Filter and Cut Elements in 3D: A Hidden Gem
Filter and Cut Elements in 3D isn’t a hidden addition in ArchiCAD 18. It’s been fairly constant for years. ArchiCAD 17’s addition of Building Materials and how elements are displayed in 3D made it way better, but that really wasn’t a change to this feature. However I have a feeling most users forget that Filter and Cut Elements in 3D exists. In fact as you read this, my hunch is that your response will be a) I didn’t know that existed! or b) oh right! That’s how I did X or turned on/off Y that one time in 3D. I forgot all about that!
Filter and Cut Elements in 3D is another great example of all the different ways we can filter and parse the model. A recent commenter on this post about invisible doors had a great question about how to hide windows and doors in 3D but show the openings. In 2D it’s easy, as it is an option in the Model View Options. But changing the display of doors, windows, and skylights via Model View Options doesn’t affect the 3D window. The solution to this commenter’s question is of course Filter and Cut Elements in 3D. Before I discuss the specific answer to that question, I want to back up and look at everything that Filter and Cut Elements in 3D can do. There aren’t that many features, but there is a lot of power.
You can get there via menus.
1) View Menu
2) Elements in 3D View
3) Filter and Cut Elements in 3D
You can use Tool Bars and Buttons.
Filter and Cut Elements in 3D can also be reached via the down arrow next to the Show Cutting Planes button in the Standard Tool bar.
You can use a Keyboard Shortcut.
CMD+OPT+A (on a Mac) is the default shortcut. I can never remember how that translates to PC buttons. Maybe ALT+CTRL+A?
Stories to Show in 3D
You can show the entire model or limit what is shown to a few (contiguous) stories. You can also have elements trimmed to the extent of a story, or show their full height, if they protrude past the story range (ei, a 20′ column on the first floor could show its full extent even if the model were limited to the first story). Limiting the story range in 3D is great for showing 3D floor plans or the roof cut off a building. Of course 3D cutting planes can also do this. And both 3D cutting planes and Filter and Cut Elements in 3D are saved with the view. So you might be wondering why do we need both ways to cut items? Each works slightly differently. Cutting Planes offer a lot of versatility as you can have as many as you need. And they can be dynamically created in real time, moved, and even rotated. For most of your needs you’ll probably use Cutting Planes. However the other (older) route allows you to cycle through stories one by one, and have elements extend past the limited range (by unchecking Trim Elements to Story Range). As mentioned above, this will allow you to see the full extent of some elements while having others trimmed. Not always super necessary, but it’s good to have. Also if you are using a heavy marquee to view the 3D window, Filter and Cut Elements in 3D makes it easy to restrict from an infinite to a limited range. Finally, if you tend to keep garbage, template, or reference elements on a negative story, you can default your 3D window to never show that story. So if you have a story like -5 Office Standards, you could make sure you never show that while navigating the model with a client. Of course I personally don’t think you should ever keep extraneous schedulable elements in your file (I have enough reasons to fill a post unto itself), but if you do, think about omitting those special stories by limiting the extent of the 3D window.
This is a simple option where you can decide whether the marquee shows what’s inside or outside the bounds of the marque. By default we all use “show inside”. But from a communication standpoint, it’s good to remember the reverse exists. Also we have the option to have the marquee trim or not trim elements it cuts. Again an interesting feature for understanding the way a model is put together and one more tool to aid communication. The images below show a star shaped marquee in plan, and then with ‘show outside’ and then ‘show inside’ selected.
Cut Surface Display
Here you can decide if you want cut elements to show a uniform color or their own attributes (Surface). This works with both OpenGL and the Internal Engine. I used to always choose custom Cut Surface Display color until ArchiCAD 17. My preferred color was a slate gray (though my example shows a bright red; and I know a firm that always used a day glow orange, which was awesome). With Building Materials, all the composites display correctly when cut (all the layers show their individual Surface), so I tend to use the Element Attributes now for cut elements. However going back to my Intelligent Dumbing post, setting a uniform Surface color for all cut elements is a great way to remove distracting information from a discussion with the client (or boss). You don’t always need each piece of a composite to be distinct. Also custom cut display allows you to control the cut pen of the elements in 3D as well, though this only matters if you have contours and thickened lines turned on in the 3D window settings—see this post for more on line weights and pens in 3D.
Element Types to Show in 3D
Finally we come to the answer to the original commenter’s question. Element Types to Show in 3D is a great filter option that lets you turn on or off the visibility of elements by Type (Tool). I have found that the two primary uses of this are turning on or off Zones in 3D and hiding doors, windows, and skylights. Turning on or off windows, doors, and skylights allows you to show empty openings rather than windows or doors, for instance if you are doing a 3D framing diagram. You can of course turn on or off any element type, but windows, doors, and skylights will be the most useful, as it is a way to keep walls on but what’s in them off. It’s worth noting that if you turn off Walls, then Windows and Doors are automatically turned off as well, as these are nested elements. While you can show Walls but hide what’s in them, you can’t do the reverse (hide Walls but still show Windows and Doors). The same goes with Roofs/Shells and Skylights.
Visualizing Zones in 3D offers a lot of uses, everything from creating 3D diagrams (say to visualize cost) to showing basic programmatic massing models. But typically we want Zones hidden, so Zones by default are unchecked. When showing Zones in 3D you can choose (in each individual Zone’s selection settings) to have the Zones inherit Boundary wall and Cropping Element Surfaces or give them a specific Surface (in the image below I set all the Zones to be an Ice Surface). You can of course color code the Zones by changing the Surfaces manually to match the color of the Zones in plan (here’s an example). I really wish Zone colors in 2D and 3D were determined by a Surface that related to their Zone Category so that their 2D and 3D always matched, unless we manually want them changed—that’d be awesome. But alas, as far as I know, that’s not currently possible.
I mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating. All these options are saved within 3D Views (so saved 3D window views or 3D Documents). You can save a 3D view showing only Zones; one showing everything but doors, windows, and skylights; another with all cut surfaces set to bright pink; another excluding certain stories; etc. A good idea for template creation would be to save a few default 3D views that have these different settings attached. That way it’d be very easy to cycle between all the different major options.
In Conclusion… (your IFC lesson for today)
If the developers return to this feature in a future version of ArchiCAD, I’d love to see the ability to filter in 3D (and 2D, why not?!) by IFC Element Classification. In ArchiCAD, a Wall is a Wall if it’s drawn with the Wall tool. But a Wall can have its IFC Element Classification changed to Covering, Railing, Furniture, or whatever other Classification makes the most sense. This is valuable for data exchange, but it’d also be a great way to view the model (and it’s something we can already organize the model by, if we are viewing the data in the Interactive Schedule). So wouldn’t it be awesome to choose what to show in 3D by ArchiCAD tool type OR by IFC Classification type? I think so. It’d probably help the average user pay more attention to IFC properties.
Want more tips and tricks about the 3D window? Read this post: Pen Sets, Part Six: the 3D Window. I’m kind of surprised I didn’t mention the Filter and Cut Elements in 3D dialog box in that post, even if it was to just say “this deserves it’s own post!” Which clearly it does. Finally if anything I wrote doesn’t make sense, you can either ask for clarification in the comments or check out the extensive article about this in the Help Center.
Are you following Graphisoft North America on Twitter? Click Here to keep track of all the latest ArchiCAD news in North America (and beyond).