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.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Turn a Table into a Couch

In the previous post I covered how to edit a component by duplicating the file and changing the properties. If I'm still working with this desk, say I messed with the width and the depth a little bit, but I still don't have what I want. The next step in creating custom components is to edit the family.

Here's the definition Revit has for Families (yes, I went there):

A class of elements in a category. A family groups elements with a common set of parameters (properties), identical use, and similar graphical representation. 

Different elements in a family may have different values for some or all properties, but the set of properties (their names and meaning) is the same. For example, a family of concrete round columns contains columns that are all concrete and round, but of different sizes. Each column size is a type within the Concrete Round Column family.

Yeah, cause that's really clear. I understand it because I've been at this a while, but for the beginner, this might feel like a lot of words being thrown at you that mean nothing. In laymen's terms, the term family and the term component are basically interchangeable. The component can have several different types (like the different sizes for the desk mentioned in the last post). All those different types have the same properties excluding size. Make sense? Well, just let it soak in for a while.

So, going back to this desk. To edit the family I select the component, then a button that says "Edit Family" will appear along the top bar.

Click on that button, it will ask if you want to open it for editing, click okay.

Now I've got the Family Editor open. Thrilling, isn't it? This is where you could essentially take a table and turn it into a couch. Why you would do that, I don't know, but you could. What's great about editing families as opposed to creating something from scratch, is that this file already has parameters and properties set up for you. This is especially helpful if you're making a new countertop or casework. So much of the work is already done for you. You just have to make it look the way you want.

Before I do any editing  I want to do a "save as". Think of this as duplicating to avoid changing the original file. Once I do a "save as" I have a new file that I can manipulate without worry.

A quick tour of the family editor. In the project browser you will see several drop down menus you can use to move around the component. The ground floor (or reference level) and elevations are most important.

On the far left side are all the tools and lines and fun stuff for making components. I'm going to save those for a later date.

I click on the "Front Elevation" and decide that I want to change the look of the left side of the desk. I want more drawers. I change this by selecting the large bottom drawer and simply deleting it. Sometimes you will encounters pieces of the component that Revit won't let you delete or change because it is locked. See that little padlock there?

In this case, it did let me delete that portion, but if it doesn't, simply click on the padlock to unlock it. Then it will let you make changes.

Next I selected the drawers and drawer handles on the right side and copied them over. I decided I wanted a longer work surface so I selected the top of the desk and pulled on the blue arrows to stretch it to a different length. (I'm making changes like this so they're obvious to the viewer and not design choices I would recommend, ha).

Yeah, sure. That looks awesome. Next, I just hit "Load into Project" on the left hand side and the component will be loaded into my current project.

That's a beginning look at editing the family. This is a very useful stategy that I recommend utilizing. Because the next step is creating your own components. Ugh.  

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Duplicate! Duplicate! Duplicate!

This is by far the issue I encounter most with students. How to make custom components? The thing is, there is about 10,000 different ways to create/edit components in Revit. And by 10,000 I mean, like four, but there are a lot of options regardless. What any experienced Revit user will tell you, is you want to do everything you possibly can before you try and make something from scratch. Why? Because Revit does not have the most user-friendly component making capabilities. Of course, like anything, with practice you'll gain speed and skill and over time your components will become more complex. The learning curve is tough though and can be frustrating. Component building can also be very time consuming, even when you do have practice. So that's why it is advised you do everything you can before you get into making your own stuff.

In fact, this post isn't even going to cover creating components from scratch. This post is going to address the first strategy to making components: Duplicate!

Let's say I'm working on a project and I decide I want a desk. I go through the Revit component library and I find a desk, but it's just not quite what I want.

The first step to changing this component to be what I want is to click on the Element Properties button. If you're not already familiar with properties, be prepared to get very intimate with the Element Properties dialog. The backbone of Revit is in the properties. 95% of the time when you encounter a problem the solution is in the properties. So, really get to know your properties dialog boxes. You're going to become such great friends.

Okay, getting back to the point, I selected the component and then selected Element Properties. This opens a dialog box. The first thing I want to look through is the Type Selector. The Type Selector is a drop down menu that list the different family types for this component. I can look through the list and decide if one of the types suits my needs.

I decide this still isn't what I want. So, I move on the next step: Editing the component. I click the Edit/New button next to the Type Selector. This opens a new dialog box where I can begin making edits. However, it's important to realize that if I make edits now I will be editing the original file. This will become an issue if I want to use this file again. You can always download the original file from the web library if you do make edits now, but that's tedious and you'll probably forget to do it, so get in the habit of hitting Duplicate after hitting Edit/New.

