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Main Display Window


The Main Display window is displayed in the centre of the CityCAD User Interface and always displays a 3D perspective visualization of your city model.

In this article:

Navigating Around Your City Model

Keyboard Controls

If the mouse cursor is located within the Main Display Window, then you can use the keyboard to navigate around your model. You can change the keyboard controls in the preferences dialog - the defaults are:

Move Forward - Ctrl-Up Arrow
Move Backward - Ctrl-Down Arrow
Turn Right - Ctrl-Right Arrow
Turn Left - Ctrl-Left Arrow
Look Up - Ctrl-Shift Up Arrow
Look Down - Ctrl-Shift Down Arrow
Move Up (Ascend) - Ctrl-+ (plus)
Move Down (Descend) - Ctrl-- (minus)
Move Right - Ctrl-Shift-Right
Move Left - Ctrl-Shift-Left

Mouse Controls


You can zoom in and out using the mouse wheel when using any tool.


You can orbit around the model using the Orbit Tool


You can 'grab' the ground plane and move around the model using the Grab Tool. (You can also use this tool at any time by holding down Ctrl-key while dragging using the mouse wheel button).


You can pan up/down or left/right by holding down Shift-key while dragging using the mouse wheel button.

The Ground Plane

This is a flat surface at the zero level, which acts as a base to your city model.

By default it is 2.5 km x 2.5 km. You can change the colour and the size in the display tab of the preferences dialog up to a maximum of 50 km x 50 km.

The Urban Design Grid is displayed on the ground plane by default.

The Sky Compass

Orientation points are marked in the sky in white letters at 'N', 'S', 'E' and 'W', as well as 'NE', 'NW', 'SE' and 'SW'.

It can be switched on or off in the display tab of the preferences dialog or using the Display Preferences Toolbar

Display Settings

Depending on your graphics hardware, you can enhance the visualization in the main display window in the display tab of the preferencesdialog, including:

You can also toggle the visibility of the ground plane, shadows, the urban design grid, the sky compass, boundary routes and nodes by using the Display Preferences Toolbar.

For a full description, see Preferences


You can use Full Screen Mode when demonstrating a City Model in a presentation. While doing this you may find the shortcuts useful.

Also note you can change the colour of the urban design grid in the Display Preferences

If the sun seems to be coming from an unexpected direction, check the location and time settings in the Sun Study Toolbar

Technical Note

Graphics Performance Issues

CityCAD has been designed to achieve a high frame rate on most standard PCs, although depending on your graphics hardware the frame rate may slow down when navigating around complex city models with large numbers of elements.

If you encounter performance problems, try:

  • Turn off 'Route Detail' or 'Trees' in the Display Preferences toolbar - this can significantly reduce the number of objects that need to be rendered.
  • Switching off shadows.
  • Reducing Anti-Aliasing (eg. from 6x to 4x or 2x), or switching it off.
  • Reducing the size of the Main Display Window.

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