ArchiCAD Basic Training – Module 2
2-5. Wall Settings, Eye-Dropper & Syringe, Trimming Walls; Window, Door & Object Settings

ArchiCAD Training –  (Quick Start Course – 2-5)

This 27 minute video lesson examines a variety of useful options for adjusting the settings of elements.

We start by selecting several exterior walls and changing their thickness, height, and outside material appearance. Then several new exterior walls are added to the model, which do not match because the default wall settings were not changed. The eye-dropper is used to pick up the settings of the modified walls and set the default to match, and a new wall is drawn in 3D to show that it looks the same. The syringe tool is applied to transfer the settings into the new walls to make them match nicely; this is done using both the toolbar icons and keyboard shortcuts (Option or ALT for eye-dropper; Option-Command or ALT-CTRL for syringe).

Two of the original walls need to be trimmed to connect with the new walls properly. The modification is done with the Trim command from the toolbar and repeated while using the keyboard shortcut (Command-click for Mac, CTRL-click for PC).

TROUBLESHOOTING NOTES: To trim these elements, the scissors cursor must be positioned on the EDGE of the wall rather than the corner. You’ll see the scissors blades turn black to indicate you are on a valid edge for trimming. Also, if the element you are trying to trim is part of a group, you will need to make sure that Groups are Suspended (use the Edit menu > Groups Submenu > Suspend Groups command) in order to be able to modify the wall. With Groups active, ArchiCAD will refuse to cooperate and will “beep” at you since grouped elements cannot be reshaped.

The lesson continues with a study of how a Window can be reconfigured by changing parameters in the graphic panel of the Window Settings dialog. Materials for the casing, trim, glazing bars (“mullions” sic) and sill are changed, as well as the dimensions of the sash frame and sill. A similar parameter change is made to reconfigure the entrance door, which gets a new door panel. Finally, the cabinets are moved into proper position (when the walls got thicker, they were left in their original interior corner position which now was “embedded” into the walls) and individually adjusted to change the parameters controlling end lines to show proper terminations of the countertop.

Thank you for visiting the Best Practices Course website. The video lessons are available for members only. If you are an active member and would like to watch the ArchiCAD training video on this page, please login to the website. If you are not currently a member, please visit the following pages for more information and to sign up for the Best Practices Course, the QuickStart Course or for the Best Practices ArchiCAD Coaching Program. Eric Bobrow, Creator of the Best Practices Course

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ArchiCAD Training:  Wall Settings, Eye-Dropper & Syringe, Trimming Walls; Window, Door & Object Settings

Let us know how you feel... (18 comments so far)

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  1. AbelSanchez
    7 years ago

    How do you draw an interior wall at a certain dimension from another, like make bedroom a certain size or the width of a closet??

  2. AndrianaCobbold
    7 years ago

    Hi Eric,

    I tried changing the material/colour on the wall – followed your instructions.. but it is still the same grey (original) colour it was. How do I go about changing the material on ArchiCAD?

    Any help is appreciated.


    • Eric Bobrow
      7 years ago

      Andrianna – The appearance of a wall is influenced by the native setting of the Building Materials (what the wall is made of) but can take on a different surface appearance (essentially a paint or coating applied on top of the skin) using Surface Overrides. In addition, in ArchiCAD 20, there are now options for Graphic Overrides that can globally change colors of groups of elements (based on criteria rules) for design, presentation or study purposes. Without seeing the context, I cannot say which of these is causing your issue. If you are an active member of my ArchiCAD Coaching Program, you can send me a copy of your project file and I’ll take a look, or answer your question in one of our two live monthly coaching webinar sessions.

  3. HoweiChan
    10 years ago

    I am following along with tutorial 2-5. At around 4:35 you zoom in on the corner to see the brick pattern. I see a mitered corner (green line @ 45 degree angle) and the brick pattern in your tutorial. I am doing the same thing but I don’t have a mitered corner. Instead I see the end of one wall overlapping the adjacent wall and there is no brick over the exposed end of the wall. When I drew the wall I used the rectangular command and auto group was on. Does this result have something to do with Archicad 17 which I am using or did I make a mistake somewhere?

    • Eric Bobrow
      10 years ago

      Howei –

      I’m not sure what is causing your issue. It sounds like the walls are not intersecting properly, or in any event are not cleaning up at the intersection.

      It is possible that you have turned off “Clean Intersections” in the View menu > Onscreen View Options. I know this will affect the Plan, but I’m not sure if this affects the 3D View too.

      I suggest that you Suspend Groups so you can select these two walls one at a time, and then use the Intersect command to make sure they are truly meeting properly. You’ll find the Intersect command as an icon button in the Toolbar (it looks like two lines meeting at a corner) or in the Edit menu > Reshape submenu.

      Another possibility that may make walls not clean up to each other is if they are on different layers and the layers are on different layer intersection groups (the small numbers that you’ll see next to the layer name in the Layer Settings dialog), or if the walls have different elevations (so in 3D they aren’t really intersecting normally) and it’s possible this might happen if the walls are set on different Renovation tags (e.g. one is Existing to remain, another is Demo) depending on your Renovation filter settings.

