ArchiCAD Basic Training – Module 3
3-2. Drawing Interior Partion Walls, Offsets & Distances, Basic Intersection Cleanup

ArchiCAD Training –  (Quick Start Course – 3-2)

This 23 minute video lesson continues the process of developing an actual building, following the dimensional information from a drawing. Please use the PDF file from the previous lesson as a reference while you go through this lesson.

Before starting to draw the interior partition walls, the wall tool default settings are changed in the Info Box to use a different layer (A-WALL-INTR for USA, and Interior – Partition for INT users) and thickness (4″ or 100 mm). The geometry method is changed in the Info Box to create single walls (rather than polywalls) since these partitions are generally going to be placed one at a time.

A partition is placed running horizontally, snapping from corner to corner, then another is placed in the top right of the plan to create a space for a utility room. A wall running vertically onscreen is placed to define the kitchen in the upper left of the building. To get this into the proper position, a temporary guideline is used, which makes it easy to snap the new wall exactly where it needs to go to create the desired room size.

If the wall preview (as the mouse moves onscreen) shows the wall body on the inappropriate side of the reference line, change the construction method in the Info Box from Left to Right or vice versa, then return to the plan drawing area to see the preview update accordingly. Snap the wall end to the existing wall using a perpendicular snap cursor, or an intersection cursor (which indicates you are positioned on the intersection of the vertical guideline and the horizontal existing wall edge).

An additional wall is placed for the bathroom using a temporary guideline to set the position. A closet partition is created for the upper central area, which will be a bedroom; this is drawn by snapping to the exterior corner then gesturing down and typing in the proper distance into the tracker (calculating the wall thickness plus the desired length of the interior wall). The closet return wall is started by simply hitting the Enter or Return key, which places the beginning point of the wall on the endpoint of the previous wall, and it is snapped into position using the perpendicular snap cursor or the intersection cursor as before.

Finally, several of the wall intersections are cleaned up by selecting two walls (use the Arrow tool to select one, then Shift-click on the other) and using the Intersect button in the Toolbar at the top of the screen. In one case, the intersection doesn’t look perfect; we’ll look at how to clean that up in the next lesson.

The entire process is repeated very quickly in the other (International metric) file, showing how quickly it can be accomplished when in actual practice.

TROUBLESHOOTING NOTES: If when you try to select a wall (in the section on cleaning up intersections) a group of several walls is selected all at once, you will not be able to successfully use the Intersect button command. This is explained and demonstrated in the last part of the lesson using the International version file. Briefly, if Auto-Group is turned on in the Edit menu > Groups submenu, then any elements drawn in one continuous action (such as a series of walls created using the polywall method, or the box geometry method) will be “grouped” by ArchiCAD automatically. This isn’t a major issue, but it can be an annoyance, so I recommend turning this setting off most of the time.

To complete the intersection cleanup process in this case, use the Suspend Groups command, available from an icon in the Toolbar (as demonstrated in the lesson) or from the Edit menu > Groups submenu. Then you can select an individual wall even though it is part of a group, then Shift-click to select the other wall, and do the Intersect command without a problem.

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: Drawing Interior Partion Walls, Offsets & Distances, Basic Intersection Cleanup

Let us know how you feel... (16 comments so far)

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  1. Olof Bern Antonsson
    10 years ago

    Perhaps this has already been commented upon, but I found perhaps one of the easier way to see if an intersection of walls that did not appear to work, actually worked, is to just right-click anywhere and choose “rebuild” from the context menu after having performed the intersection.

  2. MelvynBritton
    10 years ago

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for your E I’m now getting on fine except I need to insert a chimney breast (or elongated masonary pier) somewhere along a straight wall, any suggestions??


    • Eric Bobrow
      10 years ago

      Melvyn –

      I’m glad to hear that you are making good progress!

      Re a chimney breast, there are several ways to model this.

      1) You can do a very simple massing that protrudes the wall into the interior by simply splitting the wall at each end of the chimney, then making the middle piece really thick. You may get the effect of a cutout for the hearth using the Window tool set to create a Niche (search for “niche” inside the Window Settings dialog).

      2) You can simply add a piece of wall on the inside of the main wall to create the thicker area, which can then go full-height or only part-way up the interior wall. Use the Window or Door tool to create an Empty Opening or Arched Opening in the interior wall to create the cutout for a hearth.

      3) You can actually frame in a chimney box with a set of several walls to enclose the interior volume.

      4) You can use one of the Graphisoft library parts that creates a fireplace along with a chimney. You’ll find some options using the Object tool – search for “chimney” or “fire” using the keyword option. Note that some of these will have parameters to adjust sizing and other options.

      I hope this is helpful.

  3. KennethMunson
    11 years ago

    Good overview of some of the basics so far. I learn best by duplicating and making sure that my screen matches the tutorial.
    Toward the end of this particular lession regarding groups and suspending groups I saw adifference between your screen and mine. The graphics of the pulldown menu appear different. I have no “check marks” available/shown. You mention that”…the suspend groups is checked…”). Is this a Windows vs. Mac difference? Currently thinking that I may abandon my PC’s and change over to a MacPro based office. Is/was ArchiCAD developed for the Mac then adapted/tweeked to run on PC/Windows?

    Thanks for tutorials. Looking forward to being productive and profitable!

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Ken –

      There are some differences in style between Mac and PC – in general, ArchiCAD attempts to follow the style used in the platform it is on. If no checkmarks are visible, then you’ll see the difference indicated in a different appearance – the menu command may appear “indented” or somehow slightly changed in color or shading. Try selecting the command, then returning to the menu to see if it looks different when you look at it the next time.

