Category Archives: Sketchup

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

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.