February 20

New Video Tip – How to Trace 2D Drawings to Create Your Model


I have prepared a new video tip on a topic that should be of interest to many ArchiCAD users. In this demonstration, I show how to bring in 2D drawings (in this case, DWG files) as a tracing reference to make it easy and fast to create an accurate 3D model.

The video may be viewed here:

At this point, it is about 90 minutes long, and shows every step along the way. I plan to condense it down to focus on the principles and show only the most important steps. Note that for this long version there is a timeline control strip, so you can jump to any point you wish, or replay sections at will.

Here is an outline of the process:

  • Create a new project
  • Import the DWG files into separate Worksheets and coordinate their origin points
  • Set up the Story Levels to correspond to the project heights
  • Use Virtual Trace to reference the ground floor DWG as a background while working on the ground floor plan
  • Move the original MasterTemplate base slabs, elevation and section markers, and gridlines to the vicinity of the traced DWG
  • Set up the wall tool for the proper thickness and height, then trace the outline of the building
  • Repeat for the upper story
  • Place windows in the walls using the plan DWGs as references for location and width
  • Open each of the Elevation viewpoints and correspond the DWG Worksheets for trace reference
  • Adjust window heights, types and glazing patterns to match the original drawings
  • Repeat for the doors, first on plan, then in elevation
  • Draw the first roof piece on plan by tracing over the roof outline from the original drawing
  • Coordinate the height and thickness of the roof in each elevation
  • Use these adjusted settings to create the rest of the roof system on the lower level, then repeat the process for the upper roofs
  • Trim walls to the roofs to clean up the model
  • Adjust some of the windows and doors to have arched tops with bricks above
  • Review the 3D model, elevations and plans, which now correspond beautifully to the original drawings

All of this was done in real time, in 90 minutes!

To be frank, the first time I did this it took between 3 and 4 hours, because I had to become familiar with the project and how the DWGs were organized. The second time it took about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, and then I started over and recorded the process the third time in 90 minutes from start to finish.

I will condense this video into a shorter presentation, perhaps 10 – 20 minutes long, and create an article that explains the process.

I look forward to your comments and feedback.


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