Monday, March 31, 2008

Swept Blends in Revit Architecture 2009 - part 2

I have been asked to explain how I created the above geometric form in Revit Architecture 2009, after my recent article on the new swept blend functionality. The form consists of a spline and two profiles, although one profile is offset, so this allows you to provide a twist to the shape. I have created a movie which explains in detail all the steps required, just click on this link flash movie link

I hope you find this useful.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A little bit of AutoCAD comes to Revit Architecture 2009

One thing that will please many users, especially those that come from a pure AutoCAD background is the introduction of Snap Overrides; Hey! But remember Revit isn’t AutoCAD :-). You have always been able to access the snaps from keyboard shortcuts, however, when you are now working in a view or whilst moving, copying, rotating, or arraying existing elements, you can access the snap overrides from the right-click contextual menu.

You will also find a new snap type called “close”. Why “close” you may ask? The new close snap allows you to close a valid open loop of elements whilst you are sketching, if you have more than one option to close the loop, just use the Tab key to snap through the different options.

Start by sketching an open loop of walls. When you want to close the loop of wall, just right mouse click to invoke the Osnap override command.
Finally, choose “close” from the Osnap overrides list. This will complete the loop of walls. Remember, if you have more than one option to close the loop, just use the Tab key to cycle through the different options, until you find the one you require.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Render quality in Revit Architecture 2009

Chrome balls!!! Yes that's right and you may be asking why.....???? I just wanted to show the render quality and reflections that can be achieved with the Mental Ray Renderer in Revit Architecture 2009.

Surface Patterns in Revit Architecture 2009

A neat improvement in Revit Architecture is the ability to add fill patterns to warped surfaces and cylinders. In Revit Architecture 2008 you could not add fill patterns on these geometric forms, it would display the colour of the material but not the surface hatch pattern. If you take a look at the image below you will see what I mean; the inplace family wall and the warped roof are unable to show hatch patterns on their surfaces.

The same model migrated across in 2009 shows the same geometry but now you can use the fill pattern tools on the warped and freeform faces.

There seems no way to adjust the rotation of the pattern in the view, but you can set up a custom hatch pattern with a rotation already applied to match the surface.

If you take a look at the wall below you will see that using the modified hatch pattern with a rotation included; the pattern now runs parallel to the surface as you would expect.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sloped Pads in Revit Architecture 2009

Revit Architecture 2009 (as well as Structure and MEP) has finally introduced the ability to slope building pads. This now allows us to slope areas to indicate footpaths, sloped parking areas, ramped paving etc. You produce sketch lines for the building pad in a site view in the normal way; however you can now add a slope arrow to your sketch in the same way as you can add slope arrows to floor, roofs or ceilings. This allows you to slope the pad.

Once you’ve sketched the extent of the pad, you can add a slope arrow which is accessible from the design bar when you are in sketch mode.

You can control the slope of the pad by accessing the element properties, where you can either specify the height at tail or the slope. To do this, select the slope arrow and right mouse click and go to element properties.

This added functionality will certainly help to enhance your site modelling capabilities within Revit Architecture and Structure.

Finally, another little tip-bit for building pads in 2009, is that they are now considered to be room-bounding elements and this is especially useful when calculating room areas or volumes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Swept Blend tool in Revit Architecture 2009

Revit Architecture 2009 includes a new modelling tool; you now have the ability to create what Autodesk describes as a swept blend. This is a combination of the blend and the sweep tool. A swept blend consists of a path with two profiles either ends of the path. The profiles can be different so that the first profile you draw can sweep along the path and blend into the second profile. This will definitely open up you modelling opportunities even further.

So to model a swept blend using the massing tools, you do the following…

Go to the massing tools in the design bar.

Click create new mass.

Name your mass and then choose solid swept blend, from the Solid Form tools. This will take you into the sketch mode allowing you to create the various parts which will make up the swept blend.

We will start by defining the path. You can either Pick Path or Sketch a path; your path can consist of a line, arc, spline or ellipse. Unfortunately your path cannot contain more than one arc. Sketch your path and select finish path from the menu.

