If you found yourself here, you are probably thinking about learning parametric design or you have already started your journey. Besides, probably due to tons of work, hobbies, and family duties your time is limited so it is important to get the most educational value out of the time you have available. Good news – you’ve come to the right place! Although learning parametric design is not something that happens overnight, putting a couple of the following tips into daily practice can help you get more out of it. Check out how to learn parametric design effectively and efficiently!
Table of Contents
HOW TO LEARN PARAMETRIC DESIGN FAST?
Choose proper software
You have to choose just one at the beginning because working on many types of software can actually make learning less effective. Most of the software programs have different approaches. Interfaces can differ quite significantly and it can be difficult to switch smoothly between them. How to choose the right one, you ask? That’s a tricky question because it depends on what software you use on a daily basis.
Are you an architect using Archicad? You should definitely go for Grasshopper. Same if you are designing in Trimble software as Tekla. Live link between these softwares was created several years ago and works perfectly. Every year developers work on improving connection and coming with new options.
If you are one of the Revit fans and you can not imagine your life without Autodesk Software, Dynamo will be your natural choice. But not the only one. Using Speckle and RhinoInside you can easily jump between softwares. Remember about it.
Bentley users will choose GenerativeComponents – one of the first parametric solutions on the market. GC is being used by many companies and helps architects and engineers to automate design processes and accelerate design iterations.
FME software gives a huge variety of uses with different types of software and probably is the best option for all people working with GIS. On top of that is Marionette which works well with Vectorworks software.
Quite a wide choice, right?
Still don’t know what to choose? Just ask people! Write a post one LN or private message to PD experts. Explain your workflow and reasons for applying parametric design. For sure you will find someone who did that reconnaissance before and knows answers for your questions already.
Focus on learning computational thinking
OK, let’s assume that you chose your software. Good. However, mastering software skills is not just one thing you are going to do. Instead of hyper-focusing on learning a specific software, you should also learn solving problems in a way that a computer will understand. We call it computational thinking. In other words, you need to improve your skills at concepts like pattern recognition, algorithms, and abstractions. The better you understand these principles, the easier it will be to learn and understand the way scripts work.
Read these 2 books. They are awesome!
Computational Thinking (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series) – An introduction to computational thinking – CLICK
AAD Algorithms-Aided Design – This book is mainly focused on Grasshopper ,but presents one of the best explanations of computational thinking together with algorithms-aided design – CLICK
Start with foundations
Parametric design software has tons of options and components/nodes to choose from. On one hand, it is good because software has enormous versatility of use. On the other hand though, it’s bad for all new beginners. Numbers of options can scare away and discourage at the beginning of the journey. Moreover, there are plenty of new phrases to learn. You can be surprised with new terms such: brep, nurbs, booleans, mesh, untrimmed surface, and so one.
I always suggest to the participants of my courses to build strong fundamentals to become a pro. Focus on the following topics to begin learning as they are common for every PD software:
- Data Types
Pro TIP: Pay a lot of attention to the data structure. Learn the concepts. Always have a panel/watch nearby as you develop a script, to check outputs and see how the data tree is structured.
Start learning parametric design with foundations
Learn tips & tricks
It is good to know software tips and tricks from the very start. Knowing some of the shortcuts can save a lot of time for creating your scripts. Knowing small tricks can make life easier and make your work more fun. I forgot about this aspect while learning PD. I spent hours on doing things over and over again while I should have made it with just one click.
Keep Learning the same new things in different ways
When you are learning a new language, it is important to keep practising the language in order to maintain skills you’ve already acquired – “use-it-or-lose-it”. Same applies to learning Parametric Design. You will get the best results by learning regularly and in more than one way:
By learning in more than one way, you’re further cementing the already acquired knowledge.
Try to understand the underlying logic behind described scripts instead of blindly following it!
For Grasshopper users…
… I have prepered a guide with tons of free materials. Everybody will find something intresting there. Books, Exercises, Videos, Tutorials and much more. Just subscribe to our community and you will get an email with 5 Steps to Learn Grasshopper
Are there any materials you recommend and want to share with us?
Write an email and we will update this list – firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn computional design by doing
Everybody knows that putting new knowledge and skills into practice is one of the best ways to improve learning. Without applying your programming skills in a few projects, you wouldn’t even be considered as a parametric design geek.
Build your First Project then!
Start small, but think big. Your project should involve the skills you currently have in your toolbox. Do not start with making a 3D model of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing. It is a cool project, I know, but start with something simpler, rectangular, and just jump into it. Learn by doing: Make a big mess, try new ideas, get frustrated, troubleshoot, etc. There are limitless ways to solve the same programming problem, which invites your creative approaches. At the beginning for sure, you will make weird scripts difficult to follow. But keep making them in the way you understand them. Afterwards, you will have more time to optimize your algorithms and make them simpler.
Teach what you've learned to another person
For me, this is the best way to learn. This is always a kind of a test. Review if you have understood a concept correctly by explaining it to someone else who may be having troubles. Help your colleagues at work or write a blog/LinkedIn post. Share your newly learned skills and knowledge with others.
You can learn parametric design alone just as you can teach yourself to play the violin — but that doesn’t mean you’ll know how to play in an orchestra. That comes from playing and practising with others. Participate in a group discussion or even organize hackathons where you solve particular problems. Learning parametric design with others doesn’t just help your learning experience — it helps the outcome.
Go through someone else’s script
Checking every component/node in the script made by another person, testing each part to see which components are used and how they work, can be a good way of learning. In this way, you will get a better understanding of the big picture. Try to find some examples on the forums or just ask for someone’s script. Remember to share your script back with the community if you improved a part of the program you were fiddling with.
Ask for help
Pushing yourself hard to figure out some problem just by yourself can be beneficial. But there’s a point of diminishing returns when it makes sense to ask. Especially when you feel stuck, getting more and more errors or your program is crashing without any message. Don’t give up and do not hesitate to ask for help. There are plenty of discussion forums and people eager to help you!
Conclusion about learning parametric design
I hope after reading this article you are urged to learn parametric design alongside computational thinking. We will continue with this serie and soon you will be ready to apply your gained knowledge to your first project and have a lot of fun. I know that can take time and it always takes practice and determination to establish new habits. Start by focusing on just a few of these tips to see if you can get more out of it.
What are your ways of learning parametric design? What software are you using?
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