Tag Archives: 2D

Drawing Complicated Polygons

It often happens that you end up drawing a complicated polygon element with multiple different nodes independent or snapped to other elements. For example, you may be drawing a floor or ceiling plan with the slab tool, snapping to the face of framing. It usually happens that at least one node of the slab ends up snapped to an incorrect point of the wall.

In most cases, I just keep moving and come back and adjust that node after the geometry is fully placed. If it is one of the first nodes of the polygon, I have even just canceled the operation and started over.

But as is the case with ARCHICAD, there is always a better way!


To cancel the last placed node of any polygon element (Slab, Fill, Polyline, Line, Spline, Wall, Beam, Roof, Mesh, Shell and some Objects), you only need to hit the delete key once.


Typing the delete key can be repeated to cancel each previous nodes all the way back to the first placed node. Just keep in mind the minor efficiencies that need to be managed. If you end up undoing multiple nodes just to fix one node, it may be faster just to move on and adjust or hit esc and start over.

New HVAC Library Symbol

A note to Model Managers & Job Captains; our library has a new object that will replace several non-dynamic drafting symbols. The new object is dynamically resizable, and retains a constant arrow size. It has separate pens for the symbol and for the arrowhead, and includes all supply & return symbols. The old symbols will be excluded from the WWA Library 20, so if you have not started adding register symbols to your RCP and Floor Finish plans, use this new symbol instead. If your plans already include the previous 6 symbols, we will create an archive library or load them into your embedded library when the time comes to move into the next version of AC (just look forward 6 or 7 months).

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This single object may develop into a 3d/2d combined object, with controls to turn the 3d component off. For now it is a more versatile version of the collection of 6 mechanical symbols already used in most of our projects.

Future Proof Your BIM Process

The WWA BIM Manual home page describes Why, What and When we model design elements in BIM in a somewhat vague and conceptual way. Understanding this concept is incredibly critical though, since designs change throughout the various phases of the process.

We can not get away with not showing elements simply because we don’t know exactly what they are. A BIM process is centered around exploring what elements are and developing them in a circular process. We can take a basic idea or concept and explore massing to detailed iterations in a very fluid way; and if done correctly, we can either start over or go to final documentation with little or no time loss.

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The perfect example of this work flow and level of detail is cabinetry. Cabinet and built-in elements are not only dependent on the phase, but also the design for the best way to model them and when to add the details.

A flush panel euro style cabinet may be best modeled using morphs from the onset. A more shaker style cabinet with overlay panels may be best suited for cabinet objects with preset doors or custom door components. An inset frameless cabinet with recessed panels may be best modeled with walls and doors.

cabinet process

designing from Custom Profile to Morph to Object(s) ensures a seamless workflow and options to “back-track” without starting over

The important thing to note is that the IDEA portion (LOD 100: Basic shape/size), should always be modeled as basically as possible. This ensures that we do not need to know what style or type the element is at first to at least represent that the idea exists. The process to final documentation should be as gradual as possible, even if we need to show higher level of detail than the current phase warrants.

In the style/process example illustrated above, a cabinet type and door style could easily be transitioned to any other design, with little extra time spent on redoing model elements.

This is also one reason that objects (GDL based elements) offer more flexibility than massing or modeling with individual elements, such as morphs, slabs, walls, beams, columns. With GDL doors or cabinets for example, the door style can be changed globally by simply overwriting or replacing the door panel on all cabinets.

To change a door panel or cabinet type on a single morph element or collection of slabs, beams and columns, significant time needs to be invested into revisiting each cabinet elevation and making individual changes to each.

Modeling Wall Ends

As with everything in ARCHICAD, there are several ways (or seemingly infinite ways in some cases) to model any design conditions. When it comes to a wall end wrapped with a finish or trim, there are only a couple of good options. 1) The wall end tool, and 2) a custom profiled column.

Option 1 falls apart in several conditions and for one specific reason. In floor plan, the wall end has lines that you may not want to see, and in RCP (3d Document) the fills and pens do not match. The reason for this is that the walls use building materials, but the wall end tool is a GDL object which uses fills, not building materials. A fill will never clean up with a building material, so option 1 should be considered an unacceptable solution.

This is crap, dont do this!

Option 2 has the advantage of using a building material, cleaning up perfectly with the wall and looking correct in all views. Additionally this option forces the wall length to be modeled correctly to the actual core length, as opposed to the full wall length (face of finish) that is required for the wall end tool to show correctly. The only shortcoming a complex profiled column has is the column does not move with the wall when the wall is extended or shifted; but its a small amount of coordination to ensure the plans, elevations, model, and RCP all show cleanly and correctly.

