This toggles the snap grid on and off. When the snap grid is on, it restricts the crosshair (and therefore clicked points) to the snap interval, as an aid in making clean, accurate models. You can adjust the grid snap interval with the Preferences menu Snap Grid... item. This doesn't have any effect on the light gray background grid lines the crosshair snap grid and the reference grid lines are entirely independent. For clarity, however, you will probably want to set the reference spacing to some multiple of the snap setting.
This toggles the visual display of the reference grids on and off. This has no effect on the snap grid. The spacing and overall size of the reference grids is controlled by Background Grid Lines... in the Preferences menu.
Show Object Info
Show Object Info opens a floating windoid which displays the dimension and location of the selected object. You can edit these numbers by clicking on them and entering the new value for the object. You can also assign materials and change the phase of an object in the Object Info windoid.
Show Phases opens a floating windoid for turning on and off the visibility and editability of "phases," which are the 3D equivalent of "layers" in a 2D program. In the Phases window, a check mark along the left edge sets the "current phase". This is the phase into which all newly created objects go, and where object are placed by Paste operations. Phases can be individually set to be fully editable, locked but visible, or not visible (and therefore also not editable).
Materials > Set Current
This presents a submenu listing all the current session materials. You can select a material and then all objects you make will have that material assigned to them until you change the current material. You can also assign materials to objects with the Object Info windoid.
Materials > Purge Materials...
Purge Materials removes all materials which are not assigned to an object from the session materials. Only these materials will be available for the rest of the session and only these materials will be saved in the file.
Materials > Write Material Prefs
This command will overwrite the DW Material Prefs file with the current session materials. The session materials are based on PICT files in the Textures folder, materials defined in the current model, and materials defined in the DW Material Prefs file. A list of the session materials is displayed in the Materials > Set Current sub menu and in the Object Info windoid materials menu. Be careful about overwriting the Material Prefs file.
In wireframe view selecting this will display an object resembling a fat 3D crosshair. This crosshair shows the current section planes (where a section will be cut when rendered in a setting other than wireframe). You can drag the section planes around so they are where you want a section to be cut.
Adjust orientation shows a bold adjuster crosshair which you can drag in space to change the location of the 0, 0, 0 point. Use the Set to Object and Set to Face menu commands to adjust the angle of orientation.
Setting the working orientation to match an object is a quick and accurate way to draw new objects with a matching rotation or tilt.
Set to Object is very useful when modeling buildings or environments with more than one major grid orientation, as often occurs in some avant-garde styles. Make one grid match the normal world cardinal directions. Then to switch the crosshair alignment to a different grid, just select any object already in that non-orthogonal alignment, and use Set to Object. That sets the arbitrary working orientation to match the second grid system. Subsequently, you can switch between one grid and the other by switching between the normal and the arbitrary working orientations with a click in the tool palette.
Working Orientations > Set to Face
Setting the working orientation to the face of an object is slightly different from setting it to an object. When setting the orientation to the object the orientation is based on the reference point of the object. When setting it to a face it is based on the selected face which may be different than the orientation of the reference point. You must select one face of an object using the Faces Mode Tool to be able to set the orientation to the face of an object.
Working Orientations > Set to Default
Set to Default puts the arbitrary orientation back to the default zero elevation, 45-degree rotation.
The Dimensions Preference allows you set various dimensional aspects of your model. The first setting involves pull-down menus for the units you want to work in. DesignWorkshop supports English and Metric units from miles to millimeters. Next to the units pull-down menu is another menu which allows you to set the precision of the selected unit. You can also set the format you want to use for angle units, as well as the precision.
When you change the working units the dimensions of objects in the model will scale accordingly. If you make a block that is five feet across and then change the working units to meters the size of the block will be listed as 1.64 meters. This is a new behavior in DesignWorkshop, in previous versions you would have had to scale the entire model yourself when changing units.
The next entry adjusts the snap grid spacing, to control the rounding-off of 3D crosshair locations provided by the snap grid. The snap grid spacing also determines the smallest object you can create while the snap grid is turned on. Turning the snap grid on and off is accomplished by toggling the Snap Grid menu item atop the Layout menu, or by clicking on the Grid tool icon in the tool palette. Double-clicking on the Grid tool icon also opens the Dimensions dialog box.
Next in the Dimensions dialog box are settings for the Background Grid Lines, these adjust the spacing between the lines in the background grid, and the overall dimension of the whole grid. These grids are independent of the snap grid, and are for visual reference of scale and spatial orientation only.
Preferences > Circle Faceting...
Circle Faceting adjusts the number of facets used by the Circle and Arc drawing tools, and therefore the "smoothness" of newly created circles and arcs. Setting the number of facets higher will produce more complex objects, which will be smoother, but will also render more slowly. You should generally aim for just enough facets and no more.
Preferences > Handle Snap Sensitivity...
Handle Snap Sensitivity adjusts the active radius for handle-snapping. This comes into effect when the Snap-to-handles tool is turned on (top left of the tool palette). When the 3D distance between a 3D-crosshair mouse-click and any object handle is greater than the snap-to-handle distance, no snapping will occur. When the crosshair is closer to a handle than the snap-to-handle distance, the crosshair will snap to the nearest handle, indicating the exact location of that handle. Handle snapping overrides grid snapping, so you can snap to a precise point even if it is off the set snap grid. To use handle snapping for fine work on a detailed model, the snap-to-handle distance will usually have to be set to a smaller value than the default.
Preferences > Rotation Settings...
Rotation Settings controls the preferences for rotation operations. The upper pop-up menu in the dialog box affects the shift-constraints for both object center rotations and object handles rotations. It sets the fineness of the shift-constraint "notches" provided when rotating objects with the Shift key held down. The lower pop-up menu only affects rotations about object centers. For these operations, the pop-up menu sets how far the object will turn around for a given amount of cursor movement across the screen.
View Control Sensitivity adjusts how much the 3D view changes for a given distance dragged on screen with the Eye and Look tools, and also how much the 3D view changes per click of the arrow keys when using the Eye and Look tools. Setting these to small numbers allows very fine adjustments of the eye and look points, especially when they are adjusted by nudging with arrow keys. Using the arrow keys for fine view adjustments makes it easy to perfect difficult perspective view adjustments. Adjusting with the arrow keys can be particularly helpful because the precise movements they cause can be precisely reversed, for visual comparison of slight view differences.
Preferences > View Cycling...
View Cycling adjusts the relationship between perspective and axonometric views. By default, these view types are independent, so changing the current perspective has no effect on the current axonometric, and vice-versa. With the perspective/axonometric view linking option in effect, the view direction is preserved when switching between the projection types, so at each change of view type the view of the scene remains generally similar. For instance, entering axonometric after getting a new perspective will put the view in a new axonometric, with its zoom and direction derived from the latest perspective.