Tag Archives: Details

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.

A Note on Marker/View Types

All markers have three types (with the exception of Interior Elevations, which must be a Source Marker); Source, Linked and Unlinked.

Source markers generate content based on model elements. Linked markers reference an already created source content or view. Unlinked markers are a blank slate that reference not model or drafted content or existing view.

A marker may be changed from source to linked, but any source content will either be missing or translated to 2d elements. This is irreversible, and for elevations and sections, new source markers and subsequent views will need to be created. Linked or unlinked markers can not be changed to source markers. Linked markers may be changed to unlinked markers, and unlinked markers may be changed to linked markers.

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Moral of the story; do not change source markers/views to linked or unlinked markers. You can create a work sheet from any view if you need to explode view content, or place a new marker if you need the source marker to reference a different drawing.

Another Linked Marker/Navigator Graphic

This is a little redundant from my last post, but think it bears repeating (and this graphic is pretty cool!). Linked markers should be linked to the view map, not the layout book in order to maximize future flexibility of the layout book organization.

The image below should be a little more clear than my previous post. In the diagram below; source markers (1. Project Map) create views (2. View Window) such as the FP Section Detail or the Building Section. Linked markers can be a variation or additional content on a source marker or can be created from and independent or unlinked view, such as the roof details. All these are then saved as unique views (3. View Map), and linked to their markers before being placed to a layout (4. Layout Book). Linked markers should not be placed with reference to layout book drawings.Linked Marker Work FlowAs stated in the last post, this should be the practice, but if your project is already in the CD phase and has linked markers associated directly to layout drawings, do not attempt to redo the view map or layout book. Just be very diligent about reviewing all linked markers whenever a drawing is relocated, removed or moved to a new sheet.

View Map vs Layout Book & Linked Markers

There are several ways to use the navigator/organizer functions to produce a final set of documents. Some are easier to manage, some are better for maximizing flexibility. Some view map organizations have the advantage of being easy to set up and add to through the CD phase. Some navigator/view map management practices are just horrible for everything.

Here is a post with a great 10 minute video from Shoegnome explaining the Navigator vs. Organizer and what the pieces of the navigator (Project Map, View Map, Layout Book and Publisher) really are. One of the best parts of Jared’s post is the graphic explaining how one portion of the navigator relates to the next and really builds it up to more than its own parts.


What this really means for detailing and the details structure is that a single source for details is possible, but that each unique detail should have its own source in the view map. There may be a Project Map item named 1″ Roof Details that has all standard roof details. Each detail on that window should then be saved into the view map with its own name and view settings, so that you will have 1″ Roof Details in the Project Map saved as Eave Detail, Ridge Detail, Barge Detail… each with unique view (Layer, Scale, MVO, Dimension Style, Zoom settings) in the View Map. The detail Views should then be placed to the appropriate layout.

This organization then has the advantage of quick, consistent, reliable and easy placement of linked markers. Linked markers should always link to the view map. If a marker links to a drawing on a layout the markers reference can potentially become severed if the drawing is moved to a new sheet. If the linked marker is linked to the first placed view of a view map item, that drawing can move anywhere, it can be cut and pasted, deleted and replaced, etc. and the linked marker will always re-reference the placed view.

Linked Marker ReferencesIts important to note this only applies to linked markers. Source markers always have their own unique relationship to the Project Map > View Map > Layout Book. If you are working on a project that already has a different View Map structure, or that already has its linked markers set to “The selected drawing” (layout item not view map item) special attention will need to be taken when setting up layouts or rearranging drawings and layouts. If a linked marker is linked to a layout drawing instead of a view map item, and the drawing is cut and pasted to relocate to a new sheet, it will loose the relationship to the drawing and appear as a yet to be placed drawing.

Detail Marker

To move a drawing to a new layout from a project already set up incorrectly, use the organizer to move the the drawing. Drag the drawing from one sheet to the new sheet in the layout book portion of the navigator.


I want to stress again, if your markers are linked to layout items, not copy (or cut) and paste to relocate drawings, your linked markers will loose their reference to the drawings. If you are just starting to set up and build your views, or just starting to layout markers, each view that will go onto a layout should have its own view map item, and all linked markers should reference The first drawing of the selected view.

There will be more to come on this topic, and possibly some new additions to our BIM Manual. For now, don’t hesitate to ask if this is in anyway unclear.

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.

GDL for Details

There have been many discussions and posts regarding basic GDL creation. But I think to most people, GDL and even the Object tool in its entirety is generally thought of as a solution to 3D elements.

Custom GDL objects can be used to make drafting project details much more efficient. It can also make adjusting details more efficient. In the following detail there are several elements that are carried through several details, and the exact location of these elements can vary from one detail to another. The door rail hardware, roller shade, & caulking/backer rod can all be more easily placed and adjusted  if they are saved as a GDL object in place of lines, arcs and fills.Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 9.27.50 AM

Some things to keep in mind when saving a 2D detail object:

  • Always place a fill behind the lines, arcs, & polylines before saving the object
  • Always place hotspots at critical snap points for accurate placement and adjustment
  • Default snap points for objects with no hotspots prior to saving are the 4 corners & center point only
  • Take a screen shot of the detail elements before saving to use as a preview image

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 9.32.00 AMScreen Shot 2015-04-09 at 9.31.01 AM

Now when adjusting the detail or drawing a new detail, the elements needed are in uniform objects capable of masking (using the fill) and can be moved, rotated or otherwise adjusted with a single click with no grouping needed. As an added bonus, there is a fill as part of the object so the element can be selected with a single click anywhere on the objects surface.

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Today a file had mysterious missing walls and floors after the site had been inserted and trimmed to the building. After looking into it, the operator for the site trim was a slab the height of the building.

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There are a few words of advice I will share with everyone regarding using solid element operators:

First, and most closely related to this issue is, that if you have a building element already in place (in this case the floor slab and basement walls) that can act as the operator, use it. It is not necessary to turn an operator off once the operation has been made, it can be part of the final building model and visible in all views.

Next, an operator that is not associated with a building element and is actually on the SEO layer should be as minimum as possible. As you may remember from the post on trimming door and window casings, we used a single plane morph object as the operator. The operator should be as simple as possible to perform its function.

The last note on using solid element operators is to use operators that relate only to their targets. As an example of this, we often see rafter tails trimmed by a profiled beam or wall. A rafter tail should never be associated as a target of an operator located on the other side of the building or along another wall line. In the image below Maggie has used a single operator for all rafters along each wall face, rather than selecting all rafter tails and all SEO beams and performing a single blanket operation.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 4.39.43 PM