Roughing Out That Dream House On A High Tech Sketchpad

During the early stages of a project, interior designers and architects often make rough sketches of their ideas, sometimes even on the back of an envelope. But only well-drawn, realistically shaded drawings, which cost time and money, give a sense of how a new structure may actually look.

Now, Toronto-based Alias Research Inc. is attempting to make such renderings easier to produce with a $995 drawing program called Upfront, for IBM personal computers and PC clones. It helps designers quickly draw all sorts of structures in simulated three-dimensional space. Based on work by Lee Anderson of the University of Minnesota, the software is designed to let even computer-drafting novices create and modify 3-D objects with a mouse. Most previous 3-D drawing programs required lots of training and were designed for creating detailed blueprints, not quick sketches. Upfront can also superimpose its drawings on actual site photos or other background scenes that have been scanned into the computer to give proposed building designs a realistic setting.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.