Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012: No Experience Required

Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012: No Experience Required

by Eric Wing

ISBN: 9780470945063

Publisher Sybex

Published in Calendars/Automotive, Calendars/Architecture

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Sample Chapter

Chapter One

The Revit World

I'm sure you've seen plenty of presentations on how wonderful and versatile this 3D Revit revolution thing is. You may be thinking, "This all seems too complicated for what I do. Why do I need 3D anyway?"

The answer is: you don't. What do you do to get a job out—that is, after the presentation when you're awarded the project? First, you redraw the plans. Next comes the detail round-up game we have all come to love: pull the specs together, and then plot. This is a simple process that works.

Well, it worked up until 3D showed up. Now we have no real clue where things come from, drawings don't look very good, and getting a drawing out the door takes three times as long.

That's the perception, anyway. I've certainly seen all of the above, but I've also seen some incredibly coordinated sets of drawings with almost textbook adherence to standards and graphics. Revit can go both ways. It depends on you to make it go the right way.

* The Revit architecture interface

* The Project Browser

* File types and families

The Revit Architecture Interface

Toto, we aren't in CAD anymore!

If you just bought this book, then welcome to the Revit world. In Revit, the vast majority of the processes you encounter are in a flat 2D platform. Instead of drafting, you're placing components into the model. Yes, these components have a so-called third dimension to them, but a logical methodology drives the process. If you need to see the model in 3D, it's simply a click away. That being said, remember this: there is a big difference between 3D drafting and modeling.

With that preamble behind us, let's get on with it.

First of all, Revit has no command prompt and no crosshairs. Stop! Don't go away just yet. You'll get used to it, I promise. Unlike most CAD applications, Revit Architecture is heavily pared down, so to speak. It's this way for a reason. Revit was designed for architects and architectural designers. You don't need every command that a mechanical engineer would need. An electrical engineer wouldn't need the functionality that an architect would require.

NOTE The preceding paragraph will be the longest one of the book. This book is designed to cut to the chase and show you how to use Revit Architecture in a step-by-step fashion without having to read through paragraph after paragraph just to find the answer you're looking for. Datasets are provided at the book's accompanying website (, but you can also use your own model as you go through the book. If you don't wish to read this book cover to cover, don't! Although I recommend going from front to back, you can use the book as a desk reference by jumping to a desired topic. The datasets will be added in phases to accommodate this type of usage. Either way, get ready to learn Revit Architecture!

You'll find as you get comfortable with Revit that there are many, many choices and options behind each command.

Let's get started:

1. To open Revit Architecture, click the icon on your desktop (see Figure 1.1), or choose Start > All Programs > Autodesk > Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012 > Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012 (see Figure 1.2). 2. After you start Revit, you see the Recent Files window shown in Figure 1.3. The top row lists any projects you've been working on; the bottom row lists any families you've been working on. 3. If you're firing up Revit for the first time, both of these rows will be blank. At the bottom of each row, you can choose to create a new model or open an existing one (see Figure 1.4). 4. In the upper-left corner of the Revit window, you'll see a big purple R. This is commonly known as the Application Icon. Click the purple R, and choose New > Project. 5. The New Project dialog shown in Figure 1.5 opens. You can use the default template or no template, or you can create a new template by clicking the Project Template radio button. (We'll cover template creation later in the book.) For now, just click OK to create a new project using the default template. You don't need to alter anything in this dialog.

Now that the task of physically opening the application is out of the way, we can delve into Revit. At first, you'll notice many differences between Revit and CAD. Some of these differences may be off-putting, while others will make you say "I wish AutoCAD did that." Either way, you'll have to adjust to a new workflow.

The Revit Workflow

Revit has a certain feel that you AutoCAD converts will need to get a grasp on. This new workflow may be easy for some to adapt to, whereas others will find it excruciatingly foreign. (To be honest, I found the latter to be the case at first.) Either way, it's a simple concept. You just need to slow down a bit from your AutoCAD habits.

