Archive for the ‘3D Build Planner Q&A’ Category

Can I improve the display at all?

Question: How can I get 3D Build Planner to look better on my screen?

Answer: It depends.  Here’s an example taken from one of our systems running an ATI Radeon HD 5850 graphics card (

Here’s the first image which is basically just an imported fence segment:

The Before Image 3D Build Planner (ATI Radeon HD 5850)

Doesn’t look great.  You can see that there’s some serious texture shading happening around the ends of each piece, and what the graphics types refer to as ‘jaggies’, the broken black outlines that run down the side of each piece, rather than a smooth black outline.  This tends to clear up as you get closer to the piece, but that doesn’t exactly make for a great product tour from 20 feet out.  You would think there’s more that can be had from our graphics card, and you’re right.

There’s a few ways to get to the ATI Catalyst Control Center, but one method is to select the Advanced tab under the Windows 7 Screen Resolution menu, your OS may be different.

From the ATI Catalyst Control Center or any other graphics card settings window, you’ll want to find the 3D or OpenGL settings.  In this case, they’re listed under the Graphics->3D section.  From this list, you’ll see individual settings that can be changed.  Pressing the ‘All’ tab will list all possible settings.  Scroll to the bottom until you reach ‘OpenGL Settings’ ‘Triple Buffering, and enable that.  From there, select Apply and Save and exit.

You’ll need to restart 3D Build Planner to see the improvement, but here’s what you get now:

The After Image - 3D Build Planner (ATI Radeon HD 5850)

The After Image - 3D Build Planner (ATI Radeon HD 5850)

Much improved, wouldn’t you say?  There’s other settings you’ll want to ensure are set, such as 24 bit ‘Z’ buffering if your graphics don’t appear to be working as well as they could or if items such as grid lines or lumber pieces tend to disappear in the distance.

There’s also more information in the 3D Build Planner Troubleshooting Guide within the product Help pages.  We’ve tested our product with ATI, NVidia, and many integrated graphic chipsets, and in the vast majority of cases, 3D Build Planner can look great on all of them with a little occasional tweaking.

Happy Building,

Easy Lumber Placement

Question: Is there any easier way to add lumber than with all the numbers and all the fields?

Answer: There sure is.

If you’ve watched the quick start video here ( then you’ve seen that lumber can be added by entering the position into the Lumber Placement fields and pressing ‘Add’.  Lumber can also be added by double clicking anywhere on the Project Area surface (the green grass), to mark the position, and then pressing ‘Add’.  These are good options but they’re not that effective when you want a piece in a certain spot, such as right up against another piece or Flush with a piece.  So how can that be done?

Meet the Grid Tool

The Grid Tool icon can be found in the toolbar along the top window.  The Grid Tool takes a single piece of lumber as input and creates a semi transparent ‘Guide Wall’ along a single face of the selected piece.  You use the Guide Wall as a guide to move other pieces up against.  This lets you select one or more pieces and move them in relation to the position of another.  For example, if you want to move several pieces of lumber Flush against a Fence post, you can select the Fence post, start the Guide Tool by pressing the icon in the toolbar, and proceed to move your selected pieces up against the Guide Wall which is aligned with the Fence post.

The Guide Tool has two main buttons labelled ‘Face’ and ‘Direction’ that let the user change the face on the selected piece of lumber as well as change the direction of the Guide Wall.  Depending on how you want the Guide Wall positioned on the selected piece, these buttons can be used to alter its position. For a video with the Guide Tool in action, see the Fence 101 video ( for an example using the Guide Tool to move entire Fence segments in line with one another.

So go ahead and experiement with the Guide Tool, a very handy utility for moving pieces up against another piece of lumber or another surface.

Happy Building,

Do you have a step-by-step type of guide?

If you’ve ever watched the video sections located here (  and then said, “Well that’s great, but how do I start a new deck or how do I start a play structure or how do I…” then we have a solution.

When the 3D Build Planner application starts, either click on the ‘Quick Start’ option under the popup tip window, or go to the main 3D Build Planner help section.  Once in the help section, select the ‘Project Tips Guide’ and you’ll see step by step instructions for building fences, decks, play structures, and picnic tables.

These pages will take you, step by step through the process of building these projects, offer some helpful tips along the way and show you how to make use of a few of the powerful tools in the application.

Happy Building,