Architecture plan reading

Can anyone tell me how to read architectural plans?
I just said ‘yes’ to a modelling contract and then they gave me architectural plans, which was something in aliens’s language for me.

Can any one help? and how to work with CAD files

aaah… maybe you can scan them and put them online or are you not allowed?
can’t be too difficult, can it?

You cannot read plans, yet you convinced your client that you will do an architectural viz project for him…
There are qualified people who specialise in architectural vizualisation. That is why clients pay us for the work we do. Frankly, it takes a bit more than reading a plan to do a professional architectural viz project.


Are you saying the plans you’ve recieved are CAD files? If so search the forum for DXF import and or architectural work and you’ll find plenty of info on dealing with importing plans or sketching over them with curves if they are images rather than CAD files.

Make sure you have plans, sections and elevations to give you as much info as possible. As for reading architectural plans and being skilled at understanding whats what, well sure it helps to have an architectural background but it really depends on what your modelling and detail your client’s anticipating.

If you’ve excepted the contract and you’re new to modeling architectural stuff and reletively new to blender you’ve probably bitten off too much.

ebow3d quote:

There are qualified people who specialise in architectural viz… it takes a bit more than reading a plan to do a professional architectural viz project.

Yeah, an even more if you’re looking to do it with Blender as opposed to 3D Studio Max for example.

Good Luck

I did something like this for practice for modelling and rendering-

But i didnt do it according to some maps/plans etc. I am not saying i am not able to read some ‘SPECIFIC’ plans , what i am asking is that there are tutorials on making 3d characters from 2d sketches, 3d car models from 2d blueprint of cars etc but what about architecture?

by the way i said ‘no’ to that contract

Your posts seem to contradict each other. Whatever, it is just that I’ve come accross many clients that has had bad experiences with 3d artists promising to do architectural vizualisations for them and end up ruining the job, because they know nothing about architecture. This gives the profession a bad name!
Just like any other profession, people involved, like myself, take pride in our work.
Nothing personal, KS. It seems you have actually not accepted the job in the end.

They must provide you with Autocad DXF version 12 files of the project. A file for each floor, for instance, since the DXF importer has some coordinates problems with large DXF files. The smaller the DXF file, the better.

Request the CAD drawing to be positioned according with CAD program grid.

Blocks and polylines must be exploded. All entities in layer 0. Basically only lines, points, circles and arcs will be accepted by the importer.

Once in Blender, import all the DXF files in the same Blender file.

Good luck and patience.

That’s pretty good advice Alvaro. I better write that down.

Spot the professional Architect…Ebow3D. Technically you’re right too.

But ( and there’s always a but) KS, reading plans ain’t that hard. It’s going to take a long time though. I did a factory once and it took me ages. You could always get away with saying it’s an “Artist’s rendition”.:slight_smile:

Well admit that those weren’t the brightest employers either if they hired someone this way : what were they expecting ? Paying zits probably…

Thanks every one ,

They gave me line drawings in pdf format in several views and elevation.

There are tutorials on making 3d characters from 2d sketches, 3d car models from 2d blueprint of cars etc but what about architecture?

i made those images i posted above out of rough sketches and photographs not any plans etc . After rendering i though that i can do architectural renderings and though that it is easier than organic / character modelling. but then when i saw those plans in line drawings and through reading these posts i realise that one must have some sort of archi background to read them.

but still, arent there any architectural workshop/tutorials ever done in elysiun or blender forum ?

Not necessarilly. Remember, the architect or property developer, is not knowledgable in 3d graphics, just like I am not very knowledgable in many other professions. When someone shows him some pretty pictures he has rendered during his spare time (and he often has a lot of spare time when he is unemployed…), the prospective client can easily be convinced that the ‘3d artis’ can actually do the job. A common misconception amongst people that are not related to 3d graphics, is that you simply press a few buttons and the computer will generate beautifull photo realistic images! Personally, I’ve had many such clients. Only once they have been ripped off by some 3d hobbiest do they see the light. Unfortunately though, often they are put off by the bad experience and their business is often lost to rest of us.
There isn’t an organisation, like the Institute of American Architects, for instance, for architectural vizualisation artist. Therefore, if you want to hire such artist and you don’t actually know one, you have to take a risk.
I’m sure that, if I wanted to, I would be able to convince someone that I could do a caracter animation job for them, yet I will propably mess it up…
As far as payment is concerned, many so-called 3d artist will actually charge far higher fees than I do.
I don’t mean to freak out about this too much, but I have really come accross it too many times.:mad:
Just like a few dishonest second hand car salesmen have given their profession a bad name. A few (many actually!) incompetend 3d artists will give this profession a bad name!


as much as I understand your frustration you have to admit that it is a poor buyer who can’t talk to other people of their profession, pick up the yellow pages or, at worst, Google “architectural visualization” and ask for a sample of the work they’ll get…
Personnally, I avoid dealing with clients that are so untalented.

