ArchiCAD Insights: Set Up Efficient Drawings, Part 1

6 Nov, 2006 By: Angi Izzi

Layers and layer combinations

This is the first installment in a series of tips to assist users in setting up drawings for concise and efficient documentation. The series will consist of the following sections:
    Part 1: Layers and layer combinations
    Part 2: Pens and colors, dimensioning preferences and scale
    Part 3: Model view options
    Part 4: Setting views in the View map

Layers and layer combinations make it easier to work on a drawing so that you only see the information you need and other sections of the drawing are not blocking your view. Layers also help you set up the proper information to appear on certain sheets for publication.

Layer management is useful in setting up a template to start each project. A template contains those settings that are defaults when you open ArchiCAD and start working on a project. ArchiCAD's default layers and layer combinations work for many users, but each firm has its own layer preferences depending on a project's size, type, consultants working on project and owner requirements. Look for easy-to-use layer templates available under Archicad 10's Help menu. Choose National CAD Standard from the pull-down menu.

To start setting up your layers and layer combinations, choose Options / Layer Settings to display the dialog box shown below.

In the Layer Settings dialog box, the left panel lists existing layer combinations and the right side lists all the layers defined in the project.

Layer Combinations controls the layers, saving you the hassle of continuously toggling layers on and off for each view. You can set up layer combinations for floor plans, elevations, sections, electrical layouts of the floor plans and any type of setting that may require the toggle of layers. Below is an example of the benefits of layer combinations.

You will notice the dimensions on the left disappear as the electrical items appear on the right with one click in this layer combination exercise.

To set up layers and layer combinations, go to Options / Layers / Layer Settings and follow these steps:

1. To create a new layer, click on New, type in the layer name, select OK and then Update in each layer combination to turn the layer on or off. Be sure to always click Update whenever you change any layer settings to save those changes.

Layer Settings.

2. The Layer dialog box uses icons to indicate the state of each layer.

  • The open or closed lock icons indicate whether a layer has been protected to prevent its contents from accidental modification. If a layer is locked, the elements on it can't be edited or deleted, and no new elements can be placed on it.
  • The open or closed eye icons indicate whether a layer and its elements assigned are currently visible or invisible.
  • The solid model or wireframe icons indicate that the elements placed on that layer are fully visible in 3D views or with their contours only, independent of the current 3D mode set in the Image menu. This can be useful when storing operator elements of solid operations on wireframe layers and target elements on solid layers.

Project Maps
Layer combinations are useful in setting up a Project Map, where all the documents for a project reside. Using this method makes documentation more efficient in ArchiCAD. You will be able to simply click on a drawing in the Project Map with the correct layer combination selected and the layers will change, without having to go through an entire layer list to figure out which should appear in this particular drawing.

Next Time
Next month, we'll continue our discussion of layers and delve into dimensioning and scale. Ultimately, you will be able to move around in your documents more quickly by using the View Map, which connects directly to your layouts.

About the Author: Angi Izzi

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