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ArchiCAD Tip: Showing an OS Map in 3D

It is a common request to show the contents of an OS map in a 3D map, specifically for a contextual reference of a building in a site.
This can be achieved quite easily in ArchiCAD, once the OS map is available in an image format (e.g. PSD, TIFF, PNG, JPG).

The procedure to implemnent in ArchiCAD is outlined below - in this example, I used a 'Google Maps' image of the location of our office in Dublin.

  1. Save/scan/acquire an image of the OS Map of the site e.g. "GoogleMaps - Ryders Row"
    • It must be an image, a PDF or DWG /DXF will not suffice
  2. Note the Pixel dimensions of the image (important for defining the slab)
  3. In ArchiCAD, draw a slab to become representative of the physical area of the map
  4. The slab must be drawn in equal proportions of the image saved – i.e. ratio of height-to-width is the same on both the slab and the image
    • The equal proportions is to ensure the image fits (and subsequently stretches) correctly in the 3D window
  5. Go to Options > Element Attributes > Materials
  6. Find the material 'Paint 01' (or some other basic material) and duplicate it
    1. Give an appropriate name e.g. "GoogleMaps - Ryders Row" - (yes this is the same as the image, but they are both appropriate names)
    2. In the Texture Panel (at the bottom of the dialog), it should read "No Picture Attached"
    3. Click on 'Search'
    4. In the next dialog, click 'Load Other Picture .> from File Dialog' and browse to the image saved in Step 1
    5. When the image loads, note the (Actual) Horizontal / Vertical Size entries, change either to the appropriate edge length of the slab drawn in Step 3
    1. Click OK to complete the material definition
  7. In Floor Plan, click on the slab, change its top face material to the required material e.g. "GoogleMaps - Ryders Row"
  8. Show the slab in 3D
  9. If the slab is not drawn from the project origin, then you will see (inappropriate) tiled/wrapped effect of the image across the slab
    1. Select the slab in 3D, go to Design > Align 3D Texture > Set Origin
    2. Click on the bottom left hand edge of the slab, and the material will reset its position to that point, thus removing the tiled/wrapped effect

Now the slab will have a material (based on an image, of a map, of a site) in the area of interest of the project.

Note: The better the image quality (i.e. the larger the pixel count) - the better the quality of the applied material in 3D.
For example if the image measures 1000pixels * 1000pixels, and represents an area of 80metres by 800metres, then each pixel is essentially over an actual distance of 800mm in the 3D window.
If you zoomed in close, the pixelated effect of the slab would be quite noticeable, so you may want to zoom back to such a point that the stretched pixel effect is reduced.

Inlcuded are links to (i) the sample image used and (ii) the sample ArchiCAD PLN.