Can version 5 be installed on the same system as version 4?
Yes. Version 5 is a completely new program and can be installed on the same system as version 4 as long as that system meets the minimum specifications. Since there are some features in version 4 that are not yet available in version 5, you may want to install and use both versions depending on your needs.
Why won’t version 5 work on my system where version 4 is installed?
Version 4 uses a simple CPU-based software rendering system to display 3D graphics. This is compatible with virtually every Windows-based computer but is limited in its capabilities. Version 5 uses the 3D graphics hardware (GPU) included in most computers manufactured from around 2005 and later. If the graphics hardware in your computer is too old, version 5 won’t work. Also, if the display driver software being used is too old or is not functioning properly, version 5 may not work properly or at all. Please check the System Requirements section of this website for a detailed list of system specifications needed for running version 5.
Can I open scenes created in version 4 (.ac4 files) using version 5?
No, but you can continue to open these files in version 4. Version 4 and version 5 can be installed at the same time.
What’s the best way to store my building pictures and scenes so I can find them in the future?
We recommend that you set up a simple folder system for organizing your pictures. Start by clicking on "Documents." This will bring up a window that shows all of the folders and files in your documents area. At the top of this window, click on “New Folder.” This will create a new folder that you can name as "Customers." Now click on the "Customers" folder and follow the same procedure to create a folder for each of your customers. You can use their name or street address as the folder names. Within each of these folders store your building pictures, rendered drawings and scenes from Awning Composer.
What’s the best way to photograph a building in version 5?
We recommend that you take a high-resolution picture of the building straight on from a distance so that sky is showing above the building and some of the area in front and beyond the sides of the building is included. This picture can then be brought into Awning Composer as a backdrop and scaled using a known dimension, such as the height of a door or window. Once the backdrop has been properly scaled, the awning scale will match the scale of the building. This is not required but it helps create a more realistic rendering.
Can you still work with photographs taken from an angle like those used in version 4?
Yes. In version 4, we recommended that you photograph a building at an angle (20 to 30 degrees off center) so the awnings you put on the building will show some of the front and some of the side. This approach can still be used in version 5, but you will not be able to use some of the new features of version 5 such as scaling and shadows. To use these features, take the picture straight on whenever possible.
In some situations, taking the picture at an angle is still the best option. If the building surface to be shown in the rendering is not flat or almost flat – for example if it’s curved or has corners, indentations, or multiple levels at different depths – and you take a straight on photo of it, it may not be practical to rotate the camera to view the awning from an angle due to the 3D perspective of objects in the photograph not being maintained. In these cases, it may be best to take the photo at an angle if you want the rendering to show the front and side of the awning.
How does the shadow feature work in version 5?
3D objects can cast shadows on the backdrop and ground. Shadows are only supported when a straight on backdrop is used, or when no backdrop is used. They don’t appear at all if an angled backdrop is used.
Shadows are optional and can be turned on or off for the entire scene by going to the Light tab in the upper left corner of the window and changing the “Enable shadows” checkbox. Shadows can also be turned on and off for individual objects in the scene by going to the Object tab in the lower left corner of the window and changing the “Shadow visible” checkbox.
The length and direction of shadows can be controlled manually using the Rotate Light feature or they can be calculated using the Sky tab. The Sky tab allows you to set the time of day, time of year, the location of the building and the direction the building is facing so an accurate representation of a shadow can be cast in the scene. The Sky tab also supports a time lapse feature that shows the progression of the shadow in the scene from early morning to late at night.
What if I make a mistake?
Awning Composer has a robust undo system that allows you to undo one or more actions. To undo, click the Undo button in the upper-left corner of the window or press Ctrl+Z. If you go back too far, you can use the Redo command to repeat some of your previous commands. By using undo and redo, you can quickly recover from mistakes and feel free to experiment without worrying about losing your work.
Can I change from one fabric to another without having to start over?
Yes. Click on the awning to be changed and then double-click a different fabric to be loaded. If you have multiple awnings in a scene you can the change fabric on all of the awnings with one command. First click in the scene where there are no objects (this will deselect any previously selected objects) and then click on a fabric texture. All of the objects in the scene will have their fabric parts colored with the selected fabric. This also works for frame colors and braid colors.
My striped fabric looks ragged. What adjustments are available?
Use the Smoothing slider located in the Texture tab in the lower left corner. This can be used to smooth out the stripes on the fabric.
How can I make small re-positioning adjustments to the awning?
Lock to an axis and use the arrow keys. When you select an object, there are three axis lines that will appear: X is the red line, Y is the green line and Z is the blue line. If you click on the button at the top of the window that corresponds to one of these axes, the axis line will turn yellow and the motion of the object will be limited to two directions: along the axis or around the axis. By using the arrow keys, you can move and rotate the object. To make even finer adjustments, hold down the shift key when using the arrow keys. When your adjustments are complete, be sure to click on the axis letter at the top of the window to go back into free movement mode and remove the lock on that axis.
How do I email an image of the scene to one of my customers?
After your scene is complete, click on File and then Render Image. Position the mouse cursor over the image and drag the boxes to define a crop area that you want to be included in the rendered image. Next use the drop down box to select the image size (small, medium or large). Then click Save Image. Choose the location where you want the image to be saved, the name you want for the file, and click OK. Attach the file you just saved to an email to the customer. (Refer to your email system’s instructions if you’re not sure how to attach a file to an email.)
How do I email a PDF to one of my customers?
Click on File, choose Render Image, and define the crop area for your rendering. Then choose Print in the menu on the far left. Choose the desired page orientation and size. Arrange the rendering on the page along with any other content such as your company logo, text, watermarks, etc. Under Printer, choose a PDF printer and then click Print. If you don’t see any printers in the list with PDF in the name, you’ll need to install a PDF printer and then restart Awning Composer. A PDF printer is a virtual printer that lets you print from any application and save the result as a PDF file instead of printing it to a physical printer. For more information and recommendations on PDF printers, see the Recommended Software page.
Are fabric specifications or warranty information available?
Yes. Awning Composer includes fabric specifications, warranty information, and care and cleaning instructions that can be printed or emailed to your customer. This information is stored in full color PDF files and makes a great addition to any proposal. The manufacturer and product info for each fabric can be seen by clicking on the “Info” buttons in the Fabrics tab under the Apply Material icon.
How do I show a before and after picture on the same page?
You can use the page layout feature for this. After your scene is complete, look at the Object Parts window in the upper left. Check the “Show all objects” checkbox at the bottom. Then click the eye icon next to each awning shown in the list of objects. This will temporarily hide the awnings.
Go to the File tab, choose Render Image, and set the crop area for your images. Choose Print and resize the image to the desired size on the page. Move the image to where you want the “after” image to be. Copy the image by choosing Copy and then Paste. Note that the square resizing handles shown in the corners of the pasted image are a different color than when the original image was selected (gray instead of green). Move the copied image to where you want the “before” image to be.
Now go back to the Home tab and click the eye icon next to each awning again to unhide the awnings. Return to the File tab and now you should see before and after images.