ArchiCAD 17 INT New Feature – “BIM pen sets” by Material

The assigning of pens to an element for the  ArchiCAD INT version has been around for some time. In fact it was introduced in ArchiCAD 10 INT for the very first time. ArchiCAD 10 was released in 2006, so it has been with us for 7 years with very minor changes in its workflow.

ArchiCAD 9 INT to ArchiCAD 10 INT

That was until the release of ArchiCAD 17 INT and the introduction of “assigning pens to a material”. This functionality change of course was due to the introduction of “Building Materials…”.

“A Building Material is a “super attribute”, a combination of multiple attributes having defined properties. Starting with ArchiCAD 17, all model elements use Building Materials instead of Cut Fills.” The most important part about this statement would be the part I highlighted in bold.

I am trying to seek simplicity in emphasizing this. Previously model elements had a cross sectional representational Cut Fill, but this has been replaced by skins of composite structures. Each skin of a composite structures are assigned with their own building material, and building materials have their own surface definitions.

This means that “Composites…” in ArchiCAD are no longer represented by 2D fills but are in fact “solid” which is now evident in both 2D plan, elevations/ sections and of course 3D. This change in functionality has brought about a change in how pens are assigned to both Building materials & Composites in ArchiCAD 17. We now have Pen Index Number Assigned by ‘Material’ in addition to Pen Index Number Assigned by Element.

Pen Index Number Assigned by 'Material'

The strangest thing is there does not appear to be any documentation or reference to this change in functionality by GRAPHISOFT. The only reference I could find is to the subject of ‘Pen Sets”, the new Help Center refers to Pen Sets with its related subtopics. But I could not find any reference to Pen Index Number Assigned by ‘Material’. So herewith my explanation for:

ArchiCAD 17 New Features – Pen Index Number Assigned by ‘Material’.

ArchiCAD 17 - 03 Architectural 100

Changing the Pen Set from ’03 Architectural 100′ to ’04 Building plans 50.

ArchiCAD 17 - 04 Building plans 50

For more information on Pen Index Number Assigned by Element in ArchiCAD, please refer to the ARCHICAD WIKI article > Pen Sets

I don’t want to appear to be “reinventing the wheel” when looking at this subject. The easiest way that I can think of describing how Pen Index Number Assigned by Element works, is to change the way you look at the pen table. That is to say “look at it sideways” (by column) instead of horizontal (by row). Each column represents an element in ArchiCAD. And the most important thing to note is don’t change the pen position to change its Pen Weight, but change the Pen Set. Changing the pen set re-assigns the Pen Weight to the Pen Position.

For example, walls are assigned a default cut line pen with index 27 (column 07 Walls / Curtain Walls, which corresponds to the function “Walls – Cut Structural.”

Pen 27 (column - 07 Walls : Curtain Walls = Walls - Cut Structural

But maybe a little “history” will not hurt.

ArchiCAD 9

255 Pens with Pen Weight assigned to each but no description

ArchiCAD 9 Pens & Colors

ArchiCAD 10 New Feature – Named Pen Sets

In ArchiCAD 10, named Pen Sets are available as a new feature, and the matrix “Pen Index  Number Assigned by Element is introduced. All Pen Sets have 255 pens which are arranged in 20 columns and 14 rows.

ArchiCAD 10 Pens and Colors

ArchiCAD 11 New Feature – Pen Sets in Views

Pen Sets are assigned to the views (as a result model views will be WYSYWYG). Pen Set selection is available from View Settings and can be varied for placed drawings in Drawing Settings. Pen Sets can be edited directly from Drawing Settings.

ArchiCAD 11 New Feature - Pen Sets in Views

ArchiCAD 11 to ArchiCAD 16 Pens & Colors (Model views) functionality:

ArchiCAD 16 - 03 Architectural 100

Changing the Pen Set from ’03 Architectural 100′ to ’04 Building plans 50

ArchiCAD 16 - 04 Building plans 50

Last but not least, to better understand ArchiCAD 17 New Features – Pen Index Number Assigned by ‘Material’ I produced the following table from ArchiCAD that I saved in PDF format for printing out to A3 for reference purposes.

