Enscape rendering of an Archicad scene on mac
Gemma Da Silva

Gemma Da Silva

Published: November 09, 2023  •  14 min read

A Quick-Start Guide to Archicad and Enscape for Mac

You made it! Thanks for stopping by to learn how to get started with Archicad and Enscape for Mac.

This quick-start guide will walk you through the basics so you can start visualizing your projects in no time. We’ve also included a video tutorial to show you exactly how to locate and use certain key features 📺.

How to open Enscape in Archicad for Mac

Chaos Enscape is an easy-to-use real-time rendering plugin for Archicad. Before opening Enscape, first you need to download and install it. 

If you are an existing customer, you can download Enscape for Mac here. If you’re not yet a user, you can:

 

After downloading and installing the Enscape plugin, start Archicad with any model of your choice or even an empty scene. Enscape will appear as a menu item at the top of the Archicad window, next to Help. 

By clicking ‘Enscape,’ you will see a list of features appear. At the bottom, you will see the ‘Enscape Toolbar’. Click this to add the Enscape toolbar to your Archicad interface. You can now dock it to the side of your viewport if you wish.

 

Getting started in Enscape for Mac on Archicad

 

Once you have a project open, click the ‘Start Enscape’ icon. If you’re not in a 3D view, you might see a message asking you to select a 3D view to start Enscape. In that case, just select ‘Generic Perspective’ from the project map.

Enscape will now open a separate rendering window showing an accurate 3D-rendered view of your design. As you make changes in Archicad, you’ll see them appear in Enscape.

How to navigate in Enscape 

To move around and explore your project in Enscape, you can use the WASD or the arrow keys. 

  • Forwards: Press W or the up arrow key ⬆️
  • Backwards: Press S or the down arrow key ⬇️
  • Left: Press A or the left arrow key ⬅️
  • Right: Press D or the right arrow key ➡️
  • Look around: Left click, move the mouse while holding the left mouse button 🖱️

 

If you would like to speed up or slow down the movement speed, you can adjust this in the Enscape Settings. These can be found in the tog icon in the top right-hand corner of the Enscape window.

How to adjust the time of day

To change the daytime in Enscape, hold shift and the right mouse button, then move the mouse.

To access the help menu, which displays all of these controls and many more, click the question mark icon in the top right corner of the Enscape window. 

 

Enscape Help Menu Options

Synchronized and saved views 

By enabling Synchronize Views, as you move in Archicad, Enscape will follow and show the same view. This is ideal for quickly seeing how changes to the model will look and affect a project in reality.

The Enscape for Mac and Archicad toolbar

 

With any Archicad Views that you have set up already, these can also be visualized immediately in Enscape. This is particularly handy when you need to present your ideas. 

In the Enscape window, click the button with the binocular icon in the toolbar at the top. This opens up Enscape View Management. Clicking any of these views will move the Enscape camera to the correct position and even update the time of day and visibility settings based on what has been set for that particular saved view. This helps to significantly speed up the amount of time it takes to prepare a presentation.

How to open the Enscape Asset Library

Next to the Synchronize Views button, you can find the Asset Library button.

Enscape Archicad toolbar with asset library

 

The Enscape Asset Library provides you with access to thousands of lightweight, high-quality 3D models that you can place in your scene. There are various categories, including accessories, furniture, vegetation, people, and street props.

To place assets, select one, left-click it twice, and then left-click in your Archicad scene where you’d like to place it. 

To prevent the Asset Library from reloading assets, consider clicking the ‘Offline Asset Library’ checkbox so that everything is stored locally on your machine. 

Enscape Assets will appear in your Archicad scene with a low-detail placeholder but will appear in great detail in the Enscape window. Furthermore, using the placeholders in your Archicad scene, you can move Enscape assets, rotate them, or hide the layer they’re stored on.

 

Asset Library

How to edit textures using the Enscape Material Editor

The next icon in the Enscape toolbar is the Material Editor. This is one of the most important parts of the user interface.

Enscape Archicad toolbar with the Material Editor

 

This is where you can enhance your existing Archicad surfaces with some of the detail that makes a visualization even more realistic. It’s worth noting that Enscape will only access the existing surfaces you already have in your Archicad scene. 

If you would like to create a new surface and apply it to a part of your design, you still use Archicad to do this.

With the Enscape Material Editor open, you will find a list of all surfaces in your Archicad scene. They will appear as materials in the Enscape Material Editor, and by selecting a material, you can edit it further. 

You can also change the material type from a number of preset options, including water and grass.

 

Enscape for Mac Material Editor in Archicad

Editing materials

You can get a number of interesting materials when you edit the base attributes like color, roughness or reflections, metallic value, or transparency. By importing image files, called textures, to control some of these attributes, you can also get some stunning results. 

Where to find textures

There are lots of online sites that provide high-quality free 3D textures, such as ambientcg.com. You can also use the existing color textures you already have in Archicad.

