Discover SketchFab 3D, plus a tutorial for ArchiCAD to SketchFab

SketchFab is a great online tool that allows you to view 3D models or buildings, sculptures, people or whatever, with you in control. Whether you model objects or photograph them, you can view and share them easily with friends, clients, consultants or contractors.  For those that do not create 3D material, no need to read the tutorial below, just go to the link listed below and see all the great work that is being photographed in 3D and see what you can discover and explore.


Viewing a model is free, and the service is free so sign up.  If you want to go ‘Pro’ it will allow you to upload models and keep them private.



SimpleTwig example model inside of SketchFab

[sketchfab id=e40358e537354050a008009ce5f2933d]



SketchFab has some navigation tricks. These will help you get around:

  1. Go to Full Screen (from computer or mobile device like an iPad).
  2. Rotate using Mouse, zoom in using scroll wheel,
  3. Double click on an object to zoom to that area of your model.



The tutorial goes over the easy to follow steps to export your 3D model from ArchiCAD and then import them into SketchFab. Using ArchiCAD, create your model and view it within ArchiCAD 3D view…

In ArchiCAD (using AC17):
Go to your 3D-Model view window and show the entire model you want to export. The viewpoint I use is an aerial perspective… I doubt the viewpoint matters when exporting the model.

Command-Option-S (File Menu > SaveAs) (Mac OS);
In the Save 3D window at the bottom left, click ‘New Folder’ and name it as you like; then,
Select Format > Wavefront File and name your file (your_title.obj)

This will open a new dialogue box called: ‘Save Wavefront Document’
Check off ‘Model **rotated**’, and I use ‘Elements – Surfaces’

Set drawing unit to ‘1.000 inches’ (after experimenting with units, between 0.001 to 50,000 inches, I don’t think it has any impact on what is imported to SketchFab with regards to background or textures scale).

Click ‘OK’.

This will take just a few short seconds to save 3 components into your computer’s folder: 3D-MODEL_Textures; 3D-MODEL.mtl and 3D-MODEL.obj.

When the processing from ArchiCAD is done:
Go to your finder and right click on the folder you made, and select ‘compress’ (Mac OS) to turn the folder into a Zip file; Don’t compress the individual files, just the folder that holds the files.
This will create a file named ‘’ which is what you will upload to your SketchFab profile (top right corner is the Upload button on the SketchFab browser page).


In SketchFab (via browser):

When uploading, you may get a message “There might be issues if you upload. Press continue to upload anyway” Click Upload. These ‘issues’ may have to do with textures that didn’t load, or weren’t assigned to an object (that you had the layer turned off and thus didn’t import). You can reassign textures, even upload new one’s from inside SketchFab.

When ready click on ‘Publish’.



Possible Issues:

  • 1) Orientation: Your model may be imported in the wrong orientation which is easy to fix, just click ‘Edit 3D Settings’ inside SketchFab and in the edit window on the left > Straighten Model click on the ‘x’ arrow to rotate, and ‘Save View, then Save Settings’.
  • 2) Pivot Point: Double click on the part of the model you want as the pivot, click ‘Save View’ and  ‘Save Settings’.
  • 3) Background: Because the ArchiCAD model imports always seems tiny next to the default backgrounds I use a blank background. Go to ‘Edit 3D Settings’ > Lighting > turn off ‘Environment’ and turn on ‘Lights’. Changing the scale of the export seems to have no effect.
  • 4) Textures: As for the texture, it’s best to upload power of two texture, so for example, instead of 2156×1856, 2048×2048 would be better (or 2048×1024, etc…).
    However, doing that will not fix your problem though (it’s just that you don’t do it we are going to resize it to 2048×1024 so you might loose precision, usually not that big of a deal though)

Good luck.




Tutorial by Original content copyright simpletwig™ 2016

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