If you now open a 3d view, you will see the path you have just drawn with two green crosses at either end of the path. These are the two planes where we will draw our profiles. So select Sketch profile 1 from the design bar and use the drafting tools to sketch a closed shape for our first profile. Once this profile is finished, do the same exercise for Sketch profile 2.

You should now have something which looks like this.

All you now need to do is select Finish Swept blend from the design bar to form the geometry.

Finally, select Finish Mass to exit out of the Mass tools.
The new Swept Blend tool will allow you to create geometry like this…..
Another challenge in the past was to create a spiral piece of wall to infill under a spiral ramp or staircase. Click on the image below to open a movie example....Or select this link Swept Blend movie example where I explain how to achieve this using the new swept blend as a piece of void geometry which I subtract from the main wall.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rendering in Revit Architecture 2009

The headliner for Revit Architecture 2009 is the replacement of the aging Accurender engine with Mental Ray. This will definitely improve the overall quality of your renders compared with Accurender. Remember, Mental Ray is the same rendering engine which resides in 3dsmax and across the whole of the Autodesk product portfolio; so you can rest assured the quality will be high.

When you are in a 3d view or perspective, you will notice an additional tool in the view control bar. The new teapot icon allows you to quickly access the render dialogue box. Alternatively, you can still access the render tools from the design bar or pull down menu.
The new layout of the render dialogue is excellent, it’s simple to use and understand. Somebody at Autodesk has really listened to what the architect and designers requires when it comes to rendering images.

Revit Architecture 2009 also includes render preset such as draft, low, medium, high and best allowing you to get quick results. However, you also have the ability to drill down and create your own custom setup for a particular view if you want too. In general, increasing (or turning on) any one of these settings increases the quality of the rendered image. Increasing these values or multiple settings may increase render time exponentially, so you’ve been warned!! But on a positive note, if you have a dual core or quad core processor in your workstation or laptop, then the Mental Ray render will make use of these extra cores. One thing I did find was that there was no way I could transfer custom setting between views, which is a shame. I am sure someone will enlighten me if I have got it wrong.

All lighting fixtures are now photometric and will use an IES file to define lighting parameters. If you open an existing light fitting family you will notice that you have the ability to specify the IES file for the light fitting. Revit Architecture 2009 uses this information from the IES file to define the geometric shape of the light source.

The materials provided within Revit Architecture 2009 have been reassigned Mental Ray material properties. These materials are far more realistic and are stored as part of the project file. If you go to the materials dialogue box, settings pull down menu>materials, you will notice that this dialogue box has been overhauled. The render appearance tab allows you to control the settings for the material you want to define. Revit includes a library of standard materials, but you can also define your own custom materials if you want.

Material appearance :-

Library view:-

Revit Architecture 2009 has also simplified the process for creating different lighting conditions. You will find preset for the following conditions:-

Exterior : Sun only
Exterior : Sun and Artificial
Exterior : Artificial only
Interior : Sun only
Interior : Sun and Artificial
Interior : Artificial only

So to test these I produced a very simple scene which you can see below. I then render the scene a number of times using some of these presets.

Exterior - sun only
Exterior - artificial + sun

Interior - only

Interior - sun + artificial

Interior - sun only

Overall, I am very impressed with the new rendering engine. I am positive that new and existing users will get to grips with this tool and its settings very quickly and I am expecting to see some excellent images from the Revit community in the not too distant future.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Revit Architecture 2009

Revit Architecture 2009 is almost with us; various parties have already let the cat out of the bag on most of the new features and functionality. However, over the next few weeks I will look at some of the enhancements, hopefully highlighting how these will improve your output as well as workflow.

Site Plans in Revit Structure

By default the standard Revit Structure templates do not include a Site Plan view unlike Revit Architecture. So how do you create one you may ask?

Firstly, start by duplicating level 1 and renaming that SITE.

Next open the SITE view, right mouse click in view and go to view properties from the contextual menu. Then scroll down until you find View range and edit the View range changing it to read….

