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.