Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It's Been Awhile...

So, it's been awhile. A long while. I don't really want to think about it. We don't have to count the years. After graduation, the purpose of this blog clearly disappeared and I didn't have much to add to it.

But some things have changed. I have a new job. One I'm not embarrassed to tell people about. And in getting that new job I am learning that I know nothing. Pretty close to nothing. But with each day I get a little less clueless, which was always the spirit of this blog in the fist place.

I don't know quite what the topics will be, but I want to get into this blog again. Perhaps with a different theme. Not so much a tutor, as much as a student again. Learning something real. Realizing how extremely green I am. Learning a corporate environment. And sharing some stories from this summer. It was quite the summer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Still Working on the Job Thing...

I know it's been months since the show, since graduation, and well, I don't have a job yet. Damn you, economy. I wanted to do this post anyway (now that I've remembered to do it). Basically, I just wanted to post my final renderings of my senior project because I worked very hard on them and I was proud of how they turned out.

My project was a Natural History Museum located in La Crosse, WI. I chose this area because it is known for geographical features such as the bluffs and its adjacency to the Mississippi River. I also chose La Crosse because the University of WI-La Crosse is one of the few universities in the country that has an archaeology major. I'm actually surprised La Crosse doesn't already have a Natural History Museum.

The front lobby. The wall behind the reception desk simulates the bluffs which can be seen from almost any part of La Crosse.

The lobby/open exhibition. In this image I featured Frank the dinosaur. To be honest, dinosaurs are not commonly found in the La Crosse area. Mammoths are common, but I couldn't find a file which I could put into Revit. Unless I wanted to pay $99.99 for it. Yeah, right.

The Children's Classroom on the first floor. Notice the water in the water table. That is just an awesome function. A few clicks and there's water! Photoshop? Pffft!

This is the second floor lobby/open exhibition. The museum workers I interviewed in preparation for this project told me explicitly that exhibits containing natural objects would not have windows. In this design there are areas for open and closed exhibition; the closed areas obviously have no natural source of lighting. In my imagination, this museum was built on the shores of the Mississippi River, and the large windows are open to the fantastic views.

This image is the library with a custom designed desk.

This image features a reading area in the library. Doesn't that business woman look so engaged in that...file folder? Ah, the unfortunate Revit entourage.

So, that's it. Well, that's not all of it. This is all of it.

Four months of work contained in a 7x5 area. Ah, college. It was a great experience and I miss it. Now, will someone hire me, please? 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Coming to the End...

I just had to stop a rendering when it was clocked at 5 and a half hours...bummer. I noticed one of the materials was upside-down. No one else would have noticed, but I would have known. Don't make that mistake.

I had my last tutoring session yesterday. And the last question I had: Why is my siding on the interior of the walls of my house? It's appropriate. I've gotten that question several times and it makes me smile that that issue is still coming up to Revit beginners.

I'm going to miss tutoring. I've really enjoyed learning and teaching the newbies, especially when the students are excited to learn. To see how happy people get when they, for instance, get their roofs to attach to the walls or see a camera view for the first time. I learned a lot this semester. I had more students come in for tutoring then any other semester and I think that's awesome. I'd estimate I had at least one person for 80 percent of my tutoring hours. There isn't an official Revit class offered at my university and I love seeing people take the initiative to learn.

It's unlikely there will be anymore posts to this blog as I won't have Revit on my computer post-graduation. I'll leave it up for the students for a while at least. And feel free to send comments. There's a lot of material I didn't cover in my twenty-three posts and I'm more than willing to share. Of course, if I were to find a job in which they used Revit....any employer's out there? I've got mad skills. Or if any professor needs a TA for Revit and AutoCAD, let me know.

I suppose I can use all my free-time to finally learn SketchUp. Bleh.

By the way, if your siding is appearing on the interior of the wall, go to the floor plan, select the wall, and click on the blue arrows to flip the wall. Also, double check that you are adding the material to the exterior side of the wall in the structure and not the interior side.

Senior show is in one week. Maybe I'll do a post about that, just because I can. Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Don't Freak Out

This has to be quick because I'm in the middle of senior project...kill me. 

I posted in a previous entry how excited I was that I got SketchUp files successfully into my Revit files. Not so surprising, I was much less excited when I realized that SketchUp files do not render in Revit. Well, they do render, but they render as white, and that's pretty much pointless. You may have found this happening in files you downloaded from That's because the person who posted it didn't make an actual Revit family, they imported a SketchUp file and made it into a family, but you can't edit those components and you can't render them...or can you?

There is a way around it!

To add materials to files imported from SketchUp:

Click on Settings-->Object Styles.

Under Imported Objects you will find the SketchUp files you imported and the different layers attached to that file. What you can do is select the different numbered "rendered materials" and change them.

Now it will render correctly.

Back to work...

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I just wanted to say that Revit crashed and burned on me and it makes me very sad. Luckily, it saves often and I have a recent file. I didn't have to make very many updates on it. But my original file has disappeared? Can someone tell me why that is?