Executing a command in Revit is a three-step process:

1. At the top of the Revit window is the Ribbon, and built into the Ribbon is a series of tabs. Each tab contains a panel. This Ribbon will be your Revit launch pad! Speaking of launch pad, click the Wall button on the Home tab, as shown in Figure 1.6. 2. After you click the Wall button, notice that Revit adds an additional tab to the Ribbon, with options specific to the command you're running, as shown in Figure 1.7. This tab allows you to make different choices based on the placement of a wall. You may also notice that Revit places an additional Options bar below the Ribbon for more choices. 3. After you make your choices from the Ribbon and the Options bar, you can place the object into the view window. This is the large drawing area that takes up two-thirds of the Revit interface. To place the wall, simply pick a point in the window and move your pointer. The wall starts to form. You can press the Esc key to exit the command.

Using Revit isn't generally as easy as this, but keep in mind this basic threestep process:

1. Start a command.

2. Choose an option from the temporary tab that appears.

3. Place the item in the view window.

Revit appears to offer a fraction of the choices and functionality that AutoCAD or any drafting program offers. This is true in a way. Revit does offer fewer choices to start a command, but how many choices does an architect or architectural designer need?

Revit keeps its functionality focused on architecture and construction. Revit gets its robust performance from the dynamic capabilities of the application during the placement of the items and the functionality of the objects after you place them in the model. Never judge a book by its cover—unless, of course, it's the book you're reading right now.

Let's keep going with the main focus of the Revit interface: the Ribbon. You'll be using the Ribbon exclusively within Revit.

Using the Ribbon

You'll use the Ribbon for the majority of the commands you execute in Revit. As you can see, you don't have much choice to do otherwise. However, this is good because it narrows your attention to what is right in front of you.

When you click an icon on the Ribbon, Revit will react to that icon with a new tab, giving you the specific additional commands and options you need. Revit also keeps the existing tabs that can help you in the current command, as shown in Figure 1.8. Again, the focus here is on keeping your eyes in one place.

In this book, I'll throw a few new terms at you, but you'll get familiar with them quickly. We just discussed the Ribbon, but mostly you'll be directed to choose a tab and to find a panel on that tab.

To keep the example familiar, when you select the Wall button, your instructions will read: "On the Build panel of the Home tab, click the Wall button."

Now that you can see how the Ribbon and the tabs flow together, let's look at another feature within the Ribbon panels that allows you to reach beyond the immediate Revit interface.

The Properties Interface

When you click the Wall button, a new set of commands appears. This new set of commands combines your basic Modify commands with a tab specific to your immediate process. In this case, that process is adding a wall.

You'll also notice that a Properties dialog appears to the left of the screen. If you don't see the Properties dialog, click the Properties icon that is displayed in Figure 1.9. The Properties dialog shows a picture of the wall you're about to place. If you click this picture, Revit will display all the walls that are available within the model. This display is called the Change Element Type menu (see Figure 1.10).

The objective of the next exercise is to start placing walls into the model:

1. Open Revit Architecture using the default template (you may be imperial or metric). 2. On the Home tab, click the Wall button. 3. In the Properties dialog, select Exterior - Brick and CMU On MTL.Stud.

Element Properties

There are two different sets of properties in Revit: Instance Properties and Type Properties. Instance Properties will be available immediately in the Properties dialog when you place or select an item. If you make a change to an element property, the only items that are affected in the model are the items you've selected.

The Properties Dialog

The Properties dialog was new to Revit Architecture 2011. As just mentioned, the Properties dialog will display the Instance Properties of the item you've selected. If no item is selected, this dialog will display the View Properties.

In addition to accessing the Instance Properties, you can click the Edit Type button to open a dialog displaying the Type Properties of the selected item (see Figure 1.11). By making a modification here, you'll change every occurrence of that item in the entire model.

Let's take a closer look at the two categories of Element Properties in Revit.

Instance Properties

The items that you can edit immediately are called parameters, or Instance Properties. These parameters will change only the object being added to the model at this time. Also, if you select an item that has already been placed in the model, the parameters you see immediately in the Instance Properties dialog will change only that item you've selected. This makes sense—not all items are built equally in the real world. Figure 1.12 illustrates the Instance Properties of a typical wall.