Thats a nice looking wall end!

Layouts to AutoCAD Model Space

If you are trying to save out a large number of drawings to DWG, interior elevations for example, and the consultant would rather view all drawings in a single file rather than individual DWG’s for each elevation, I have a solution for this.

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First create a new publisher set. Bring in a view map folder to set up the publisher and translator. Set the publisher to merge to one DWG file. Next open the translator settings.

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This part gets a little odd, but in 3 consecutive tests it worked. The publisher set must have view map items selected before going to the translator settings. You will not have access to the necessary settings if it is a layout book element selected.

In the translator settings set the Save Options to Save layout into: Model Space and Place Drawings into:Single DXF/DWG…

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This will result in a single DWG file containing X-Refs of any published content (View Map or Layout Book). This is particularly useful for saving layouts to DWG, as it will tile all drawings in an equally spaced row and provide a source file in a single folder for all X-Refs in the master drawing file. You will need to share both these, the DWG and the X-Ref folder, with the consultants.

Exploding PDF’s!

As many are aware, one of the new features to ArchiCAD 18 was the “explode PDF” function. This became very useful this morning in streamlining the creation of manufacturer specific details and components. The product cut sheet was from Hafele, and the linework on the sheet seemed to have originated from a vector file (essential for conversion from PDF back to linework; exploding a pdf that is all point/pixel images will result in no content or image files only).Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 9.04.31 AM

Simply drop the PDF onto any ArchiCAD 18 window, right click and select “Explode into Current View”. The ArchiCAD default short cut for this is command + =, or the function is available from the edit > reshape drop down.Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 9.04.41 AM

The next window gives options for incorporated the images layers, line types, fill types, applying uniform fonts and pens, etc. In most cases I uncheck the “Keep Original Elements After Exploding” box.Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 9.04.50 AM

The result is a series of figures, lines, fills, polylines, text boxes (for recognized fonts), and other editable elements.Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 9.05.00 AM

A quick clean up of the un-needed elements and a consolidation of linework and fills results in a ready to use detail from a manufacturers cut sheet.Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 9.05.49 AM Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 9.05.58 AM

Also worth noting is the easy transition of this linework into a more consolidated and easy to populate GSM object file. In the case of this Hafele drawing, it will only appear in one drawing for one project, but if the product is used widely throughout the project or on multiple projects GDL is always better than fragmented lines and fills.

Last of all, this feature is only available for AC18 and later. If you need to explode a pdf for an AC17 project you can explode it in a separate AC18 pln file and save as an ArchiCAD17 Project for copy and paste.

Spline Leaders & On-Screen View Options

Using the spline tool as a leader for dimension text offset or as an arrow for annotation on details, sections, elevations, interior elevations, or plan elements can be an effective method if used properly. If used improperly it creates a nuisance to clean up later. The spline should start from the text box in a horizontal direction, not angled up or down; from here it can make one or more bends to get to the arrow head that the text is associated with.

Below is an example of what the text/spline relationship should NOT look like:

Bad SplinesNotice the splines arc or angle directly from the text box. To correct this go to the View drop down > On-Screen View Options > Spline Handles:

On-Screen View Options

This will turn on the spline handles as a non-print (view only) element. Drag the handles to start directly horizontal from the spline origin at the text:

Correct SplinesThese handles are available without the on-screen view options set to show spline handles, but they will only be visible/accessible if the spline is selected and will show as a faint green editing handle.


To ensure that splines are tangential when first placed set your spline options to “Natural” in the spline or info box settings. The following examples were all traced from the same 6 points, but only the Natural setting creates a consistently tangential curve:

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Drafting Aids- Cursor Snap Variant

This one may become obsolete once AC19 is released, there are some really cool looking guide-line features and additions being implemented with the new version. In the mean time, this may be helpful for anyone working on details or SD models with buildings at varied angles.

The cursor snap variant options are only adjustable after you start drawing an element (2d or 3d), and while holding shift to lock to a specific axis. The selected cursor snap variant will be applied for all elements in all views until it is changed.

The default snap variant is perpendicular, but at times I find it helpful to change to vertical or horizontal when moving elements to associate between two different angles. It can be a quicker/easier solution than trying to set up hotspots, temporary guide line, or line/polyline place holders to move or place elements.

In the video notice the light dashed extension direction from the line end to the cursor location, and how the orientation changes with each variant.