ArchiCAD Tutorial: How to Trace 2D Drawings to Quickly Create a 3D Model

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1 ArchiCAD Tutorial: How to Trace 2D Drawings to Quickly Create a 3D Model Hello, this is Eric Bobrow of Bobrow Consulting Group, creator of the ArchiCAD MasterTemplate with another ArchiCAD video tip. In today's tip, we will be looking at how to take existing drawings to use them as a reference for tracing and turning the drawings into a 3D model in ArchiCAD very quickly and easily. Here you see a residence designed by our client Farshad Azarnoush of Atelier Architects based here in Los Angeles. This residence, you can see the rendering that he has done. And you can see on the right here a number of DWG files that he was kind enough to supply to us as the basis for our video tip today. [0:00:48] Here we have a new file; the ArchiCAD MasterTemplate being the basis of the file. I'm going to select some of the initial elements that are place holders and we're going to delete them and get started bringing in the DWG files. The basic approach we are going to take is to create a worksheet for each of the DWG files. So we are going to open a new independent worksheet, and we will name this "A-3 First Floor Plan". [0:01:27] Now we have a blank worksheet, and I will go ahead and import the external drawing here from this folder where I've got all of them collected. When I select it, it will say "What is the scale?" And this drawing unit typically for U.S. users would be 1 inch. If it were for international usage, it might be 1 mm or 1 m. Whatever it is, you will need to pick the proper unit drawing size and then place the drawing. I'm going to use the project origin or the origin of the worksheet as the location for dropping this in. [0:02:13] That will allow us to use the reference for multiple drawings to coordinate easily. You can see that the drawing is actually located here, but the extent of it is quite a bit larger; probably because there are some entity origins or a little element off to the side. So I'm going to crop this in using the pet palette, and we will zoom to fit in window and take a look at that, and crop it in a little bit tighter. [0:02:51] Okay, so you can see a first floor plan. There's a garage in the back with a couple of cars. A nice round area for many windows; and double door entrance door here on the left. I'm going to create another worksheet, and this one will be the second floor plan. And I will import the second floor DWG. Select the drawing, crop it, fit in window. You'll notice that there are some other miscellaneous drawings here. I will zoom in a little bit so you can see them, but we won't actually need to look at them in this particular case. He has placed some stair details and sections that he was working on in this area. [0:04:07] We'll leave them visible, but we'll be referring to the second floor plan here. Now I would like to make sure that the second floor plan in the worksheet lines up cleanly with the first floor plan so we can use

2 the same reference throughout all the different stories. So I will use trace and reference. So I'll go here to the trace and reference palette and bring it up. And then I will go and select the first floor plan here. Say I would like to show the DWG as a trace reference underneath. [0:04:40] Now I will change the color so it's a little bit more visible, and you can see that it is in the same area. Let's just double check that it really is exactly aligned. And it looks pretty good. Let's use the slider here, and we can see as I move this over that it does match beautifully. If I take it sideways here, you can see how the corner of this building matches on both sides. So we know that these two line up perfectly well. [0:05:12] Now we're not going to reference the two DWG's to each other to work on it, we are going to reference one of them at a time, but we do want to make sure that they are properly aligned. Now I'm going to bring in another worksheet, and this one will be the roof plan. So here you can see the roof plan. Now I'm going to double check that the roof plan lines up with the second floor plan, and it did not appear. What does that mean? [0:05:47] If I zoom out, you can see that the roof plan is not in line with the second floor plan in terms of its relationship to the origin. So it's important when we are going to be referencing it that all of these are the same place. So first and second work beautifully, but this one I am going to have to drag. I'm going to drag the drawing into approximate position, and then zoom in tight enough that I can snap it neatly into place. And now you can see they perfectly line up. I can again use the trace and reference comparison. [0:06:24] We are now going to create a new worksheet to bring in the DWG elevations. This will be one of the elevations we will be working on, and this one here will be the other one that we will be working on matching. Now we will create another independent worksheet for the DWG section drawings. When we bring in the elevations and sections, we don't have to worry about lining them up with the floor plan immediately. What we'll be doing is when we are bringing up an elevation to work on it; we will at that point coordinate the view of the elevation. [0:07:13] We look at a section here. You can see the drawing and some information about the height that we're working on. So here's another section. Okay, so we are now in a position to start drawing the model. I'm going to go back to the floor plan. Let's take a look at the first floor plan DWG file as a trace reference. When I do that and I fit in window, we'll see that it's way over here. Now, in many cases, I would move that trace and reference to a convenient location, but if I do that, then I will have to move each of the trace and references: first floor, second floor, and roof plan in exactly the same way. [0:08:14] And while that is certainly possible to do, I'm going to use a different approach which I found works quite effectively. I'm simply going to select the original massing model base that we've got in

