How to Make Intricate 3D Model in Graphisoft ArchiCAD


Perhaps as you have already known, Graphisoft ArchiCAD held BIMx Competition about one month ago and will be end at the end of this month (October 2011). I had submitted these two BIMx model (here and here)  as submissions. If you have some questions on your mind of how did I do that in ArchiCAD? I suggest you to go to my blog link in order to get the global description of this topic before you read more deeply. In this post, I’ll be glad to share some of the complicated details making processes to you. I hope you enjoy reading this post.


Before I dig in more deeply, I’ll try to describe the processes into three main sections as images described below. Those are: 1) “Nista Angga”; 2) “Madya Angga”; and 3) “Utama Angga” which called “Tri Angga” in the Philosophy Concept of Balinese Traditional Architecture1. Bebataran as Nista Angga

Mostly, I used complex profiles (profile manager) in order to get the model that I expected. I think this “bebataran” part is the easiest thing to do from this whole section of the post. Here I’ll give you some tips in order to make your work run faster when you have to make any complicated complex profiles.

This tips is relative for someone in somecases and very useful when you have to draw complicated shapes e.g. any curves and circle/arc shapes in floor plan that are quite hard to make if you start it from scratch in ArchiCAD. Drawing any 2D freeform on a plain paper with your hand is more easily than working it with your mouse from scratch. If you read more deeply in section 2 (Pengawak as Madya Angga) of this post I hope you could get the main idea of this tips. The image described below is the next step of how I complete the “bebataran”.The puri foor plan is rectangular, so I do not get any trouble when finish it. Since I have completed it, the complex profiles result is shown at the 6th step of the image above.

2. Pengawak as Madya Angga

In this section, I’ll describe the making processes of complicated column and pepatraan (the ornament above the pintu kuadi / side entrance). For the column and the pepatraan itself, if you think it as one big model, in my opinion, it would be pretty hard to imagine of how to create it. However, if you think it as a small portion of one big model, the story will be different. As I have mentioned before, if I have the outline profile or a sketch image, this complicated model would be easily finished. Below are the ideas of what I mean and in here you also could see the outline of those model.

Insert the images using figure tool and start to make the outline of that pieces in the floor plan using fill tool. By the way, because this ornament is symetry (sorry I couldn’t draw it perfectly symetry), you could trace a half of it then mirror later on), copy/cut this fill and paste it in the profile manager, adjust some parameter and save as complex profiles in the profile manager. In order to avoid being confuse, you could use one big image (#1) and trace it by fill tool in the floor plan; copy/cut then paste it in the profile manager (do not forget to save it)  one by one.  Please choose the best method that works much better to you.

The main key is what will you do to separate that one big enemy (complicated model), think about it, and turn that model into some small pieces. If you have done this (turn the big enemy into some small pieces) you’ll enjoy your modeling time and you will win against that big enemy for sure #LOL :-P. Once you have done all the small portion of the modeling, the next step is  to unite all the pieces. For this step, I have a simple question. Do you love playing puzzle? This next step is kind like that puzzle games. You could use section and elevation tool and even in the 3D window in order to adjust the “small pieces of the model” in order to get the the correct model.

Note: When you have completed any complicated model, you could turn any complicated model into gdl object and edit the appearance for the 2D symbol floor plan of the object. Therefor I suggest you to make it into gdl object. In some cases, this will safe your time.

3. Raab as Utama Angga

Raab is Balinese word for roof which at the top af the building. In this section, I will explain about the making of the exposed rafter, and the murda bajra ornament. I think there is a lot of method in ArchiCAD when we would create something. In example, I have five methods of how to make rafter in ArchiCAD. The easiest one is by use (1) automatic roof wizard; then you could use (2) the library object (object-building structures-roof construction-rafter); next you could use (3) slanted column for being rafter; (4) “roof being rafter”; and (5) complex profiles.

The Exposed Rafter

In this section, I’ll show you how I did these exposed rafters in this Puri – Balinese Traditional House by using complex profiles. I hope you curious about this thing :D. Here I’ll show the ideas.