EDIT: So, my file didn't disappear. But it wasn't where I originally had it. Anyway, I haven't even opened that original file because I started working from one of my recent files. I'm scared if I open it my computer will explode.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Did it in My Sleep

I'm at the point in my project where I'm taking on rendering. It's been a process but I've had some successes. Basically, I'm just going to list the weird problems I ran into while doing it.

First of all, to do the actual takes forever. Some rendering took well over six hours at a medium setting. For those, I turned it on and then went to bed. I know it's because I have complex terrazzo flooring. I know it's because I have a lot of lights. I also understand that some programs might be faster, but I don't know how to use those programs, and honestly, it's too much to try and take on another program at this point in the semester. Plus, the results look good, even at medium.

Anyway, one problem I had was there was no light coming in through my curtain walls. There was two reasons for this. One was making sure that daylight portals were turned on. To turn them on, under the rendering dialog, under "Quality" select "Edit/New". From there, select one of the general settings (Draft, Low, Medium, etc.) then select "Copy to Custom". Then scroll all the way to the bottom and check the boxes under "Daylight Portals". Now the windows are turned on.

Now, some light was coming through my curtain walls, but it was still very little. Which didn't make sense because the sun was set to the middle of May at 2:00 in the afternoon. The reason was the glazing material defaulted to dark bronze. Dark bronze?! Why is that the default? To change the render materials attached to the material name, go to "Settings", then "Materials". Make sure you're selecting the name of the material, "Curtain Wall Glazing" for example, click "Replace", then scroll through to find the correct materials. Keep in mind that this is going to change the render material for the entire project. If I were to change the render material of "Glass", every component that has "Glass" in its properties will change to that render material. If you only want a material for one instance you will have to make a new material.

To make a new material:

Go to "Settings", click "Materials". Find a material similar to what you want to make. For example, if I wanted to put on a new fabric I would select "Fabric". Hit the "Duplicate" button on the bottom left (just like when you make a new family type), enter a name. Check the box that says "Use Render Appearance for Shading" (helps to keep things straight when you look at your project). Then click the "Render Appearance" tab. Then scroll down to where it says "Image File" and direct Revit to your image file. Leave your files where they are because if you move the file, Revit will not be able to find it.

Notice you can change the swatch size. This will change how Revit tiles the image. Here's some tips from the Help Menu about the settings:

If you are specifying an image file to define a custom color, for Brightness, specify a value.
Brightness is a multiplier, so a value of 1.0 makes no change. If you specify 0.5, the brightness of the image is reduced by half.

 For Rotate, specify degrees of rotation in a clockwise direction. You can enter a value between 0 and 360, or use the slider. 

To reverse the image, click Invert.
For an image that defines a color, Invert reverses the light and dark colors in the image. For an image that defines a texture, Invert reverses the high and low points of the texture pattern.

Lastly, scroll down and change the "Bump" to the match the image file. This is what Revit says about bump:

For texture properties, such as Finish Bumps and Bump Pattern, specify a value for Amount. This value specifies the amplitude of surface irregularities. Enter 0 to make the surface flat. Enter higher values to increase the depth of the surface irregularities.

So, designate appropriately.  Now you have a new material created and you can put it wherever you want that material in the properties of the object.

In this image, everything is a custom material. This one took several hours to render and I think it's because of the flooring. I have terrazzo flooring and it's a lot to ask Revit to render all those tiny pieces of glass, but it's in the design.

Another huge problem I had to deal with was lighting. In some images, like the one above, initially I had so much sunlight coming in it blew out my windows and I couldn't see outside. I went into the "Sun" settings to change the month and time of day. October 13th at 4:30 pm is working out pretty well.

Then, many of the renderings were too dark. Now, this is where Revit gets a little fail. For example, in my library I had plenty of lighting.

Realistically, I know this would be enough light to illuminate this room. And still, it was too dark. There's a couple solutions. One is to put in a ton of studio lights. A TON. (Now I say a ton, but keep in mind it depends on the volume of the space. The ceiling in my project are 18', so they need a lot of studio light. But a room with a 10' ceiling, needs less.)

Studio lights are found in the component light fixtures, but it only renders as a ball of light. Think of it as if you were a photographer. You would set up lights to make for a better picture. Those can make a big difference in impacting the darkness. This also may be what is causing my renderings to take so long. You can also take it into Photoshop and brighten it up that way, which is probably the easiest solution. Keep in mind, if you don't have any lighting at all, of course the room is going to be dark. But in the case of this library image, I know it's enough light fixtures. So going the Photoshop route is just fine.

Lots of work left to be done, but getting through all this tweaking was an ordeal. Only a few weeks left. I can't think about it. Too stressful.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Binge & Purge

I think a problematic part of Revit is the interface for choosing components. Looking through that long list takes too long and you forget half the things you import. That's what I was so excited when I heard about the "Purge" command. "Purge" will remove every component loaded into your project that is not currently placed anywhere in the project. Go to File-->Purge Unused


Revit will remove all the unused bulk for you. You can go through the drop down menus and check or uncheck items if you want them to stay or go. The person that alerted me to this command mentioned I should uncheck the curtain walls in case I wanted to use them later. So, if you've been binging on components, you can purge a few away.