Forget jumping into the deep end and trying to just design something in CAD. You literally have to start over like you are in high school geometry. And if you think the words ‘line’ and ‘curve’ mean the same thing (Which they do in the CAD world) then you are light years ahead of me. After some amount of research to find the most user friendly and widely utilized software program, I landed on Rhino 3D. Normal prices were $1000, but with a friendly student discount courtesy of someone close to me who is a professor I was in business for a more digestible price of $195.
Normally, I’m a read through the manual kind of person but when the manual feels like it is in a foreign language that’s a red flag. After additional funds were spent, I signed up for an online course and spent the next two weeks learning about planar curves, offsetting surfaces, sweeping rails, and how to boolean union things. Then I spent about another month and a half creating basic shapes, blending the surfaces of a sphere and box together, and sketching free form shapes. Every time I learned a bit more, I attempted to dive head first into one of my designs only to get stuck on creating a circle that was just flat. It was defeating to say the least.
Learning Rhino and how to create structurally sound CAD files took several months. I watched what felt like a zillion YouTube videos (Shout out to PJ Chen the Rhino guru). I amassed dozens of files that contained basic shapes on different planes with different surfaces. And slowly but surely it started to come together. It definitely didn’t hurt that I had worked in photoshop for so many years, as inherently those platforms have lots of the same commands. And like the algebra we all took in grade school, if you don’t use it you forget it. I can go as few as a week or two without being in the program and there is definitely a readjustment period to remember commands and where things are located.
So am I happy that I learned CAD? 1000%. It’s given me all the freedom to design and refine as much as I want. I am constantly tweaking things, and my husband has told me he’s pretty sure I’ll never be satisfied with them. He’s right too. Even when I think I’m done I’m always going back and looking at them and changing this or that just a hair. No one would probably notice but me. But I think that’s how the process works. It set me back several months, but to have total control over your designs and not have to depend on having anyone interpret you ‘vision’ was work all the wait.