Introduction: 3D Building Model in SelfCAD

About: Student at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the Silesian University of Technology

Welcome to the first SelfCAD instructable. With this tutorial we will step by step model a 3D house using SelfCAD - an online 3D modeling application.

Enjoy the course!

Step 1: Prepare Your Reference Images

To model a house we will need reference images. You can use any project or simply draw your own building. I used my own drawings, but decided to make this model without cellar, foundations and thermal insulation.

For this course purposes you can use the same images.

Step 2: Create New SelfCAD Project

Launch SelfCAD editor and create new 3D project. SelfCAD's 1 unit is equal to 1 millimeter, but we will draw our building in centimeters. It means that in fact the model will be 10 times smaller in each dimension.

Now you should see the grid settings. I set Workplace Size to 1500 because 15 meters should be enough for my project. Segment Size means the spacing between grid lines and depends on your building's core centerlines. I entered here value 30.

Click Create button.

Step 3: Upload Your Reference Images to the Project

Click View, then Reference Image and add your images to the scene.

Step 4: Set the Right Size and Position of Each Image

Make your images invisible by clicking on button with eye under each image except one.

Now, find two characteristic dimensions. It can be, for example, size of a room or whole building. Add a cube to the scene and set its Width and Depth like these two dimensions..

Change size and position of the reference image so that the chosen dimensions match the dimensions of the cube. You should be in Orthographic Projection mode to do it precisely.

Then you can delete the cube and move the image to mach core centerlines to the grid lines. Rest of images can be matched to this one you already have.

Step 5: Use Free Hand Tool to Draw the Walls of First Floor

Now we can draw the walls. Use Free Hand (Drawing → Free Hand or F+H).

Use Brush tool (Drawing → Free Hand → Brush or F+B). Set its radius (it's called Width, but actually it is radius) and make sure that line edge style is set to square. In Plane Settings you can see an Offset. It is height we will draw our walls at. Now we can leave its value 0. Let's move to the Height Settings. Its maximum value equals 100, but walls should be higher. For now, set here 100 just for convenience. The last, and the most important, are Precision Settings. Always make sure you have Minimum Step Size on. It's value should be usually equal 1 (1 centimeter). The second thing here is snapping option. Now we should have snapping to grid vertices selected.

Draw walls by clicking at two points where centers of cores cross.

For rest of the walls choose Rectangle tool (Drawing → Free Hand → Rectangle or F+R). Turn off snapping to grid vertices. Notice the Erase option. It might be useful in some places or if you make mistake. I used Erase on photos 3 and 4.

Step 6: Use Move to Change Height of Walls

Our walls should be 270 centimeters high. With walls active choose Polygon Selection Mode. Then, select the upper polygon. Notice the difference between Polygon Selection Mode and Face Selection Mode. Polygon is usually composed off smaller faces.

Choose Move tool (M) and enter 270 value in Y dimension to move selected polygon higher.

Step 7: Draw a Ceiling

To draw ceiling use Brush and Rectangle again. Set Offset value to 270 and Height to 35.

For better precision you can show or hide your previous object. Use Erase to cut a hole for staircase.

Step 8: Draw a Chimney

Draw the frontal chimney separately. Use Rectangle to draw its shape and cut a hole inside

Step 9: Draw a Balcony

First, draw 10 centimeters high fragments of walls under the balcony. Select the walls and the fragments you have just drawn and use Stitch & Scoop → Union (B+U) to make them one object.

Then, draw a balcony setting Free Hand's offset to 280 and height to 25.

Step 10: Draw Second Floor Walls

Draw the second floor walls in the same way as before. This time set the offset to 305 centimeters (first floor + ceiling).

Step 11: Make Different Heights at Second Floor

Our building has two heights of second floor. Higher part measures 270 cm and lower one 220 cm. Draw a rectangle and set it's offset to 525 (270 + 35 + 220.

Select the walls and the cuboid, then use Stitch & Scoop → Difference (B+D). Choose the cuboid from the list to subtract it from the walls.

Step 12: Draw Next Two Ceilings

Use Rectangle to draw next two ceilings. When drawing the frontal part, set the offset to 575, for the second one set it to 525. Set the Height to 25.

Step 13: Model the Eaves

Move polygons around the ceilings 40 centimeters to each side to make eaves. The result should be as in the picture.

Step 14: Cut a Hole for Chimney

After creating the eaves we must cut a gap for the chimney. Draw a rectangle that we can subtract from the ceiling. This rectangle should be deeper by the thickness of the chimney'wall, as in the first picture (look at the Step 16 to see why). Then, use Stitch & Scoop → Difference to subtract the cuboid from the ceiling.

Step 15: Draw the Parapets

Draw parapets on the roof. Leave a gap for the chimney.

Offsets: 600 (270+35+270+25) for higher part, 550 for lower part (270+35+220+25).

Step 16: Complete the Chimney

Create the chimney upper part. Draw a rectangle again and erase a hole inside. This time we want to get all four walls around the hole.