      ArchiCAD was originally a Mac-only program, but has been on PC as well since 1993, a very long time. Graphisoft makes sure it develops both platforms of each version concurrently, and tests thoroughly on both.

      With regards to switching – I don’t think it makes much difference for ArchiCAD – the files are cross-platform, and the interface is virtually the same on both. However, I like the Mac better as an overall environment, and many others agree (the Mac user base is growing each year).


  4. LukaszMol
    11 years ago


    To tell you the truth I felt a bit bored watching exactly the same operation twice in US and INT v. Same things can be done in diffrent ways and it`s a pity they are not. Anyway I would like to know how to clean up upper-right corner which was not cleaned up in both cases.


    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Lukasz –

      I’m sorry to hear that you were a bit bored watching the operation done a second time. I think that some people really benefit from the repetition, while others may not need it. I do often show things done in a variety of ways, but in this case, I wanted to make sure that it was extremely clear for those who might find these steps a bit challenging to follow.

      You can always skip ahead in the video if you don’t want to watch the repetition. Also, for people like you for like going through things faster, I suggest you buy a license of Enounce MySpeed, which lets you watch videos (these lessons as well as most others online) at an increased speed without distorting the voice. I use MySpeed all the time to consume training videos. There’s a little slider, so you can dial up and down the speed at will. I often turn it up to 200% speed for introductory segments, then 120 to 150% for normal training, and 100% when I need to concentrate more. You’ll find a link to Enounce MySpeed in the Extras menu above.

      The wall cleanup issue in the upper-right corner is caused by the reference lines of the walls crossing rather than meeting in a single place. I believe I actually clean this up in the next video lesson.


      • LukaszMol
        11 years ago

        I use free win. player and watch tutorials 140-160 % speed but thanks for your offer :). Repetitions can be done by playing video again and again so I don`t change my mind in this case. Furthermore using various techniques gives more flexibility and build up confidence while working with app. That is an approach I met in most of video tutorials – even these at beginner level….
        As for intersection it`s well explained along with “single point” hint in the next video.

        • Eric Bobrow
          11 years ago

          Lukasz –

          I don’t repeat myself in my training materials very often in the way I do in this video. In this case, I felt it was important to show the actual data entry in metric as well as feet and inches, in addition to just talking about the other system while inputting using one system.

          I’ve found that some people really need to see things exactly the way they will do them, they can’t understand it from the words. There are different learning modalities – some people learn conceptually by hearing the words, some by seeing it done, some by reading how to do it, and some by doing it themselves. Actually, we all can benefit from more than one of these, of course, but we each have our preferred or more effective modalities.

          I am continually working to make myself a better teacher. Recognizing that different students learn in different ways has been one of my recent “discoveries”. I ask that you have a bit of patience and understanding, and simply skip over any part of the videos that you find less than fully engaging.


  5. AmmarRija
    11 years ago

    thanks Eric

  6. AmmarRija
    11 years ago

    Hi Eric
    This is a nice lesson and I get benefit from every move I watched
    Dear Eric I have 2 questions
    1 when I see this lessen you draw the walls and in the same time the auto intersection is effects but despite of that the walls doesn’t work properly and you use the auto intersection again . why ?
    2 I don’t understand really what does this eye icon (layer archicad layer) means? I draw many walls but it looks all same!

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Ammar –

      Walls generally will connect cleanly when their reference lines touch each other, either making an “L” shape at a corner, or a “T” shape in which one wall terminates at the edge of another one.

      It can get more complicated when there are three or more walls that meet at the same point. Sometimes ArchiCAD tries to clean up the “join” for certain walls but the result is not satisfactory; some trial and error and experimentation may be necessary. The “Intersect” command is a useful tool that can often quickly clean things up; simply select two walls and use the Intersect button in the Toolbar, and they will extend or shorten to meet each other at a clean corner.

      I will be addressing this in more detail in the Best Practices Course – this QuickStart Course is an introduction, and cannot cover all the situations you may encounter in practice.


      • Eric Bobrow
        11 years ago

        Oh, I forgot to answer your other question. The eye icon is used in the layer settings dialog and the layer popup menu to show or control when a layer is visible. If the eye is open, then the layer is shown; if the eye is shut, then the layer is hidden.

  7. Avatar photo
    11 years ago

    Hi Eric,

    You showed how to clean-up wall intersections, but what do you do when you actually want a line between some of them? For clarity,I always show a line between my interior and exterior walls in plan, and between different wall types eg wood/concrete, concrete/CMU, etc.

    • Eric
      11 years ago

      John –

      There are a number of ways to do what you want. Perhaps the simplest might be to set the interior wall layer to have a different layer intersection priority number than the exterior walls. This is the number in the Layer Settings next to the eyeball and lock icons. If you set the interior walls to 2, for example, and the exterior walls to 1 (the default), then they won’t intersect, and you’ll get a line where they touch.

      To make this work, you’d need to draw the interior walls just to the interior face of the exterior walls, rather than to the reference line. You might need to turn off the auto-intersect state in the Options menu, so that ArchiCAD doesn’t extend the interior wall to the reference line for you. And finally, the layer intersection priority numbers are recorded in the Layer Combination, so you’d need to Update each relevant Layer Combination after you change the priority number for the interior walls layer.

      Try it, and see if it gets you what you want.

  8. HagithPopper
    12 years ago

    Hi Eric,
    These two lessons are excellent and most explanatory. I would be very happy should you also show how all this is saved and where , especially when using Master Template. Setting a project info is also a much needed topic for getting started.