Standardizing Revit Hatch Patterns with UNIFI

Revit hatch patterns, officially known as Fill Patterns, are a critical graphical element when developing drawings in Revit. They can help denote the material of an element, differentiate a section cut from the surface of an element, and even help identify that an element is of special interest like a clearance area for a piece of equipment.

Hatch patterns have been used in technical illustration since we were drafting with pencils on paper. Check out the drawing of the Confederate State Capitol of Arkansas below. How many hatch patterns do you see?

Revit Hatch Patterns

Drafting vs Model Fill Patterns

If you’ve been exposed to fill patterns in Revit, you may have noticed that there are two types of Revit hatch patterns, drafting patterns and model patterns. The difference is model patterns remain a fixed size relative to the model, and drafting patterns remain a fixed size relative to the scale of the view that is displayed in.

An example of the different use cases for each is a brick pattern on the face of a wall versus a crosshatch pattern on a wall.

Revit hatch patterns

Revit hatch patterns at 1/4” = 1’-0” scale.

Revit hatch patterns

Revit hatch patterns at 1” =1’-0” scale.

As shown in the examples above, the diagonal hatch pattern (drafting pattern) changes based on the drawing scale while the brick hatch pattern (model pattern) remains the same. This is exactly as a user would expect as bricks should not change size based on the scale of a drawing. The pattern should maintain it’s dimensions as a model element does, hence the name “model pattern”.

Creating Revit Hatch Patterns

For those of you who have a background in AutoCAD, you’ll be happy to know that Revit supports hatch patterns from AutoCAD DWGs. There are few techniques out there to help you get AutoCAD hatch patterns in Revit – some of which are as simple as importing a CAD file to Revit and then exploding it. (For the record, I’m not necessarily supporting the process of exploding imported CAD files!)

If you are good with numbers, you can actually create your own Revit Hatch Pattern in your favorite text editor (I recommend Sublime Text). If you really would like to learn to generate Revit hatch patterns from scratch, I would recommend following the Create a Custom Pattern File on the Autodesk Knowledge Network. It will guide you through building the hatch pattern below using nothing but plain text.

Revit hatch patterns

Applying Fill Patterns to Elements

There are a number of ways to apply Revit hatch patterns to elements within Revit, but in this post I’ll only cover how to manage them from the Visibility/Graphics Override settings.

Let’s go back to my wall example. In the image below, you can see a wall that I have modeled (there is also a section box shown in blue lines).

Revit hatch patterns

You’ll notice that I already have a Revit hatch pattern applied to the surface of the wall. In the image below, you can see that I also have a fill pattern assigned to the cut of the Walls model category.

Revit hatch patterns

To get the cut fill pattern to display on this wall, I’ll need to modify the section box to cut into the wall element in this view.

Revit hatch patterns

With the section box cutting into the wall, you can now see the Revit hatch pattern that I’ve assigned to a cut face of this element.

From a 2D drawing perspective, this type of differentiator is invaluable when reviewing sections of walls, floors, and other elements. In the example below, you can see that I have a section cut through a wall which also displays the surface of the perpendicular wall. Without hatch patterns it would be difficult for the plan reviewer to understand this drawing.

Revit Hatch patternsStandardizing Fill Patterns

Conventionally, it can be difficult to standardize and maintain Revit hatch patterns because like Revit families, there isn’t an elegant out-of-the-box way to manage them from within Revit. They can be stored as .pat files, however we see the same issues with managing any filetype in a Windows file/folder structure; there is a lack of metadata and versioning (amongst other shortcomings).

Fill Patterns In Unifi Core

The good news is, Unifi Core helps design teams access the right standard fill patterns by storing them in their libraries alongside the rest of the standard content. As of version 3.2, Unifi Core now supports the storage of fill patterns and materials! Exciting stuff.

Revit hatch patterns

The benefits of storing Revit hatch patterns in Unifi Core extends beyond simply providing a central repository for your standard fill patterns.

Similar to storing Revit families such as star ratings, revisioning, and the ability to review properties of the hatch pattern including the type (model or drafting), line angle, and line spacing.

Revit hatch patterns

We’ve also built in some advanced filtering to help you sort through the model or drafting fill patterns while searching and browsing in Unifi Core.

Revit hatch patternsHope this helps!

Although Revit helps automate a lot of the best practices in computer aided drafting, Revit hatch patterns are still something that need special attention. I hope this post gives you a better understanding of how they work in Revit as well as how Unifi Core can support your efforts in providing standardized fill patterns to your team.

Feb 27 @ 11 AM pst: Webinar Invite

Join us to learn what firms want in BIM content from the firsthand experience of Nancy McClure, Digital Design Application Specialist at Interior Architects (IA). 