3 MasterTemplate along with the elevations and section markers and grids and just move them into position here. That will work just fine. We may need to move the elevation markers or the section markers, and of course the grid lines will need to be adjusted. But that's a good starting point there. [0:08:50] Now in addition, before I get started, I'm going to look at the heights of the stories in this model. The 1385 is going to be our first floor finished floor. And you can see the top of the plate here is 9'3". But I'm going to measure using the Measure command here. And I'll just measure say from somewhere along this line to here. And you can see it says 9'3", matching the dimension from the DWG file. If I go up here, it's 10'9". So I'm going to remember that it is 10'9" from story to story; and then up to here it's 19'9", so it's another 9'. [0:09:32] In the story settings, we'll see the first floor is set obviously at zero as a generic starting point, but I need to raise it up to the 1385 if I'm going to match these heights. Now it turns out if I try to type this in at 1385 it will not allow me to do it. It will not allow me to take it higher than the second floor, which is a 10. So it will actually stop at a 10. But what I can do instead is to say, "Well, the second floor really needs to be way up at ," because remember this was 10'9" above. So I'm going to type in 1395 foot 9 inches, and that raises up the second floor to that height. Then I can go and adjust this to 1385, and it will happily allow me to do that and will indicate that there is 10'9" between it and the next floor. [0:10:30] We do have the 9' that we need up to the top plate. Now the foundation of course should not be anywhere near this. I'm going to say since it is a slab on grade, it does not have a basement, I will say it's 4' below. This is something that could be adjusted later but is not important at the moment. So I'll just bring it to something in the vicinity. [0:10:50] If I select these elements, you can see this ground plane here is up to , and this one here we will just take it up to the 1385 so it's a nice even number. So let's go back to the floor plan, and we will start to draw on top of this building. So we are going to now use this as a reference. We can go and select the Wall tool and set it up the way we want, but I will take advantage of the interactive legend that we have in MasterTemplate as a quick way to get the settings. [0:11:29] So I will bring up the interactive legend worksheet, which allows us to go, for example, and see a whole lot of different elements here that we can use the eyedropper for. These are visual favorites, part of our MasterTemplate system. And I will go and say I'd like to look at some simple modeling. Because right now I just really want to get a basic shell. So in simple modeling, you can see that we have very plain walls of different thicknesses. [0:12:00] I will go and take the exterior wall at 5.5'. And I'll go back to my working area, and I'll zoom in on an area where I'd like to start this. Now I'll zoom in a little further, because I want to make sure that I have