Download any material (we recommend downloading in 2K resolution for Enscape). Once downloaded, open the folder you've received, which will include a number of image files. Select the color, displacement, and roughness files and save them on your Mac. 

Now go back to the Enscape Material Editor to import the files, making sure that the material you wish to edit is selected. This is covered step-by-step in the video tutorial below.

How to illuminate a scene with Archicad lights

Enscape provides you with a sun and sky by default. But if you want to illuminate your scene using artificial lighting, you can work as you would normally with lights in Archicad.

Once you place a light in Archicad and change, for example, the color and brightness, it will automatically appear in Enscape. If you don’t see your light, make sure that your environment is dark enough, or set the light to a high enough brightness value.

How to export and share Enscape visualizations

Currently, in Enscape for Mac, it’s possible to export and share your scene as a still image rendering, a 360-degree panorama, or a web standalone

These can all be exported directly from the Enscape rendering window. You will find three export options in the toolbar: Screenshot, Mono Panorama, and Web Standalone, which you can click to start the export.

Enscape Rendering Window Toolbar with export options highlighted copy

Still image renders

Before exporting a still image, you may first want to change the resolution and a few other settings. Go to Visual Settings (found in the top right corner of the Enscape window, the 'eye' icon next to the cog). The Output tab is where you can change the resolution, the image file format, and export additional channels, such as the alpha channel.

Preparing your image for render

By selecting the Safe Frame option, you can see exactly which parts of your scene will be rendered. Use this to set up the perspective you wish to capture.

Enscape Rendering Window Toolbar with safe frame highlighted

 

You can change the field of view angle if needed in the Visual Settings. If it’s greyed out, it’s because you are synchronizing the camera with Archicad. Disable the Synchronized Views button in the Enscape toolbar in Archicad, and then you will be able to adjust the field of view.

Before you render the image, you may also want to adjust the time of day, which will affect the natural lighting and shadows in your scene. Click shift and the right mouse button to change the time of day. 

Saving a 3D view

By saving the location, you can easily make additional renderings from this perspective in the future. Click the View Management button (the binocular icon), select ‘Create’, and this will create a 3D view in Archicad from the current perspective. It will also save the time of day. 

 

Creating a View in Archicad and Enscape for Mac

Adjusting the atmosphere

In the Visual Settings window (accessible by clicking the Visual Settings eye icon to the right of the rendering window), you can adjust the atmosphere and a few other elements that will affect the image. Increase or decrease the cloud density, adjust the horizon or brightness of the sun, and even add outlines for a sketch effect. 

 

Changing the atmosphere settings in Enscape

Exporting a still image

When ready, click the Screenshot button, which is located on the Enscape toolbar at the top left of the rendering window. You will be asked to select a location to save your render. Then, your image will be created in just a few seconds.

 

Screenshot button in Enscape to render an image in ArchicadClick the Screenshot button to render an image in seconds

360-degree panoramas

If you wish to export a panorama, select the Mono Panorama button, and Enscape will create a 360-degree panorama from the position you are in.

Once created, the panorama can be found in the Upload Management area in the Enscape toolbar in Archicad (the icon with a cloud and up arrow). From here, you can save the panorama as an image file, but you can also share it via the Enscape cloud. This provides you with a shareable web browser link and a QR code, both of which provide immediate access to the panorama.

The QR code can be scanned with a mobile phone, which then opens up the panorama on the device for an interactive experience. This makes your project accessible to anyone who scans the QR code, be it a contractor at the construction site or a member of the community interested in exploring a proposed local project.

 

Panorama Button in Enscape Rendering WindowClick the 360 button to render a panorama 

Web standalone

By clicking the Web Standalone export button in the Enscape rendering window, you can export your entire project. A web-based file is created, allowing anyone to navigate and explore your project, even if they don’t have Enscape or Archicad installed.

Once exported, you can find the file in the Upload Management window, in the tab Web Standalones, next to Panoramas. Simply copy and share the link so that your clients and stakeholders can open it in a web browser. Your project will automatically load, and they can begin exploring independently. 

 

Web button in Enscape to render a web standalone file copyClick the Web button to export a web-based version of your rendered project

Video tutorial

Everything that we have covered in this blog post is explained step-by-step in this video tutorial. Get up to speed with Enscape for Mac and Archicad in no time! 

 

Join the community

To connect with fellow Archicad and Enscape users, visit the Enscape Forum. Here, you can ask questions, share your visualizations, and interact with other Enscape users.

Get started with Enscape for Mac and Archicad

If you’re new to Enscape, download a free trial to see how it can help accelerate and improve various aspects of your design workflow ✅. 

Existing customers can download the new Enscape for Mac for Archicad here.

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Gemma Da Silva
Gemma Da Silva

Gemma is part of the Content team at Chaos and loves to provide architects and designers with practical tips to improve their workflows and visualizations. If you have something you'd like to share with the wider Enscape community, email marketing@enscape3d.com!