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Work Outside the Box: 3 Simple Ways to Boost Design Creativity

Is the traditional business world at war with creativity?

Your software, hardware and skills in CAD determine a large part of your design success—whether internally at your firm or during client-facing work. But another factor plays a huge—and undervalued—role in engineering, architecture and design achievement: creativity.

In Adobe’s State of Create report, 80% of 5,000 respondents said creativity was key to driving economic growth. But only one in four say they live up to their creative potential. And 75% say their employers prize productivity over creativity.

We clearly need to be more creative. But how? By using these three simple tips to boost your design creativity.

  1. Use Resources to Generate Better Ideas

Creativity doesn’t simply just happen. It’s motivated by your environment, the content you consume, and dozens of other inputs. Fire up the following tools regularly to generate more creative ideas, more often:

  • Inspiration Grid — This website provides inspiration via stories and photos from creatives in every industry.
  • Behance — Showcase your creative work and discover the work of others using this engaged online community.
  • Design Snack — Design Snack takes online inspiration to a whole new, customizable level. This tool gives you the power to create your own inspirational portfolio. Simply curate your favorite images and most inspiring work—the perfect way to jumpstart creativity when it flags.
  • SketchFab — SketchFab allows you to view inspiring models, and upload, embed and share your own.

What’s your favorite site or source of inspiration? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Adopt Tools to Manage Design Projects

When a project is poorly planned or disorganized, it’s extremely difficult to be more creative. Juggling overdue tasks or tracking down missing work doesn’t inspire your best work. However, using tools to better brainstorm and manage projects makes creativity much more likely to flourish. Try the following on for size:

  • XMind — Mind mapping tools help you brainstorm, communicate and capture creative ideas. XMind is available in three different versions: a free version, a plus version and a pro version.
  • Lucidchart — This tool makes it dead easy to develop mind maps and organizational charts that keep your creative ideas flowing.
  • TT, WeTransfer and Dropbox — These cloud file-sharing tools make collaborating on 3D files quick and easy. They offer numerous storage plans for larger files, and will save you a ton of time.
  • GrabCAD — Similar to GE.TT, WeTransfer and Dropbox, GrabCAD allows 3D professionals to collaborate with coworkers through an easy-to-use CAD file manager. This tool enables you to sync local files and collaborate on projects, revision rounds and brainstorming sessions.
  1. Hack Yourself to Improve Creativity

You can actually hack your brain and body to enhance creativity. It’s safe and easy, too. Seriously, science rules. Here are a few ways to do it:

What are your favorite creativity tools, tips and hacks? Let us know in the comments!

More Free Hacks, Tools and Habits to Boost Creativity

Over at 3Dconnexion, we’ve created a free guide specifically for 3D professionals who wish to improve their creativity. With 25+ pages of expert creativity advice, The Creativity Handbook for 3D Professionals is help you improve your creativity and career!

Download The Creativity Handbook for 3D Professionals today!

Feature image credit: opensourceway via photopin cc

PLM 360 | Can’t add items to BOM tab?

States & Transitions

I recently hooked up our Autodesk PLM 360 tenant with a trio of stonking workspaces, all of which interlinked and were blessed with individual workflows, some more elaborate than others. Once again these three workspaces are the result of trial and errors with previous incarnations, but the result if fairly simple for now and will become more complex over time using these three and the data fields within them as a solid foundation. As a result I was quite surprised, frustrated and mildly pissed off to find I couldn’t add any Items to my BOM tab Continue Reading

Civil 3D – Just Ask James

Autodesk has just established it newest resource in it’s online support of AutoCAD Civil 3D and the AEC division product line.  James Wedding recently jumped the fence to employee status, and they needed something to keep him busy.


If you don’t know about James then you have not tried to learn much about AutoCAD Civil 3D. He is one of the most knowledgeable people in the Civil 3D industry: Engineering, Training, Development and support. You won’t do much research before running into something with his involvement.


James answers the questions, including support information such as links and background. So far we’ve seen Hydroflow, Line generation code set, a great response on cross-sections, ……and a turkey. 🙂

So what are you waiting for?

I know you have questions, and even if you don’t want to step up and ask, others’ questions are posted online, along with James’ responses.  So drop in and get your questions answered.  Put this guy to work.