4 the thickness of the wall correct. And perhaps we will make this trace just a little bit deeper so it's a little bit easier to see. When I measure, I can use the Measure tool here and click on this point and go across. You can see it's 5.5", and that happens to be the thickness of the wall that I wanted. And as I recall, we had a 10'9" from story to story, and I know we want to have, in this case, 13 inches or 1'1" for the slab. So I will make the height of the wall, instead of being 9 feet, it will be 9'8". [0:13:00] And there is the 5.5". And I will start drawing a wall at this point. Actually I need to zoom in a little bit because there is more than one snap point there. Click and you can see it's a nice 180, so it's snapping to a very clean point. The distances are not necessarily even, they are whatever the DWG file created, but I do want to be very careful that I'm snapping to the 90 marks, because occasionally there are points that are easy to miss. [0:13:40] So I will just finish this series of walls here. You'll notice that when I stop I'm no longer able to see through the wall to the door behind it. However, with the trace and reference palette, I can go and click on make fills and zones transparent, which affects only the display. In other words, if you printed, it would not affect it. When I do that, you can see now there is a door behind it. I will go on, and I know the next series of walls here are actually thinner. If I measure from here using the M key to measure, it says that it's 3.5". [0:14:19] So I will specify this at 3.5". Just to quickly get the thickness of the walls correct, any place where the wall is too thin, I'm going to go along and select it. Here in the wall is correctly 3.5", but this one needs to get wider. So I'll go back and quickly select anything that is too narrow. This one looks like it may actually need to be done even bigger. But we will check that later. So I'll go and get anything where I notice that it is too narrow, and I will change it from the 3.5" to 5.5". And all of those that I selected will then update. [0:15:12] So let's take a look then at what I've drawn here. If I were to take the reference off, you can see that I've drawn the shell of the building, and if I take a 3D view, we will see the shell as being very easily built up. Now let's go up to the second floor. I'm going to navigate up one story to the second floor. I'm on the second floor; I'm not seeing any walls. You can see that when I turn off the reference. However, I don't want to be looking at the first floor plan as a DWG as a reference, I would like to reference the second floor plan. So I will say show this one as a trace reference. And you can see now how it appears in view. And I will zoom in on the main area that's built up, because a lot of this is covered by the roof for the floor below. [0:16:18] I'll go to the Wall tool, and in this case I remember that my wall only needs to be 9' high instead of the 9'8". And we will set it for the thicker component and see how that works. If it actually is too thick, then we will change that, and just set it for a chain of walls. Okay, so we've now got the shell for the second floor. And if I go to 3D, we'll see them hanging above the first floor. [0:17:03]

5 So I will go ahead and put a little bit of a roof on this, or there is a back terrace. So I will go and use the Slab tool. And I know that this slab needs to be, in general terms, 1'1" thick. And I will tell it to use a very simple top color in its initial massing. And I'll just draw this down here, and then take this and also extend it across here. And just for the series of editing operations, very quickly bring this up to the size and shape it needs to be. [0:18:12] And here I will say that I'm going to add, but I'll use a polygon shape and trace that. So now if I go to 3D, I've got a base for the second floor and a roof over one part of the first floor. And I'm going to change the edge material to match the wall exterior color so that it actually will blend in in sections and elevations. So at this point, in just a few minutes, we've been able to create a building shell. Let's take a look at how this relates to the sections and elevations. [0:19:09] I'm going to go ahead and put in some windows before I do that, because it will make it a little easier to see the correspondence. So I'll go back to the first floor and switch our reference to the first floor DWG, and we'll start putting in some windows and doors. It's very similar to what Farshad did in his original drawing. Now having made those slight changes, I will use the eyedropper to say now the next window will be like that. I will go and pop this one in. I will not worry about moving the marker into position precisely; I'll just go ahead and put in each of these windows. [0:20:00] Now notice that this window is the wrong size. I will select it and use the option to move this end and snap it directly to the trace below. So now it's exactly the same size as was on the plan. And I will go around now and very quickly put in some other windows. So now we have most of the windows for the second floor and the first floor. And if I go to 3D, we will see at least a basic idea of the demonstration. [0:20:36] So now let's take a look at an elevation. So I can go and look at the elevations from the DWG file, and there were five of them. But what I would really like to do is generate an elevation from the current model. So I'm going to open up our clone folder where the elevations have automatically been assembled based on the original elevation markers that were drawn in the template. And I will take the south elevation. [0:21:04] When the south elevation comes up, we see the beginnings of the building shell along with pieces of the interactive legend. You can see that there are some components that we can eyedrop. So if I wanted to I could go and say pick up this female figure and drop her into the view to give some scale. So I've got the beginning of this elevation. Now I want to compare it with trace and reference to the elevation here that is drawn in the DWG file. So I will right click on this and say show as trace reference. [0:21:42] When I do that and say fit in window, remember that there were several of these. Well in his case, I know that the one I care about is this one here. And I will bring it approximately into position and zoom. You can see that it will get a little tighter, and move these windows down in the general area. Now you

