Studio Design Series

Revit TotD – 11.17.2010 | SPF100 Minimum

Hopefully you spent all weekend playing around with those surfaces and components and patterns cause today we’re going to dive into some of the features behind each of those, beginning with Divided Surfaces!

So as you saw from our last TotD, divided surfaces is the first step to take in turning your mass into something really fun in Revit.  However there are a few things that you should know about when it comes to the properties of that first step into awesomeness.

So this is the infamous UV (get it now?.. the title? *HUYUK*) grid? You can see it’s mouch more complicated than just an XY coordinate system, but to demonstrate the similarities you can turn individual (or both) grids off.

By selecting a surface you can access the Face Manager.

Using the face manager you can rotate the grid…

… partially rotate…

… in multiple directions separately even!

Using the crosshairs you can justify the start point of the grid.

You can also set a lot of this parametrically in the Divided Surface Properties:

Speaking of parameters, I just realized that there’s no way we can fit everything into this one TotD, so I guess we’ll see each other again next time!  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you again for the next, Revit TotD


Revit TotD – 11.12.2010 | Divide and Conquer

Wasn’t that a nice break?!  Now back to what we were talking about… what were we talking about?  Oh yea, CDE!  So we’ve had a quick run down of creating masses in CDE and also of cutting holes in them.  You know how to adjust the forms using reference lines and points.  You can join, cut, add and subtract… been practicing?  Good.  So now that we have some point, edges and surfaces, let’s focus on the surfaces.

So today i’m just going to go through some things you can do with surfaces, namely dividing a surface.

  1. Select a mass or a surface (tab through to select just a surface).
  2. Use the Divide Surface tool.

You should really not think of this as a curtain wall system, but more as converting this to a useful surface.  As we explore later in the series, there are a lot of things you can do with this surface, much more than just make it a curtain wall (besides you can do that in the project, why would you do that here?).  Now that we have a divided surface, let’s take a closer look.

If you select the divided surface, you’ll see we have a grid.

This is not to be confused with a curtain wall grid.  This is the surface’s U/V grid… if you don’t know look it up, cause the explanation is beyond this post, long story short, it’s X/Y grid for this surface, but unrelated tot he project’s X/Y.  You can turn this grid off and on…

… you can change the pattern with pre-defined patterns…

… and turn those on and off!

The last neat trick you will learn today is the ability to fill these grids with components.

There you go…. 🙂  Just enough to make you come back next time, right?!  Well, we’ll spend the next few posts going over each of these options and then launch into what we can do with these components!  Thanks again for stopping by and I hope to see you for the next Revit TotD!


Revit TotD – 11.8.2010 | Piecing it all Together

Today’s tip is going to borderline a Revit tip and a general modeling tip. I wanted to round off the form and void massing portion of this series by making sure we know how to actually use these tools! So today I’m going to go over a process that is used by… well probably every 3d modeler at some point in their career, as well as how to adapt that process to the CDE in Revit.

Most 3D artists are taught a process to create their forms through use of the Elevation and Plan concepts that they have to work from. Seeing as how this is a series for Architecture Students, I’m going to assume that you actually do have Elevations and Plans to work from. What you’ll really need to get a good start on a 3D form are at least 3 images: Plan, Front/Rear Elevation and a Side Elevation.

I find it easiest to label the views in Revit according to the images so that I know which image belongs in which view.

Once you have the views labeled we can start bringing in images and scaling them. It helps to already have your images drawn and scanned to scale, but we’ll cover scaling them here just in case. To bring an image into a view:

  1. Activate the view you want to insert the image into.  Note that images can not be placed in 3D views in the CDE.
  2. Use the Image tool under the Insert Tab.
  3. Browse to the image you want to insert into the view.
  4. Place the image.

Now that we have the images placed let’s look at our workspace set up.  Typically in a modeling environment, an artist would have 4 views up: Plan, Front, Side and 3D.

Leaving all of these up in Revit would really kind of clutter the workspace, so here are a few ways to navigate quickly back and forth between views while you mass up your forms.  You will really want to become familiar with the keyboard shortcuts “WT” and “ZA”.

“WT” Tiles all windows.  So you can quickly go from a maximized single view, to seeing all windows that are open.  This means it is important to manage the windows you have open.

