Working with Sketchup + ARCHICAD

At last nights user group meeting there was a small discussion/aside regarding working with Sketchup & ARCHICAD. Since we have quite a few projects coordinating with Sketchup consultants I figure this is a good place to share that conversation and a few additional resources and thoughts.

First, the comment was made that a lot of the GRAPHISOFT Help Center content regarding Sketchup coordination is outdated. This is true, but ARCHICAD’s youtube channel has two very recent (AC17) videos that are still worth a quick watch:

In addition to these videos here are a few of my thoughts for best practices when working with Sketchup based consultants.


Saving to Sketchup from ARCHICAD:

  1. You must export from the 3D window of ARCHICAD
  2. Run a polycount (Window > Palettes > Polycount) before saving to sketchup
  3. Reduce the model area to the minimum necessary with a bold marquee + Show Selection/Marquee in 3D
  4. If the polygon count is too high, reduce the 3d content by turning off layers or isolating only critical content in the 3D window before saving
  5. After saving, you will have the option to turn layers or elements off, but it is best to check this before saving to ensure you are not turning critical model elements off
  6. Surfaces will be saved as part of the sketchup model, so when opened in sketchup it will look surprisingly similar to the original ARCHICAD view (this is not necessarily the case for bringing in SKP models).

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 2.45.36 PMOn a “quick” test of exporting I took a 3d view from my GDL sandbox file and had the following results:

  • 144 polygons     19+ minutes to save      29.8 MB SKP file
  • 86 polygons        8 minutes to save         17.5 MB SKP file
  • 55 polygons        6 minutes to save         12.9 MB SKP file
  • 16 polygons        10- seconds to save      2.7 MB SKP file

From this test it seems apparent that it is better to break the model into separate parts if necessary than to try to save as a single large model. For example you could have a site.skp, treesandplants.skp, building.skp, furniture.skp. If all exported models have a common 3d element or point it will be easy to reassemble the model on the consultants end. This will also make the SKP files more email-able.


Importing Sketchup Files Into ARCHICAD:

  1. It is absolutely critical to Merge the Sketchup file into a separate instance of ARCHICAD
  2. This separate test or sandbox file should use the template attributes to ensure any final elements pasted into your project will not pollute your file
  3. Sketchup objects imported into your project will come in as an object and will include their own attributes. These will be added as “from imported surface_…” named surfaces once the object is converted to morphs.
  4. Convert to morphs in the sandbox file and set to a generic surface from the template before copy/pasting into your project
  5. Sketchup objects turned to morphs should be used as a starting place or template for rebuilding using ARCHICAD tools such as walls, slabs roofs, or morphs. The original Sketchup morphs should then be deleted.
  6. Verify there are no SKP objects hanging around your embedded library after all Sketchup elements have been remodeled/reworked. These will add to file size and cause unnecessary library clutter. The consultants SKP file should live on the file server, so it can always be re-referenced into your model if necessary.
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One thought on “Working with Sketchup + ARCHICAD

  1. Pingback: Sketchup as GDL | WWA BIM

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