AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue
#16 (March 27, 2007)
Optimizing Detail Creation, Referencing and
Cataloging in ArchiCAD: The Detail Marker Tool
and Detail Drawing Window (Part 1 of 3)
Principal, Bobrow Consulting Group
Detail drawings are one of the most important
(yet sometimes under-appreciated) parts of the
architectural design and documentation process.
They can be very time-consuming, often involving
meticulous 2D drafting for each separate drawing,
as well as careful placement into the construction
document set and coordination of callout references.
ArchiCAD's Detail Marker tool,
dedicated Detail Drawing windows,
extensive collection of intelligent 2D object
library components, and its free downloadable
Detailer template are wonderful
gems that help to make ArchiCAD a power-house
for 2D documentation of the Virtual Building.
ArchiCAD has an incomparable combination of
- hyper-linking of detail callouts to their
editable drawing windows
- automatically updated references from the
callouts to their placed detail drawings
- intelligent object components to speed creation
of the drawings
- an elegant template for graphic consistency
and neat arrangements, and
- quick shortcuts to access frequently used
components and settings
I would put ArchiCAD's detail drawing tools and
process up against any 2D CAD program or 3D BIM
program. The detail process is elegant and works
beautifully, efficiently and very quickly.
In this month's first article of a three-part
series, we'll look at creating detail callouts
as well as editing, placing and referencing detail
drawings. Next month, the second article will
explain how to use intelligent 2D object components
(from the standard ArchiCAD library) as well as
the Detailer template to work
on these drawings more quickly and efficiently.
The third article (to be published in May) will
focus on compiling, managing and integrating your
own libraries of details.
The Detail Marker tool is in
the Document section of the ToolBox.
When one activates the Detail Marker
tool, the Info Box will display
current settings for placing a new Detail
callout. When a Detail Marker is placed with a
clipping area (using a rectangle or polygon outline,
as shown below), a new Detail Window
is created with a 2D copy of the elements that
were included in the bounding rectangle or polygon.
There are a variety of callout marker styles
available, including some that show a clipping
area and others that simply point to and/or denote
a detail reference.
The basics of ArchiCAD's Detail drawing process
can be learned from several sources:
" ArchiCAD 10 Reference Manual (book or Help
menu PDF, p. 124-127)
" Help menu / ArchiCAD Help (see Detail Drawings,
Detail Markers, etc.)
" Thomas M. Simmons' excellent "Step
by Step Training Guide for ArchiCAD" (p.
271-282), published by Archvista and available
through any ArchiCAD reseller
A brief synopsis of the process may help to clarify
it. After placing a Detail Marker,
there will be a new entry in the Details
part of the Project Map, which
represents a new 2D drafting window for editing
and adding to the copied 2D information. You can
open this window up by double-clicking on the
Detail in the Project
Map, or right-clicking on the Marker
callout and choosing Open Detail Drawing.
In the Detail window, you will
usually change the scale for the drawing, then
edit the copied 2D graphics and add additional
linework and annotation. Ultimately, you will
save a View of the Detail Drawing
in your View Map, and place it
on a Layout Sheet.
The callout for the detail can show its ID
("D01" in screenshot below) and Detail
Name ("DETAIL"), or reference
the drawing number and sheet number once the detail
has been placed on a Layout.
(Before the detail is placed, these will show
as "Undefined.") The references are
maintained automatically by the program, reducing
your work and guaranteeing consistency for your
The Detail Marker can be copied and pasted elsewhere
to link to the same Detail Drawing, so you can
right-click and Open Detail Drawing
from any marker. New Detail Markers, before or
after being placed, can be linked to the same
Detail using the Link To button,
which allows you to select any Detail
Window in the Project Map.
The Link To option is best chosen
before placing the new marker, since
if a Link has not been specified,
a new Detail Window will be created in the Project
Map. A superfluous Detail Window
may be manually deleted: highlight the unneeded
Detail in the Project
Map and click the red X
to Clear the Detail Drawing.
Each Detail Marker can be configured
with a different style (e.g., a callout with a
line and flag, or simply a reference without a
leader line) yet still link to the same Detail
Drawing. This is ideal for other types
of Views (e.g. a floor plan callout of a Window
Header originally clipped from a section).
Each linked detail marker will need to be set
to Refer to Drawing (either in
the Info Box or in the Detail
Selection Settings dialog) so that the
callout shows the correct drawing and sheet numbers.
You may need to click the popup triangle or Browse
button to choose the Drawing
(placed on a Layout) that the
marker should refer to (e.g., 2/A-204).
Detail Callouts and Naming
There are some steps when creating and adjusting
the marker that often need clarification. When
using the rectangular clipping method, after clicking
two points to define the clipping area, a third
click with the "hammer" icon places
the callout reference with leader line.
The clipping polygon can be shown or hidden using
the View menu > Onscreen
View Options > Detail Boundaries
If you want to change the shape of the detail
marker, you may do this after the fact. The geometry
of the marker is one of the parameters in the
Marker panel of the Detail
If the Working Mode is Follow
Clipping Polygon, to change the size
of the marker you must adjust the clipping polygon
(the original rectangle or polygon shape, which
will show with black handles when you have the
marker selected) using the standard pet palette
editing for polygons. (The diamond-shaped editable
hotspots at the curves allow onscreen stretching
to change the radius of the rounded corners.)
The Marker Line is optional,
and the position can be adjusted numerically in
the Marker Geometry parameters
but far more easily onscreen using standard editing
methods on the diamond-shaped editable hotspots.
TIP: Use the Stretch
option from the far right of the pet palette.
The marker line "attachment point"
can be adjusted by "grabbing" one of
the editable hotspots (diamond-shaped) and selecting
the Move Sub-element option in
the pet palette (top row left side, highlighted
in screenshot below). Note that the moving preview
ghost image may look like you are moving the Detail
Marker as a whole (notice the large rectangle
in screenshot), but you will only be moving the
callout head and marker lines.
The name of the detail can be set before you
place the marker in the Info Box.
However, if you did not set it properly before
placing the marker, you will find when selecting
the marker that you can no longer edit its name
and ID in the Info Box or Detail
Marker Settings dialog (it is grayed
This is because the Detail Marker
is linked to a Detail Drawing
which was named based on the original settings.
To change the ID and/or Name, you must edit the
Detail Properties in the Project
Map (right-click on the Detail
and choose Rename Detail
You can also click on the Detail
in the list, then edit the ID or Name in the Properties
area at the bottom of the View Map,
or click the Settings
The second article of this series, to be published
in next month's Tips and Tricks section, will
describe how to use ArchiCAD's built-in Detailer
objects and Template to speed
up creating your detail drawings. These tools
also help you to easily maintain a consistent
graphic arrangement on a Detail
sheet using a Grid.
About the Author
Eric Bobrow, Principal of Archicad reseller
Consulting Group (BCG), has been using Archicad
and training architects since 1989. BCG is a Graphisoft
Platinum VAR based in Los Angeles and San Rafael
CA that has ranked as one of the top 5 U.S. resellers
every year since 1997. He can be contacted at
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Tricks > ArchiCAD's Detail Marker Tool