Saturday, 28 February 2015

RTC 2013 NA Competition Entry - More Revit Repeaters

Revit Museum of Innovation

Here is another image that was part of my drawing competition entry at RTC 2013 in Vancouver.  This is the outdoor view of the Revit Museum of Innovation - to go with the indoor image shown in this earlier blog post.  The image was created using 100% Revit - that means no Photoshop, no API, no Dynamo, no background jpegs.  The purpose of the image was to show what can be done using Repeaters in Revit - most of the techniques were described previously, with the exception of the conical sculpture and the background sky:

Conical Sculpture

There is a (hidden) half conical mass that has its surface divided. 
 The U grid is rotated by 30 degrees, which gives a spiral effect
On one of the nodes of the divided surface was placed one adaptive star component that changed its shape depending on how far it was from a specific reference point - that point being a second adaptive point snapped to an adjacent node on the spiral of the divided surface.

 When the adaptive star component is repeated, it replicates itself along the spiral path;  as it goes up the cone, the nodes become closer together and the star gradually changes shape until it becomes a hexagon, and then almost a circle.  This technique of using two circles with variable diameters to drive hosted geometry was described a couple of years ago - Revit Repeaters and Flexing Star Adaptive Components
Of course the cone itself had parameters to control its height and proportions, which in turn changed the patterns applied to its surface.

Background Sky

Notice the colour/lighting gradient in the background - it changes horizontally.
Originally I was trying to use the View Background settings to create a gradient between sky and horizon

The sky effect looked ok on screen, and when I did a screen capture:
The screen resolution and captured image were not good enough to project on a screen at RTC or to print out at A3.
But as soon as I tried to print it or export a jpeg image, it created a banded effect - this was in Revit 2013 at the time.   This bug was subsequently fixed in v2014.

At the time I had to make do with the buggy version 2013, so I resorted to an old technique for creating sky gradients:
I created a giant blue cylinder around the model, so that the viewpoint could see the inside of the cylinder as a background - as seen in the final artwork shown at the top.

For more about Revit Repeaters, refer to the Repeaters Index page

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Revit Computational Design - RTC 2014 Competition Entry

Pump up the Volume - Computational design with slider controls

Above is an image of my competition entry for the innovation category of the drawing competition at RTC 2014.
It may not be such a flashy image, but the intent was to show innovation in the use of Revit as a design tool using 100% pure Revit without any Dynamo or API add-ins.

What is in the image?

  • On the right is a mass model representing a twisting building with a sloping top;  the green rectangle represents an angled "solar access cutting plane" that prevents the building going any higher than defined but adjustable height controls.
  • On the left is a series of slider controls that can be used to change the dimensions of the mass model, along with its degree of twist; 
  • There are also slider and rotating controls for the solar access cutting plane, which set the base cutting height, sun angle and azimuth so that overshadowing can be evaluated at different times of day and year just by rotating the dials in Revit.
  • There is also a mass floor area schedule and tags that automatically update, as well as calculate the Floor Space Ratio (FSR) of the building mass.

How was this done?

  • The slider controls are line based components, placed into a model;  they have shape handles that can be dragged
  • The Mass family is an in-place mass that is built onto a series of adaptive component rigs
  • The Adaptive Component rigs have several free adaptive points that are snapped onto the sliders;  the distance between the adaptive points is measured using reporting parameters
  • Changes in reporting parameter distances drive changes in the adaptive rigs, which in turn change the mass family that is hosted onto the rigs.
All of this is clearly described in the handout notes that accompanied my presentations "Pump up the Volume" at RTC 2014 in Australia (Melbourne) and North America (Chicago).  Hopefully I will get time to publish the technique in more detail on this blog in the future.  Alternatively you can download the presentation from the RTC website if you attended either conference;  or wait until they become available on AUGI later this year.

Refer to this post for a link to a youtube video

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

1. 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:

2. Section Box
3. Section Box Cutting

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.
Make sure that the extents of the section box are cutting the model where you want - drag the shape handles.  In a perspective view it may not be so simple - other blogs describe this process well (Use View cube to temporarily make perspective orthogonal;  adjust section box; rewind view back to perspective).
You can hide the section box in 'Visibility Graphics', but don't uncheck the box in the view properties.

There are several subtle settings that control how and when the coloured cut edges are applied:

4. Coarse Detail
  • It only works when a view is set to Coarse Detail Level (not at medium or fine)

5. Coarse Poche Material
[Edit:  This section added later]
Once the view is set to coarse, and has a section box activated, Revit will automatically apply the 'Coarse Poche Material' to any edges that are cut by the section box.  This material is is controlled by a 3D view Type property - so it will affect all 3D views of that type.
  • In the standard Revit project template this property is set to "By Category", which means that nothing appears to change - it uses whatever the settings are for each category.
  • In some project templates this value may already be set to a particular material, in which case that material will automatically be applied to cut edges.  Typically that material would be a special material called "Poche"- this is a system material that is present in all templates (including families).  [If you delete that material, it will pretty soon come back into your project or family!]
Before changing the Coarse Poche Material type property, it is recommended that you duplicate your 3D view type, unless you want to apply it to all 3D views.

When you click on the value for the property, it will automatically default to the "Poche" material

Select the Poche material (or some other material)

It will apply the material properties to cut edges according to the following rules (maybe . . .):

6. Material Properties
  • 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. 3D View type properties - Coarse Poche Material property
  6. Poche material
  7. Shaded View  shows poche Shading colour (and cut pattern if it has one)
  8. Hidden Line View shows poche cut pattern only (nothing displays if no pattern is set)
  9. Shaded View + Solid Fill cut pattern + Shading colour =  ??
[Edit] This is a whole lot more complicated than I first realised.  The  "Coarse Poche Material" for view type properties (as pointed out by "Alm" in a comment) may or may not be preset in your project - if it is set to Poche, then it works according to the rules above (as it did during my initial testing);  if it is set to 'By Category' then it will not work, or at least it follows different rules depending on various settings for each category.  These will be described in another post . . . .

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.

For more on this competition entry see the outdoor image of the museum

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?