This will create a new file that will remain within your project. You don't have to have any fears about the edits you make to this file. It won't affect the original file at all. After you hit duplicate, enter a new name for the file. Put in something you'll actually remember. When you get deep within a project and have a hundred components loaded it becomes quite a pain to search through the list.

Now that I have my New Desk started, I can make edits. In the Edit dialog box I have the option to change the Depth, Height, Width, and Leg Height of the desk. I can also change the materials. Just to make the change obvious, I decide my desk needs to be 10'-0' wide. I click on the text after width and change it to 10'. Hit Okay twice and now I've got a fantastically insane ten foot desk.

That's the general process for duplicating components. It's the easiest process and doesn't allow a whole lot of room for customization, but it's only the first step of many.

Next for this series: Turn a Table into a Couch

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Acting under the assumption that no one reads this, I'm going to admit my Revit dork crush. His name is Jeff and he runs a Revit blog called The Revit Kid. He offers lots of video tutorials and answers emails and knows stuff about computer programming that goes way over my head. His blog is also one of the only Revit blogs that posts regularly. I love his tutorials. They go really fast, which might be frustrating for beginners, but I prefer them that way.

Find him here:

SketchUp, my Dumb Friend, meet Revit

I remember being told it was possible to put SketchUp files into Revit when I first began using Revit. However, for the last two years I was never able to get this to work. I always got error messages. Miracle of miracles, the other day, I actually got it to work. I don't know if a bug has been worked out in SketchUp or Revit, or if I was just doing it incorrectly in the first place, but either way I got that SketchUp file into my Revit file!

Here's the method. Go to the 3D warehouse for SketchUp and download the file you want. Depending on the complexity of the file, it may or may not work, especially if the file is very large or if it was made in a way that Revit just doesn't like. I downloaded this couch.

There are two different ways to put it into your Revit file and it's the same process as making a component. You can either make it into a new Family file or you can do a "Create in Place." I'll start with making a new Family file.

Go to file, select new, select Family. I selected "Furniture" from the list of categories. Then, go to File, select "Import/Link", select "CAD Formats", change "Files of Type" from DWG files to SKP files (SketchUp files) and select the file you just downloaded.

Depending on the nature of the object, it could have a lot of lines. This is especially true in objects that are convex or curved. Look at the puffy pillows in the couch I downloaded. It ended up with a lot of lines. If you turn on only "Shading" it will get rid of the lines, visually at least. Also keep in mind that the items you download might be way out of scale. There isn't a scale command in Revit like the one in AutoCAD.

Next, you can hit save, hit "Load into Project" (or load from the components button) and it will appear in your project.

By doing the "Create in Place" instead of creating a new family, you can get the object into your project file, but it will not have it's own individual file. It is most common that these objects cannot be edited within Revit, so it makes some sense to just put them in the project file. You can do the same thing with AutoCAD 3D files and from my experience, those work out a little better. 

I used a SketchUp model to put this in my senior project. 

It's a bear! I really wanted a dinosaur, but I haven't found one that works yet. Either way, I could never make a bear in Revit. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Roof by Footprint

I had a question on how to put a gable roof on a house. Now I haven't seen the project so I can only offer a generic how-to. I'll demonstrate how to make the roof in this project (at least the big portion of the roof).

First, go to the "Roof" plan. Or just open one of the plans (you can always change the level). Click the Roof command and chose "Roof by Footprint". With the command open you can sketch the roof either by picking walls or drawing lines. In this case, my house is just a simple square so I'm going to use the "Pick Walls" command. 

Before I click on the walls I change the "Overhang" to 2'-0". "Overhang" can be found in the design bar above the drawing screen. Then, I click on the four walls of the house to select them.

Now I set the slope, or where the gables will be. I select the line of the front of the house, and next to where the "Overhang" option was, is the "Defines Slope" box. I check this box for the front of the house and the back. When this box is checked, a slope symbol will appear as well as the rise/run of the slope. In this case, it's 9:12. By clicking on the text you can change the slope. 

Hit "Finish Roof" and yes to the "Do you want highlighted walls to attach to roof?" question, and the roof is done. You may notice the walls do not extend to the peak of the roof like in this image:

To fix that, just select the wall. Two boxes will appear in the options bar "Attach" and "Detach". Select "Attach", select the roof, and the walls will snap to the roof. Do this for all walls that are connected to the roof. 

