2020 | 035 – Fast Track – 3D Window Tips and Tricks

By Eric Bobrow

Jun 10
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ARCHICAD Training Lesson Outline

Fast Track - 3D Window Tips and Tricks

In this session we'll go over basic and advanced options for controlling and managing the ArchiCAD 3D Window, choosing what you see, how you want to see it, and navigating in 3D efficiently.

You can choose what you want to see in the 3D Window with several methods. The most basic is by the Layer Combination, which is typically set by activating a View. This turns on specific layers, so different categories of elements are shown. The layer combination used in a Plan view for construction documents or during the design process is not necessarily the right one for looking at or working on the 3D model, so it is likely that one will need to change the layer combination for the 3D window.

Using the 3D Window icon in the Toolbar or using the keyboard shortcut F3 will bring up the ArchiCAD 3D Window with the last used viewing style and position, showing the currently visible layers. One may draw a marquee and Right-Click in empty space (i.e. not pointing at and selecting any element) and choose Show Selection/Marquee in 3D, in which case the model within that enclosed area will be seen, either for elements visible in the current story (thin marquee) or for elements on any story (thick marquee).

Other variations include:

  • Right-clicking and choosing Show All in 3D, which will bring up all elements on all visible layers regardless of story
  • Selecting elements directly (with the Arrow tool and/or by Shift-clicking or Right-clicking) and using the Show Selection/Marquee in 3D command, in which case one only gets the selected elements showing in 3D
  • Right-clicking and choosing Show Stored Selection/Marquee in 3D, which will bring up the last marquee area or selected elements, regardless of what is currently selected or whether there is an active marquee
  • One may also select elements while in the 3D window and use the Show Selection/Marquee in 3D, in which case only the selected elements will remain showing; this is useful for isolating specific parts of the model to work on details
  • The Quick Layers palette (available from the Window menu > Palette submenu) allows manipulation of layer visibility on the fly, with Undo capabilities; this can be extremely useful to isolate categories of elements to work on specific areas of the model in either 3D or on Plan

In ArchiCAD there are two main projection options, Axonometric and Perspective. These may be selected using the popup menu next to the 3D Window icon in the Toolbar, or with keyboard shortcuts listed on that popup menu.

The Orbit navigation method will spin around the current center of view. This may be activated using the Orbit icon button in the navigation area at the bottom left of the 3D window, or using the letter “O”. While Orbiting, one may not edit the model; to finish the Orbit mode, one may click the Orbit icon button again, or type “O” or hit the Escape key.

ArchiCAD TIP: A very convenient shortcut to “orbit on the fly” is to hold down the mouse-wheel button (also known as the middle mouse button) to get the “Pan” hand, and at the same time to press down the Shift key on the keyboard. The cursor will change to show the Orbit icon, and one may drag the mouse around to orbit the model. Release the mouse button and Shift key when ready, and you will find that you are able to immediately edit or draw.

The orientation angle may be seen in the Navigator Preview window, which may be brought up using the icon second from the left at the bottom of the 3D Window. In Axonometric view, the orientation may also be controlled by dragging the small camera icon around the circular path shown in the Preview window. One may also use a popup menu to select specific preset styles of Axonometry, including Top, Isometric, and Side (Elevation) views. One may also set the Axo view to directly face a surface (typically creating an Elevation style view) with the View menu > 3D Navigation Extras > Look To Perpendicular of Clicked Surface command.

When in Perspective, the Preview window will show the camera position (where you are looking from) and the target point. You may move these with the mouse, and the 3D window will quickly update. Conversely, if you orbit, zoom in or out using the mouse wheel, pan using the mouse wheel, or use the Explore method for “walking through” the model, you will see the Preview window update to show the active camera and target locations.

If the current camera position is located outside the Preview window, one may bring it back inside by Shift-clicking and dragging the mouse. To reposition the target point, one may grab it with the mouse, but if it is off-screen, one may Option-click or ALT-click and drag the mouse inside the Preview window.

One may also set the target point using the View menu > 3D Navigation Extras > Look To command. This is particularly useful in controlling the center of an Orbit operation, since it will keep the view facing this point of interest.

While in perspective, ArchiCAD offers an Explore mode, which may be activated using the Explore icon (a small human figure) in the navigation area at the bottom of the 3D window. The Information dialog explains the main options for moving through or around the model. Once one confirms the dialog, mouse movements shift the focus or target, while keyboard commands adjust the walking or camera position or speed. One cannot edit or draw while in Explore mode; to exit this mode, click the mouse or hit the Escape key.

ArchiCAD TIP: While the Explore mode is useful for certain types of study and presentation, I prefer navigating (whether in perspective or axo modes) using the mouse wheel to Pan around and adding the Shift-key to Orbit on the fly. Usually I can get where I want more quickly, and resume editing or drawing immediately.

3D Viewpoints and 3D Views

There are a variety of ways in ArchiCAD to set and save precise 3D Viewpoints that you can return to whenever you wish, as well as 3D Views, which are Viewpoints associated with Layer Combinations and other attributes such as marquee selection cropping.

The Camera tool is a powerful and convenient way to set specific viewpoint locations. To place a camera, activate this tool, then click to place a viewer location (where the camera is looking from) and a target (what you are focusing on). Select the camera and bring up the 3D window, and you’ll be looking in perspective from that location.

You may create as many cameras as you wish, and return to their viewpoints easily by either selecting the camera and going to 3D, or double-clicking the camera item in the Project Map. Similar to Markers such as Sections or Elevations, the camera does not record the current model environment, so when you bring up that viewpoint it will appear with whatever layers are currently active, and any marquee cropping in effect.

ArchiCAD’s Navigator Preview window is useful for checking and adjusting the view cone angle as well as moving the camera and target locations on the fly. After adjusting the view in the 3D window, one may save the viewpoint as a new camera or revise the selected camera using commands in the View menu > 3D Navigation Extras menu; this menu also has other useful commands that are explained during this lesson.

While in the 3D Window, you may save a View with defined layer combination and other attributes by using the standard Save Current View… button in the View Map. If a camera is currently selected on the floor plan, then this View will be connected to that camera as it’s “Source”, and will change if that camera is moved or adjusted on plan. If no camera is selected, then the View will be associated with a “Generic Perspective” source, meaning that it will be independent of the cameras placed on the plan.

3D Views may be defined for Axonometric viewpoints as well, and include not only standard View Settings such as Layer Combinations, but also selection, marquee cropping, and sun position. A View may be updated to use revised settings (such as a new sun position) using the “Redefine Image Settings with current” checkbox in the View Settings > 3D Only panel.

3D Views may be placed onto ArchiCAD Layout sheets much like any other View, and will update to show the current model in exactly the same manner. The 3D View may also be set to either show the 3D Window (usually an OpenGL quickly textured image) or a Photorendering (based on the 3D Window, then processed according to the settings saved in the Photorendering Settings when the View was defined).

ARCHICAD Training Lesson Transcript

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