another example of the diverse uses of 3d documents.  I needed to illustrate the framing layers for a box bay built into the main wall framing.  A simple section detail did not tell the whole story, but about 45 seconds of modeling and a quick 3d document makes everything clear.

How do you use 3d documents? As part of construction documents, design documents, marketing documents, construction administration?

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I recently discovered you can classify and thus schedule edge types and their associated lengths, materials, angles, etc.  Here are some sample screen shots of a quick roof schedule I started.  This requires a lot more leg work in editing, setting and insertion roofs and slabs; but gives a quick reference for builders, subs and consultants interested in roof quantities.

take a look; any thoughts?


So I am laying out details for a project this morning.  I have roughly half the detail markers placed, and generally my workflow dictates that I place the details as I create them; it helps track placement.

At less than 30 details I was losing track of what has been placed.  I though “what if I just go back through and check for marker notation to verify placement”.  This was obnoxious and tedious, even on a small project.  Then I realized if I open the drawing manager, highlight the details (they only show up in the drawing manager if they are placed on a sheet), and cross reference my navigator I have a quick check for detail placement.

This also works for any number of drawing types, but since details are the bulk of unique drawings in a set this is where my main focus is today.

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I have been using a lot of the lightworks+sketch engines to produce some quick and cool effects.

Jared Banks from shoegnome has discussed a similar effect on his youtube channel:

This is a quick case study on trim to be presented to a DCRC later this afternoon…  hmm, DCRC, four letters that may drive me to drinking

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One of my favorite projects is half way through the design review process.  Most of the changes suggested (and insisted) by the DRB make the project better, the last image is an example of “I told you so”.  But they insisted, and we gave it to them.

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A little material editing quick tip; if you uncheck the “disable unrelated controls” box at the top of the material editing window you get the editing settings for the internal engine and the lightworks engine at the same time… making matching windows a lot easier…


So I’ve been getting a bit of buzz about the Revit exploded axon post.  A lot of comments like “why would you NEED this?”

The answer is, of course we don’t NEED this, and there are work arounds.  I have a lot of content on various blogs and Linkedin posts regarding second detail files for typical 3d documents.  Here is one of those documents for a step by step window flashing diagram using an exploded axon.

I have a layer setting for each step.  Step 1= layer 1, Step 2= layer 1 & layer 2…

The trick is when you get to the exploded views, I have a layer 7a which is included in step 7 but not 8 and a layer 7b which is included in step 8 but not step 7…

I can help but feel that an exploded axon function similar to what I have seen from Revits capabilities would simplify this extra layer solution.

Do you use exploded axons? what software do you use, and how do you do built up (exploded) axons?



A new contemporary craftsman home concept for Bend, OR

Source: archrenderings
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A series of concept renderings for a home (now built) in the greater Washington DC area.  Modeled and rendered in archicad using the native light works engine.

Source: archrenderings

This is a follow up post to the project north and north arrow “how to” I had up the other day.

It is critical to have a realistic environment for you BIM model.  Project north is the start of setting this up.  A real elevation (set to story 0) is the next step, a real location with longitude and latitude is next.

Lastly we need to analyze the building in real time; using day, month and time settings.

All of these settings are accessible from theView menu> 3D View Options> 3D projection settings> More Sun (button in pop up window)> Project Location (button in pop up window).  There is a seperate access to project location from the ArchiCAD menu> Project Preferences> Project Location.

It may be a little vague to some why these settings are usefull or even critical; if thats the case keep your eyes open for more to come on the uses for these settings and the need for accuracy.


I caught this on AutoDesks facebook page today.  I don’t use Revit, and haven’t even had the program open in years, but apparently there is an exploded axon function to the software.

In ArchiCAD I have done exploded axons, but using layers and a lot of doubled up model elements.  This would be a cool function for Graphisoft to look into.

Any one know of a way to do this easier than my current method?


Modeling contours with the mesh tool can be tedious if you don’t have a survey with z coordinates to import.  Many of our surveys come in as flat dwg’s or pdfs.

We painstakingly trace the property lines and contours (many times over simplifying the contours for speed and ease of use).

Once all the contours are traced, elevating these contours is actually relatively quick.  If you select a single contour, select “elevate mesh point” from the pet pallet, set the contour per surveyors height and check the apply to all box before hitting ok.

For a site plan like the one shown in the image, it is a matter of 15 or 20 minutes of “drawing” the contours, and about 2 minutes of inputting elevations.


There may be other ways to do this, and this may seem like a work around, but its one I use every day (probably a hundred times or more).

When I place a few lines, a fill, some trim whatever it is, then want to adjust a setting or offset them, change material, etc. command+Z, Command+option+Z (Undo, Redo) will select whatever the last placed object(s) were.

When you get quick with these key strokes its a quick selection tool.

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If you have multiple site plans or multiple stories requiring North Arrows and need to ensure your project north is always consistent (I know not usually a big deal…), there are three simple steps to get your 2d symbol to stay constant.

First set project north, Under the ArchiCAD drop down: Project Preferences>Set Project North.

Second set project north, think of this like a rotate command.  I use a survey for best accuracy, but for most projects a screen shot of google earth or google maps will suffice if a survey is not available.

Last go to the settings for ArchiCAD’s north symbol and check the box for the symbol to follow project north.

I see a lot of designers ignore ArchiCADs settings for location and environment controls.  The software has great abilities to analyze local conditions dependent on longitude, latitude, altitude, orientation, time, day, month, etc.  Learn them, you never know when an accurate sun study is going to really sell the design.