This is just one method to getting a roof on. As you saw in the Roof Command there are four options total. This one is the most common and easiest to use.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Life

Okay, so this is my first "I hate Revit/Interior Design/my life" entry. I ran into my first snag in my senior project. It's not a huge deal, but it is incredibly irritating. Within my project I wanted to create a fire-rated exit stairwell. The kind of thing you'll find in any big commercial project. Stacked stairs. A potentially standard construction type of thing. 

Guess what. Revit can't do that. 

Revit can't make closed loop stairs. Basically, Revit can't do this:

I know what you're going to say, it looks like you made that in Revit. Actually, I got it from the forums and haven't quite figured out how to incorporate it into my project. 

You will find when drawing stairs that Revit will not let you draw over the top of any lines or "form closed loop". Essentially, you can't draw stairs on top of other stairs (even though the third run of stairs is above the first run in reality). It will give you an error like this.

So far, I've only been able to find one forum thread about this. And basically it just reiterates the fact that this can't be done and how shocked and angry we dorks are about it.

This brings up an interesting point of comparison between using and learning Revit and AutoCAD. When you learn AutoCAD, you learn how to draw a line. You learn how to draw a dashed line. You learn how much you hate line type scale. The drawings you draw in CAD are purely 2D symbols. The same four lines that form a rectangle can represent a coffee table, a bookcase, a countertop, and a bed. If I were drawing this in CAD, I would draw the lines that represent the stairs and be done with it. I probably wouldn't make a 3D model of it either because we've all seen a stairwell. 

When you learn Revit, you have a completely different mode of thinking. Yes, rectangles represent all kinds of things in plan, but those lines are a coffee table, they are a countertop. Well, as much as a digital rendering can be anything. Revit users are also victim to a different set of problems. It's not, "I can't get my lines to be dashed." It's, "How do I attach a roof to a house." And because Revit creates the 3D for everything it can substantially slow down progress if you don't know how to fix problems quickly. 

Remember though, you can always put any elevation or plan in Revit into AutoCAD.

Friday, March 5, 2010

As Useful as the Nightlight on my HP

A huge difference between AutoCAD and Revit is the emphasis on learning keyboard shortcuts. When learning AutoCAD it is imperative to learn the shortcuts to speed up your work. In Revit, there is much less emphasis on learning them and I'm not sure why that is. There are a few I use constantly and they definitely speed things up. So at the risk of getting my AutoCAD and my Revit key commands further confused, I'm attempting to use use them more often in Revit. 

The few that I utilize all the time and recommend memorizing are:
  • VG Visibility/Graphics menu
  • VP Visual Properties menu
  • When in 3D View, hit F8 to enter the Rotate/Zoom/Pan command (also known as the Dynamic View box)
  • The arrow keys are nudge tools. The further you are zoomed in the smaller the increment will be that the object moves
  • Hitting the ESC key will generally get you out of any command
  • Using the scroll on the three-button mouse will allow you to zoom in and out. Hitting the scroll button will activate the Pan command
  • CTRL Select multiple elements
  • TAB Cycle through the prehighlighting of elements to select among ones that are close to one another
  • When box selecting, if you drag left to right it selects only those elements entirely within the rectangle; if you drag right to left it selects elements that cross the rectangle as well
  • When entering a number in feet and inches, type the feet then a space then the inches. No need to put ' and "
Some I've looked up and am trying to use more often:
  • CO copy (Cntrl-C)
  • RO rotate
  • AR array
  • MM mirror
  • PR properties
  • DI dimension
  • AL align
  • WA wall
  • WN window
  • DR door
  • CM component
  • RP ref plane
  • Alt+Enter to edit the Element properties of almost everything
Of course, there are more than this. Quite a few zoom commands like in AutoCAD, but in Revit if you have the three-button mouse I find those to be about as useful as the nightlight on my HP. Completely pointless. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Floor is a Good Place for That

Revit is weird. It has all the capabilities to make complex projects and 3D views that look amazing, but then there are the little things. The oddities that make it frustrating and fun to work with. One of which is components that after they are loaded, snap to the floor when traditionally, these are objects that are not supposed to be on the floor, yet that is where Revit has determined they belong. 

For example, if you load the flat screen plasma tv and place it in the floor plan, where would you expect it to be? I would expect it to hang in the air a few feet off the ground because that's usually where flat screen televisions go. However, if you go to the 3D view, you will see the tv is on the floor. That completely defeats the purpose of what flat screen tvs are for. 

