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I'm changing from LPub4/3D to Stud.io for making instructions and need to get my head around this new software as quickly as possible. So far I'm finding it to be much faster and more efficient to use, but there are a few things I haven't yet been able to figure out...

Firstly, page size. I notice there's an option for x2 size, but even keeping this at the x1 setting, producing an A4 page still results in a PDF at double A4 size. Any ideas on what is happening?

Secondly, LPub had a "treat as part" option for sub-models, but I can't find an equivalent function in Stud.io. Specifically, I want to have a sub-model minifigure show up in PLI and BOM as a single part, rather than have its arms and legs etc. all showing separately. Is there a solution for this?

Thirdly, the rendering feature crashes my laptop, even on the lowest settings. It starts processing then the screen goes black and I have to hard-reboot. Ideas? Is the renderer stable for most users? I don't strictly need the renderer for instructions, but it would be nice if I could get it to work.

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So I have been doing pro instructions for over a year and I do not recommend studio for instructions of a pro-level for anything bigger than a few hundred parts. The layout process and other features are not as flexible as the features in LPub3D. 

That being said, here are a few tricks I use:

  • Instead of setting the page size by inches or centimeters, You will want to set the page by DPI. For nice instructions that will be digital delivery, I use 150 DPI so 8.5"x11" is 1275px x 1650px. For print, I just use the 2x export option to get 300 DPI pages.
  • Once I have all the pages laid out, I export as PNG with a transparent background color. I bring them into Adobe InDesign to put the images on the page as well as add text, covers, page number, etc. 

To answer your other questions, the Minifigs are a work in progress and the updates and info from BrickLink is sparse and scattered. There is not "treat as part" option yet. The renderer may be set to use your GPU, which seems buggy so try it with the CPU. There are also bugs in this part as well. 

Another disadvantage is that you are stuck with the 7 or so page layouts offered, you cannot have a bunch of steps on one page for a small sub-build. There is also no way to have a 2 row callout even tho it is an advertised feature. 

Ultimately, I recommend that the process of putting the parts into steps is done in Studio because the instruction maker step process is very streamlined, but then I export to LDR and bring it into LPub3D for the layout side of things. 

If you want to see the quality of instructions produced in this manner, you can download any of the free instructions in the "trackside accessories" section of Iron Horse Brick Co's website linked below. They are the 150 DPI digital versions that I have described above. 

Also, I know that you have been making instructions for a long time and I would be happy to help you out with any questions. Feel free to PM me if you need more help. 

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On rendering in Stud.io, have you tried a very small model? Maybe your PC just needs more time. My old PC used to take almost an hour to render one step with LPUB. I thought it crashed but it just needed more time. It didn't have enough RAM and GPU wasn't fast enough. Blakbird (many years ago) used to have to leave his renders to process overnight. Try a a small model, 10-20 pieces, see how long it takes. I've noticed POV Ray is a little faster than Photo Real.

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Adding to 1963maniac's advice - use task manager performance to see what is working while you render. Also which render and it's settings you use makes a huge difference.

Edited by knotian

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Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the useful help and suggestions.

I'm still not sure what's happening with the page size, but I found an online tool that will resize it back to A4.

For the minifig I've just deleted it temporarily from the file so as to create a BOM without the fig or its component parts.

And the renderer is no longer crashing my system since changing from the GPU setting to CPU.

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