6 can start seeing the relationship where we have three windows here and three windows there; and these actually should match. Now I need to find a reference point to align this up precisely, so I will snap this corner of the building right here to my corner of my model right there. [0:22:35] You can see now that these two windows precisely line up and other points will precisely work. You can see the line of the wall matches. Let me use the slider to be able to show how the wall line is perfectly lined up there. And if I move over, the height of the finished floor specified as 1385 is precisely lining up. So I have my vertical and horizontal dimensions working and on the other side as well you can see this line right here is working. So I'm snapped into position. [0:23:19] Now, I'm going to go and make these windows look like they should or closer, at least in terms of size, but I will point out here and when I talked to the architect, he immediately looked at this and said, "Oh my, our drawings aren't coordinated." So obviously the building model, which is showing the windows from the floor plan, matches for these two but does not for this one or the other three. And that is something that needs to be reconciled. [0:23:49] In the meantime, what I'll do is take these three windows and move them up into position so that they have the right header height. It is actually 8' you can see, relative to the wall base. And then I'll measure the height from here to here; it's 3'. So I will select these two windows and tell them to be 3'x3' instead of 3'x5'. And you'll see they now match the size there. This other window here actually is the right size, it's 3'x5', but we do have an offset. [0:24:37] Now if I moved it to match it in the elevation, it would be in a different place on the floor plan. So at this point I will make a note as I said to discuss this with the architect and mention that there is a difference that needs to be reconciled. Repeat the process of switching it to the feature window using the syringe - Ctrl+Alt+click or Command+Option+click; and in this case the elevation here has a different value but still the grid, 1'x3' top and bottom, and 1'x2' in the middle. [0:25:27] At this point, I can compare the original drawing with my elevation that I'm creating. You can see how closely this is starting to match. And that's probably all we need to set right now. So I'll go in and put this door in matching the corner and make sure that it's the right size. I'll stretch it back to match the DWG, and then use the editable hotspot to change the opening to be the right size. [0:26:39] Now I can go in and put in the double door, and it's almost perfect right away, but I'm going to go and stretch it to match the DWG and use the editable hotspot to open it to the same width. And this time I'll use the eyedropper and put in another door here, which does of course match symmetrically. So if I go to the 3D view, we'll see that we have some doors as well as windows and the building has started to take shape. [0:27:34]

7 So I'm prepared now to do the roof system, which is of course somewhat complex. I will jump up to the second floor using the keyboard shortcut for that. Now I'm looking at the second floor. And I will switch my reference to - actually I will use the DWG file now for the roof plan. And you can see the roof plan, if I hold down the mouse, it's going to show just the main lines and turn off the hatch lines. So you can see the system of the roof on the second floor and also the roof below on the first floor. And I'm going to be following those lines as I work with this. [0:28:30] I'm drawing this on the second floor. T here are different approaches to creating roofs. I'm going to create these roofs on the second floor at a certain height. I'm not going to worry about the height right now; I'm going to adjust that in the elevation and section views to match. But I will set up the slope. And there notification in a few different places that say the slope is 6 and 12. So I will go in here and change the slope to 6 and 12, and change the top of the roof here to a simple color. [0:29:08] We'll change the height of the roof. I believe 10 inches is probably a better size for the fascia. As I said, I'm not going to worry about the height of the roof because we'll be adjusting it. But I will set it down to be lower on this story because it's actually going to be - I will create the roof that covers the first floor right now. And this is the roof lower level. So I'll go and trace this, so I will say that it's resting on this edge with a pivot line and going up. [0:29:53] And we will do a rectangle initially up to here. Then I will select that roof and go and add some more to it. I will add, but this time in a triangle. Now I have to subtract that a couple of spaces here. So I'll say subtract, and then I will just simplify the edge outline a little bit to here. I think this point - so we have a roof. We will take a look at the south elevation and see where this roof is. So if I look at this, you can see that it's matching the general shape that was in the original drawing, but it's a little too high. [0:31:46] So I will go ahead and set it carefully down, dragging it into position. Now you can see the bottom, and the edge is precisely correct and it's very closely lining up with the original drawing. Whether the original drawing is correct or not I'm not sure; but our model is certainly close and representing that. Now this one looks like a bigger difference and maybe there's a discrepancy in the drawing since everything else is matching pretty well within an inch or two. [0:32:27] I'll go ahead and create the rest of the roof system. Actually I will go ahead and look at the west elevation and make sure that this really is precisely fitting in. You can see that my roof is matching pretty closely, but perhaps I should set the height just a little bit better here where I can see it. So I will just move this up, and now it's really cleanly matching the top of that drawing, very beautifully matching that. And if I go back to the south elevation, we will see that adjustment. [0:33:21] That makes it work a little better along this whole face, but it's a little bit high compared to this. So this may relate to the fascia board dropping down a little bit. So I won't worry about that. In fact this now

