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How to create a 3D model from a 2D plan photo

How to create a 3D model from a scanned 2D plan

Do you know that you can easily create the 3D BIM model of your project starting from a simple photo of a 2D plan of an existing building? Let me explain how!

You’ve found yourself with the need to create the 3D model of an existing building and only have a 2D paper-based drawing?

Just imagine how exciting it could be to automatically convert 2D plans from paper to 3D BIM models, using an online application that uses artificial intelligence (AI).

These are specific features that allow you to import a 2D Plan, automatically detects the various elements (walls, openings, rooms, etc.) and transform them into 3D/BIM objects.

Further on, let me show you all the steps you need to follow and the benefits for your work with this extraordinary technology.

How to create a 3D model with usBIM.planAI

How to create a 3D model with usBIM.planAI

Creating a 3D model from 2D Plan drawings with usBIM.planAI: the advantages for the designer

If you’re involved in renovation, restoration or maintenance works, you already know very well that you need to start from the surveyed situation of a an existing building in order to start off with the different phases of work.

But it’s not always easy to find DWG/DXF CAD format drawings, especially if we’re talking about old buildings which haven’t been subject to recent works. We all know how frustrating it can be to go through old docuemnt archives to find only some old, deteriorated cadastral plans or crumpled paper plans.

In this article I’ll explain how to generate the relating 3D model of the building starting from simple printed 2D plans.

It’s an automated process that leverages artificial intelligence to create a 3D IFC-format model from a 2D Plan photo. In just a few simple steps, you can end up with a consistent 3D model ready for importing directly into your BIM authoring software and continue to work on it for further development or share it with your colleagues.

The recent AI-based technological advancements allow you to take a simple photo of a 2D plan drawing and import it into the application (PNG, JPG, PDF formats are among those supported). you can then define the floor levels (ground floor, first floor, etc.), just the time of a cup of coffee and the AI-based algorythm, recognizes doors, walls, windows and floorings transforming them into 3D objects. But that’s not all because if you want to get into the smallest refined detail, you can switch to manual mode and modify objects by moving, deleting or even add other elements. At this point the model is ready for use in your standard BIM oriented workflow. Now with your exported 3D IFC BIM model ready, you can import it into your architectural design software. Sharing your work with other colleagues is also another possibility because you can use it to generate plan views, elevation views and sections which are consistently connected to the 3D digital format.

How to create a 3D model from a scanned 2D plan with usBIM.planAI

How to create a 3D model from a scanned 2D plan with usBIM.planAI

Using this new technology brings a number of benefits to your engineering or design firm:

  • it’s an application with a very user-friendly interface
  • no particular need to learn learn how to use new software because it uses an artificial intelligence process to produce a consistent 3D model
  • it saves you a lot of time and effort
  • you can digitize existing assets quickly and easily
  • compose a 3D model in the IFC format to work with openBIM methodologies
  • import the IFC model into any BIM software and work seamlessly with colleagues who could even be using different software.

Who it is useful for?

Artificial intelligence at the service of the digitization of buildings is useful to all professionals in the technical sector:

  • design offices
  • architecture firms
  • construction companies
  • asset managers
  • public authorities.

How to 3D digitize 2D projects and paper-based technical drafts of existing buildings

Now allow me to show how it’s all done, in just a few easy steps, to convert your 2D drawings into 3D BIM models.

First of all, simply log in to the usBIM, enter your credentials (email and password), and log in to the usBIM.planAI application.

Click Create Project, enter a name and a description.

Define the organization of the project from the tree diagram on the left: create the levels corresponding to each floor of the building (if it consists of several floors).

Click on Import plan to import the photo of the floor plan ready for a scan and conversion process. Repeat the operation to import the corresponding plan for each other level as defined during the initial phase.

Select the first floor you want to digitize and scale it according to a reference measure.

Before proceeding, set the reference parameters (walls height, thickness of the floors, windows and windows, etc.) in order to get an accurate model.

Click on Run auto-detection and wait a few seconds to get the final result. You can now view the model in 2D or 3D.

Creating the 3D model with usBIM.planAI

Creating the 3D model with usBIM.planAI

If you prefer, you can also proceed step by step and start the conversion from 2D to 3D per element groups (i.e. only the walls, then the openings, etc.).

You can also decide to modify the generated model, for example, by moving a wall, adding a partition or any other object that the software has not converted correctly or that you plan to modify anyway. Finally, you can decide to assemble the individual plans to form a single, complete 3D model.

After validating your model, you can export it in the IFC format (also specifying some export options) and decide to view it with a simple online viewer or open it with a BIM authoring software (Edificius, Revit, Archicad, etc.) and continue with further BIM model development.

You can also access the project again and at any time on usBIM.planAI and continue to make extra changes to achieve even better results.

From the surveyed state to the project

Let’s assume that the survey model, generated automatically with usBIM.planAI, is going to be used for a residential unit’s renovation project.

How do we proceed?

First, we’ll export the Survey 3D model to IFC the format, click on Export model and then on Start export.

Open the IFC file with your 3D architectural design software and use it as a basis for designing your project interventions.

Obviously the exported 3D model is quite simple but it contains all the elements necessary to start the design process.

In the case proposed, I have modified the interior layout of rooms, added the bathroom to the master bedroom, designed a fireplace in the living room area, inserted the false ceiling, added a mezzanine to make the most of the available spaces and then added all furniture, textures and lighting points to have a realistic result.

And here’s the render of the final design.

Photo-realistic render created with Edificius

Photo-realistic render created with Edificius

In short, starting from the photo of an old survey photo, I generated a detailed 3D model from which I can generate photorealistic renderings to present to a client, project drawings (estimates, works scheduling, etc.) and, if necessary, 2D drawings (plans, elevation views and sections).