So, how to get it off the floor. 

For the tv, and basically any component, there is two ways. First you can click on the Element Properties, under Constraits, change "Offset" from 0'-0" to whatever you want the bottom edge of the tv to sit at. I changed it to 4'-0".

Or, you can go to an Elevation View, Select the component, use the arrow keys to move it up, or use dimensions to set it exactly where you want it.


You will find that after the tv is moved off the floor it disappears from the floor plan! This is where people get confused and think the Revit monsters have eaten their components. What has actually happened, is the television has moved above the cut plane, which is usually set at 4'-0". The cut plane is where Revit cuts horizontally through the house to give the floor plan. If it's above 4'-0" it won't show, and it's not supposed to show in a floor plan either. I figure, this is the reason Revit puts those objects on the floor in the first place. If they snapped them directly above the cut plane people would never realize they put in the objects. 

Other objects like the hood and the stove top also snap to the floor when opened. So if you're stove top disappears when you try to put it on your countertop, it's because it's underneath the counter. That's a good place for it.

Go Look it Up

This semester I got a hold of some Revit instruction books from the library (I wasn't about to buy a $50 book without looking at it first). Here's my take on them.

Introducing Revit Architecture 2008: BIM for Beginners, by Krygiel, Demchak, & Dzambazova. I only got a hold of the 2008 version, but I figure the 2009 edition is comparable in quality. This one is definitely for beginners and equivalent to a Revit for Dummies. It explains things step-by-step with lots of excellent images, which as a beginner is exactly what you want. The only issue with this book is that it doesn't get into much detail. It has very little information on customizing families, but that is more of an advanced concept anyways. It's about half the size of the other two books I'm going to mention. Overall, a good option.


Mastering Revit Architecture 2009, by Krygiel, Demchak, & Dzambazova. Interesting that this book is written by the same authors as the BIM for Beginners book. Although it says in its intro that it can be used by beginners, I think this book would be tough for a beginner to get through. It just has a lot of...text. Many of the concepts are not written as step-by-step tutorials. This books assumes you have a background in Revit to start with. It is far more detailed and a much thicker book; however, I dislike the way it generally says Revit can do things, but it doesn't tell you how to do it. 

Mastering Revit Architecture 2009, by Aubin. Same title, different book. You'd think the authors would want to come up with different titles. This one is my favorite. It's a good combination of detail and step-by-step tutorials. It doesn't have quite enough images for my taste, but it explains things clearly. With bulleted lists even! That's what I want to see. This book also comes with a CD but it did scary things to my computer when I tried to use it, but that might be because it's an abused CD from the library. A new one might work better. This is a book I would recommend purchasing. 


Residential Design Using Revit Architecture 2009, by Stine.This is the book my Arch Graphics class used for their group projects. It's just a big long tutorial. You can buy it in the bookstore, but I'm not sure if you have to be enrolled in the class in order to purchase it. Either way, if you're very serious about teaching yourself Revit, I recommend buying this and going through the whole thing cover to cover. The best part about it, is at the end you have this file you can use for a reference. It's that semi-ugly house that's on the front cover. I still use it all the time.

I've got the first three books in my studio space. If you would like to look at them before you buy come see me during my tutoring hours.

Monday, March 1, 2010

How Do You Hide an Entire Library?

Where did the Revit online library go? It's funny, in Revit 2008 there was a link to it under the components menu, which was a perfectly sensible place to put it. In 2009, that link is gone. I guess that's not funny, that's just dumb. So, how to get to library. 

Select "Window", select "Recent Files". (You'll notice this is the menu that first pops up when you open Revit). On the right-hand side there is a link that says "Revit Web Content Library." 

Congratulations. You found it...well...almost. 

Now it will open your web browser. Click on "Archived Libraries," click "Revit 2009". This will open another window. Hit the top link, "Revit Architecture 2009 Library", Select US Library, Select "Families" and now you've found the Library. 

If you're looking for appliances, those are under "Specialty Equipment", "Domestic". 

There's an escalator in there, too. Someone should really use that in a project. 

And by the way, what happened to RevitCity today? It seems to have disappeared from the internet.

Holy Sh#$@t! I Mean, Sheet

Pardon my french. There's really no need for profanities because printing in Revit is phenomenally easy, sort of. At least setting up sheets is easy compared to AutoCAD. 

