Beautiful 3D Documents (Part 1)

One of the many benefits of blogging about ArchiCAD is that I get to know a lot of wonderful users around the world. I keep telling myself (and my wife) that—once we start traveling again (we want our daughters to be a little older and my wife is in school through May, 2013)—there are so many people I can’t wait to meet in person and have coffee or beer with. I got a taste of that this past summer while in Boston (where I got to meet both a bunch of wonderful ArchiCAD users and most of the GRAPHISOFT North America team) and again this fall when I went to events in both Boston and Washington, D.C.. The big goal is of course to find an excuse to make it out to Budapest.

I1.2 LIVING ROOM FP 2 _ AutorebWell these images, which are 3D documents generated in ArchiCAD, come from one of my long-distance ArchiCAD buddies. Patrick is a kindred spirit. Like me he’s a young designer and father, exploring how ArchiCAD helps make him the architect he wants to be. I originally learned about these images from Patrick’s blog. He shares a lot of ArchiCAD and BIM thoughts, plus plenty of beautiful images from his work at Christian Gladu Design Studio.

Some things to note:

I love seeing leaders that all align: both the justification of the text and the angle of the arrows. All that’s missing is to put them on a vertical grid so that the spacing between notes matches. But that’s just pinklining. More to the point, I really like the color used to designate king and jack studs (the red and orange, respectively). It’s so clear to understand where the headers bear thanks to that. Now notice one thing. What do you think the headers are? In one of the images you’ll see a note for a 4 x 6 flat, but it reads similar to the top plates, which I imagine are double 2 x 4s. LINE BETWEEN BEAMSHowever it’s a bit hard to read that. How could we improve the legibility? One trick would be to create a second material that looks identical to the first. We don’t know if Patrick modeled each 2 x 4 individually or just used one beam that is 3″ deep. If they are separate elements, if we assigned one Wood (1) and the other Wood (2), then in the 3D document we’d see a line between the lumber. The trick would be to make Wood (1) and Wood (2) identical materials; that way they would have the same color, but since ArchiCAD just cares about whether they are the same or different material, it’ll put a line between them. If Patrick is modeling both 2 x 4s as one beam, he could use a complex profile and still separate the two 2 x 4s by selecting different materials for different fills or parts of an edge.

Something cool and something to think about:

Patrick modeled and scripted the masonry portion of the fireplace to match the exact Isokern specs. We’ll have to pester him to share that object on Now think about this: Patrick has done a very nice, legible, and detailed model. The contractor is going to have an easy time reading these images. But what’s next? A materials list perhaps. There’s a few ways to tackle that in ArchiCAD. It should be fairly easy to use Interactive Schedules. OR… this AECBytes article by Thomas M. Simmons of ARCHIVISTA shows another native way to do material takeoffs within ArchiCAD. It’s quite easy once you try it. Finally you could also look at an add-on like ArchiQuant by Cigraph, which I’ve heard wonderful things about (but haven’t personally used). The important thing to remember is that Patrick has already done the hard part: getting the detail in the model. The rest is just parsing.

I1.1 LIVING ROOM FP 1 _ AutorebWant some more thoughts on 3D Documents?

Here’s one of my first posts on BIM Engine. In case you didn’t know, I think the 3D Document is one of the most powerful communication tools we have within ArchiCAD and if you aren’t using it to it’s breaking point, then you’re documentation isn’t as good as it should be.


After I started this post I asked Patrick a few questions. His responses are just too wonderful not to share. So keep an eye out for a follow up post in the next few days where I do a short interview with Patrick.




1 Comment

  1. Cody Fox

    ArchiCAD does have some really good printouts of the 3D models.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *