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How to model a building in the drawing.tool?
How to model a building in the drawing.tool?

Video Tutorial and a step-by-step guide to the drawing tool workflow

Patrick Chopson avatar
Written by Patrick Chopson
Updated over a week ago

The drawing tool is a user-friendly platform to model buildings within cove.tool. Users can also bring in geometry directly from other 3D modeling programs such as Rhino, Revit, SketchUp, and make edits to that geometry in drawing.tool.

This article presents a step-by-step guide to model a building using two methods in drawing.tool; creating a model of building elements (walls, floors, roofs, window...) and drawing lines and primitive extrusions to create the form and then converting that geometry to a building.

Navigating to drawing.tool

First, create a new project, set the name, location, use-type and then proceed to the geometry page. On the drawing tool page, click on the "Go to Drawing Tool". To learn more about the interface, refer to this article here.

Option 1: Modeling Building Elements

Step 1: To model building objects, use the icons on the top of the page. Verify the correct floor is activated by navigating to the settings panel on the left. Here you can also add new floors, copy and paste elements, change floor-to-floor heights and the opacity of each floor underlay.

Step 2: Users can import their model into drawing.tool, however, you may not have a 3d model, or it can be quicker to insert an image or DXF file and trace over it.

To import an image or DXF file, click the import icon in the upper left menu and click to place in the canvas. Select the image, click on the canvas, and resize the image. Refer to gif below:

Tip: When Importing an image you can place it to exact coordinates on the canvas. This is especially helpful when creating a multistory building that will have a unique background on each level.

Note: Save PDF as an image files to import into drawing.tool

Step 3: Select the wall icon and draw over the plan. The command draws continuous walls until the walls create a closed room. You can then draw another wall at any coordinate on the canvas while the wall command remains active. Press the Esc key to exit out of the command.

Tips for drawing walls: Select walls to edit properties in the left menu and refer to this article for updating the properties of multiple building elements at once. Use the angle snap to keep walls perpendicular. Refer to this article for more info on snapping.

The wall's properties can be modified by selecting the wall and adjusting its parameters on the side panel. However, the properties that affect its performance such as its thickness and R-Value are tied to its assembly and can only be edited by making changes to its assembly in the Assembly builder. Refer here for more info on this.

Note: Drawing overlapping walls can cause failure in load calculation with loadmodeling.tool and inaccurate area inputs for energy simulation on the baseline energy page. Drawing tool indicates the overlapping walls by changing the color of drawn lines to a reddish hue when intersecting lines are within 3 degrees of the origin's x-axis.

There are three types of walls available: Exterior Walls, Interior Walls, and Air Walls. Both Exterior and Interior walls are automatically determined by the platform as you draw. Air Walls can either be drawn, or exterior/interior walls type can be changed to Air Walls. Learn more about Air Walls here.

Automatic Geometry

Enclosed spaces will automatically create floors, roofs, and rooms. Therefore, no action is required to place roofs or floors. Each room is assigned default properties based on its use type. Room properties such as name, number, color, texture, and template can be specified by the users on the properties panel for the selected rooms. Inputs for room properties such as occupants load, cooling set-point and setback, heating setpoint and setback, and supply air system are based on industry standards. A full list of these inputs can be found here.

Note: In situations where rooms are at different heights, like an entry lobby space, follow the steps mentioned in this article to create multi-height spaces on one level.

Placing windows and doors.

To place windows, doors, spandrels and skylights, click on the associated icon above. Once the element is placed, select windows and update their associated properties. When multiple windows or walls are selected, it will update each attribute.

Editing windows

After placing the windows with desired dimensions, you can add shading devices such as fins and overhangs. Shading devices have a significant impact on the buildings' energy consumption and thus important to be considered in the model. To add fins and overhangs to each window and door, you can select the object and from the properties panel specify the number and depth of the shading devices.

Option 2: Workflow for Creating Buildings

Primitive Masses

An alternate workflow is to start with primitive masses and convert those into buildings with the "convert to building" icon. Create planes by either drawing line work that connects, or a rectangle. Once you have a rectangle, this can be extruded with the extrude icon. To extrude click hold drag.

Note: Primitive rectangles can also be converted into outdoor floors, and roofs.


drawing.tool will save your changes every 5 minutes by default. However, there is a small save icon on the bottom of the page, by clicking on which you can save your changes. Make sure to use this feature to update your file. Also, a small colored dot along with a text description show the status of your save. A red circle means "unsaved changes detected", a yellow circle shows the " saving" process and a blue circle means that the "changes saved". Note that there should be at least 10 seconds interval between each save unless you get the message "Please wait until saving again".

Undo and Redo:

Made mistakes during the modeling process in drawing.tool? Use the undo feature to reverse your most recent actions by selecting Ctrl + Z ( Windows) or ⌘ + Z (MacOS) on your keyboard. The undo command can be applied to up to 25 actions.

Similarly, if you would like redo one action one at a time, you may also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Y (Windows) or ⌘ + Y (MacOS) on your keyboard. The redo command can be applied to up to 15 actions.

One Last Step

After finishing the modeling process, you can click on the "export" button on the application menu and export your model to the 3D analysis page for further analyses.

Happy Modeling!


  1. I am not able to export from drawing.tool, the button is not clickable.

    You need to be in 3D mode to be able to export the model from drawing.tool.

  2. How do I change the default wall thickness so it's the same each time I draw a wall?

    The wall thickness and R-Value are tied to the assembly and can only be edited by making changes to its assembly in the Assembly builder. Refer here for more info on this.

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