Thursday, 15 January 2015

Revit's Most Hidden Commands (part 4) - 3D Cut Pattern

This Revit feature really is obscure, and I can never remember how to do it without looking online for solutions.  Plenty of people have posted on blogs and forums about this one, but I have my own slant on it.  Most of the references to this are something like "How to create sectional perspectives in Revit" - and then describe how to apply a colour pattern to the cut surfaces of the section.

Applying Colour/Hatching to Cut Edges on a 3D View

In fact this technique applies to any 3d view, perspective or otherwise - but only if a section box is applied as a view property:
A section box will actually crop the 3d model (only in the view).  This is not to be confused with Crop View and Scope Box which only crop the view, not the model.

There are several subtle settings that control how and when this works:
  • It only works when a view is set to Coarse Detail Level (not at medium or fine)
Once the view is set to coarse, and has a section box activated, Revit will automatically apply a special material called "Poche" to any edges that are cut by the section box.

  • By default, the Poche material has a dark blue shading colour and NO cut hatching pattern - you can change this of course.

  • This means that the colour will only appear if the view is set to Shaded, and not appear if the view is set to Hidden Line
Medium View, Hidden Line - No poche material is applied

Coarse View, Hidden Line - No cut Shading visible
  • Once the view is set to Shaded, the shading colour appears - this is standard Revit behaviour, but in the context of the other variables it can be confusing
Coarse View, Shaded - Shading Colour is visible
  • You can also add a cut hatching pattern to the Poche material

Coarse View, Shaded - Shading & Cut Pattern visible
  • If you have a cut pattern defined for the material, you can revert to a Hidden Line view and it will display the hatching but not the shading colour (again, this is standard revit behaviour)
Coarse View, Hidden Line - Only Cut Pattern is visible
  • Alternatively you can use a solid fill colour for the cut pattern, and this will display on a hidden line view

Coarse View, Hidden Line - Cut Pattern (solid colour) is visible
If you have a shaded view and a solid colour cut pattern, things start getting tricky (if not downright weird):
  • If the shading is set to zero transarency, it will show neither the shading colour, nor the solid fill colour - ie. the clash makes revit give up and show no poche.
  • If you set the shading to semi trasparent, it shows the solid fill colour but at the shading transparency!!!
Coarse View, Shaded - solid fill pattern, 50% shading transparency

No wonder I can never remember this setting - it is so obscure and has so many variables to juggle in order to get it working.  If you forget just one variable, it may not work at all.

  1. Any 3D view (perspective, Isometric etc)
  2. Section box must be active (although it can be hidden in Visibility Graphics)
  3. Section box must cut through the model (Poche material only applied to cut surfaces)
  4. Coarse Detail Level view
  5. Poche material
  6. Shaded View  shows poche Shading colour (and cut pattern if it has one)
  7. Hidden Line View shows poche cut pattern only (nothing displays if no pattern is set)
  8. Shaded View + Solid Fill cut pattern + Shading colour =  ??

Monday, 12 January 2015

Revit's Most Hidden Commands (part 3) - Curtain Pattern Grid Size

This setting is maybe not so hidden but it has caught me out a few times - when working with curtain pattern grids, it is not so obvious how to flex the family by changing grid sizes.

  • Create a new curtain panel pattern based family
  •  It has a grid with adaptive points and lines already set up
  • How do you change the grid size?
  • It is quite simple really - just select the grid itself and you can see its instance properties
  •  Change the values to something smaller, or different to get a rectangular shape
  •  Or you can change to a totally different pattern
  • Note how Revit automatically adds (or removes) points and lines to achieve a pattern on the underlying rectangular grid
  •  This one is a Not so hexagonal grid when you look at in plan!
If you want a true hexagon, you need to take a totally different approach - but that is for another blog post.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Revit Repeaters - RTC 2013 Competition Entry

Revit Repeater artwork
This image was part of my  entry for the drawing competition at RTC 2013, in the innovation category.  It was created using 100% Revit, without the use of Dynamo or any add-in APIs.  It was done to demonstrate some of the capabilities of the new "Repeater" command that was added to Revit 2013.

The museum building wall was created as a mass family, consisting of a curved spline in plan, extruded upwards to represent the outside facade;  its surface was divided into a rectangular grid.  A five point adaptive component panel was placed on one rectangle of the grid, with one of its points snapped to a common control point off the surface of the wall;  the panel was then repeated across the entire facade;  the size of the window in each panel was controlled by its distance from the control point - using the "reactor principle" described on Zach Kron's Buildz blog (a complex formula defined a sine-wave pattern for the change in window size).  Hopefully I will get time to document the technique on this blog eventually!

The artwork on the wall was done using two-way repeater pyramids that change shape depending where they are in the pattern - refer to how-to-schedule-panel-locations.

The people were single-point adaptive components consisting of lofted circles that had parametric diameters at various heights up the body, used to create different body shapes for each family type. The people outside were turned into repeaters by hosting six of them on divided splines, then using the repeat command - thus forming queues of people snaking into the museum entrance.