We will get our guest’s take on the key elements of high quality BIM content as well the specific components she looks for in the vetting process. We will also discuss geometry standards, data standards, and overall what makes a good Revit family. Finally, we will get insight on panelist’s experience working with UNIFI’s own Content Creation team and explore how UNIFI has been utilized as an extension to IA’s design team.  

Click here to register.

View Range in Revit for MEP Disciplines Part 2

View range

When setting up your views for the MEP disciplines, configuring view range in Revit can be confusing at first. Our previous post walked you through how to make MEP elements in the ceiling space visible on floor plan views using view range settings. For this post, we’ll show you how to show MEP elements that are below or cast in the floor (e.g., pipes and conduits).

If you need to understand the basics of configuring the View Range of a floor plan, see part one of this series.

When setting up your views for the MEP disciplines, configuring their view ranges in Revit can be confusing at first.  

View Range for MEP Elements Below or Within a Floor

In our previous post, we looked at how to set the top and cut plane of the primary range to show elements above the ceiling. For today, we’ll focus on the elements that are below floor.

Technically, the only view range setting that needs to be adjusted to show elements below floor is the View Depth. In the example below, you can see that I have a sanitary pipe modeled below the floor at 
–2’. You will also notice that the pipe is visible when the View Depth is set to -2’, because it now lies within the View Range.

View Range

That seems pretty straightforward, so why write a blog about something so simple? Well, you may have noticed that in the View Range window, there is a setting for Bottom within the “Primary Range” section. This can prove to be confusing, even for some of the more experienced Revit users.

View Range

Why Do We Need Both “Bottom” and “View Depth”?

Let’s refer back to Autodesk’s image within the View Range window (click the Show button in the lower right corner to display the image within Revit).

View range

First, let’s review some of these keynotes:

7. The entire View Range

5. The Primary View Range

3. The Bottom of the Primary View Range

4. The View Depth setting

With those numbers in mind, let’s think about a floor plan and the concept of showing something that is below the floor. Typically, elements that live below the floor plan (i.e., underfloor, underground, within a raised floor) will be drawn as a dashed line. This helps anyone reviewing a floor plan understand that the pipe, duct, or conduit is not overhead as most floor plans illustrate as solid lines. This has been standard practice since we were drafting plans with pencil and paper and Revit handles it rather gracefully using the view depth of a View Range.

In simple terms, any element that is below the Bottom of the Primary View Range and above the View Depth (i.e., the yellow area in the illustration above), is considered to be “beyond” the primary view range. So, you can still see the element in a plan view, but it not within the Primary View Range.

This is important, because Revit has a built-in sub-category of Line styles called “”. This means you can make any element a dashed line when it is within the View Depth of the floor plan view. Thus, any underfloor duct, pipe, conduit, or footings can now automatically be displayed as dashed lines when it lives below the Bottom of the Primary View Range.

view range

Conclusion

I hope that these two blog posts will help some of our MEP readers out there understand some of the lesser-known basics of configuring View Range.

Do you have any additional tips and tricks to share regarding view range? Please share them in the comments below.

View Range in Revit for MEP Disciplines

VIew range

When setting up your views for the MEP disciplines, configuring their view ranges in Revit can have somewhat of a steep learning curve. In this two-part blog series, I’ll cover some techniques one how to properly show/hide MEP elements that are typically above the ceiling or below the Level of a floor plan.

In the illustration above, the green area is what you would typically see on a floor plan view. You would expect to see elements such as door swings, windows, furniture, or even receptacles on a floor plan that includes this 3-dimensional space in the view range. When working with MEP disciplines, however, things get quite a bit more complicated, as there are typically several MEP elements that are designed in the ceiling space or even below the floor.

Setting the View Range of a View

VIew range

To set the view range of a view, open your Properties pane and click the Edit button next to View Range (under the Extents group). This opens the View Range dialog, where you can adjust values for Top, Cut Plan, Bottom, and View Depth… But what does all of this mean?

In recent versions of Revit, Autodesk has provided a handy little button on the view range dialog which displays a quick reference for what these terms mean. Although these terms are clearly illustrated in the View Range window, adjusting these settings for MEP elements can still be a bit confusing.

VIew rangeView Range for MEP Elements Above the Ceiling

For part one of this two-part blog series, we’ll walk through setting up a view range on a floor plan view and cover the view range terms as they apply to MEP elements within the ceiling space. The terms Top, Cut Plane, and Bottom all seem to make sense, so let’s adjust the view range in my floor plan view to include the duct within the ceiling space of my model.

Primary Range: Top

There are two main schools of thought when setting the Primary Range of the view range to include the elements that are in the ceiling space.