Civil 3D – 2011 Dref Working Folder

A quick tip and reminder on Data References in Civil 3D

The most common question I get regarding Drefs is “What do I have to do to see the Shortcuts?”.  This is almost always related to the ‘Working Folder’.


The Working Folder is really simple, but Autodesk has not dummy proofed the naming convention or the menu structure for Drefs.  Because of our large quantity of projects, finding our Shortcuts often slows me down too.  Not to worry.

Simple Explanation

In the simplest terms, the Working Folder is the folder where all you projects are stored. Since ours is divided by Year, our working folder is not the Engineering projects folder (‘Eng-Proj’), but each sub-folder organized by year.  Under each of these are the individual project folders.


Once you pick the correct collection folder, the Shortcuts appear automatically.

My Recommendation

There is nothing wrong with the Working Folder concept or operation per se. However Autodesk should consider moving the Set Working Folder to the top of the menu.  I think the attempt was to put the most common uses at the top, but this is not working well.  It is such a small menu, there is little benefit.  It scares off many new users and the power of Civil 3D goes unappreciated.

Look at Land Desktop.  The menus were organized in order of typical workflow, start to finish.  I think re-organizing this list and getting some tooltips in this area of the Prospector would increase the adoption of this powerful feature.

Autodesk University – 2009 Shave Shaan’s Head

I’m not much into general news and things, and don’t blog about all the stuff going on, but I do like AU.

We lost events like AEC overrunning the TAO nightclub, and holding the bartenders hostage in exchange for 20 cases of Absolute and Heineken; and don’t forget the Blueman group.  I wrote about it in the past , yes, and I’M STILL UPSET. And what about breakfast ?!!

Anyway, we need some entertainment venues, so I offer the next best thing.

Shaan Hurley Bald.  Ok…It ain’t the Blueman Group, but it should still be fun.

Shaan needs money and 2000 Twitter followers for charity. I need to laugh.  Go to his link and help me get some entertainment this year.

Inventor – Creative Design With Autodesk Inventor 2010/2011™

image I am very pleased to announce that I am working with Dennis Jeffrey at Tekni!

He has assembled a team of experts to create the new Web Based training series titled Creative Design with Autodesk Inventor 2010.  Many training programs just ‘throw the information at you’; we (authors)  don’t want a repeat of the status quo, non-intuitive and inflexible methods sometimes employed.  We are developing a complete training course focused on real world application, and a start to finish methodology.

The Creative Series is designed to give the student a better sense of direction and confidence. Students work at their own pace and receive mentoring when needed.  Furthermore we have spent a great deal of time focusing the lessons around solid ‘real world’ design practice. Details, notes, and exercises detail why certain steps are counter-productive, and what can be done to create more efficient and flexible designs.  As the students move from one lesson to the next, they will have developed an awareness of some things that could go wrong in the current lesson, and are conscious of these while studying the steps.  This allows the student to gain more self-confidence as they verify that their cultivated concerns were substantiated. 

While nothing can replace real world practice, this course was designed to put the student a step ahead of the basic (and some advanced) problems that traditional lessons can’t identify.  The result is with designers and engineers that have more self confidence about applying solid design practice in their workplace, what to do when something does go wrong, and how to use that knowledge in an adaptive way at your company.

Tekni web site

I have spent numerous days on each of my segments in the series, going through each portion and applying the lesson to the examples provided.  I focused my troubleshooting skills on creating powerful examples that work well and are easily adaptable.  Bulleted lists of commonly known issues and new insights are furnished in the lesson so that the student gets the benefit of past and present research and adaptations.

The Creative Design series is scheduled to be available by the end of 2009, but we will begin releasing packaged segments earlier.  Check in with us in the mean time as things become available.

Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 7

Back to Part Builder Part 6 In the last session we created the Structures in the Civil 3D environment.  In this session we will modify the configuration to add the slopes to a list, in order to change the structure to be consistent with the corridor side slope. Open up Wingwall Sloped in Part Builder. … Continue Reading

Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 5

Back to Part 4 Ok, it’s been awhile.  Everyone knows I am studying for the test, but I feel so bad for all the people who have been emailing me about the series.  I will run through the ‘Homework’, and then complete the configuration session soon hereafter. Homework Review We left off with your homework,… Continue Reading

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