There is an order to the tiling sequence: the window most currently active will be int he upper left corner, second will be  below that, third below that, etc. and it read like a book; so if window “2” is at the bottom left with no more room for window “3” then the next window will wrap to the next column.  So just like an english newspaper; Top to bottom, left to right.

“ZA” tells revit to zoom all of the visible windows to the extents of each view.  So if you have all 4 of the previously mentioned windows open, you will see 2 elevation, a plan and a 3d view of your mass.

Finally there’s the double clicking the Title bar of the view.  This will quickly maximize the view you want to work in.  Coupled with the shortcuts I just gave you, this is a very efficient way to model up your conceptual masses!

Well there you have it, another [hopefully] great tip for you reviteers out there!  Thanks again for stopping by and I’ll see you nex ttime for another Revit TotD!


Revit TotD – 11.5.2010 | MOAR VOIDS!!!

I can’t believe that last video took the entire 5 minutes to show you how to cut a solid!  It’s so much easier with a gas powered chainsaw… >_>  Anyhow, let’s continue our study of voids.  This is a new little tool available in 2011 that allows you to cut holes in solids using *gasp* other solids!  So now that we’ve seen method one of subtractive addition, we’ll take a look at the new solid-solid cutting method.

This is a fairly straight forward tool.

  1. Select Cut
  2. Select the Solid that will be cut
  3. Select the Solid that will do the cutting

The intersection of the solids results in a “void” created int he solid that is being cut in the shade of the solid that is doing the cutting.  The biggest difference is that you keep both of the forms.  Nothing disappears or is eaten!  Yay!

So now you know masses and voids.  Time to play around with them.  You have all weekend to think about it before the next TotD!  Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again for the next Revit TotD!


Revit TotD – 11.3.2010 | What gets bigger the Moar you take away from it?

No, this is not a post about James Bond…

So you’ve experimented around with creating forms and can even *gasp* control them unlike you ever thought was possible in Revit.  This thing you have created is starting to look like something you would have used 3DS or Maya to mak ein the past; but now here you are in Revit of all programs modeling these nice little forms!  So now that we have all these fun little forms, let’s put holes in them!  That’s right, sometimes it works best to take away from a form and there are a couple of ways to accomplish this in the CDE.  Let’s take a look at them.

There are two methods for removing parts from your forms.  Void forms and Solid-Solid Cuts (new in 2011). Both present their own advantages and disadvantages, all of which could never be taught in a 5 minute video. So instead I’m going to present to you as many of those dis/advantages as I can and let you figure some of it out on your own!

So first, how do you make these Void forms?… Remember how to make solid forms?

Yeah… look right below it.

If you’ve created the void already intersecting a solid mass, it will automatically devour everything it crosses.  However, if you have made the void so that it is not intersecting you will actually have to do a little work.

Use the Cut tool.

Select a Mass.

Select a Void.

…et voila!

Right, now that we have that sorted out, on to what we can do with these voids… well we cut things.

More importantly what can we do once we cut things? Well this is where the whole model/reference line conversation from earlier comes into play. As you can see, a model line void has disappeared altogether making it fairly difficult to modify it once we have actually created the void.

The Reference Line void however, while disappearing, leaves behind the actual lines for us to use as controls.

My vote… reference lines. #ivoted

Voids are just like solid forms in the sense that you can control them at any point however, you may need to tab through to a void before you can select it.

Selecting a solid that is cut by voids will also [usually] reveal and voids that are cutting it. (I say usually because I’ve seen strange instances where no matter what, that void just won’t show up!)

So, this is where you were supposed to see me launch in to the second method of creating voids. However, scroll up… we’ve covered a lot of ground today… and I had no clue it would take that long. So until Friday, thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you next time for another Revit TotD!


Revit TotD – 11.1.2010 | Provide References

So now that you have a little taste of how to create those basic modeling forms let’s look a little bit deeper into how those forms are made and can be manipulated.  Here we’ll look at the difference between model lines and reference lines in CDE and why you want to use one over the other.

There are 2 important difference between model lines and reference lines in CDE.

A model line behaves much like a model line in a Revit project: you can use it to draw lines on a surface that will continue to project in 3d spaces.

