How Revit Network Version Works

There seems to be a misunderstanding of how Revit (well all Autodesk products for that matter) runs in a network environment but it’s really quite a simple process. 

Understand that CADD programs are too large and to processor intensive to run across your network as they would grind all network traffic to a halt, therefore CADD programs need to be installed on the users local computer & not on the server.  There is a very small program that sits on the server and sends a tiny file to each users computer to track license checkout status.  When determining the number of licensed seats a company needs to purchase the question is not how many users we have corporately but rather how many users need to be running the software concurrently.

This means that you may actually deploy 10 installations throughout your CADD department but only purchase 8 network licenses.  While all 10 machines are capable to run the software only 8 may be in use concurrently.

Architectural Modeling

I loved this tutorial on the area, so I don’t lose it for myself I’m posting it here – THIS IS NOT MY WORK.  it is from Juan Siquier


In this tutorial I will go through my usual workflow with simple steps (trying to make it as simple as possible), to build a scene from preparation phase of the project (Pre-Pro) to the final render. As usual, I’m using 3D Studio Max for the modeling, mapping and lighting, and Photoshop/Bodypaint for texturing-based off the great 3D Total collection of textures.
A good habit from the start is to create a special folder for the project, another subfolder for the textures and another for the references. Another advice (I always do it) is to print one of the references so you can look at it, whenever you go to bed or a bathroom break – in this print I usually write some notes and ideas to help me reach the final image.

I start with the modeling by extruding the floor of the building, then I make cuts on the geometry with the “slice plane” tool or also the “cut” tool, and then I extrude in negative to make the windows. Each time I finish the modeling of one of the elements, I also finish the UV mapping. I don’t like to accumulate the UV mapping for the end. A few paragraphs below, I will explain briefly my technique for mapping.
In this kind of symmetrical building, it’s very useful to apply the “symmetry” modifier because this way, we can save a lot of time and work since this guarantees the perfect positioning of windows on both sides.
If the composition of the reference picture satisfies me, I usually lay the 3D model over the picture as perfectly as possible – this way I can fix proportion issues. Using the hotkey “Alt X”, I can make the object transparent to make the overlaying process easier.
For the antennas and cables I usually model it with renderable splines, making sure that I’ve activated the automatic mapping. I also watch my poly count, as I know from experience that a cable of 4 spans is enough if it’s going to be seen from a medium/far distance.
The trees at the bottom of the picture were made using Onix Tree Pro. Only the visible parts were modeled… in other words, they are incomplete trees.

For some reason I found it more simple to deform the bird neck with some bones, and a skin modifier. With this approach, I could move the bones in an interactive way to decide the final pose of the animal (always use the rendering camera, so it has more strength in the composition).

The mapping is without a doubt the heaviest and most boring process when it comes to creating the scene. It is a necessary, but not too creative process. Also the UV maps are not something spectacular to show around saying “Hey check out my cool UV map”. But in the long run, uvmapping is more like a puzzle game (it has its charm). To describe briefly my mapping process, you just have a few simple rules:
1 – You should not have overlapping UVs EVER.
2 – The checker map we put on the object has to represent perfect even squares.
3 – The objects in the UVeditor should have the same proportion as the ones in the scene.
4 – Make sure the orientation of the object is correct in the UVmap editor.
5 – It is convenient to optimize the space inside the map.
A good way to begin the mapping, is using planar maps to unfold the object and then stitch the individual pieces together, also you could equally stitch the pieces from automatic mapping. I’ve assigned the hotkey”S” for “stitch”, where I can select an edge, and hit “S” and stitch pieces together really fast. Always remember that if you put a lot of effort into the UVmapping, it will be less likely to have problems ahead once we’ve painted the textures in Photoshop.
Once I have all geometry modeled and mapped, I bake the Mental Ray ambient oclussion map. Usually I end up using that map as a dirt map. This map is very very important because I use it as a base to fake the GI, reflection masks, specularity masks and transparencey masks, (when it comes to crystals and windows). The aforementioned “baking” can be done with the “render to texture” in Max7, which is finally compatible with Mental Ray
Ok! Let’s think for a moment that we don’t want or we don’t know how to bake the ambient oclussion map (maybe you don’t have Max7) what we can do is use it on the diffuse level slot of an ONB shader (making the roughness 0)
We can combine the layers in Photoshop – underneath color > then the baked AO > in “multiply” mode and in top > “screen” mode the capture of the UVmapping which we can obtain thanks to the free plugin Texporter.

The next task is to include the textures that I have chosen from the 3DTotal collection, in the mentioned layer of color, make them overlay with UVmap captured from Texporter. Normally I also use photographic maps in grayscale which you can find in TotalTextures Volume 5. Include these layers on a top layer so you can multiply them. Naturally you have to make a lot of touch ups with the Photoshop brushes by hand, so you can paint non-mathematic dirt, cracks, and the like. I also highly recommend a graphic tablet – I use a Wacom Intuous 2 A5.

It is very tough to make the textures overlay perfectly with the model if you don’t have good continuity on the UVs. What I mean by this is that if the UVs do not have seams, you could always use Bodypaint so you can paint directly into your model or use the clone stamp as well. I usually bring the model to Bodypaint to make the final touches adding dirt in those places where the math calculation of AO does not happen.. for example, the oxide rake that leaves the rain under iron elements.