To set up a sheet, Right Click on "Sheets" in the Design Browser and select "New Sheet". A prompt will come up asking you to select a titleblock. There may only be one option here, depending on if you have loaded different titleblocks. If you have not loaded any, click "Load", go to the Imperial Library, Select File "Titleblocks", Select the sheets you need and hit open. It will go back to the original prompt, select the one you want, click open.

Now, a new sheet is open. To place a drawing on the sheet, simply click a view, drag, and drop the drawing onto the sheet. The scale will be whatever you set it at in the drawing view. No LTSCALE involved! Isn't that lovely? 

Printing from a sheet is an easy process as well, with a couple little rules. The process starts out simple enough. Click File, click Print, Select your printer. Under "Print Range" check "Selected Views/Sheets" and hit the "Select" button underneath. This will open a prompt that will let you select the Views/Sheets you would like to print. 

Finally, under "Settings" hit "Setup". Here's where some very important rules come in.

1) Make sure you select the select the correct sheet size. (If you choose an 11x17 titleblock, then you want to print on 11x17 paper). 

(Sorry to be in all caps, but I can't stress this enough)

Do not select "Fit to Page" when printing from a sheet. It will screw up your scale. Always double check because it often doesn't change the scale that much, and you don't want to realize this too late. 


Say you don't want to print from a sheet, well, you can follow basically the same process. In a View, select "File", Select "Print". If you check "Current View" under "Print Range" you'll print the view you have open. Also, checking Zoom 100% will print your drawing to scale, checking Fit to Page means it will not be to scale. 

Zoom 100% = Scale
Fit to Page = Not to Scale

March Sweeps

One problem encountered in tutoring today: how to make a handle for a cabinet? I can't get the darn thing open without one. Here's the answer: Solid Sweep. Solid sweeps create profiles and paths; Revit recommends using it for moldings, pipes, and railings. Here's a quick demo on putting a very simple rectangular handle on a file cabinet. 

Open the Family file for editing. In this case I opened a file cabinet file. 

Next, go to the Ref. Level view. Click on Solid Form, click on Solid Sweep, click Sketch 2D Path.

The path is going to decide the shape of the handle. Using the Line tool and the Fillet Line tool I drew a simple shape that will decide how the handle looks. It is centered to the cabinet and extends two inches from the front. This is going to allow for 3/4" profile (or a 3/4" thick handle). Make sure there is going to be enough space for the actual profile; if there isn't enough space the sweep won't work and Revit will give you an error. The path does not have to form closed loops. I also snapped it to the edge of the front of the file cabinet because this is where I want the path to start and stop (I want my handle connected to the cabinet!)

Click Finish Path when finished. Then click "Profile", in the options bar click "Edit". It will prompt you to enter a different work plane, choose the Front. 

Using the Rectangle tool I drew  3/4"x3/4" box. I also used the copy tool to create second box for the other drawer. This is the profile that is going to follow along the path I drew. This is the part that becomes 3D.

Then just click Finish Profile and Finish Sweep to complete the action.


The more complex the profile, the more complex the sweep will be! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thanks, Stan

The question I am asked more than any other is this: How did you get so good at Revit?

Well, this has a multi-part answer. First of all, it was luck. I was "lucky" enough to learn Revit in both my Arch Graphics and Arch Design classes. I didn't plan for it. I was a transfer student who had practically no idea what she was signing up for. In fact, I remember Stan Goetz saying on one of the first days of class, "I think we're going to do the group projects in Revit," and I immediately thought, "What the hell is Revit?"

So, I learned through those classes and I learned through research and teaching myself. I also learn a ton by teaching other students. Today, I did a demo in Interiors I. The students asked good questions and were interested to learn. The problem is, they have little to no prior experience. I've gotten the impression that it is being taught sporadically amongst the Arch Design and Arch Graphics classes at this point. The concern is that when you get into the job market if the firm only uses one program, they might choose someone who knows the program over someone who doesn't. There are many other extenuating circumstances, but in some cases, it might come down to that.

Of course, I don't know how to use SketchUp. Something else I need to learn. Ugh...I hate SketchUp.

Baseboards? No, You want Wall Sweep

Putting in baseboards is the most convoluted process Revit has to offer. Complex walls? No problem. Staircases? Easy. But for some reason, wall base has to be outrageously difficult. Steps are as follows:

Open a 3D or Elevation View

Under the Basics tab, click "Component", click "Load". Within the Imperial Library, choose the file "Profiles" and open all the files with the label "Base". You will also find cornices and crown molding in this file.