Primary Range
Top: Associated (Level 1) offset 100000.0
Cut plane: Associated (Level 1) offset 100000.0
Bottom Level Below offset 0.0

View Depth
Level: Level Below offset 0.0

Finally, go to visibility graphics for the SITE view and make sure that toposurface is turn on (made visible). You will have to make sure that “Show categories from all disciplines” is ticked before you see it in the model categories list. You can also make visible any other non-structural elements that you want to display in your SITE plan at the same time.

Freewheel Technology

Freewheel was released a few years back by Autodesk as an experimental technology and it first appeared on there Autodesk Labs website. I tried it when it was first released and it seemed a bit slow, but over the last year or so it has been improved and it now seems to come in two flavours, Project Freewheel and Autodesk Freewheel, you’ll see what the differences are at this page....

Project Freewheel

Autodesk Freewheel

One smart feature with Autodesk Freewheel is that you can embed the viewer into your web pages allowing you to display interactive 2D and 3D CAD designs without requiring your visitors to download special viewing software. Autodesk provides sample code on how to do this at the Autodesk Freewheel site. So I was keen to see if I could embed the code that Autodesk provide on my blog site to display Revit DWF drawings interactively. All I needed to do was produce a DWF from Revit, host that on my website and then using the code Autodesk provide, I adjusted the code so that I pathed it to the DWF on my website, I then added the adjusted code to this blog.

This seems like a great way to display Revit drawings and images interactively on the web. If you interested in how it was achieved, I recommend going to ....

In a future blog, I'll take a look at what Project Freewheel has to offer for the Revit user.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Revit and Windows Vista

When Revit Architecture 2008 was released I got excited when I found out that it would be supported under Windows Vista, however on trying it out I was disappointed by the results and continued to run Revt in an XP environment.

Since the initial release of 2008, Autodesk have provided us with a number of new builds and it would seem that in my view, Revit performance has got better under Vista. So I decided to revisit the Vista operating system a few months back. What I have discovered whilst using Revit Architecture 2008 in a Vista environment is that it’s worth doing a few tweaks to the interface to improve performance. My laptop is a Dell M65 4gigs of RAM, 2.33ghz Centrino Duo with a 512mb Nvidia graphics card. Whilst this spec may seem high, its run of the mill these days, you only need to take a quick look at the Dell website to check out the latest specs. Vista is memory hungry so it’s worth adding 4 gigs of RAM if you can afford it and enabling the 3 gig switch. Enabling the 3gig switch in Vista is different compared with setting this up in Windows XP. Guidance on how to do this can done can be found at the following two web sites. If you are running Vista 64 you won’t need to worry about this.

It is defiantly worth making sure that your graphics card supports OpenGL under Vista and that you have the latest drivers. Whilst OpenGL in Vista is only an overlay to DirectX, if you use shadows a lot, a graphics card which supports OpenGL is essential.
I have also discovered that Revit seems to perform better without the Aero interface turn on. If you are not using OpenGL graphics it doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference, but with OpenGL enabled in Revit and the Aero interface turned on you seem to get screen corruption. I have certainly encountered this.

To disable the Aero interface; Right-click the desktop > Personalize > Windows Colour and Appearance and choose Windows Vista Basic.

It’s also worth adjusting the visual effects; these are the ones I use, which still give me the Vista look and feel whilst retaining performance.

Disabling transparency also seems to help: Right-click the desktop > Personalize > Windows Colour and Appearance. Uncheck Enable Transparency > OK.
Disable the annoying side bar also seems to help: If you don't use it, get rid of it -- it's just eating system resources. Right-click the Sidebar > Properties > uncheck Start Sidebar When Windows Starts > OK. Then, right-click the Sidebar > close Sidebar. If you want it back, click Start > type "sidebar" and press Enter.

I found most of the performance information I required at these two sites, however I am sure you will find additional information spread across the internet.

These are only my finding and I am sure others may have had better or even worse experiences than me. However, Windows Vista service pack 1 will be with us in the next few months and I am sure this will improve performance even further. To top that, from what I am seeing, the performance of Revit Architecture 2009 under Vista is even better than the Revit Architecture 2008.