The potential advantages of freehand sketches have beenÂ widely recognized and exploited in many fields especially inÂ engineering design and analysis. This is mainly because theÂ freehand sketches are an efficient and natural way for users toÂ visually communicate ideas. However, due to a lack ofÂ fundamental techniques for understanding them, sketch-basedÂ interfaces have not yet evolved as the preferred computingÂ platform over traditional menu-based tools. In this paper, weÂ address the specific challenge of transforming informal andÂ ambiguous freehand inputs to more formalized and structuredÂ representations. We present a domain- independent, multistroke,Â multi- primitive beautification method which detectsÂ and uses the spatial relationships implied in the sketches.Â Spatial relationships are represented as geometric constraintsÂ and satisfied by a geometric constraint solver. To demonstrateÂ the utility of this technique and also to build a natural workingÂ environment for structural analysis in early design, we haveÂ developed FEAsy (acronym for Finite Element Analysis madeÂ easy) as shown in Fig. 1. This tool allows the users toÂ transform, simulate and analyze their finite element modelsÂ quickly and easily through freehand sketching, just as theyÂ would draw on paper. Further, we have also developed simple,Â domain specific rules-based algorithms for recognizing theÂ commonly used symbols and for understanding the differentÂ contexts in finite element modeling. Finally, we illustrate theÂ proposed approach with a few examples.
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