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Ecotect Tutorial: Manipulate Model Views


This ECOTECT tutorial explains how to manipulate model views to achieve different visualisations of an ECOTECT model.


You will need about 10 minutes to complete this tutorial.

Training and Accreditation

Successfully completing this tutorial fulfills one of the practical skills required for completing Level 1 of the Solar Radiation Analysis training module.

Resources Required

To complete this tutorial, open the file located in the Examples folder of your Ecotect installation.


3D Editor Window

  1. There are many different ways in which you can view an ECOTECT model. By default, most ECOTECT files open to a perspective view of the model, which can be rotated in 3D by holding down the right mouse button. Zooming in and out is controlled by rolling the scroll wheel forwards and backwards, and holding down the scroll wheel pans the model view.
    ECOTECT navigation controls using the mouse.
    ECOTECT navigation controls using the mouse.
  2. In the bottom right hand corner of the ECOTECT application window, there are six additional controls for manipulating the 3D Editor view. From left to right:
    • Zoom Window: Drag a window around a part of the model in the 3D Editor window to zoom the view into that part of the model.
    • Fit Grid to Objects: Resizes the grid to fit all objects contained in the ECOTECT model, and adjusts the view so that the model can be seen in its entirety.
    • Zoom to objects: zooms into the currently selected object/s in the model (however, this can sometimes do strange things to the view, such as turn it upside down). If no objects are selected, ECOTECT zooms in/out to fit all visible objects into the 3D Editor window.
    • Zoom to grid: fits the current grid within the 3D Editor.
    • Drag grid extents: allows you to interactively adjust the size of the grid using its nodes.
    • Copy view to clipboard: brings up a context menu that alows you to copy the current view to the clipboard, for transferring to other Windows applications. The context menu also gives you options to print or save the current view directly to disk.
  3. The View menu allows you to select the projection view of the model - Plan, Side, Front, Perspective and Axonometric (note function key shortcuts assigned to the various views). The functions of the view control buttons described above are also replicated in this menu.
  4. The Display menu allows you to control how the model view is represented in the 3D Editor window. The four main display options are:
    • Model: the default wireframe view of an ECOTECT model.
    • Shadows: casts object shadows upon the ground plane (ie. where z-axis=0). To see shadows being cats upon object surfaces, the object must first be tagged as shaded - see this tutorial here.
    • Surface Normals: displays an arrow indicating the directionality of each surface in the model. Surface normality affects a number of ECOTECT's analysis calculations, such as shading masks, and so this option is most often used to diagnose related issues.
    • Rough Sketch: generates a hidden line view of the ECOTECT model, simulating a pencil sketch. Depending on the complexity of the model, a rough sketch can sometimes take a long time to be displayed. Many of the options in the Visualisation Settings panel for the Visualise window now supercede the rough sketch display option.

Visualise Window

  1. The Visualise tab uses OpenGL graphics technology to render the model view - this is particularly useful for presentation images, and can also be used in conjunction with some analysis functions. All of the navigation controls for the 3D Editor window work in the Visualise window as well.
  2. Note the tabs along the bottom of the Visualise window. Each one represents a saved camera view. When you click on each camera tab, a smooth, animated transitions occurs between one view to the next. To create your own camera view, first use the various navigation controls to create the view you wish to save. Then right-click in the Visualise window, and in the context menu that appears, select the Create New Camera... option. Specify a name for the camera view, and then click Ok - a new tab appears at the bottom of the Visualise window.
  3. Some additional persepective controls for the Visualise window are located in a column to the left of the window. From top to bottom:
    • Move with Left Mouse Button: Click and hold the left mouse button and move the mouse to adjust the camera view in the Visualise window.
    • Pan with Left Mouse Button: activates the left mouse button to pan the model view.
    • Rotate with Left Mouse Button: Rotates the model view using the left mouse button (same as holding down the right mouse button).
    • Pivot with Left Mouse Button: Tilts the camera view up/down and left/right.
    • Zoom with Left Mouse Button: zooms in/out with the left mouse button (same as using the scroll wheel).
    • Perspective Distortion with Left Mouse Button: alters the cone of vision (or camera lens). If the view gets too distorted, reset the view using the zoom to objects button in the view control toolbar (described above).
    • Straighten View: reorientates the model so that the view is aligned to the horizon - this can be useful if the view is skewed after adjusting other visualisation controls. If the model disappears off-screen after pressing this button, reset the view using the zoom to objects button in the view control toolbar.
    • Look at Model Centre: moves the look-at point to the geometric centre of the current model. Useful if you have completely lost yourself inside a model and need a quick reset back to a known point without actually changing your location.
    • Full Interactive Redraw: by default, ECOTECT reverts to a wireframe display mode whenever you interactively rotate the model. Turning on this option overrides this, forcing ECOTECT to redraw the model as it is rotated. However, this can cause jerky movement when rotating complex models.
    • Continuous Drag Mode: this toggle option means that, when changing a view, you can simply drag the mouse in the direction you wish to move and, even though the mouse may not be moving, the view will continue to change in that direction. The degree of change is proportional to the distance the mouse is from the point it was originally clicked at.

Useful Tips

  • Other visualisation options are also possible using applications other than ECOTECT. For example, you can export your ECOTECT model as a VRML or POV-Ray model. You can also create accurate lighting simulation images using programs such as RADIANCE - click here for a tutorial on how to do this.
  • Additional settings for the Visualise window can be found in the Visualisation Settings panel. For more information, refer to this tutorial here.
ECOTECT Tutorial: Display Air Flow Values


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