Monochromatic Models in ArchiCAD

Monochromatic Model in ArchiCAD

ArchiCAD offers us a lot of power to explore atypical methods of communication. Some of these techniques are due to good BIM practices and others are just using BIM tools for Not So BIM purposes. But then again once you start looking at the bigger picture of what BIM is doing to our profession, you can see that taking the 3D Model and toggling on and off different aspects and qualities of the data is very much BIM.

Typically I like to describe a technique I use, a feature I think is important, or my own explorations of a new aspect of ArchiCAD. This video on monochromatic models in ArchiCAD is sort of all that and also something else. In the video I describe how to use the Renovation Filters in ways that don’t support renovations. In fact it kind of assumes you’re not using the Renovation Status for its intended purpose. This video will teach you something about the proper way to use Renovation Filters, but this is really about creative problem solving in ArchiCAD. I also talk about the awesomeness of Building Materials—because Building Materials offer a really cool way to tweak the visual qualities of your models in interesting ways as well.

I don’t know how many of you will use the exact processes I outline in this video, but my hope is that it’ll spur you to think of other ways that you can add a lot of value to what you’re doing in ArchiCAD. In the end, I want to get you thinking—to connect the tools within ArchiCAD with the bigger picture of what you need to do on a daily basis as a designer or architect. So enjoy some rule breaking with this video on creative model display.

One Addendum

For more on using an .aat file to replace your Attributes via the Attribute Manager, read this blog post I wrote on BIM Engine. At the end of that article is a download link for a sample .aat file that will turn all your Surfaces white (the .aat file is from ArchiCAD 16, FYI).

One Bonus

If you change windows and doors to a different Renovation Status from the rest of the model and override that group with a transparent Surface (as well as overriding the status of the rest of the model with a solid Surface) then you can get a model like this:

Double Override

Cool, huh? Even if you are using the Renovation Filters for their intended purpose, you could do a Save As, change everything in the model to the same Renovation Status, then change all the elements you want to stand out to a different Renovation Status.

One Reminder

It’s important to remember that with these methods you’re not creating a static image but a fully dynamic model. That means you could use these monochromatic models to create fly-throughs, BIMx models, live 3D sections cuts, and everything else you’d do with a regular fully colored ArchiCAD Model.

One Disclaimer

I think one of the great benefits of BIM is that visualization is integral to design and documentation. We can have pretty without the need to orphan the data. So a rendering from the model—either done within the authoring tool or via a connected 3rd party rendering application—means you can get continuous images throughout the life of the project. This is different than spending a week on a Photoshopped image and having to spend another week to do a similar image when the design is updated. We should be able to output renderings and interesting images just like we do black and white sections and elevations: whenever we want with little additional effort. The techniques I describe in this video assume you’re either not using all the features of ArchiCAD (ei, the Renovation Filters are available for misuse) or that you are doing a Save As to tweak the model. I think that’s okay. This technique is so fast and intentionally crude that it should take no time to set up. And thus while it might be a diversion from the critical path of the model, its detour time is so minimal as to be zero. In fact it’s a good reminder that even while we strive to keep everything in the same model, it is okay to do a Save As for exploration and the benefit of creativity. Hard drive space is essentially free. Save a thousand copies of your file if that helps improve the design. There’s no reason not to.

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