Author Archives: wwabim

Generating Custom Skyboxes for BIMx

A custom skybox can be really useful for locating your project on a real site. Here are the steps to create a custom skybox.

  1. In Google Earth, locate your project site, and snap screen shots of the site at 15º increments. Use google earth navigation tools to keep the horizon line consistent for each of the panoramic images. This is critical to get the images to stitch together properly.01 google earth navigation
  2. Using photoshop’s Photomerge… function, stitch the screen shots into a seamless panoramic image.02 ps import03 ps import
  3. In photoshop, resize the image/canvas so that it is a 2:1 ratio. 10000×5000 pixels works well.
  4. Align the panoramic view so the horizon is just above the middle of the canvas04 ps editd
  5. Add a custom sky to the background, since the panoramic sky will not be high enough to fill the screen. Chris has recommended this site for high quality sky images:
  6. All foreground can be blacked out, since the foreground will be under the site mesh.
  7. Save the final panoramic view as a .jpg
  8. Convert the panorama into 6 skybox images. If the image is not tiling or wrapping, it will not convert properly. If this happens, use photoshops Offset command to ensure the seam between the right and left tiles properly. To convert to skybox images use:
  9. Save each of the 6 sides to a .png image, where each of the side’s images will be named: Right = XP, Left = XN, Front = ZP, Back = ZN, Top = YP, Bottom = YN05 convert to skybox06 skybox naming
  10. Open each of the 6 files in photoshop again, and save them to .tga format
  11. Locate the bimx skybox images. Got to Applications > Graphisoft > BIMx. Right click on the BIM application, choose “show package contents”07 locate bimx files
  12. I have a separate folder added to the Resources folder to archive the default images. Move all default .tga image files in this folder, then move the custom skybox images into the resource folder. Make sure the naming and format of these 6 files is an exact match for the original. If the file does not stitch together properly, it could be an incorrect naming order. Note that XN & XP/ZN & ZP are opposite each other, YN & YP are always top & bottom.08 replace skybox images
  13. After the .tga files are loaded into the applications folder, your BIMx app will use it as the default skybox from now on. If you need to revert back to the generic skybox, just save out the custom .tga to your project folder on the file server, and relocate the default .tga images to the main Resources folder. It is important to note that the sky box is specific to each computer, so every project team member will need to load the skybox images before they open BIMx.
  14. If, when opening BIMx, the background is not oriented properly, use the BIMx setting for Sun Position to properly locate North. This is a setting that will need to be adjusted for each time BIMx is opened.




Locate Door in Frame

I have been asked about this 3x this week; so here’s the location of this setting:

Door position within the frame:

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Door Settings > Cadimage Door > Main Frame > Door Setback from Frame:

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As a bonus, the settings for spacing between multiple doors is set here:

Door Settings > Cadimage Door > Door Type > Field C

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Connecting Sea Level & Morphs

Today I have been working on translating a .dwg survey into existing conditions for neighboring buildings for a remodel. The survey locates windows for neighboring properties, giving sill height, head height, and window width only. All dimensions are relative to sea level.

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To locate these windows correctly, I first set the Altitude (Sea Level) properly.From here I could place temporary morph lines in plan to locate center line of windows and other building features.

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Then, in the morph element settings, I set the height relative to Sea Level, and matched the sill and head height described in the survey.

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From this point, it was just a matter of matching and stretching the windows to the morph lines in 3d or elevation.

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Quick Layers Palette

In 2018 I am revamping the WWABIM site with new quick tips. These will be short messages and tips to help improve your workflow, efficiency and general proficiency at modeling and documenting in ARCHICAD. This is the first tip of the year!

Use the quick layers palette! This palette will allow you to turn layers on/off, cycle through previous custom layer sets, and more with out the need to tediously sort through the layer settings dialog.

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Options on the quick layers palette are to hide/lock/unlock a selections layer(s), or all layers not selected, and to switch back to previous/next custom layer combinations. This allows you to turn groups of element’s layers on at once, instead of sorting through the layer lists.

I recommend using the quick layers palette as a standard to your work environment. If you want to strip palettes and tool bars out of your w/e, you can also assign a shortcut to show/hide this palette, similar to how most have a shortcut for the solid element operations palette.

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3d Lines & Drafting

Our BIM Manual has a description of what we model, when we model elements, and why we model them. The third element, the “why”, is one of the most important parts of managing a high quality model, and producing accurate and well coordinated documents from that model.

With this in mind, a lot of our project teams have been pushing the boundaries of even the most basic drafting elements. One example of this is in site models & plans, specifically property lines and setbacks. Intuitively, it makes sense to use polylines or even fills for this. Thinking outside the box however, it makes more sense to use a 3d element, such as a grid or a morph.



Using a 3d solution allows you to coordinate the property & setback lines on all (or select) stories simultaneously with fewer elements. It also allows coordination of the building in 3d. Since our final CD Site Plans are typically drafted anyway, this is largely a process and 3d solution. But using a morph does allow for boundary line type & pen control, so it can also be incorporated into the final documents.

Scheduling Doors & Windows to Zones

This has come up before, but seems to be even more difficult now that we have started migrating to ARCHICAD 21. There are some key steps to make sure that Doors and Windows schedule to zones properly.

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  1. Make sure zones are set to the face of finish of all walls
  2. Make sure zones do not overlap
  3. Zones and schedule elements need to live on the same stories. This may mean you have a zone for a room in a vaulted space for multiple stories.
  4. Doors need to be set to the “exterior” is set facing the zone. This is not the direction of the door swing, but rather the scripted interior/exterior definition of the doors. You can use the Flip command in the door/window settings to redefine interior or exterior, and rotate/mirror to re-align the door or window to the correct direction.
  5. Doors can not be more than 4′-6″ from their home story to schedule to zones correctly. Windows have more flexibility.
  6. Doors & Windows should occupy an entire wall; meaning walls should not be narrower or shorter than the doors or windows in them.
  7. Doors and Windows should be on the same renovation status as the zones they are scheduling to.

These rules should allow doors and windows to schedule to zones correctly.



Interesting Composite Glitch

This is an interesting glitch we ran into today in a migrated project (started in AC16, now in AC20). The file runs pretty well for having passed through so many versions of AC, but there is an interesting error in the composites, one that I was able to replicate to some degree even in AC21 (non-migrated file).

If a composites skin separator is set to “off”, it may appear correct in the plan view (view map or project map), but show with remnants of the skin separator in the drawing (view placed to a layout).

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In the image above, the line selected is deselected, and even though the pen is set to “21”, which is a white skin separator pen in our template, the glitch occurs.

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As you can see above, the composite shows correctly with no skin separators.

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However, once placed onto a layout, the skin separator shows in places. Some composites, depending on skin settings and line/pen types, show up.

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However, by turning the skin separator “on”, as in the image above, and setting all hidden separators to pen 21/41/61 (depending on composite type), we can achieve the desired results, as seen in the image of the placed drawing below.

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