1. Set the Top to Level Above, with a negative offset. This ensures that if and when the floor-to-floor heights change, your view will still include the ceiling elements. When using this method to set the top of your view range, be sure to compensate for the thickness of the floor in your negative offset so you don’t include any pipes or conduit that is installed in the floor or cast in the slab. For example, if the level above is at 13’-0” with a 8” thick slab, set your offset to -0’-8”.
view range2. Set the Top to Associated Level with a positive offset. Some users feel that this is a more intuitive way to set the top of a view range because it is easy to relate to the offset parameter of duct and pipe, which is typically a positive offset (above the current level).
view range

Primary Range: Cut Plane

view range

In the left window (Level 1) in the image above, you can see my floor plan view with the Top of the Primary Range set to 10’-0” above the Associated Level (Level 1), but no ductwork is visible even though you can clearly see that the duct that I’ve modeled in the right window (Section 1) is well within the Primary Range. What’s going on?

The Cut Plane offset in your View Range needs to be taken into account. The rule of thumb is that you’ll need that plane to be set either to above your duct, or cutting though your duct.

view range

Now that we’ve set the Cut Plane to 8’-0” above the Associated Level, we still aren’t seeing the ductwork and actually after adjusting our view range, the floor plan looks even further than goal than it did earlier.

Before you hit CTRL+Z on your keyboard, let’s have a look at what’s happening here. Select the opaque object and look at your Properties pane.

view range

As you can see, it is in fact the ceiling that is blocking my ductwork from being visible in the view. The proper way to fix this issue is relatively simple: turn off visibility of the Ceilings category in Visibility/Graphic Overrides.

As you can see now, our view range is properly set and I can see the ductwork within the ceiling space of this floor plan.

Primary Range: Bottom and View Depth

In the context of setting a view range to include ceiling spaces, the Bottom and View Depth settings are less relevant, so we can keep them at 0’-0” for now.

Conclusion

Controlling visibility of elements in a view is one of the biggest hurdles when learning Revit and setting a correct view range is just one possibility of why you aren’t seeing your elements.

Watch this space for part two of two in this series, as we walk through how to deal with piping that is below the floor and how to deal with those pesky rise/drop symbols of pipe fittings.

Enscape and Revit: Creating Real Time Renderings and Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a hot topic in the AEC space today. There are many ways to bring your Revit model into a VR environment. One of which is a bit like building your own “game” using a gaming engine such as Unity, however this route which requires software development experience. In the AEC space, a slew of software companies have popped up to make it easier for the layman to bring their BIM models into virtual reality. One of which is Enscape, who seeks to create a seamless workflow between Enscape and Revit.

Features

Working with a game engine from the ground up can involve more complex processes such as exporting from Revit, importing to the chosen game engine, and writing scripts for photorealistic renderings or VR. Enscape and Revit actually work together using Enscape’s Revit addin to eliminate some of that manual labor.

Real-time Rendering and Virtual Reality

When using Enscape and Revit, one feature that is rather impressive is the ability for real-time rendering and virtual reality. With this feature, any revisions to a design in Revit can be instantly transferred to your Enscape rendering or VR environment which obviously increases efficiency when working with VR as a presentation medium. Just imagine how much work would go into exporting and importing your Revit model to a game engine every time you made a change to your Revit model. With Enscape and Revit, those changes are reflected instantly.

Supported Model Formats

Designers may have several modeling applications in their toolbox and interoperability is one of the most important factors when introducing a new tool to their workflows. With that being said, Enscape supports modeling software other than Revit such as:

-Sketchup

-Rhino

-ArchiCAD

Headset Compatibility

If you’ve ever wanted to navigate through your Revit model using your fancy new VR headset, that is now possible using Enscape + Revit.

As of today, it looks like most of the major VR headsets are compatible with the Enscape + Revit workflow:

-Oculus Rift

HTC Vive

-Samsung Odyssey

-Microsoft Mixed Reality Headsets

If you’re looking to purchase the best headset for use with Enscape + Revit, there is a great post on the Enscape forums which shares one user’s experience when comparing the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive:

Oculus Rift

1. Is lighter and seemed to be have a slightly better resolution (marginal).

2. Entirely powered by USB so is useful if you want a portable option

3. Not as glasses friendly compared with the Vive.

4. HDMI only

5. Battery operated controller (quick and easy to change)

HTC Vive

1. Tracking was superior to Oculus Rift

2. Heavier, but comfortable with the deluxe strap

3. Easier for those wearing glasses

4.Requires 3 power sockets to use

5. Multiple connections (HDMI and Mini-DP)

6. Wands are rechargeable so have to watch use.

Conclusion

When working with a game engine to develop a home grown virtual reality solution, the learning curve is steep. Game engines require quite a bit of configuration and testing to become a standalone VR environment. When using Enscape and Revit, users won’t need to learn any additional software. Simply install the Enscape addin and you can start walking through your projects in one click.