Sketchup as GDL

A while ago I gleaned a bit of GDL object advice from Nathan Hildebrandt from Fulton Trotter. He suggested saving a 3d model from ARCHICAD to Sketchup, then merging it back in as a GDL object. I think his use of this method is more large scale context elements, but I want to focus on smaller/simpler objects. I’ll get to the advantages of this in a minute, for now here is the process:

Create your object using morph, wall, slab, beam, column and roof elements as you would any other 3d GDL element. Make sure all surfaces are properly placed and aligned. Place the main image surface’s element and origin point at 0,0,0 xyz coordinates. When you go to save it, rather than saving a GDL from the library menu, save as an SKP from the File > Save As menu.
Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 8.13.50 AM

Next import the file back into ARCHICAD using the File > File Special > Merge command. See the article on working with Sketchup for more detailed advice on this process.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 8.09.56 AM

Now for the advantages of this method of saving objects. The first advantage is you do not need image specific surfaces, once the Sketchup file has been imported the surface can be deleted, all surfaces are embedded in the object (but will be added back to the attributes if you convert the object back to morphs). The second advantage is, since the surfaces are part of the object and not pulled from the attributes, you do not need to worry about alignment of the surface to the object, it will always maintain proper surface position. The final advantage of this object type is the image will scale automatically with the image size. With a normal surface based object you would need a separate surface for each different sized element.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 8.12.24 AM

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 8.12.50 AM

So what would we use this trick for? As I said, I think Nathan’s Tweet was suggesting this solution for whole buildings & context, which is a good solution if we need detailed context without bringing in additional attributes. I like this solution for things like TVs, pictures, posters, signage, rugs, etc. Any element with a non-repeating pattern or surface that will be placed multiple times and resized could benefit from this object type.

Now for the disadvantage(s). Unlike a traditional object type, the surfaces do not seem to be editable once the SKP file is merged. All scripts seem really basic for an object like this, so I am working on solving this problem to allow some surfaces to have an adjustable parameter, and will follow up with a post or sample script when I solve this final piece.
Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 8.13.31 AM


2 thoughts on “Sketchup as GDL

  1. Dave Tka

    Did you get along with these GDL scripting parts? Im interessted in some information about the Skechtup generated 3D-Script and if i can change through Archicad the Material. It would make the 3D Warehouse things morgen useable 🙂


    1. wwabim Post author

      you can, it’s just a matter of redefining the hard coded surface definitions to a flexible parameter. But I find this an unnecessary step for the type of objects you get out of SKP > GDL translation. You can always convert to morph & re-save from there.



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