AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue #59 (Sep 21, 2011)

Using the Shell Tool to Create Custom Objects in ArchiCAD

Thomas M. Simmons
President, ARCHVISTA Building Technologies

Introduced in ArchiCAD 15, the Shell Tool provides the opportunity for expanded modeling options. It is now possible to create custom geometry for furniture, lights, structural components, retail exhibits and more. This article will review how this new tool can be applied to creating custom forms using the Extruded and Revolved geometry methods.

Exercise 1: Using the Extruded Shell Geometry Method

The first form we will start with is an extruded structural metal base for an exterior bench and the extrusion of the wooden seat that fits onto these metal supports.

To create the metal base, first draw an outline of the form to be extruded using the Line Tool with the Chained Line method. As you draw the outline of the curving metal support, you will need to switch back and forth in the Pet Palette between the Straight Line option and an Arc command.
 

Next, set the Shell Tool to the desired thickness and select the Extruded Geometry method with the Detailed Construction option.

While pressing the Space Bar, click the Magic Wand on the outline and give a length to the bench support.

Go to the 3D Window, select the metal base with the Arrow Tool and click a node along the base of the element. In the Pet Palette that appears, select the new Free Rotate command. Click two points along the base to establish the rotation edge and click a third point along the height of the support to set the edge to be rotated. Rotate to a vertical position as shown below.

Select the metal support in plan or the 3D Window and create a duplicate using the Drag a Copy command from the Move sub-menu in the Edit menu.

Finally, to create the curving wood bench, use the same steps above with the top portion of the curved outline you drew via the Line Tool to create the wood seat and back extrusion. Then rotate and place on the supports.

Exercise 2: Using the Revolved Shell Geometry Method

The second element we will create in this exercise is an outdoor cooper street light that will use the Revolved Geometry Method within the Shell Tool.

To begin the exercise, select and copy the image above to use as a reference to create the revolved profile for the light. Next, go to ArchiCAD’s Floor Plan Window, select Paste from the File menu, and select as a Single Figure. To scale the image, select the image and click on one of the corner nodes. When the Pet Palette appears, select the Stretch command and scale image as required.

Next, select the Shell Tool with the Revolved Geometry method and the Detailed Construction option. Click at the middle of the bottom edge of the light, and begin drawing the Light profile using the image as a reference.

Draw the outline from the bottom center edge along the left of the light profile until you reach the top center point. As you draw the outline of the light, you may need to switch back and forth in the Pet Palette between the Straight Line option and an Arc command. When you reach the top center of the light, drag your cursor back to the bottom center start point and click to finish the outline.

To define the rotation edge, click a second time on the bottom center start point and click to define the rotation edge on the top center point of the light. A dialog will appear asking you to Enter Revolution Angle. Since we want to create a revolved light that demonstrates a complete revolution, enter 360 degrees and click the OK button.

Go to the 3D Window to see the completed light element. To rotate the light to an upright position, select the light with the Arrow Tool and click a node along the base of the element. In the Pet Palette that appears, select the new Free Rotate command. Click two points along the base to establish the rotation edge, and click a third point along the height of the light to set the edge to be rotated. Rotate the light to a vertical position as shown below.

The light is now complete and ready to be placed onto a vertical support.

To learn more about modeling with the Shell Tool, including how to create compound curves and twisted forms with Ruled Geometry as well as additional methods for creating extruded and revolved forms, visit www.learnvirtual.com/ArchiCAD. This exercise was part of a series on design focused modeling that included:

  • Complicated Roof Forms for Residential Design
  • Modeling Unique Building & Structural Forms
  • Creating Product and Exhibit Displays for Retail
  • Broaden the Scope for Furniture & Object Design
  • Modeling Landscape Forms and Site Elements

 

As a LearnVirtual member, you’ll have access to recordings of each eClass in the series mentioned above as well as over 160 other recorded eClasses on a wide range of topics including modeling techniques, drafting techniques, process management, revision management and design review. Also, new LIVE eClasses occur each week! To learn more about LearnVirtual, go to www.learnvirtual.com.

 

About the Author

Thomas M. Simmons, the founder of ARCHVISTA, Inc. and LearnVirtual, has spoken at major industry events including AEC Systems, Ecobuild, AIACC Desert Practice Conference, and the AIACC Monterey Design Conference. He has authored several books on Building Information Modeling, ArchiCAD and architectural technology. He was formerly the Director of Technology with the award winning firm of EHDD Architects, San Francisco, and has earned a Masters of Architecture from UC Berkeley. He can be reached at tsimmons@archvista.com.

 

AECbytes content should not be reproduced on any other website, blog, print publication, or newsletter without permission.