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ArchiCAD Tip: Creating 3D Shadow Casting Documentation

In some situations, ArchiCAD users have been asked to submit (in printed planning, or pre-planning, documentation) shadow casting information of their proposed 3D models - possibly four views at a specific day in a specific month (March, June, September, December) and then possibly three times of day for each day (just to add more work!!!)

There are two main workflows to achieve this:
• Rendering images
• using 3D Documents

A benefit of rendered images is that the image(s) should have a quality finish, but the disadvantage becomes apparent if the model changes - all the renders have to be recalculated/re-rendered, which can time-consuming.

The 'disadvantage' of 3D Documents is that they are not 'render-quality' views - but that is sometimes an advantage as per the opinions of some designers, who prefer not to photorender at all.
The real advantage of 3D Documents is the associated link to the model - as the model changes, the shadow casting views also update.

Before reading any further, If you are unfamiliar with the use of 3D Documents please have alook at one of our previous tips here.

The key to this workflow is held in the '3D Document settings', allowing the specific date and time to be given just for that 3D Document, not for the project as a whole.

Note: Before attempting the shadow casting workflow, please ensure the following steps are completed:
• Develop the model to any level of detail
• Ensure location of the site has been defined - Goto 'View > 3D View Mode > 3D Projection Settings > More Sun > Set City' (shown)
• Ensure Project North of the site has been defined - see the 1st step of our previous tip here

Also to setup the default setting for 3D Documents (before any are created):
• Right-click on the 3D Documents folder in the Navigator - Project Map and choose '3D Document settings'
• Switch 'Fill Uncut Surface with:' to Uniform Pencolor
• Switch 'Uncut Surfaces Pen' to a white pen, typically Pen #19
• Turn on Sun Shadows, 'On with Contours' is the most appropriate option
• Choose 25% Fill, with Grey Fill Pen and Transparent Background Fill Pen

The typical workflow for setting up the first Shadow Casting View on a printable sheet is as follows:
• Open the 3D window (Axonometric or Perspective), and orient the view appropriately
• With nothing selected in the 3D window, right-click in the 3D window, and choose "Capture Window for 3D Document"
• When prompted, enter a Reference ID / Name for the new 3D Document (eg. SS-03-21 / Shadow Study - March 21st)
• When created, the 3D Document will open and also will be listed in the Navigator - Project Map, under '3D Documents'

• Click on 'Redefine 3D Projections', click 'More Sun' and enter a new date and time - which will be specific for this 3D document.

• Click OK to confirm these settings, the 3D Document will update accordingly.

• Once updated, save a new view of this 3D Document - typically a scale of 1:200 or 1:500 should be used - to allow multiple 3D views to be placed on a single A3 or A1 sheet.

• Once the view is created, place the view on a Layout and crop the placed view to suit the model and shadows, and reduce wasted space..

To develop more 3D Documents (using the same viewpoint as before, but for different dates & times) it is suggested to:
• right-click on the specific 3D Document entry in the Navigator - Project Map
• choose 'Open Source View'
This will revert to the 3D window but will retain the exact orientation of the first 3D Document so that subsequent views will be similar to keep the context of each shadow casting view correct.

Take a look at our sample ArchiCAD 15 PLN with twelve shadow casting views and the resulting Layout Book PDF.