Type Properties

The Type Properties (see Figure 1.13), when edited, will alter every item of that type in the entire model. To access the Type Properties, click the Edit Type button in the Properties dialog, as Figure 1.14 shows.

At this point, you have two choices. You can either make a new wall type (leaving this specific wall unmodified) by clicking the Duplicate button, or you can start editing the wall's Type Properties, as shown in Figure 1.15.

WARNING I can't stress enough that if you start modifying Type Properties without duplicating the type, you need to do so in a very deliberate manner. You can easily affect the model in unintended ways. We'll discuss the specifics of all the wall's Type Properties in Chapter 16, "Advanced Wall Topics."

Now that you've gained experience with the Type Properties dialog, it's time to go back and study the Options bar as it pertains to placing a wall:

1. Because we're only exploring the Element Properties, click the Cancel button to return to the model. 2. Back in the Options bar, find the Location Line menu. Through this menu, you can set the wall justification. Select Finish Face: Exterior (see Figure 1.16). 3. On the Options bar, be sure the Chain check box is selected, as Figure 1.16 shows. This will allow you to draw the walls continuously. 4. The Draw panel has a series of sketch options. Because this specific wall is straight, make sure the Line button is selected, as shown in Figure 1.17.

Get used to studying the Ribbon and the Options bars—they will be your crutch as you start using Revit Architecture! Of course, at some point you need to physically begin placing items in the model. This is where the view window comes into play.

The View Window

To put it simply, "the big white area where the objects go" is the view window. As a result of your actions, this area will become populated with your model. Notice the background is white—this is because the sheets you plot on are white. In Revit, what you see is what you get ... literally. Revit's line weights are driven by the object, not by the layer. In Revit, you aren't counting on color #5, which is blue, for example, to be a specific line width when you plot. You can immediately see the thickness that all your "lines" will be before you plot (see Figure 1.18). What a novel idea.

To continue placing some walls in the model, keep going with the exercise. (If you haven't been following along, you can start by clicking the Wall button on the Home tab. In the Properties dialog box, select Exterior - Brick And CMU On MTL.Stud. Make sure the wall is justified to the finish face exterior.) You may now proceed:

1. With the Wall command still running and the correct wall type selected, position your cursor in a location similar to the illustration in Figure 1.19. Now, pick a point in the view window. 2. With the first point picked, move your cursor to the left. Notice that a two things happen: the wall seems to snap in a horizontal plane, and a blue dashed line apparently locks the horizontal position. In Revit, there is no Ortho. Revit aligns the typical compass increments to 0, 90, 180, 270, and 45 degrees. 3. Also notice the blue dimension extending from the first point to the last point. Although dimensions can't be typed over, this type of dimension is a temporary dimension for you to use as you place items. Type 100 (30000mm), and press the Enter key. (Notice you didn't need to type the foot mark ('). Revit thinks in terms of feet or millimeters. The wall is now 100' (30000mm) long (see Figure 1.19). 4. With the Wall command still running, move your cursor straight up from the endpoint of your 100'-long wall. Look at Figure 1.20. 5. Type 80 (24000mm), and press Enter. You now have two walls. 6. Move your cursor to the right until you run into another blue alignment line. Notice that your temporary dimension says 100'-0" (30000mm). Revit understands symmetry. After you see this alignment line, and the temporary dimension says 100'-0" (30000mm), pick this point. 7. Move your cursor straight down, type 16 (4800mm), and press Enter. 8. Move your cursor to the right, type 16 (4800mm), and press Enter. 9. Press the Esc key.

Do your walls look like Figure 1.21? If not, try it again. You need to be comfortable with this procedure (as much as possible).

To get used to the Revit flow, always remember these three steps:

1. Start a command. 2. Focus on your options. 3. Move to the view window, and add the elements to the model.

If you start a command and then focus immediately on the view, you'll be sitting there wondering what to do next. Don't forget to check your Options bar and the appropriate Ribbon tab.

Let's keep going and close this building by using a few familiar commands. If you've never drafted on a computer before, don't worry. These commands are simple. The easiest but most important topic is simply how to select an object.


Excerpted from "Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012: No Experience Required" by Eric Wing. Copyright © 0 by Eric Wing. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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