs pick up a point here for their layout and ease of use.


Since LT works in the native DWG format, it’s easier to use with AutoCAD users as it maintains the integrity of the DWG drawing and can be used for annotation and detailing on a drawing project. Vectorworks operates in its native .vwx format but also includes .dwg import and export functionality with mapping tools to allow Vectorworks users to work seamlessly and share drawing data with AutoCAD users.

Both Vectorworks and AutoCAD LT will also run on either Windows or Mac, which means they’re ideally suited to a drawing office where employees have a choice of platform.

Making a decision

AutoCAD LT was developed as a cheaper entry-level alternative to AutoCAD and has since grown to become the best-selling CAD software globally, even out-stripping AutoCAD. The full version does include enhanced 3D drafting and programming capabiliy, but if you’re only going to be using it for 2D drafting and detailing, it’s a solid all-in-one solution.

If you do need to work in 3D however, the modelling tools in Vectorworks Fundamentals mean it’s a cut above AutoCAD LT. For a similar price, you can take your project from conceptual design to parasolid 3D modelling. Even if you work primarily in 2D, being able to create quick 3D volumes during the concept stage provides big advantages, including the ability to take live sections, so it’s very useful to have these tools at your disposal.

Already a Vectorworks veteran or an AutoCAD convert? Let us know your opinions in the box below. For more info, call us on 03332 409 306, email, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

– Visit our store to buy the latest versions of Autodesk AutoCAD LT 2012 and Nemetschek Vectorworks Fundamentals.

Stopping Wall End Cap errors in Vectorworks

Stopping Wall End Cap errors in Vectorworks

Another expert tip from the Vectorworks KnowledgeBase. To prevent getting a ‘WallEndCap’ error when using the Wall End Cap tool in Vectorworks, follow their advice below:

“If you receive this error message when trying to use the Wall End Cap tool:

Wallendcap 01
“Download and run the attached .txt VectorScript.

“To do this, first save the attachment to your desktop or downloads folder, then go to Tools > Scripts > Run VectorScript and select the “Wall End Cap Error Fix.txt” file and click Open.”

To talk to one of our CAD team about any problems you’ve encountered inVectorworks, call 03332 409 204 or email You can also leave us a comment in the box below and we’ll get back to you shortly.

AutoCAD tips: Wall studs

AutoCAD tips: Wall studs

Through this short tutorial, you will learn how to create a partition stud wall by attaching separate studs to a wall. There are two main principles to this technique:

1.   Create a Layout Curve – this is alignment geometry that has nodes that are equally spaced, repeated over a length, or manually spaced.

2.   Anchor studs to the Layout Curve – the anchor is used to attach studs (defined as structural members) to the Layout Curve.

First off, if you can’t see it, you may need to enable the Design pull-down menu as this is not enabled by default. To do this, from the Windows pull-down, select Pulldowns, then choose Design Menu:


Let’s start by applying some studs to a basic 100mm wall. Draw a wall using the Standard wall style and set the width to 100. Use baseline justification:

Next up, we shall create a layout curve which will assign nodes to the wall that will  be used to position the studs. From the Design menu, choose “Layout Tools and Anchors”, then select “Add Layout Curve”, or simply type “layoutcurveadd” at the Command line and you will see the following prompts:

Select a curve: Pick the wall

Select node layout mode [Manual/Repeat/Space evenly] : R for Repeat
Start offset <0.0>: 25
End offset <0.0>:
Spacing <304.8>: 400


A number of magenta circles have been added to the wall – each circle represents a node of the layout curve and they are spaced at 400mm intervals. Note: by default, these circles will not plot and we can also adjust the radius they are drawn with (more on that later).
To define the studs, we shall create a new structural member style. From the Format menu, choose “Structural Members”, then select “Wizard”:


Select “Cut Lumber” in the “Wood” folder, then press “Next”.

For “Section Width” enter 50, and for “Section Depth”, enter 100. Then press “Next”.


Finally, enter the name of the style (e.g. “Wall Stud”) and then press “Finish”.

Once the structural member style has been created, use the “ColumnAdd” command to insert one in an arbitrary position near the wall. This command can simply be typed at the command line or you can select it from either the “Design” tool palette, or from the “Design” menu (Structural Members -> Add Column). Which ever way you choose, insert as illustrated below:

To add the stud to each of the nodes along the wall, we shall use the “Node Anchor”. From the Design menu, choose “Layout Tools and Anchor”, then choose “Node Anchor” (or simply type “NodeAnchor” at the command line).


Command: nodeanchor

Node anchor [Attach object/Set node/Copy to each node]: C (for copy)

Select object to be copied and anchored: select the stud

Select layout tool: select one of the circles of the layout curve

5 object(s) copied.

Your wall will now look like this:


These studs will now stick to the wall, so if the wall moves, the studs will remain attached. If the wall is stretched longer, additional nodes will be created, but you will need to use the AutoCAD.

Copy command to add new studs. To do this, copy one of the other anchored studs to one of the new nodes.

I mentioned earlier that we could reduce the size of the circles of the layout curve and doing so will help us see their centre positions. To do this, select one of the circles, right-click and choose “Edit Object Display” from the cursor menu. In the “Object Display” dialog, click on the “Edit Display Properties” button.


Switch to the “Other” tab in the dialog and enter a radius of 25, then OK both dialogs.


Your wall should now look like this:

Of course, studs will not always be so conveniently placed, but we do have control over individual stud positions. There are three types of layout curve and the one we used let us set an initial offset of 25mm which is why the first stud edge aligns with the start of the walls (e.g. half of 50mm, the width of the stud).

Now let’s say we want to add an extra stud at the end of the wall which isn’t going to be placed 400mm from the current last one. To do this, edit the properties of the layout curve and change its type from “Repeat” to “Manual”.


Select the layout curve now and you will see different grip points:


Select the “+” grip on the right and an additional node will be added:


Select the node, and then select the triangular grip to adjust its position.

The distance is set from the start of the wall. In this example, the wall is 1844mm long, therefore to align the stud 25mm in from the wall end, I’ll enter a dimension of 1819, and the wall will now look like this:

As mentioned above, to add the additional stud to the wall, simply copy one of the other studs in the wall to the new node, and your wall will now look like this:


Now we’ve just got one more concept to learn. The layout curve is based upon the baseline of the wall and in this example, the baseline is along the wall centre and hence our studs align conveniently within the wall. Let’s try the same with a wall style where the baseline is along the outside edge of the studs, as in the example below:


In order to position the studs in the middle of the wall, you can set an offset to their anchor properties. To do this, select all the studs, right-click and choose “Properties”, then pick the “Anchor” button in the Properties palette:

Then in the Anchor dialog, enter a “Y Offset” of -50mm (if they go the wrong way try 50mm next!).


To re-cap:

• Use a Repeat Layout Curve to create nodes.

• Use Node Anchor to attach studs defined as structural members to each node.

• Convert layout curve to Manual to position individual studs.

• Use standard AutoCAD copy to add new studs.

• Adjust Y offset of the stud anchor property to adjust the position of the stud across the wall. Note: you can use the X offset to adjust the stud position along the wall too.

• Using the default UK template, the layout curve nodes are placed on the layer “G-Anno- Nplt” that can be turned off, but as the name implies, this layer is set not to plot.

For additional AutoCAD Architecture information refer to the product webpages

If you have any CAD-related queries, don’t hesitate to call the CAD team on 03332 409 204 or email!