AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue
#14 (January 30, 2007)
Placing External Drawings in Archicad 10
CAD Manager of Kitchen & Associates Architectural
Archicad 10 introduced the Drawing Tool.
Most people use this tool to place viewports on
their layouts without realizing just how much
more it can do. Something that is not explained
in the documentation is that anything placed with
the new Place External Drawing
command comes in as a drawing and acts just like
a viewport placed on a layout. This command can
be used to place external files, such as Adobe
PDF files and AutoCAD DWG files. The great part
of this is that the external files are linked
to the original so that any changes to the original
file will be reflected in the Archicad drawing
as well. Drawings can also be placed in other
types of views like plans, elevations, and details.
One use for the Drawing Tool
is to bring in an AutoCAD file without creating
all the layers and linetypes that existed in the
DWG file. Bringing in a DWG as a drawing (instead
of using Merge) will place a
single element on the layer the Drawing
Tool is currently set to. If you need
to edit the DWG, for example, if it is a manufacturer's
detail that you want to re-use, you can Explode
To place a DWG file into a detail window as a
drawing, first open the Detail Window
you want to use. Then go to File
> External Content > Place
Browse to find the DWG file you want to use,
then select Open. (The one used
in this example can be seen here.)
Select the units you want to use. Most likely
it will be 1 inch. Some civil
engineering drawings might use 1 foot.
Place the drawing where you want it in your Detail
Window. Unfortunately Archicad does not
provide an accurate preview, so you may need to
place it and then move it.
This places the external drawing as an Archicad
Drawing element. You can modify
its scale and zoom using the Drawing Tool.
After the detail is placed, you may need to adjust
the detail window's scale setting to get the text
to appear properly.
Say for example I only want to see the detail
on the left. Using Archicad's Pet Palette,
I can crop the DWG down to only show that detail.
If you only want to place the detail, you can
stop here. You can snap to points inside the drawing
to align it with anything you need to.
Note that any changes made to the original DWG
can now be updated in your file as well. You have
two options: through the Drawing Tool
Info Box, you can set the drawing to
automatically update, so any changes to the DWG
will show up in your project on their own, or
to manually update, so you can update the drawings
only when you choose to.
To update a drawing, select it, right click,
then select Update.
To update several drawings at once, you can open
Archicad's Drawing Manager (also
under File > External
Content), which shows all the drawings
you have loaded, their current status, and gives
you the commands to update, delete, or re-link
One last point: if you want to edit the detail
in Archicad, you can explode the DWG file. Simply
select the DWG file you have placed, then click
Edit > Reshape
> Explode into Current View
When asked, select Keep Original Primitives
Only. This will remove the original DWG
file and leave only the exploded elements behind.
Most likely the pens will all change, but you
can now edit the detail as much as you like. All
the elements will be placed on the layer that
the DWG was placed on.
About the Author
Tom Waltz is the CAD Manager of Kitchen &
Associates Architectural Services, a 50-person
firm in Collingswood, NJ. Kitchen & Associates
has been using Archicad for Mac since 2003 and
continually strives to take full advantage of
the technology at their disposal.
Tom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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