Category Archives: Quick Tips

Isolating Elements

Working efficiently in ARCHICAD boils down to isolating out only the portions of the model you need to view. Viewing the entire model at all times is inefficient and ineffective, since plans can look to cluttered, 3d can be too slow, and section and elevation views may show more content than is relevant to the work that needs to be done.

Isolating elements out is done by the following methods (and different methods may be more useful in certain views than others):

  1. By Selection
  2. By Marquee
  3. By Layers
  4. By Renovation Status (not shown in video below)
  5. By Filter and Cut in 3d Palette
  6. By Cutting Planes

The following video quickly covers most of these methods of isolating elements in plan and 3d.


Selecting Elements

Working efficiently in ARCHICAD is critical, but not always easy. There are so many ways to model or draw everything, it is hard to know if you are using the most stream lined process.

A few things can help speed up your modeling and navigation work. In a series I am working on for the next Lunch and Learn presentation, we are going to explore the following:

  1. Efficiently Selecting ARCHICAD elements
  2. Isolating portions of a view
  3. Editing elements and groups of elements
  4. Efficient modeling
  5. Efficient drafting and drawing

The first series is covered here in the following videos:

Selecting Elements –

1) Find and Select

2) Selections Palette

3) Arrow Tool Options

4) Marquee Tool Options

5) Selecting Elements by Tool or Element Type

Arrow & Marquee Basics

The Arrow and Marquee tools seem simple enough, but there are some ways to use them to maximize efficiency.

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Arrow Tool Options


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Marquee Tool Settings

The basic Arrow Tool settings in the Info Box palette are:

  • Selection Method
  • Geometry Method
  • Quick Selection
  • Selection Type (for Morph Tool only)

For the Marquee Tool, the Info Box includes:

  • Selection Method
  • Geometry Method

The Arrow Selection Method is similar to “Crossing Window” settings in AutoCAD, where direction of the click/drag/selection dictates what is included in a selection. Option 1 is to include all elements in the crossing window, Option 2 is to include only elements entirely within the crossing window, and Option 3 is to include all for Right to Left selections and only elements entirely in the window for Left to Right selections.

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Geometry method options are for rectangular selections, rotated rectangle, or polygon selections.

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The Quick Selection option is one that really boosts efficiency when mastered. Preferences on default settings vary; but I work with the Quick Selection option on. This feature determines wether clicking on the face or surface of an element selects the element or not. For example, you may want to start a drag selection by clicking inside a room and selecting all furniture in that room. To do this without selecting the slab, you need to have Quick Selection off. The shortcut for toggling this option on/off is to hold the Space bar down while initiating an arrow selection.

The fourth command on the arrow tool settings is the Selection Type. This feature can also be switched by default, but since it is a feature limited to the Morph tool, I recommend leaving it on the bold/gray (Normal) arrow by default. If you need to switch to the open/white (Sub Element) arrow, the shortcut for that is Control+Shift. This allows you to click on or select parts of a morph. Finding the right balance between all 4 arrow settings is key to working effectively with Morphs.

The Marquee is a bit simpler. The Selection method option is just a light or bold marquee. Those are for all visible elements on all stories, or just the current story (in plan view). These can be used for isolating parts of the model (F4: Show Selection/Marquee in 3d), stretching the model, selecting elements within a marquee, and more. The Geometry Method can be really useful for isolating portions of a model with specific limitations and shapes.

Pen 0 and Pen -1

Pen 0 and Pen -1 have specific functions, as background pens for fills; to show transparent or solid white but matches the background (regardless of work environment customization of the background color).

These pens can be a bit dangerous if applied to anything but the background pen of a fill or cut element.

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In the case of a file audited this morning, there were over 500 3d elements using Pen -1 as the foreground and, in some cases, the contour pen of model elements. This resulted in a file prone to crashes, and lengthy error warning cycles.

I was able to fix these by using a combination of the element ID manager and the Find and Select tool. Read about that here.

In the end, it is best to avoid pens -1 and 0 whenever possible. Pen -1 should be replaced in your workflow habits with pen 91 or 51. Those pens are always white for all pen sets. In many cases, especially with drafting and cover fills, pen 0 is unavoidable, but should still be used carefully, so as to not apply it to anything other than background pen settings.

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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