In part 1 of 4 we discussed how to manipulate the view of a 3D PDF. This technote discusses how to manipulate and work with levels associated with a 3D PDF.

All of the 3D PDFs generated from our BIM models have level data embedded in them. Depending on the complexity of the project, our BIM model may also comprise several models referenced together. Both of these features allow the viewer to turn on/off components of the model for easier viewing.

On the left side bar of the Reader window, you’ll see about four icons. The one circled in red is the one for the Model Tree navigation pane. Click on it to open the navigation pane and you’ll see a Windows Explorer type interface showing the base model (Levels) and References – in this example there were three separate BIM models attached together in one composite model.

BTW, the other navigation panes are thumbnails, attachments and layers.

The left blue circle is a pop-down menu with quite a list of actions to perform on the selected element(s) in the model tree explorer. The right blue circle allows you to select the highlight color for selected elements.

Much like Windows Explorer, you can click the plus sign in front of an item to expand the level of detail and expose all the elements available in the level. The left image has expanded the base model levels and the right image has expanded one of the reference file levels.


Now, the neat thing is you can select any item – an entire model, an entire layer or an individual element in a specific layer – by clicking the name then right clicking to manipulate it in a variety of ways from a pop-up window. This allows you to peel back the layers of the model like an onion, if you will, and drill down into the model.

As a quick illustration, the first image below is a section of a building will all solid elements. In the Model Tree explorer, expand Levels and highlight the level named s-bim-cmu-brick. Then, right click and select Transparent from the list. You should see the second image below with all of the brick elements now made transparent. This allows you to “see” into the building to reveal much of the other structural framing – beams, columns, slabs, decks and lintels.

If you’re only interested in working with a specific area of a model, you can also select individual elements in the model by left clicking on them, then right clicking to get a similar pop-up menu to manipulate the display of that single element.

tool bar (at the top edge of the view window) to return to the default view that you see when a model is first opened. Of course, you can always close and reopen the PDF too.

Here’s a sample 3D PDF to practice your skills.

NE surgery 3D PDF (756 KB)

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