uMake brings sketch-model paradigm to iPad

Draw a few lines, then manipulate them in 3D space.

A team that includes some of the original developers of what became AutoCAD 360 have created a new iPad app turns sketching into a 3D design experience. The company and the app are both called, uMake, now available in the Apple App Store.

The market for uMake is professional designers, people who make a living turning sketches into product ideas. There are many digital tools for initial sketch/design but they all share one attribute: they are limited to 2D.

uMake uses sketch planes to allow what seems like a 2D process to work in three dimensions. (Source: uMake)
uMake uses sketch planes to allow what seems like a 2D process to work in three dimensions. (Source: uMake)

Key to uMake’s move to the third dimension is a technology called sketch planes, planes that relate to one or two points placed on curves. Once a sketch plane is defined in space, it will change its orientation axis depending on camera angle; the goal is for the sketch plane to remain perpendicular to the camera view. This also allows plans that are offset from the standard X, Y, and Z center planes. Users can sketch on these planes just as they would on the center plane; curves placed on these new planes are offset from the center line.

Aurelien François, senior designer and community manager at Local Motors has been using the pre-release version. “It now takes rudimentary 2D sketching skills to turn an idea into a model that is then usable within most 3D software. Doodling during meetings has never been that useful and easy.”

CAption for embed #1: Using uMake on the iPad to sketch-model a yacht design. (Source: uMake)

Following the Onshape freemium model, uMake offers free use of the software for up to 10 design files with export limited to PNG. A subscription plan ($14.95/month or $149/annual) gets unlimited files, export to IGES and OBJ, advanced editing capabilities, and the ability to add up to 3 photos as a reference in a design.

uMake co-founders are Evi Meyer and Erik Sapir, both from the design team Autodesk acquired when they made a mobile equivalent of AutoCAD better than what Autodesk was doing.

iPad system requirements: Requires iOS 8.4 or later. Compatible with iPad Air, iPad Air Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad Air 2, iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 3 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 4 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad Pro, and iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular.

A video created by uMake with a side-by-side comparison of initial sketching in SolidWorks and uMake. (Source: uMake)