Week #15 – Advanced Selection and Editing
15-3. Editing Element Geometry with the Pet Palette

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 15-3)

This 23 minute ArchiCAD training lesson reviews some of the basics as well as subtle and powerful ways to use the Pet Palette to edit the geometry of elements. The Pet Palette is a unique and versatile interface tool within ArchiCAD that allows manipulation of most elements. This lesson focuses on linear and polygon types, which have explicit geometry (node or end points and edges) while the next lesson will look at scripted elements such as objects, doors, windows and markers.

The Pet Palette comes up when you have one or more elements selected and you press down on a node point (often a corner or end) or a recognized edge (where you would see a mercedes cursor). The base row of manipulation icon buttons include Drag, Rotate, Mirror, Elevate and Multiply. Often there will appear an extra button at the end for stretching the element or repositioning its end point. For more complex manipulation, a second row of icons will appear on top with options that are context dependent – they vary depending on what element is selected as well as whether you are pressing down on a node or edge.

When multiple connected walls or lines and arcs are selected, one may use the Pet Palette to manipulate them in ways similar to standard polygon elements such as slabs, roofs or fills. In recent versions of ArchiCAD, one may even “bump out” a wall or slab by simply adding a node point or two along its edge, then offsetting one of the adjacent edges; ArchiCAD will add a connecting wall or slab edge automatically as the two or three formerly-unified wall pieces or slab edges separate from one another. In addition, it is now possible to move an offset between outer and inner directions in an intuitive and fluid manner.

TIP: Use the Select All or Select All Walls (Slabs, etc.) command to quickly select many elements for editing with the Pet Palette. Each time one presses down on an element edge or node, ArchiCAD will focus the editing operation only on the relevant elements. This way, one may do multiple editing operations without having to select elements each time.

When creating a curved edge, recent versions ArchiCAD have improved Tracker feedback to show the actual Radius of curvature (previous versions only showed the offset from the original point to the cursor position). The video shows an alternate method to create a curved edge with the desired radius that can be used for earlier versions of ArchiCAD.

To create a smooth transition of an arc curve from a straight segment one may use the Pet Palette button to “Edit segment by tangent” and specify a tangent line that continues the original straight line direction. In cases where wall that is being curved is connecting two parallel walls (a typical end wall condition), this will create a half circle arc which automatically has the correct radius of curvature.

TIP: The Pet Palette “remembers” the last command that was used for the particular context (e.g. edge or node), so if one is doing repeated edits of a similar type (e.g. filleting corners, offsetting edges, etc.) one doesn’t even have to click on the Pet Palette to activate the command. One may simply press down on the edge or corner and start the editing operation immediately. Only if one wants to change the command is it necessary to click the Pet Palette icon. In cases where a dialog box comes up (e.g. to set the radius of a fillet or chamfer, or to set the elevation preference for a Mesh point or contour line) one may need to click the Cancel button in that dialog to make an alternate choice.

To make an offset from an element but keep the original element (e.g. drafting property line setbacks, or creating footings), one may create a copy of the original element (either copy and paste in place, or drag a copy in place) then offset the new copy. Alternatively, one may use the Window menu > Palettes > Control Box to choose either the Offset or Multiple Offset commands, then either manually trace the base line, polyline or polygon shape, or magic wand it, then offset from that base in the desired direction, using the Tracker to input the distance(s).

One may modify the outline polygon using the Boolean Addition or Boolean Subtraction icons in the Pet Palette. After selecting the desired command, either click a series of points to define the modification polygon, or magic wand an existing element or series of elements. Note that one cannot add a polygon shape to the original one if the new shape is disjoint (i.e. not connected) to the original one.

A shortcut to create holes in a slab, fill or roof is to simply click inside the boundary to start the hole outline. The element must be selected ahead of time so that ArchiCAD understand what you want to modify, and – VERY IMPORTANT – you must have the same tool active in the Toolbox as the element itself (i.e. if you are editing a slab, you must have the Slab tool active). This also applies to creating Mesh contour or elevation points, as demonstrated in a previous lesson – make sure the mesh element is selected, the Mesh tool is active, then you can click inside the mesh boundary to start entering the contour line.

TIP: A hole may be selected by itself, so that it can be dragged, duplicated or deleted, by Arrow-clicking or Shift-clicking on the EDGE of the hole.

Please post your comments and questions below.


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ArchiCAD Training: Editing Element Geometry with the Pet Palette

Let us know how you feel... (6 comments so far)

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  1. Avatar photo
    11 years ago

    Finally getting around to this set of videos, and still learning lots of basic things I wasn’t aware of…I like the trick of selecting the walls and moving them like edges of polygons…I’ll be using that right away! I’m also newly appreciating your written commentary and tips at the introduction to the video on the web page.

  2. DavidParsons
    12 years ago


    I enjoyed this particular lesson and was interested to see how footings can be constructed under the perimeter walls. The pet palette appears to be a very versatile and useful tool.

    Many thanks for the information.

    David Parsons

  3. AlbertAeberhard
    12 years ago

    Hi Eric,
    Thank you again for your lessons. I would not be at the level I am now without your course.

    • Eric Bobrow
      12 years ago

      Albert –
      Thank you for your kind words – I’m very glad to hear of your progress in using ArchiCAD more effectively!

  4. Eric Bobrow
    12 years ago

    Iain –
    Thanks for your kind words, as well as your excellent tip.
    I wish I had included that in the video – it’s a natural and easy thing to do, as long as the walls are visible on the story that you are working on for the slab (either directly, or via Virtual Trace).

  5. Morton
    12 years ago

    I used this course to learn ArchiCad. I found it detailed, and well organized in getting me up and running on this program. I returned to these lessons to brush up on some areas due to some lack of use, and was always able to find what I needed. While I have been hesitant emails Eric with questions, the few emails we did exchange I always found him helpful, and support given the times.