Week #12 – Site Survey and Topography Modeling
12-3. Placing a PDF Survey Drawing to Scale, Setting North Orientation

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 12-3)

This 15 minute lesson continues from part 2, and shows how to import a survey PDF file and scale and orient it properly.

When placing a PDF file using the File menu > External Content > Place External Drawing (or simply by using the Drawing tool), the PDF will initially be dropped in at 100% size based on its standard paper dimensions. This means that if you set the Scale of the current window to match the PDF scale (which you can often read from the drawing) then it will come in exactly at the right size.

If the PDF is not at the proper size, then it can be resized easily using the Edit menu > Reshape > Resize command. Select the PDF, activate that command and select the “graphic” resize option, then click two points in the PDF that have a dimension reference, then in the Tracker, type in the proper distance based on that reference. The PDF will resize so that the two clicked points are exactly that distance apart. If you do this carefully, you should be able to get within a fraction of one percent of the proper scaling. (NOTE: you will not be able to snap to these points in the PDF, so zoom in close to be as precise as possible.)

The North orientation may be indicated by placing a North Arrow object from the standard ArchiCAD library. Click the checkbox to make this object follow the North orientation that you set in the Options > Project Preferences > Levels & Project North command.

NOTE: In ArchiCAD 12 and earlier, to adjust the North Angle for the project, use the View menu > 3D View Mode > 3D Projection Settings > More Sun… dialog.

If you wish to reorient the site to make the building fit the X and Y axes better, there are two main options. You may rotate the site survey PDF along with the property lines you’ve drafted, or you may rotate the Trace Reference of the survey that is seen on the Plan. Be sure to coordinate this rotation with the Project North setting.

Please post your comments and questions below.


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ArchiCAD Training: Placing a PDF Survey Drawing to Scale, Setting North Orientation

Let us know how you feel... (4 comments so far)

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  1. ScottErmer
    10 years ago

    Hi Eric,

    Im using AC17, and when I draw a line by putting in the length and bearings as you have shown, the length comes out correctly but the bearings don’t. Any suggestions?

    Also, is there anyway I can be notified of your response by e-mail?

    BTW I think your course is great.


    • Eric Bobrow
      10 years ago

      Hi Scotty –

      Bearings are interpreted based on the North orientation of the project. The location where you set this has changed over the years. In AC17, you’ll find this in the Options menu > Project Preferences > Project Location. You may rotate a north arrow visually, or type in an angle value. After you set this to an appropriate value, your angle references will be able to orient correctly.

      The other thing you will need to do is to set the Options menu > Project Preferences > Working Units > Angle Unit to Surveyor’s Unit (if appropriate) or degrees, minutes, seconds (which is used in some areas of the world). If you use surveyor’s units, then you may enter the bearing as I indicated in the tutorial.

      Note that it is possible that Graphisoft has set up alternate methods for bearing measurement in some countries or language versions, based on local practices. In that case, I suggest that you experiment. Draw a line and then use the Measure tool to see what ArchiCAD displays in the Tracker feedback. This will give you a guide to the format that the input is expected.


  2. DerekMichel
    11 years ago

    Looks like the transcript is for Lesson 11-3 instead of 12-3.

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Derek –
      This issue has been corrected – thanks for bringing it to my attention.