      I hope this helps. Without seeing your file, I can’t say for sure, but these are the thoughts that come to mind.


  4. Melvyn
    11 years ago

    Hi, in the tutorial (2-5) an external door appeared as inside out and visa versa, so the outside handle appeared on the inside so you just told the peramiters to switch it to the inside and it will show up on the outside. I had a similar issue with the external arch, but there’s no way of asking it to switch, what would you do to tell this object which is ouside ??

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Melvyn –

      When you place a door, you have the opportunity to indicate the swing by clicking in one of the four directions – for example, inside right, inside left, outside right or outside left. Pay attention to the final click that completes the insertion of the door, and you’ll have full control.

      If you need to change the door swing, you may select the door and use the Rotate command, which will instantly flip it 180 degrees (e.g. from inside right to outside left – keeping the same “handedness”). You can also select the door and use the Mirror command, then click on the midpoint hotspot for the door to flip it across the center axis (e.g. from inside right to inside left), OR click on an endpoint, to flip it across that corner (changing the wall opening to the other side of that corner).

      There is also a Flip button in the Info box – select the door, and look for that Flip option and click it. The door will keep the swing to the same side (right or left, as you look at it from any particular side) but change from opening inside to outside or vice versa.

      I hope this is clear enough. Let me know if you need further explanation.


  5. RonaldSwartz
    11 years ago


    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Ronald –
      When the wall settings are set to a Composite (with multiple skins, such as a 2×4 framed wall), the thickness is set in the Composite definition (which can be edited in the Options menu > Element Attributes > Composites).

      You can change the thickness of the walls by selecting a different Composite (different wall assembly) or choosing a simple fill (such as Air Space [no hatching], 25% [poché or shaded] or Brick, CMU etc.). When you have the wall set to a simple fill, the width will become editable again.


  6. GeorgeBuckley
    12 years ago

    G’day Eric,
    I finally cracked the secret of Archicad, i wasn’t going to let this sucker get the better of me.
    Great course content and easy to follow. Bye bye autocad, Thank you very much for your help. I believe that you should have a conference in Australia.

    Thanks again.

    George Buckley
    Perth, Western Australia.

    • Eric Bobrow
      12 years ago

      George –
      Thank you so much for your kind words.
      I’m very glad to know that the course is helping you crack the code!

  7. Jmc
    13 years ago

    It works! Found out from cutting and pasting that the wall display setting was on outline rather than symbolic. I had checked the door display but not the wall display settings. Sorry, my fault. Thanks for your help and patience.

  8. jmc
    13 years ago

    Tried opening a new file and I chose ‘standard profile’ and doors and windows worked there. Could this be a profile problem? I’m using the default profile now. Is it possible to change profiles halfway through a project?

    • Eric
      13 years ago

      Jackie –

      The profile affects the way that you interact with ArchiCAD (e.g. keyboard shortcuts, palette layout, etc) but does not modify the actual project file. The way a floor plan looks is based on the settings of the View you are in, the project environment (e.g. story settings) and the element settings themselves.

      Try copying the walls from your new project that show up properly and pasting them into your actual project – see whether they work OK. Try the reverse – copy a wall with doors/windows from the actual project (where you cannot see the openings on the plan) and paste into the new project to see if they show up OK.

      After you try that, you may have a better clue what is going on.

      On rare occasions, I’ve had people copy a building model from one project file to another in order to get things looking normal. This is pretty easy if all you’ve done is a 3d model and floor plan annotation; however it gets much more tedious if you’ve created details or done work in other views such as elevations, sections, etc. since you have to recreate the viewpoints (e.g. details) and copy and paste from each of these additional drawings.


  9. Eric
    13 years ago

    Jacqueline –

    Check your story height settings by right-clicking in the Project Map on any story and choosing Story Settings. I’ve seen some users who have set the height of a story to 0 in order to put two stories at the same reference height – when this is done, the doors and windows will not show, since ArchiCAD thinks they are not within the story’s vertical range.

    Your Floor Plan Cutting Plane may be set at an odd height – you can check that using the Document menu > Floor Plan Cutting Plane command.

    The walls may be set to an odd option in the Floor Plan and Section area. In general, Symbolic is a good all-around setting, although Projected with Overhead is good for tilted walls.

    Other than that, of course the Model View Options can turn doors and windows on and off. Individual doors and windows MAY have a parameter to be hidden on plan – I sort of remember there being some setting like that available.

    I hope this helps – let me know.


    • jmc
      13 years ago

      Sorry it hasn’t worked.
      Here are my settings (in mm):
      Story settings for ground – elevation 3440, height to next 3440

      Cutting plane is at 1150

      Floor plan display is on symbolic.

  10. jmc
    13 years ago

    Help Eric! My doors and windows are not showing in 2D but are showing in 3D. I’ve checked the model view options and it has not been set to ‘hide on floor plan.’ Also when I was playing around with it earlier, in 2D plan the doors are not shown open even after I adjusted the settings to open at 90 degrees. I am running Archicad 14.