Next, click on the Modeling tab, Select Host Sweep, Select Wall Sweep. In the type selector (the drop down menu on the Options bar) you will see "Cornice" automatically comes up.

But you don't want a cornice, you want a wall base. So...

Click on Element Properties, Select Edit/New, Select Duplicate, type in "Base 1". Under Construction, click on where is says "Default". A drop down menu will appear; this is where the profiles you loaded will show up. Choose whatever wall base you would like to use. Click Ok twice.

Hit Host Sweep, hit Wall Sweep. Now go to the Type Selector and select Base 1. Now you can go to the walls of your 3D or Elevation View and snap the wall base. Rotate the building around to make sure you hit all the walls.

And that's it.

The worst part of the whole wall sweep process is you will have to do this every time you start a new project. Every time. Revit gives us easy stairs; they had to make something ridiculous.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Demo Mode = Epic Fail

I can say I've never encountered the evil being that is demo mode, but I've known many who have, and it should be feared. If you are working is demo mode you will NOT be able to print. You will NOT be able to save. The worst thing is, people usually don't know they're in demo mode until halfway through the project and they go to save and it says, "Working in demo mode. File not saved."


Demo mode is usually a result of going on and off the VPN. You shouldn't have a problem with this if you are working on the Stout network. Someone is going to have to educate me on whether or not there is a prompt that comes up to enter demo mode or if it does it on its own, having been able to evade it thus far myself.

The best way to combat it, save often. Always double check. If you find you're in demo mode take some screen shots so you can remember your work. Say goodbye to your drawing. Close the program and reboot the computer. And go to this link on ask5000 for more info:

Feel free to share your demo mode horror stories. It's good to vent.

Who Designed this House?

I just got a look at the remodel project for Interiors II this semester, and wow, does it look like a good time. The issue I had with a student today was how to begin building the model of a split level house. The answer will vary depending on whether or not you are adding additions to the house, but generally, it's going to come down to levels. Levels are the horizontal planes that act as references to floors, ceilings, etc. The levels are what you build on.

When you open a new project it is automatically going to give you two levels: Level 1 and Level 2. However, your house may end up with four, five, or even six levels. For this project it seems you're definitely going to need three levels to start. Set up the levels first before you being drawing anything. It will make your life so much easier.

Let's start. Go to a building elevation. There you will see Level 1 and Level 2 already marked.

Level 1 is going to be the ground level. Click on the text and change to "Ground Level." This is where the entry and the garage are going to sit.

Next, add a new level. Under the Basics tab, click "Level." Drag the cursor under the "Ground Level" marker until it reads -4'-0" (This can always be adjusted later). Click once to place and click again to complete the action. This lever should read "Level 3." Click on the text and change to "Basement." This is where you will probably begin drawing.

Next, click on the text of "Level 2" and change to "First Floor." Click on the height text (should read 10'-0") and change to 4'-0". Now you have three levels on which to draw. And there is 8'-0" between the basement and the first floor. Pay attention to which level you are on when drawing.

If the labels I suggested are confusing, then make them whatever will not be confusing to you. You may have to adjust the height markers depending on ceiling heights, but this will give you a place to start.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Centimeters? What is this?

If you have recently opened Revit 2009, you will find it defaults to a metric template when beginning a new project. This can be quite irritating when you would rather be dealing with the imperial template, you know, feet and inches instead of millimeters. You can always select the imperial templates when you begin a new project, but sometimes you just forget and it's far more convenient to changes your settings.

To change settings:

Select Settings
Select Options
Select File Locations
Select File "Imperial Templates"
Select default.rte

If you find your project is already in the metric template, you can change the settings by:

Select Settings
Select Project Units
Change to desired Units

My Genius Friend...

Who wants to learn Revit?

Let me say right away that although this may be a Revit blog, this is definitely for beginners. More specifically, this is for interior designers using Revit. I am not an architect or a structural engineer. I'm an interior design student. For the past two semesters I have been tutoring other interior design students in Revit, and I thought I would share my experiences before I forget what the solutions were.

I would like my students to use this blog to send me questions and comments so that everyone in the class will have access to the information. There are tons of sources out there to find help, but on this blog I can answer questions specific to the projects the students are doing.

One of my interior design professors, Maureen Mitton, once said, "All of us have a friend that's dumb, that's how I want you to think of SketchUp."
Well, I have to say, if SketchUp is your dumb friend, then Revit is your genius friend that is also extremely condescending. When using Revit, remember that.