Step 17: Draw a Railing

With offset set to 305 draw a railing on the balcony.

Step 18: Model a Fireplace

Now we can model a fireplace inside the chimney. Draw a rectangle with the offset 50 and height 60. Use Difference to cut a hole in the chimney walls. After that, draw second rectangle, as big as hole inside the chimney (2nd picture) with offset 0, height 50. This time use Union to make the chimney and cuboid one object.

Step 19: Draw a Second Chimney

Draw the second chimney with holes in it.

Step 20: Model a Roof Over the Entrance

Add a cube to the scene and set its Width: 211, Height: 100, Depth: 332. Move the cube over the entrance to your building (Picture 1). Select its upper face and change its scale to (1, 0 ,1), then move it close to the wall.

Select bottom face of the cube and use Extrusion tool (Modify → Extrusion or M+E) and set its amount to -15 (Picture 3). Then use Inset tool (Modify → Inset or M+I) with amount 4 (Picture 4), and again extrusion with amount -15 (Picture 5). Last picture shows the result.

Step 21: Draw a Roof

Use Free Hand and choose Line tool (F+L). In Plane Settings select Left/Right plane. Make the ceiling visible and draw a triangle on it. When using Line, always remember to close the shape.

Draw similar triangle on the lower part of house. Scale them and move if necessary.

Step 22: Cut Holes for Windows and Doors

Draw shapes of windows and doors at 1st floor. Remember about setting offset: 15 for high frontal windows, 100 for other windows and 0 for doors. Move the upper faces of windows at height 250 (Y dimension) and upper faces of doors at height 200. Use Stitch and Scoop tool (Difference) to cut holes in walls.

Do the same at 2nd floor. Offset: 315 for balcony door, 405 for windows in higher part, 385 in lower part and 305 for doors. Upper faces: 555 for windows in higher part, 505 for windows in lower part, 495 for doors. Use Stitch and Scoop again.

Step 23: Fill Polygons

I changed color of my objects to black to see their shapes better. Now I can see that something went wrong at the 1st floor - there are no faces around the holes I have just cut!

First, use Resolution tool (Modify → Resolution or M+L) and set it to 0 in order to simplify your object's grid. If it created unnecessary faces, as in two of my windows, just delete them. Then we can fix our walls by selecting two corresponding edges and connecting them using Fill Polygons tool (Tools → Fill Polygons or C+F).

Step 24: Draw Staircase

Turn on B-B Section and move it at Back view.

Use Free Hand → Line (F+L) to draw stairs. First check Front/Back plane in Plane Settings. Then, stair by stair, draw your staircase. In my project each stair is 19 cm high and 27 cm deep. Remember to connect end of your line with its beginning to create an object. After that, draw a wall under your staircase. Turn on 1 floor walls and set Wireframe mode to see where the wall should end.

Make stairs 120 cm and wall 12 cm wide. Move them to the right place.

Step 25: Match the Ceiling to the Staircase

We have already created the hole in the ceiling but now we can fit it into the staircase. Use Polygon Selection Mode and Move tool.

Step 26: Create Your Own Handrail

Model your own handrail. At the pictures you can see my idea for handrail. You can draw similar one or create your own. Play with it!

Step 27: Draw Doors

Choose Rectangle tool. Turn on the first floor and Wireframe mode to see how wide the doors are. We have cut the holes for our doors 200 cm high at 1st floor, and 190 at 2nd floor

First, draw a frame. Rotate it and move to the hole in the wall.

Then draw a door. Again, rotate it and move where you want. If you want to leave your door open you can choose Rotate and turn on Advanced Settings. Then choose where the origin should be placed. In the picture 4, left position of the origin is chosen, what makes opening and closing the door possible.

Step 28: Create Windows

Now it's time to model the windows. Choose the front wall and select the inner polygon. Use Move just to read the Z position of this face. In my model it's 311.

Our window frame will be composed of two three. The section of them is shown in the Picture 2. There will be external frame (8 cm deep and 8 cm wide), internal frame (also 3 cm deep and 8 cm wide) and glass (2 cm deep)

Now go to Front View, select Rectangle and choose Front/Back plane. Set Offset to 331 (311 + 38 - 10 - 8) and Height 8. Draw the external frames like in the Picture 3

Do the same with the internal frames. Offset: 227 (311 + 38 - 10 - 8 - 4), Height: 8. Draw the internal frames like in the Picture 4.

Now let's fill the frames with the glass. Draw next Rectangles. Offset: 230 (311 + 38 - 10 - 8 - 4 + 3), Height: 2.

Do the same with all windows.

You can select the glass objects and change their opacity to 40 or less, like in the Picture 6.

Step 29: Add Floor

Choose Edit → Select All (Ctrl + A) and move whole selection at height 20 (Y dimension).

Draw the 20 centimeters high floor under the whole building.

Step 30: Add Colors

You can select objects (or faces separately) and give them colors.

Your house is ready. You can still add many datails, such as gutters, door handles, window blinds etc.

Good luck!