BIM Coordinator Program (INT) April 22, 2024

Find the next step in your career as a Graphisoft Certified BIM Coordinator!

About Archicad's documenting tools, views, model filtering, layouts, publishing, etc.

Custom Pen Set - Template





I need to develop custom pen sets and I would like to start a conversation regarding pen sets in general, and also the logic behind creating custom pen sets that meet custom design standards.


Any hints / tips / ideas would be appreciated.  


First of all, let us agree that the predefined pen sets have a very specific structure that not always is compatible with the design standards of an architectural practice. 


Therefore, there comes the need to adjust the pen sets to the custom needs by:

A) keeping the logic of the predefined ones and making the necessary adjustments regarding colours, line weights etc + adding custom pens in the empty spots to meet more specific needs, or

B) creating a totally new pen set logic.


I believe there is no “right” answer in this. But let’s assume that the option B is the one we choose now, for many reasons.

In this case, the Archicad logic with elements that use specific pens does not apply anymore, so there comes the need to save Favourites that are adjusted to the new pen set logic.



What else should be taken into account in this case? Do you people have a specific structure that has been efficient?


Thank you in advance.


I have a main penset, it's based on elements function 

  • Structural
  • Non-structural
  • Finishes
  • Stairs and railings
  • Terrain

Each category have 3 pens : cut, uncut, overhead

These pens are from column 5 to 9

This way, i have control on all cut elements pen thickness at once


  • The pens used by library parts are UNTOUCHED,column 3 and 4 


  • Mep have pens by function : clean air, dirty water, hot water, gaz, wiring etc
  • + one pen for each category : purple for plumbing work, rose for ventilation work, theese pens are used with graphic overrides : 1 pen to show a system


  • Building materials have pens by category, brickwork, concrete, insulation, 


  • Covering pens : for coverfills pattern , light colors


Almost all my pens are thin, even the cut pens, beacause thick pens hide some details in plans, i use solid dark fills for thin finish fills in plan so they look like cut thick pens


I'll share my pensets once i get in my office

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, 32 GB RAM, RTX 3080 10 GB
Archicad 25
Windows 10 professional

Agree with 'bouhmidage' that the best is a pen by function approach - have a look in our reference guide for some inspiration...

Design Technology Managers.
All  on macOS | since AC 6

Archicad Framework > Smart Template 27
Smart Tree, Transmittal and Universal Label and other smart GDL Objects
By Architects for Architects.
Barry Kelly

If you are using the default library objects, then you will want to study them and find out what default pens they use for lines and fills.

You will probably want to keep those pens as standard in your custom pen sets.

At least keep the same line weight even if you change the colour.

Otherwise you will need to create favourites of every object so you do not have to manually swap pens to suit your custom setup.


I also recommend keeping any white pens from the default pen sets as white in your custom pen sets as these are used as the solid hatch and/or background fill pen colour so they do not print.

I think that is mainly pen 91, but that may depend on your language version.




One of the forum moderators.
Versions 6.5 to 27
Dell XPS- i7-6700 @ 3.4Ghz, 16GB ram, GeForce GTX 960 (2GB), Windows 10
Lenovo Thinkpad - i7-1270P 2.20 GHz, 32GB RAM, Nvidia T550, Windows 11
Marc H

As you stated, there are many approaches.  I would consider the modeling and document type emphasis of your firm, your work flow and collaboration with others, and consideration of the opportunity to employ GORs and/or multiple pen sets.  For example, a lot of my work centers around planning and feasibility with several disciplines at once, so my approach may be very different from others.  In my modeling environment, I particularly wanted to have some level of engineering systems breakout without needing a lot of different pen sets. On the other hand, I have less need for technical rendering visualization. (For the latter, I typically use BIMx.)


With the above, I considered the following:

  • How can I quickly differentiate different discipline and element types in the AC 2D modeling windows?
  • Can I avoid changing pens on default AC object pen assignments?
  • How can I simply address 2D imports (e.g., DWGs), which I routinely receive but want to simplify on-screen?
  • How do I easily address scale?
  • How do I allow for black and gray scale capability?

With that, I set up a main pen set which I use for most views.

  • I noted most AC objects OOTB mostly use the first row of pens [1-20], along with pen 91 (white), so I kept these as-is.
  • On the second row [21-40] I placed black and gray scales.
  • Under these rows I placed twenty blocks of color groups and weights to represent various disciplines and system types, etc. 
  • The bottom left row [241-249] I placed a set of ten 'typical' ACAD colors (basically AC 18 default 121-129 plus white), which I use for certain DWG imports and reference lines.  These I may use on worksheets and the like. Next to this [251-253] I kept three AC 18 standard RGB color pens.
  • I set aside a block of 20 unassigned pens for project specific visualization or other uses.

Then, with this main set in place, I created a few scaled (weight changed) version pen sets.  When I need to change color schemes, I utilize GORs.  I could also set up alternate color pen sets, and I imagine there may be ways to use less pens and rely more on GORs, but this setup works fairly well for my projects these past several years.


“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” - Abraham Lincoln

AC27 USA on 16” 2019 MBP (2.4GHz i9 8-Core, 32GB DDR4, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8G GDDR5, 500GB SSD, T3s, Trackpad use) running Sonoma OS + extended w/ (2) 32" ASUS ProArt PAU32C (4K) Monitors



AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, 32 GB RAM, RTX 3080 10 GB
Archicad 25
Windows 10 professional

Pen 19 and 91 should stay white to avoid unnecessary object editing.

Keep pens 1-20 as is but change their line weight to the thinnest one so that they always show in color when an user forgets to edit the object they just imported but the line weight doesn't screw up the drawings.

In my case I have a set of Black Pens and White (5) assigned by 2d representation. Graphic (Door swings etc) - Overhead - UnCut - Cut (Small thickness) - Cut

Then a set of 5 very thick pens based on technical pens.

Colors are for GOs.


I have to clean up this set since it has been edited since AC08



Eduardo Rolón AIA NCARB
AC27 US/INT -> AC08

Macbook Pro M1 Max 64GB ram, OS X 10.XX latest
another Moderator

Learn and get certified!