However, in CDE you can also use model lines to create your profiles for your forms.

Note that when you create a form using model lines you no longer have your original lines.  Yes, you may have edges on the form that you’ve created, but nothing that really represents the original profiles used.  In order to modify forms made from you are using edges that are a result of the created form.

A reference line, like a model line can also be used to create profiles for your model forms in CDE.  Reference lines, just like in a project, generate their own reference planes.  We’ll look at how these planes are useful in another session, but for now it’s important just to know that reference lines generate their own planes at end points and along the lines themselves.  Experiment with different lines types to see how each generates its own planes.

Most importantly, when you use reference lines to create planes allows you to keep the lines when you create the form.  The forms do not eat reference lines like they do model lines allowing you to modify your forms from the original source of the forms without dissolving them.

Along with lines there is another tool that we’re given, points. Reference points can be used extremely useful.  Not only do they align themselves along the normal of the path they are placed on, but they also generate their own reference planes…

…and to make things even more convenient they can specifically be placed along a path at a parametric value.

So there we are, delving a little deeper into the forms of the CDE and how we can maintain the manipulation references of the forms we create.  Next time we’ll get in to a few more of the tools we can use and how to create some masses.  Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to seeing you again for another Revit TotD!


Revit TotD – 10.29.2010 | Studio Project and Revit

For quite some time I’ve been discussing with a friend and fellow designer (Gerry Hogsed) the possibility of starting a series specifically for College students (maybe even some High School students that want to do more than troll the RevitCity chat room).  With the number of questions being asked on the forum and in the chat room from students wanting to learn the technology, I feel that it’s a good time to start… so where do you start?  Here’s what we’ve come up with so far, and will continue to be developed.

The scope of a studio project extends well beyond what the tools of Revit allow us to cover, but I think it’ll be safe to say that most of you want to know about modeling the mass, the form of your building, into Revit.  So that is where I will begin: how do you create forms in Revit?

Let’s begin with a term that will make you look cool in the Revit scene.  Conceptual Design Environment, aka: CDE  The CDE, despite being displayed in a similar canvas to a project, is actually significantly different from a typical project in revit.  It allows us to model outside of the constraints of the wall, floor and roof assemblies that you find in the Revit templates.  The forms you make in CDE are really only limited to your ability to figure out a way to create the shape.  Before we get to that point though, we have to learn how to walk.  So let’s go over some basic forms and how to make them in CDE.

In the project templates, you have 5 basic forms: Extrusion, Sweep, Revolve, Blend and Swept Blend in both solid and void forms.  They also give you nice neat buttons to easily start those forms.  This is not the case in CDE.  Despite having these buttons removed, massing in the CDE is much more intuitive to a modeling program, closer to something like Sketchup.  We use profiles and paths to define the shapes and the allow the program to interpret what we are trying to do.  So an extrusion is simply made up of a closed loop.  Select the loop, click Create Form, and there’s your extrusion.  Here is a rundown of the various forms in CDE and how we go about creating them.


  1. Create closed loop or open edges.
  2. Select the loop/edges
  3. Create Form


  1. Create closed loop.
  2. Crete Form


  1. Create path.
  2. Place reference point on path for profile plane.
  3. Set plane.
  4. Create closed profile loop.
  5. Select Profile and Path
  6. Create Form


  1. Create profile (open or closed).
  2. Create Line of rotation.
  3. Select Axis and Profile.
  4. Create Form


  1. Create 2 closed profiles on 2 different planes.
  2. Select profiles.
  3. Create Form

Swept Blend

  1. Create path.
  2. Place points on path for each profile for work planes.
  3. Create closed profiles on the work plane provided by each point.
  4. Select path and profiles.
  5. Create Form

Loft (Basically a blend with more than 2 profiles)

  1. Create multiple profiles (open or closed) on multiple workplanes.
  2. Select profiles.
  3. Create Form.

So there you have the basic forms of CDE design.  Practice practice.  Take some objects from the Architectural Products catalogue and model them in CDE or some objects around your studio.  The real advantage of modeling in the massing mode of CDE as opposed to modeling modes of projects or Family Editor in Revit is the freedom to manipulate your mass.  We’ll get into that in future parts of this series.  Until then, thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you again later for another Revit TotD!


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