ArchiCAD Tutorials - Take advantage of the Attribute Manager to Create Material Schemes Easily

By: Justin Kunst

I've known people who have to take a lot of tries and problem solving to work out materials. Record everything and bring it back up lickity split. Got more then one material, NO PROBLEM. ArchiCAD makes flop flopping a definition cake. This way you can finished projects without having to make materials each time.

At time, you have to put a lot of thought and effort into planning a design. Consider this double when it comes to the building blocks. In ArchiCAD you can take advantage of Attribute Manager to simplify this process by saving material definitions and swapping them in and out to evaluate the results.

You can rework several materials at a time with the Attribute Manager. Try one wall or window setting and then switch to another with just a click. The definition of any number of materials can be saved in a separate "attribute file" and restored quite easily.

Go to the Attribute Manager, found within Options menu > Element Attributes. You'll then see individual tabs for separate definitions. The paint brush is connected to the Materials tab. Click it and then click name at the top of the column to instantly sort them.

Most people want to try different materials. To make this happen, use the Overwrite selector in the middle area. The material will be assigned an index number which is used the identify the material. After you do this one, do it again for all materials you need saving. Use your shift or control/command to select multiple materials at a time.

You'll see the the side that it says untitled AAT. This will remain until you give it a name. AAT, the file extension, is used specifically by ArchiCAD. It stands for ArchiCAD Attribute Manager Template. AAT is used for attribute names and definitions. Name the file for future reference and click save. You will now, as long as you don't delete or overwrite the file, be able to reload it at any time.

Right now, you know for sure that no matter what changes you make, you can reload your definitions. You can see the changes you make in 3D, the texture and area, then switch to another attribute file or undo the changes you made.

Now go back into Attribute Manager, and on the right-hand side click the Open button, then locate and select the AAT file. Choose one or more of the materials on the right side, and click the Overwrite button to bring back their original definitions into the current file. They'll then be responded in their previous form.

That's not all. It's possible to save as many AAT files as you choose. You can make each one of these a different material, if you choose. This allows you to save one material scheme, then experiment and save a second scheme, and a third perhaps, then at any time swap back in some or all of the saved materials from any of the schemes.

You can load up PLN files as well and save the attribute. This lets you load them up into any new project you need.

You can experiment with assorted material types, such as walls and paints. Now, give it a try with an exterior wall material style. Making default finishes can let you easily pull up finishes like wall paper and wood. Think of as many finished ahead of time to save yourself countless hours on the spot.

It's important to keep your time and effort minimum when working on your ArchiCAD projects. Bids and time clocks aside, you want to keep your mind and not loose it. ArchiCAD can be tricky, and when you are equipped with powerful tools, such as these stills, you will succeed.

By easily changing the "index numbers", you can change complete material attributes without actually modifying the elements. Imagine saving name variations easily, such as "Option 1" or "Wall Option 2", as long as you use the Overwrite button to bring these materials (with different names) back in with the same index number.

Be careful, however - you can create problems if you change the names of any of the standard built-in ArchiCAD materials. If this happens, it will add additional entries instead of replacing the current ones. The last thing you want is the project material to include extra lines and seeing it in 3D.

Follow the above steps and you will make Favorite Palates a key to quick ArchiCAD completion. Once you master using these definitions, you will be the envy of your entire office. People will swoon for your ArchiCAD magic and love you for your 3D object maker.

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Continue your ArchiCAD Training with Eric Bobrow on his training site at www.acbestpractices/. Eric Bobrow is an internationally recognized ArchiCAD expert, with well over 20 years of experience. His new ArchiCAD Best Practices Training Course was released Nov. 2010 and serves over 280 members.

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