Examples of Graphic Data Cheats

card-sleeve-webresYou may have noticed that I’ve been talking more and more about Graphic Data, Metadata, and Digital Approximations. Today I want to focus a little more on Graphic Data. The nice thing about Graphic Data is that it’s not real. It’s just about communication. That means we can cheat a little. We can make some moves that expedite prettiness and clarity while not sacrificing other BIM value. Because in the end, sometimes you get to a point in documentation where you find a stubborn joint or other graphic discrepancy. The model is correct. The quantities are correct. But for some annoying reason the drawings are a little off. To be fair, ArchiCAD keeps improving and these instances are happening less and less. Junctions and Building Materials are a godsend. BUT…sometimes you reach a point and there’s a problem. And when you remember my breakdown of data, it’s better to keep the Digital Approximations pure and let the cheating happen with the Graphic Data. Because after all, its effects aren’t spreading everywhere. This will be the first of a few posts looking at the issue of fixing Graphic Data without compromising deeper BIM value.

Is it laziness or a smart cheat?

I have a cheat I like to call the DIAMOND OF LAZINESS: a fill shaped like a diamond to cover a line between two elements that won’t merge in a particular view (say two adjoining walls or a wall and a slab). Of course the ideal is to have the objects merge. The elder statesman of ArchiCAD Blogs, Onland.info has the best trick I’ve ever seen for solving this issue of non-merging walls for 2D and 3D: fixing wall corners with columns. The technique is a little outdated because ArchiCAD has improved so much since the tip was written in July of 2010 (fun fact: James Murray posted it the same week I started blogging about ArchiCAD on Shoegnome). That said, read James’ post and take advantage of it where it still applies. You will be a better ArchiCAD user for having done so.

While less elegant, my technique also works when the issue is just 2D graphics and not something that affects the usability of the 3D model. Even though I don’t use a diamond anymore, I still think Diamond of Laziness is a catchy title. Here’s what I do: I create a rectangular fill, turn on true line weights, zoom in, and bring the fill right up to the end of the thickened lines on either end of the line that I need to hide. It’s fast and less 2D to keep track of than if you use lines and fills to be perfect (ei, bring the cover fill to the end of the object and use lines to cover where the fill hits the lines of the 3D elements). Why bother being perfect by snapping to elements in this scenario? You’re cheating. Be a good, smart cheater. Sometimes drawings are due in 3 hrs or you’re having to finish work that doesn’t meet your standards. To fix things properly (either with perfectly constructed 2D or by reassembling the 3D) is not a good use of your time. Get it done. Cheat smart.


The funny thing is that I used to see new users do a similar trick and it drove me crazy. I used to think “if you are going to cheat, be perfect about it!” I wanted them to make sure the fill covered the full extents, snapped to other elements, and looked right with or without true line weights on. I was wrong. Sometimes when we get off our high horses we can learn a thing or two. What bothered me about this technique when done by new users was not the solution itself but that it was used to deal with sloppy modeling. The Diamond of Laziness isn’t about fixing bad modeling, it’s about fixing graphics, it’s about modeling correctly and then deciding that a 10 second graphic fix is a better solution than trying to understand why the elements that are behaving correctly in every other way, have one minor issue—an issue that doesn’t affect a 3D walk-through, schedules, plans, etc.

More Graphic Fixes

I cover some other graphic shortcuts in this old post. In the first video, towards the end I show you how to get access to distorted fills that are created when viewing objects at odd angles. Since I did the second video on making pretty interior elevations, I learned some better tricks. The old method is still worth knowing. It’s a great shortcut and a must-have in your ArchiCAD bag of tricks. But however good it is, let’s be honest: it’s a work-around. It’s a good one. A smart one. A fast one. But it’s not ideal. Here’s a better solution for interior elevations. The video in the preceding link uses the Interior Elevation Tool and Model View Options to create near perfect interior elevations with ZERO graphic data cheating or 2D graphic fixes. Ideally, like this improved method shows, all  2D graphic fixes will be replaced with better complete (BIM-based) solutions, but in the meantime I have come to the realization that proper, fast cheats are a good route.

secret-photl600wWhat dirty secrets do you use to put the final graphic touches on your otherwise near perfect drawings? ArchiCAD can automatically generate so much from the model, especially now in ArchiCAD 17. But we’ll (for the foreseeable future) need the occasional sneaky cheat, probably. Just remember, these are NOT aimed at fixing your sloppy modeling. They are here to cover that final short distance of an otherwise well done job.

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  1. Eduardo

    Instead of using a fill I have been using Morphs (using SEO to place in the walls) with the result that I don’t have to fix multiple sections/elevations. Obviously done as a quick fix not a permanent one

    • Jared Banks

      Eduardo, I think that’s a great solution. I was just discussing this over on my blog in the comments here: http://www.shoegnome.com/2014/01/06/interior-elevations-in-archicad/#comment-19331 Ben Hruska built a GDL object that does something similar. You can get it here: http://archicad-talk.graphisoft.com/object_depository.php (under 09 Finishes).

      With a morph with zero thickness I’d think you wouldn’t even need to do SEO (unless you’d see the edges?). What I like about the Morph is that you’d get the distorted fills automatically because it’s also a 3D Object). And I have to agree having the fix show up in multiple spots is great.

      I wonder if BMats and PBC would also allow some other interesting solutions.

  2. Eduardo

    I’ll have to check but a possible problem with the 0″ Morph is that either you have to do a “bring to front” in each view or you have to place it a small distance in front of the wall which might cause error when modeling if you snap to the Morph instead of the wall. By having the Morph have thickness you can embed it in the wall.


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