Creating 2D Symbols for ArchiCAD Objects

The most important ArchiCAD (Objects) video you’ll watch in 2013

Back in February 2013 I made a tutorial video on making ArchiCAD Objects. If you haven’t watched it, you should. It covers the basics of object making that I completely gloss over in this new video. I’m assuming if you’re watching this video, then you’ve already seen that one or the recent videos by Eric Bobrow (links in previous post). All are worth watching.

Like all my recent videos, this one sprang from a question by a fellow user

Jon, an architect and friend in Minnesota, sent me an Object created by one of his coworkers. This Object somehow solved the biggest frustration most of us have with making Objects in ArchiCAD: the Object had a 2D symbol that was a different size from the 3D. If you haven’t come across this issue, the video will explain why this is a big stumbling block. Why is the separation of the 2D and 3D important? Think about the classic example of showing door swings on a cabinet. Making a beautiful cabinet is easy, but giving it the perfect 2D symbol can be a mystery, unless you know GDL. Or at least that’s what many of us assume.

Neither Jon nor his coworker knew what the coworker did when he created the ArchiCAD Object Jon sent me. And to be honest neither did I. But since we were all looking at the mythical 2D is bigger than 3D Object, it was obviously possible. I love a challenge so I began to investigate. There were floating hotspots in 3D and that gave me a clue—the 3D bounding box was the same size as the 2D symbol, that had to be the answer. But how did this user do it? He isn’t a scripter, so it’s not like he learned GDL and coded it. He did it by accident. That was the big clue. If it was by accident, then it had to be easy. Easy enough for an inexperienced user to stumble upon something we old-timers had been overlooking for years. Once I understood that, it was just a matter of untangling the solution by trying to solve the problem with some obvious moves hidden in plain sight. Well it turns out that with a little forethought getting a traditional symbolic floor plan view to be a different size from the 3D object is very, very easy. Here’s a video that shows you what to do.

Now that you’ve watched this video, like me, you now know HOW to get the 2D symbol you want with whatever 3D you need. But the why is still a little hazy. My guess is that when we create the 3D Object with the 2D symbol in the floor plan, there is some 3D script generated that makes the bounding box of the 3D match the extents of the 2D symbol on plan. If we could understand THAT and crawl through the code, I think it’d be easy to alter existing Objects. As it stands now if you want to update your existing Objects to have this 2D/3D split you’ll need to do the Object to Morph back to Object route and save the new object from the floor plan with the right 2D symbol set up to begin with (or at least hot spots that define the larger bounding box you need). Perhaps a GDL expert reading this can explain more?

Side Note: As I mentioned in the video, my next video will probably be recorded in Boston AND be done in ArchiCAD 17. Which are both equally awesome things for me to be able to say right now. If you can’t wait to learn more about ArchiCAD 17 and are impatient for me to talk more about it here on Shoegnome or over on BIM Engine, you should sign up for the ArchiCAD 17 Webinar on June 18th.

One More Thing

Saturday starts Guest Blogger Month, though the first guest post won’t be until sometime next week, probably; I’m still looking for people with stories, tips, and advice to share. You up for the challenge?

Like this video? Follow Shoegnome on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube for more…


  1. Patrick May May 30, 2013
    • Jared Banks May 30, 2013
  2. Master Script May 30, 2013
    • Jared Banks May 30, 2013
  3. Tim Ball May 31, 2013
    • Jared Banks May 31, 2013
  4. Anaheli September 3, 2013
    • Jared Banks September 3, 2013
  5. James June 25, 2014
    • Jared Banks June 25, 2014
      • James June 26, 2014
      • James June 26, 2014
      • Jared Banks June 26, 2014
      • James June 26, 2014
  6. kenneth July 29, 2014
  7. christina gordon August 27, 2016
    • Jared Banks August 28, 2016

Leave a Reply