8 looks so clean that I will say we are right on the money. However, this part looks like it needs revision in the drawing, not in the model. Now I'm going to go and create the rest of the roof system by actually mirroring copies of this around and taking this and breaking off pieces. If I look at this now, you can see the roof system is starting to take shape. So I will do some quick roof editing. [0:35:02] Now I have a few more of the roof pieces working. So we now have a shell of a building with all the roof systems working except for this one I will clean up a little bit. We'll go in and select some elements we would like to trim. I'll use the Solid Element Operations palette here, make these the target, select this roof and make it the operator, tell it to subtract with upward extrusion. That will take off the top of the wall. And as we rotate this around I'll take this wall as the target and these three roofs as operators and make them relate. And then I can select this wall and stretch this up and it will neatly fit underneath there. [0:37:00] Now everything in terms of the shell is there except for the curved roofs, the conical roof segment. So I will go in and create the first one of these. We'll take a look at the west elevation here and set the elevation of this little piece to be the correct height. Then we'll take this and multiply it. And from previous testing, I figured out that it was 9 that this was drawn, there were 40 copies, and so I can make 39 new ones after the original one and create this around like that. Go back to 3D, and we now have a pretty nice looking shell of the building. [0:39:01] When I go to the west elevation, you'll see that this now is starting to really match the original drawing. And I can even get more detailed with some of the modeling. So for example, take this door height up to here and switch it to an arched-top door, keeping the same size using this parameter transfer - Alt+Ctrl or Option+Command. And then go to the elevation here and say that we want to take it up I believe 8'6" or 8'8" will work. And then I can take this up to 8'. Now you'll notice that it's looking rather segmented. I can change the curve revolution here to a much larger number. [0:40:23] I will say 100 or maybe that's too much. We'll say 72. Say OK, and you can see now that's matching pretty nicely. And probably 8'6" is better. And we'll make this shoulder height a plain 8'. And we'll go to the masonry arch and choose something to put the brickwork on top. And I know that the bricks are a little wide, so we'll just make the masonry mortar as thin as possible to not emphasize in the elevation and make the height of the brick 6". [0:41:23] I will make the brick a little deeper so it shows through the wall properly. We now have the brick arch looking very similar to the original drawing. And we'll take this door up to a reasonable height. And finally make this window also be an arched top. And that now matches quite closely. So here we have a model that was created in literally just over 90 minutes while recording this demonstration. It shows the building's basic shell with most of the doors and windows in their proper position. And I'm able to generate at the same time elevations here that very closely match the original drawings. [0:42:42]

9 So you can see the original drawings and the work that was done here. The floor plan is starting to take shape as well. Here is the original one, and here is what has been created for the shell of the building and the second floor here. In just over 90 minutes, using the two DWG files as a trace reference, the modeling becomes very simple and quick and is accurate or at least as accurate as the original drawings are. [0:43:57] Thank you for watching. This is Eric Bobrow of Bobrow Consulting Group, creator of the ArchiCAD MasterTemplate with your ArchiCAD video tip. [END OF AUDIO 0:44:07]

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