KS, as I said before, this is not a personal attack on you, in case you took offence.
I you want to learn about architectural viz, than you will have to learn a little about architecture itself - both design basics and construction technology. These projects are often done under severe time constraints and the architect will not have fully detailed drawings available. You will need to understand his design language. Then you also need a basic knowledge of building construction, ie how pitched roof fall, door and window head heights, etc.
A good way to start is to work with someone in the field. Maybe start off by helping with some modelling and progress from there as you learn. I used to work with someone that was experienced in 3d art, but not architecture. He started by just building simple models for me and eventually he could handle projects by himself.


architectural vizualisation (or anything that requires precision for that matter) isn’t Blender’s forte. It is the utter lack of an adequate Open Source solution that makes people hope that they could use it for that purpose but it remain difficult, frustrating and not very profitable in the end. I use it only because that is the software I know best and also because, being a furniture/cabinet maker my projects are quite simple. I model directly in Blender too, which is an advantage one doesn’t usually have in archviz where they have to deal with clients that archaically still use 2D software.

While few people use Blender for architectural visualization one can’t expect much in the way of tutorials. In any case, learning to read plans will always be out the the scope of any future archviz tutorial, something that is expected from you and to do on your own.

unfortunately very true…

Well, I have to agree with a lot of what is being said here. I’m not sure whether this job is one recently advertised on this forum (it’s one I replied to as well), but there are two observations here that don’t directly criticise anyones skill but are important to consider.

First, very often 3D artists get picked for a job on a board like this not because they are ‘good’, but because the other good artists have a good reputation or who obviously have a commercial history. Many people think that by taking on a non-commercial artist to do the job that they’ll get the job done more cheaply. This is as much a mistake in this industry as well as the software development industry (my other main career). They tend to price too highly or far too low (therefore totally messing up established rates for a particular job), or often really mess up simply through lack of experience (not skill).

Secondly however: KS, in this thread you’ve clearly stated that you can’t read architectural plans, but one of the important conditions of that other thread was that you needed to be able to understand them and respond to their deadlines accordingly. Isn’t this trying to get the job under false pretenses?

I’m not sure how the poster of that thread is going to feel if he’s still hanging around these forums and now sees this thread. It does not give our community a good image.

there is a new script for blender which allows the easy creation of rooms for blender, If you have a pdf version of the floor plan then surely you would be able to use the script to get a general layout and then add more complicated details to it later.

For example if you were given files such as these;

Then you can add them into blender as a background image or use them in gimp and import paths into blender. Box model all the detailed parts and duplicat them where necessary in object mode keeping all meshes separate so that editing is easy. Keep all meshes of one kind in a group.

You have been given the files in pdf format, with a mac you can easily extract the image in ‘preview’ and you should also be able to do that in acrobat reader for windows/linux.

This may not have helped so…sorry.

Mandoragon, working off bitmaps, such as jpegs, does not give you any scale. If you need to add, let say 2m to a room, how would you know how long that is without scale? That is just one of the many disadvantages of not working off a spline drawing.

ebow 3d If I was to get into such a predicament I would either use the world units as a scale or edit the image in gimp whilst using a calculator, finding the scale of the image, adding 2m on, makking the image of scale 1 in blender. That should theoretically work.

But surely the basics of architecture is that you get the layout of the building perfect with a simple box model before doing anything else.

(Im referring to where boxes are used)

  1. That is a very ineficient way to scale. In apps such as 3dmax, Microstation, Archicad, etc, you would simply type in the distance and thats it. Remember, in practise, there are serious time constraints.
  2. 3D modelling is often used for design purposes, meaning you will edit the model many times. Even when it is used for other purposes, like marketing, you will find that the building design often gets altered, as requested by the owners, etc.
    I have completed about 400 projects to date, I speak from experience.