The signage on the roof of the museum was done with adaptive component (model text) repeaters that automatically rotate to face the camera - refer to my Mona-lisas-eyes-follow-revit-camera blog post.

The ground surface texture was done by creating a divided surface with slightly distorted adaptive components placed in a pattern of four and then repeated.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Revit's Most Hidden Commands (part 2) - Tag Units

Changing the number of decimal places on a dimension is relatively straight-forward in Revit once you know how to do it:

Method 1 (Project Units):
  • Click on the Project Units icon on the manage menu
  •  Click on the desired units (eg. length)
  • Change the number of decimal places as desired
  • And don't forget that handy "Suppress trailing zeros" setting to keep your drawings less cluttered (although I'd prefer it didn't have that redundant apostrophe on the dialog box!)
  • This will affect all linear dimension in the project , except where this setting has been over-ridden - in which case go to method 2.
 Method 2 (Type Properties):
  • Select a dimension 
  • Click on Edit Type
  • Click on the parameter called Units format 
  • Click on the "Use Project Settings" checkbox; 
  • Alternatively,  change the number of decimal places and it will over-ride the project settings just for this dimension type.

That is a sensible Revit-like workflow once you know the process.
But, have you ever wanted to change the unit properties on a tag?  That is a whole different story . . . .

Tag Units

Each time I need to change tag units, it usually takes about half an hour to either remember or figure it out.  Here is the process I usually go through:
  • Select a tag

  • Edit type to see if it has unit over-ride properties like a dimension
  • Er no, nothing useful there
  • Hmm, what next?  
  • Try changing the project units
  • No, that doesn't work either
  • Oh, maybe its set in the family?
  • Try editing the family
  • Changing the project units in the family make no difference back in the project
  • Try selecting the label that has the value in it
  • Check its type properties
  • No, nothing there
  • Hmm, running out of options here
  • Ah, try Edit Label
  • Can't see anything that lets me change the units here
  • Click on the label parameter itself (on the right hand side)
  • Oh, what is that tiny, tiny 'hand' icon that has come to life down the bottom of the dialog box?
  • Click on it anyway, just to see
  • Oh, finally we get to a units format dialog box

  • Change the number of decimal places,
  • or better still, click on the Use Project Settings checkbox so that it can be controlled back in the project (unless you need individual control just for this tag family
If you follow the logic of why it is done this way, you can see that you may need to have the flexibility to have different units for each parameter in each label in a tag - but wow, is it an obscure process.  99% of the time most people would be quite happy with type parameters in the family in the project (like dimensions).

Since it only needs to be changed about once a year I always forget, and have to figure it all out again.

Label unit format icon - is it a hand or a subtle method of torture?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Revit Stair Treads - Minimum Widths

When editing Revit component stairs, have you ever encountered an error message where it tells you that the actual tread width is less than the minimum allowed tread width, when in fact the two values are identical?

Usually it allows you to set tread widths the same as the minimum allowed value, but occasionally not.  I suspect this occurs when you mess with the minimum allowed value - perhaps when you increase the minimum to match an actual value that is already modelled.

My solution is to change the actual width value to be say 1mm more than the minimum, then change it back again so they are the same - error message gone.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

View Filter Sort Order in Revit

In Revit, View Filters are not automatically sorted in the 'Visibility Graphics' dialog box - meaning that you often get a jumbled list that is really hard to read. [Edit: There is good reason for this - the order of the list is the order that filters are applied, from the top (as pointed out by Steve Stafford);  but sometimes you just want all similar filters listed together so it is readable]

Recently there has been a subtle change to how filters are added to the list (in v2015 of Revit):

In Revit 2013, when you add view filters, the most recent one will always be added to the end of the list.

In Revit 2015, when you add view filters, they appear to go in just below the selected filter in the list.  Once you add a new one, it does not become selected.  That means that if you add several in succession, they won't go in the order you add them - they will be added in reverse order just below whatever you happened to have selected.

To correct the Sort Order:

Initially I thought that you either have to live with the mess, or remove the filters and add them back in again.  Of course, if you do this, you lose all the filter override settings.

We actually have the ability to move filters up and down the list (Edit. Thanks to various comments - this paragraph has been corrected).

Revit 2015 - Adding new filters
  • Click on the filter in the list that you want new ones to follow
  • Add the first filter
  • Then click on the one you just added
  • Add the next one
  • Click on that one
  • Add again
  • etc - until you have the list as desired.

If at any point you forget to select the last one before adding the next one, all is not lost.  All you need to do is to move it up or down the list

This method does give you much more flexibility than how it worked in v2013.  However, it is confusing as hell until you see what it is doing.

I noticed that you can also add several filters at once, but it does not necessarily add them in the order that they are shown in the 'Add Filters' list.

There is also the curious question of why the list of filters in the Filter dialog box is not alphabetical.  Only Autodesk can solve that for us . . . . .