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Discussions about managing ARCHICAD in architectural practices (Project Setup, Templates, Attributes, Migration, Compatibility with Previous Versions, Preferences/Work Environment, User/Project/Application Administration/Management etc.)

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By Gerald D Lock
I have a question regarding the International Pen Set
Actually, I have several, but for now I'll focus on question #1:

What is the intended use for pens:

The International Template (I refer to this non-localised version as the base-line standard) has named these pens as:
Fill Colours (--8 column)
Backgrounds (--9 column)
Symbols - General (--0 column)

but this seems to be a nonsense, as fills are covered in the first 2 columns (named General & 2D Elements respectively), while Backgrounds are covered in row 7 (pens 121-140). Finally, what 'symbols' are intended to use pens 20, 40, 60, 80 100 & 120 that aren't already covered by using the pens in row 4 (pens 61-77 variously named with 'xxx-Symbols & Separators')

Before we go ahead a reclaim these unnecessarily-reserved pens, I hope the original author of the pen categories - or someone equally knowledgeable - will give us all an explanation.

Symbol & Fill Pens mystery.PNG
Symbol & Fill Pens mystery.PNG (11.43 KiB) Viewed 3657 times
By Gerald D Lock
Here is my commentary on the various pens that are currently 'reserved' (with a particular name) but are seemingly not required.

Any comments or lively debate is most welcome!
Pens - reserved vs required.jpg
User avatar
By Erwin Edel
That seems like a lot of reserved pens :shock:

We use pretty much the penset included with the dutch template, which has 10 pen weights in black, grey, red, green end, 10 black pens for hatching, the classic grey scale in 10 pens and then just a whole bunch of colours.

So 70 pens reserved and a whole lot of colour you can use for illustration purposes.
By DGSketcher
I have never really taken to the AC pen sets this maybe cos I'm old enough to have started on a drawing board where everything was typically black ink. Then I moved onto early Autocad with 7/8 coloured pens (7+background). This then evolved to 256 pens. I never saw any reason to use most of them as at best we would identify a zone with pale colours, so 16 pens was sufficient and for me still is. I sort of get what GS are trying to do but as soon as you start adapting objects like slabs for ceiling finishes then the whole predefined colour representation becomes a pain, particularly on some of the more detailed objects which have numerous pen settings to change.

The introduction of Graphic Overrides is going to be AC's saviour in this regard. Now you can quickly identify & highlight any element and allocate the required pens & fills to convey clearly what matters on the drawing. I think this will effectively make the allocated pen & pen set concept obsolete.
User avatar
By JaredBanks

There are some articles on the help center (or there were on the old archicadwiki) that explained the default international pens. Here's one article I found: ... functions/

As you know I have very strong feelings about pen sets. I'd disregard the OOTB pen sets. They weren't redone for ARCHICAD 20—as far as I know—which means they are obsolete. So don't try to understand them or work around them. Augment the pens however you need to.

On the off chance people haven't read my thoughts on pens, especially as they pertain to Graphic Overrides: ... -overrides
By DGSketcher
Great blog Jared 8)

What I would like to see is the GO setting getting a simple modification to remove their dependence on pen sets by allowing the line weight and colour to be set independently in a pop up dialogue which should offer far more versatility.

There is scope for a further upgrade in the GO dialogue by providing separate settings for cut and uncut pens. To be fully comprehensive the next step would be possibly including outline and skin line settings(?)

In the interests of lively debate we could take this a stage further... supposing the pen sets were deleted completely and colour selection was removed from all elements, AC would be dramatically simplified for the end user. All legacy drawings would open with a default pen and you could then use GOs to sort out your presentation. I can hear the screams now about colour fills, so maybe this is a step too far but I can imagine there could be a compromise as 3D shading is already embedded in the building materials and 2D fills could have their own independent pen weight and colour settings.