To light the scene I decided to use a target spot light very far away from the models with area shadows, using a yellowish-orangish color. I activate the ambient lighting on Vray with a little bit of blue color, and as well, I activated the GI with some predefined values (I think “High” preset) on the irradiance map.
Usually, I model the shadow casters with the help of the “light” viewport (Shift+$) so the shadows are projected exactly in the desired place.


Finally I start the render at 3000 px resolution and adjust little details in Photoshop like levels, and a couple of brush strokes in the sky as a “final touch”. Generally I condition all the work so as a result, it’s closer to an illustration where the focus is the beauty of the form and color instead of an accurate representation of the building.
All the textures of this image were taken from the huge colection of total textures of 3D Total – the color maps, the bricks, wood and concrete as well as the dirt maps.
I hope that this has been useful in helping you to make old buildings. I find it really enjoyable so I hope that you’ve enjoyed it too.

3D Scene Assets

The intent of rendering within Revit has always been for design validation as opposed to those emotional marketing type of images.  That being said Revit does have the ability to produce some pretty impressive visualization images.  Design validation images while they can be of an impressive quality tend to be lacking a sense of being “lived in”, the problem is that all of the little extras like dinner plates, fruit bowls, pictures, magazines… all increase the computing power required to process the scene and this is where Revit has a problem.  It is after all a little much to expect that your BIM solution complete with it’s data rich building components also be able to add in all those extra high poly models without slowing down the software.  So for a design intent visualization image these little extras are better left out and as a result the images tend to have a sterile feel.

This is where 3D Max comes in.  Revit exports to the FBX format which is intended to be imported into Max and will maintain all the material settings from Revit so all that is required is the addition of all the little extras.  (Unconfirmed rumours are that Max 2013 will open .RVT files directly.)

So your looking for scene assets to enhance your visualizations, of course we all want them for free, free is the right price!  I’ll list a number of sites I’ve used in the past to gather those little extras.

Just a word of warning the old saying “you get what you pay for” is still true in the world of BIM.  Also be sure you know where you can use your newly acquired assets, most publishers will have something like the following:

1. This 3D model is provided “as is”, entirely at your own risk.
2. We don’t accept any claims regarding quality of this model or any standards conformity.
3. This model may be used in any commercial way only if it is a part of artwork or project. 4. Single reselling or redistribution of this model is prohibited.
5. This model may (or may not – really watch out for this one) be freely modified or elaborated.

The basic ways of use are 3D Visualisation, Interior Design, Architectural Visualisation, Landscape Design, 3D Animation and 3D Art.

TurboSquid TurboSquid Free Assets DLegend
3D Extras Archive 3D 3D Model Free
3DM3 Exchange 3D Wirecase
Mr.Furniture Top 3D Models Archibase
ShareCG 3D Allusions 3D Auto Club

These last few links are some extra’s you might be interested in as well:

3D Total (Free texture resource)

The Blueprints

Onno van Braam

Steps to Design Visualization

Cooking your first Design Visualization

by Eddie Perlberg


What is the final deliverable?  As each scenario has unique challenges it is important to understand the scope required.  Are we looking to create a walkthrough / flyby, still images or interactive environment, colour or texture investigation or are we trying to tell a story.  Visualization can be done using a variety of software packages

In application visualizations such as AutoCAD & AutoCAD architecture, inventor, & Revit are intended to produce design validation.  (Having said that I have been able to produce some very acceptable results using just Revit & windows live movie maker and a little creativity.)

Autodesk Showcase creates an immersive interactive turntable type environment while Autodesk 3ds max produces emotional ultra high end emotional visualizations & full animations.

gathering the visualization parts

Always create a storyboard to help understand what other models will be required, any background images and any other information that is required such as weather data or .ies lighting files.

Adding other models add embellishments help to “sell” the effect of the final built environment.  The same is true for background images & material images.  IES files produce accurate light patterns for proper lighting analysis.  These areas are where 3ds max shines as a purpose built software over the in application results.

assembly in 3ds max

  1. Export .fbx or .dwg from AutoCAD or Revit.
  2. Link the exported projectfile into 3ds max to allow for updates.
  3. Import any additional models to in-fill the built environment.
  4. Add any particle systems in 3ds max.
  5. Apply any animations.
  6. Render final results.

Click here for Autodesk Design Visualization Tips & Tricks

Click here for 3ds max tutorials from Autodesk

Click here for 3ds max tutorials on YouTube

FBX File Size

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything but I’ve been quite busy and these days & that’s a good problem to have!

I saw this topic at the Autodesk Revit Architecture Services & Support RSS feed I subscribe to and I thought it would be good to point it out since renders are becoming more & more important:


You want to know why the size of an FBX file exported from Revit® is larger than the original Revit RVT file.


The original Revit file does not contain the same data as the FBX file. Revit scene file information is based on Revit-specific construction information obtained from the Revit software and is more view-specific in nature.

When this data is exported as an FBX file, it is converted to complex FBX scene information based on geometric data, such as vertex coordinates, UVs, and material data, which is embedded in the FBX file…