  1. I made the roof as usual. The roof I made here will be used in order to give the global outline of the “complex profiles that would be  the rafter” when traced it with fill tool in the section window and finally copied the fill I have created and save it into complex profiles-profile manager. This profile will be the rafter itself.
  2. Trace the existing roof with “complex profiles rafter” (that has been created) in the floor plan, adjust the height from the floor plan, section or 3D window.
  3. Make any details shape from the section (a section that has made earlier) and use fill tool e.g. to make purlin. Save the fill that will be purlin as complex profiles. Draw the “purlin” in the floor plan and adjust the elevation level of the purlin in the section window.
  4. I made some slab in the floor plan that will become the operator of Solid Element Operation (SEO) while the other part of “complex profiles” (the rafter) will be the targeted object. I gave this slab unique layer that will not be visible in 3D window. After I executed the SEO, the targeted object will be the exposed rafters.
  5. Make some update in the particularly complex profile if there is some change in the section window.

The only disadvantage thing of this method is: you have to hide the “complex profiles rafter” (in order to get clear floor plan). In some cases, it will looks complicated (I still remember about my friends’s expression when he and her asked me how to do these exposed rafters @,@”). But at the end, the advantages are much better in my opinion, e.g. when there is any change especially for the roof design, all you have to do is only change/ makes some revision/ update on the particularly complex profiles and voila, you’ll agree with my opinion :P. The “roof being rafter” is similar to this method. However the different is you still use the existing roof and make a copy of it (adjust the level below the real roof), adjust the height and the other parameter of the copied roof to become “rafter”, make some slab for SEO purposes in the floor plan and you will see the exposed rafter. I hope you could get what I mean.

Murda Bajra Ornament

The murda bajra ornament is located at the roof top of this house and quite simple to make. Here are the main steps of how I do this murda bajra ornament: (1) draw the object outline; (2) insert it in ArchiCAD by using figure tool; (3) trace it with fill (only a half part of the object); (4) copy it and paste in the profil manager, adjust the material, the priority level, the line type,  etc, and save as complex profiles; (5) in the floor plan window, draw it by using circular wall and adjust the shape; (6) add the other detail (fig c) to the main ornament (the circular one) by using straight wall, adjust the wide (e.g. 10 cm) and also adjust the level in order to get the correct result (fig a). These additional detail are four in number, so you have to make rotate a copy by using the center of the circular complex profile as the base point of rotate command; (7) when you have finished it you could save this ornament as gdl object and do not forget to adjust the appearance of 2D symbol parameter for the floor plan.


I have put my thoughts, my efforts and my time into this post to make it simple and clear enough. I would be very happy if you have the main ideas of how I do these things in ArchiCAD. If you really want, you could download this Puri BIMx model in order to explore this Balinese traditional architecture house and do not forget to give me a vote before the deadline time 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 . I used Graphisoft ArchiCAD Educational version anyway. In here, I would thank you for Graphisoft Team of their magnificent BIM software. At last, I say it again, I hope you enjoy reading this post. I am very sorry if there are many mistakes in my English and in my explanations. Feel free to leave any comments.



About the author:

I Ketut Sudirga Artha aka iketsa is an architecture student at Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia and has used ArchiCAD for about five years. He would do some research of Dutch Colonial Architecture for his bachelor degree in a few month later. In additions, he also loves drawing, designing, reading, listening music, watching movies, sightseeing and loves joking around (indeed, he has huge amount of humor sense #LOL XD). One of his dreams is be able to make ArchiCAD familiar in Indonesia.

4 thoughts on “How to Make Intricate 3D Model in Graphisoft ArchiCAD

  1. Francois Swanepoel

    Hi Ketut
    This project of your’s looks awesome man!!
    Great workup of how you achieved this stunning detailed modeling.
    Gr8! Job.

    Just one problem with the BIMx upload of your project . . .
    It got lost or links to another model showing the basic little music studio from the ArchiCad 12 Basic training guide. Are you aware of this?

    Is there another link to your BIMx model perhaps.
    I would really love to explore your project.


    1. iketsa

      I am very happy to hear that you like it.
      I really appreciate it.
      Thank you. ^^

      If you don’t mind, could you tell me which link do you refer from my post?
      I wonder about it. I don’t know if the link that you refer becomes got lost.
      I have checked the links of my BIMx model for BIMx Competition in this post and they work fine.

      But, if you are stuck at the same condition, here are the links of my BIMx model: (without GI)
      and (with GI)

      Thank you again for stopping by and reading my post.
      I hope you enjoy exploring the BIMx model.

      Best regards,
      Sudirga A.

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