AC17 Pen Sets

Bon Voyage! User Group Meeting this Monday


Join me, this coming Monday! For a Bon Voyage User Group Meeting. The subject that we will be covering will be the use of EcoDesigner & Green Building Design Analysis.

ArchiCAD Usergroup Meeting, limited to SSA clients only

Venue: GRAPHISOFT SA Office, 500 Esther Roberts Road (formerly Frere), Glenwood, Durban.

Monday, 29 October 2012, 2pm – 4pm

face to face training, booking essential, send booking request here

How to: Butt Jointed Glass Windows in ArchiCAD

I recently received an e-mail requesting help to make a corner window with butt jointed glass. This has been possible since ArchiCAD 14 but apparently not all users are aware of this.

Go to the Corner-Window tool and open up the “Corner-Window Settings” dialogue. Select “Ribbon Window 16″ from the Special Windows 16 Folder. Then from the “Special Windows Settings” tab enable the tick for “Custom Corner Right”, and in the drop down change the option to “Glass”. Then set all the other parameters for the size, frame, materials, sill etc… Click “OK” to close the window.

Now click on the wall close to the corner (but not on the corner), this will generate the corner window to both adjoining walls.

As seen in the 3D Window.

Another example is the requirement for a curved wall with segmented butt jointed glass window.

Please note: one needs to establish the angle between the walls.

Insert this into both “Custom Corner Left” & “Custom Corner Right”.

As seen in the 3D Window

How to: Add Door / Window Markers to Elevations or Sections

In this example I have placed 6 windows in a wall and applied the Dimension Marker = “W Marker 16″.Now open any relevant section / elevation on which you want to display the window numbering. Then open the Label Tool > “Label Default Settings” window.Select “Window Tool” > “Curtain Wall DW Label 16″. Change the Marker Geometry to suite your needs. Click “OK” to close the window. Select all windows in the elevation by selecting the Window Tool and Ctrl + A (Win) or Command + A (Mac). Open the “Window Default Settings”.Under the tab “Listing and Labeling” check the box “Label Window”. Click “OK” to close. You should now see the window markers on elevation. Please note that you can adjust the position of the markers.

Angled Parking Bay Object Available On

Does your design require angled parking bays? If so then with a quick search you can find this on This is so easy to do by searching the cloud-based community database, directly from within ArchiCAD 16. Open the Object Default Settings and then in the search field type in “parking”. Then click on the arrow and select either “On BIM Components Portal” or “Both” then click “Enter”. This will initiate the search and in almost no-time you should see “Parking Stall”. Then it is a simple matter of selecting “Parking Stall” and clicking on the button “Download and Embed”.

You will then see the “Downloading from BIM Components Portal” dialogue window. This can happen very quickly depending on the size of the object.

Once this has completed the object immediately becomes available.

Downloaded objects are stored in the Embedded Library.

Please note the “diamond” hotspot parametric’s


How to: Change the Climate Data to reference one of the climatic zones of South Africa

The first step before changing the climate data is to set the Project Location. This is important considering that choosing one of the climatic zones of South Africa would not help you to locate the project correctly.

To do this you can access the Project Location from Energy Model Review > Environment Settings…

With the Project Location window open you can then enter a Latitude: and Longitude: Please note: this can be entered as “decimal degrees” or “degrees, minutes, seconds” by clicking on the arrow pointing to the right.


You can verify the coordinates that you have entered by clicking on the button “Show in Google Maps…”

Once you have done this you can click on “OK” to close the Project Location window. You should then see Environment Settings window once again. Now click on button “Climate Data”


Now click on the option: Use ASHRAE IWEC, TMY, WTEC2 file and then click on the “Browse…” button


You can now select one of the 6 climatic zone files. This can be accessed by downloading as per my previous blog. Then click on “Open” to close this window. The climatic data referenced will now be shown. In this example I choose Durban. Please note: that this data would not be as accurate as the climate data downloaded from the Strusoft Climate Server which would be related to the exact location. Whereas the Durban.epw file covers East London to Richards Bay?


You can now close the Climate Data window by clicking on “OK”.