2.1 - Offset Line Tool

The Offset Line (OL) allows you to draw lines with a defined thickness. You can set the offset width and justification direction, making this tool an easy way to trace plans, create walls, draw roads, or quickly make any other linear-based shape with a set thickness.

In this exercise, we will add some interior partitions to the Encode Campus Sample Model.axm. If you have not already, you can download the file from the FormIt Primer Part 2 Dataset.

Drawing Walls

First, we will draw a few walls on the 2nd Floor office space using the Offset Line (OL) tool.

1 – After opening the Encode Campus Sample Model.axm, let’s orient the current view to a plan view. From the Scenes Palette, double-click on the scene named Plan – 2nd Floor Office.

Note: Using scenes to control both the camera position and the visibility of section layers is an efficient way to navigate the model. For more information on Sections, check out the Section Planes chapter from the FormIt Primer Part I.

2 - To start the first wall of what will be a small conference room:

  1. From the Standard Toolbar, click on the Create Sketch button (pencil icon) and select the Offset Line (OL) tool.

  2. To start drawing the walls, single-click on the bottom left corner of the shaft.

  3. Start dragging the mouse to the left along the green axis (X axis), then press the Tab key or start typing a dimension.

  4. The Tool Option dialog will appear, where we can set not only the length of the offset line, but also its Thickness and Alignment. For the Dimension, type 22'.For the Thickness, type 6”. For the Alignment, select either Left or Right from the dropdown, so that the bottom edge of the offset line is flush with the shaft wall as shown in the below image. Then click OK.

Note: If you want to modify the default Thickness and/or the Alignment, without entering a Dimension in the Tool Option dialog, simply delete the value from the Dimension field before pressing OK. You will be back in the model with the Offset Tool (OL) still active. Now you can click in the model to define the next end point of your offset line.

3 - To draw the rest of the walls for the conference room

  1. Without exiting the Offset Line (OL) tool, draw a shape matching the dimensions shown in the image below. To create each segment, either use the Tab key or just start typing to enter the desired length of each edge.

  2. The direction of the Left/Right offset is based on the direction of the polyline you are drawing, and therefore may flip while you are in the process of drawing the entire shape. If this happens, simple press Tab and switch the Alignment dropdown between Left and Right as needed.

  3. To complete the Offset Line command, double-click at the location of your final endpoint, which should intersect the first line you drew. Don’t worry if the offset lines you just drew disappear when you double-click, we will find them again in the next step.

Note: Remember, you can always switch between Orthographic (VO) and Perspective (VP) camera modes to make drawing easier. However, some elements perpendicular to the camera may not be visible is Orthographic mode.

Note: When using the Offset Line (OL) tool, don’t worry if you create any overlapping or intersecting paths. As soon as you finish the command, all the lines will be merged into one clean surface, and any extra inner edges will be removed.

4 - If the offset line you just created is not visible, it is because the new surface you just made is in the exact same plane as the office’s floor. Orbit the view slightly until you see the offset lines you just drew clashing with the floor surface. Select it by single-clicking anywhere on the face.

Note: If you are having trouble selecting this new surface, either use the space bar to cycle through selection options or temporarily turn off the Encode Main Building – Floors layer.

5 - Extrude the shape 8’-0” vertically to create the walls.

6 - Feel free to populate this office floor by drawing and extruding more walls to get more familiar with the Offset Line (OL) tool. You may need to alternate between the Plan – Second Floor Office scene and a 3D view, as we did above. When you are ready, take a look at the next sections to see a few more creative uses for this tool.

Making a Door

The Offset Line (OL) tool does not need to be used exclusively in plan. Below we will use it to make a quick doorway.

1 - First, position your 3D view so that you can see where the longest wall we drew meets the exterior corner of the shaft, similar to the image below. If you are having trouble, start from the Plan – Second Floor Office scene we used earlier, or ensure that the Section – 2nd Floor Office Plan layer is still turned on.

2 - Often times, doorways are located based on their center line, not their jambs. Let’s use the Offset Line (OL) tool to create a door opening by its center point:

  1. First we will mark the doorways center point. Use the Line (L) tool to draw a 3’ line from the bottom corner of the shaft along the bottom edge of our new wall as shown.

  2. Start the Offset Line (OL) tool again.

  3. To start drawing the door, click on the endpoint of the line we just drew. This will ensure that the center of our doorway is 3’ from the shaft wall.

  4. Drag the mouse up along the blue axis (Z Axis), and the press the Tab key. Enter a Dimension of 7’, a Thickness of 4’, and set the Alignment to Center. Then click OK to create that segment. Press Esc to finish and exit the Offset Line.

Note: If you are having trouble getting this single-segment offset line to be in plane with the wall, it is likely caused by your current axis. Use the Set Axes (SZ) tool to reset the axes directions relative to the Plan – 2nd Floor Office scene – so that green axis (X Axis) is pointing to the left and red axis (Y Axis) is pointing up.

3 - To turn the doorway outline into an opening, single-click on the face we just made, and drag it back through the wall until it disappears.

Getting Creative

1 - Next, we will add some more entryways to the conference room along with a sweeping window, all using a single Offset Line!

  1. Start the Offset Line (OL) tool again, and choose a starting point along the base of the same wall approximately 10’ to the left of the corner of the shaft.

  2. Start dragging the mouse up along the blue axis (Z Axis) again, then press Tab.

  3. This first line will be another doorway. Enter a Dimension of 5’-6” again. This time set the Thickness to 3’ and make sure the Alignment is still set the Center. The click OK.

  4. To make the horizontal strip for the window, drag the cursor along the green axis (X Axis) towards the conference room’s far corner.

  5. Hold Shift to lock to the green axis (X Axis) and then click anywhere along the exterior corner of the wall. Press Esc to finish the Offset Line.

2 - To finish up, let’s cut the conference room walls with the shape we just created, and then add some glass. Select the L-shaped surface we just created by single-clicking on it. Then, drag it backwards past the farthest conference room wall so that it cuts 3 walls at once.

3 - Now to add some glass:

  1. Using the Line tool, create a total of four (4) vertical lines as shown; one at each of the open corners, and one at the edge of each new doorway openings. In doing so, FormIt will create three (3) new surfaces for us.

  2. Paint these three (3) surfaces with the Glass - New material from the Materials Palette.

  3. Let’s not forget to keep our model organized, as that is always a good practice. Group all the geometry we just created – glass and walls – together in one group. Name it Conference Room and place it on the Encode Main Building – Interior Partitions layer.

4 - The final step is up to you! Be creative, and you can take this project anywhere you want with FormIt. In the below image, we added some furniture and a ceiling to the conference room, mirrored a copy of the conference room group to the opposite side of the shaft, added another cubicle area, and populated the floor with office furniture. We then arrayed that geometry to all of the the office floors: