Friday, November 4, 2016

Do's and don't of architectural drafting

For the practice where I am working, here are the do's, in no particular order:
1. All text must be left justified.
2. Any abbreviations used, must be used consistently. Eg Extg. for existing.
3. Leaders, notes, must have room to breathe, ie do not cramp things together too tightly.
4. No "fly dirt". That would be say putting a piece of text on a wall, so it is obscured.
5. A group of leaders with their text shall have the text aligned to a common vertical line.
6. Line types used in the legend shall match those in the drawing.
7. The floor plan shall have a view "wheel" so the elevations can be tied back to the floor plan.
8. With this wheel, the elevation view 1 shall be of the front of the house.
9. The views shall step around the house in an anticlockwise manner, so elevation 2 will be of the right hand side of the house.
10. If you do a print, before giving it to the boss, imagine you are are him and inspect your work, on paper carefully, before presenting it to him.
11. Do not have bricks above a garage door! Easily done when all you are thinking, let's hatch this wall.
12. Related dimension witness lines shall connect with each other.
13. For elevations,  nearer parts shall have heavier lines.
14. Before issuing drawings, a checklist must be completed.

That is all I can think of, as far as "do's" are concerned.

The don'ts are pretty much the reverse of the above.

I have been given permission to do a house in Revit, but I have indicated that before I do, I will need to arrange two items: a new title block for use in Revit, and some windows that have a brick sill.

I'm looking forward to this as drawing house after house in 2D is getting a bit tiresome.

Happy drafting!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Rendering in Revit

Lately I have been doing some rendering jobs on the side, not a lucrative exercise (one job costed out around $10/hr), but keeps my Revit skills being exercised and the rendering part is fairly minor.

After my reinstall of Windows 7, although I could now use the Suite Workflow, I chose not to as it was  much easier and faster just to render within Revit.  This is probably an indication of my lack of experience with 3D Max Design than a desirable workflow, as the results, which I would say were not fantastic.  But, hey, I'm cheap!

One of the jobs was for a large number of townhouses on one big site, something I had never attempted before.  It seemed to work out in the end though.

This was for a Real Estate man, who was trying to sell off plans, which were actually done in some 3D package, but their renders must have been on the expensive side. One of their renders was so good I thought it was a photo. Hmmf!

Still, people want an idea of what they are buying, and to that end I did a lot of views with walls removed, especially as these units were up to 3 stories high and side by side, ie terrace houses.

So every unit had a helicopter view using Showcase, with walls removed, as in:

Here are some renders of the complex:

The next job was for a free standing house:

The inner views were done using Revit, which if you choose 300 dpi and Best will take around 2 hours rendering time. The inner view showing the man in is suffering from over exposure of the outside, which if I had photoshop could be corrected, but I was fairly pleased with the interior shots.

There is a man, Andrew Price, who came up in a google search regarding rendering, naming the 13 Deadly Sins of Architectural Rendering.  It seems I am guilty of a few of these, but as he says, you have to look up how to do photography to do good renders.  

Here is his link:

One of the Revit render drawbacks is the sky, and he seems to address this problem by using HDRI Sky, which is essentially a dome shaped background that emits light, so your renders come out a little more realistically.  You can have this in 3DS Max, but not in Revit, as far as I know. In a previous post I showed a render using an HDRI Sky, but as I use it only rarely, it has me going back to a tutorial on how to get it going.

Just to be complicated, he uses a thing called Blender, which is basically a thing like 3DS Max, but is free to download. 

This set me off looking at his other videos, and one thing he does do is offer cut down versions of add-ons that he has made, so I downloaded a thing called ProSkies, which gives you 3 HDRI skies to try. 

After downloading and installing Blender, trying this out proved that I did not have a handle on how to use Blender.  So back to Youtube for some more free tutorials on Blender.  Andrew has done some free ones, but sells a full tutorial set as well.

I did manage to import an FBX model, but the materials did not come through from Revit, so things looked a bit ugly as in:

Typcial of my problems with blender is I cannot see the button that says "Save this image", so I used the Windows snipping tool to do this one. The colours are me playing around with materials.

Blender has infuriating little short cuts that you have to know, otherwise nothing happens.  There is no better option for a beginning user than a good tutorial on Youtube.

To this end, you could look at a series by Jacob Lewis:

You might think, why are you mucking around with a free program when you have paid for 3D Sudio Max?  The answer is I find 3D Studio Max difficult to use, which is really not  the fault of 3DSudio Max, but of myself learning new tricks!

After seeing Andrew Price's renders I thought it might be fun to give Blender a try. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

2 Good things Revit can do.....

In my continuing struggle to justify moving to 3D from 2D, Revit had couple of small winning points the other day.

I have been pecking away when I have time at home on a small renovation job, which I had been previously messing with at work.

One of the tasks was to put in a small stair.  The problem was to actually see what was going on, and luckily I remembered the 3D sectioning tick box.

Tick this and you can see what is happening quite easily. Please note this is still work in progress.

The other was a porch over the old front door.  Yes, the door was removed, but in 2D land the porch stayed behind. Not noticed among all the other goings on, but immediately obvious upon rolling the model round in 3D for a look.

This is the Autocad flat view of the same part, as existing:

The note is one I have just added.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Windows 10 with 3DS Max and Is Revit any good?

To get your Revit model into 3ds Max is a bit of a trick.

Previously, I would save it as an fbx file and open 3dsmax and then use the "architectural" option to load my file.

Almost every time, this resulted in poor renderings and lots of stuffing around.

The for some reason I happened upon someone who had inside knowledge on this: apparently there is an option under the corner button (top left hand), choose Suite Workflow, then choose exterior rendering. That is, until you upgrade to Windows 10.....

I decided to finally put Windows 10 on my PC, and this worked out ok, as Revit and Autocad still worked well, if not better than before.

Unfortunately, the above technique resulted in the following error message on linking to 3DS Max:

"Autodesk.Max.Wrappers.dll encountered an error while loading."

After a lot of blind alleys later, I could not fix it. so I uninstalled Windows 10.  Three days later, I turned on my PC and wandered off to watch TV and came back to find Windows 10 installing itself!

Looks like I'm stuck with Windows 10!  Having got a bit grumpy about not being asked, I can say that I like the look and speed of it, even if it is a little flat coloured compared to Windows 7.

It still has most of the familiar stuff in sensible places so seems easy to get around in.
Anyway, a little digging and I have found a thing that did work:  Just change the 3dsmax.ini file: just one line to look for:


Set the 1 to a 0 and save.  Job done, works fine now!

The Youtube video has no words and seems to imply you need to fiddle around with your video card at the start, but about half way in it shows how to change the ini file.  I just did the ini file and it worked fine.

Thanks to Vazha Gelashvili, and his/her Youtube video, here is the link:

This makes an amazing difference!  Just press Render and off it goes.

Another trick is to take the resulting image and open it in Microsoft Picture Manager and choose autobrighten. Again, a big difference.

On the front of "is Revit any good, or have we all been conned?", I have found a blog by someone who uses a lot of naughty language to put forward his point that it is a disaster.  Makes interesting reading, but he is an electrical engineer/draftsman, so he mainly has to deal with Revit files that sound not too well done, so does this make Revit a good thing to stay away from?

Here is his link, which if you are offended by bad language, I advise not to visit:

I am still trying to get a handle on the answer to "is Revit any good?".  It occurred to me last week that most of what I do is documentation. There is one job that I just cannot seem to get out from under on.  About 2 weeks so far:  the plan, elevations, site plan were all drawn by someone else before me, so all I had to organize were the sections, roof plan, foundation plan and floor framing plan.

This is just a fairly simple renovation job on a two story house.  Then all the details.  Still not finished, so I can imagine another day or two on this one.  It feels like having Revit would make no difference in the documentation end of things.  Maybe?

One thing I did do that I found quite neat the other day was drawing a deck next to a round swimming pool. Just arrange a beam system for the deck boards and job done. This would have take ages in standard Autocad.

More research required.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Which is faster? Autocad LT or Revit? The results are in!

This is an identical post to one posted on my Autocad Blog, which is:

 Might make a Reviteer feel a bit better about paying a lot more for Revit compared to Autocad LT.

You would hope this result is a reflection of the prices of Autocad LT and Revit, which is that at the time of writing, Autocad LT is Australian $530/year, and it seems they do not sell Revit by itself, but comes in a Revit Collaboration Suite, which is Australian $3,515/year, which presumably includes full Autocad. This seems to be borne out by the results.

A point worth remembering is that with the building suite, you now have the ability to do 3D renderings, videos and so on, which should result in happier customers.

Here is an example:

The results are:

Autocad LT : 2.5 hours

Revit: 1.5 hours

Proof can be viewed at.

I came across as a bit of a novice user occasionally, so in the hands of an experienced user, you would expect an even quicker time.

Still, drafting is not all about creation of geometry, as I am finding in my job that the focus is not so much on the drawing as on the annotations.  I would prefer Autocad to do 2D annotations, but this could be my lack of familiarity with the Revit detailing options, which do have all sorts of nick nacks, for example to draw insulation, you just pick two points and there it is.

This is the rough output from Revit:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

House Competitions and Swimming Pools

Bit busy here in Misty Lakes (we have a cat called Misty and a pond out the back of the section).

In a fit of something I decided to enter an Architectural Competition. The brief (which hopefully will stay up for a while) is at

Drawn in Revit because I like torturing myself.  Made it a round house for the same reason.

Then I had an actual paying job fiddling around with a glass swimming pool railing.  

This I did in Autocad and as a free extra I investigated the idea of doing a rendering of it.
Autocad: looked awful.  3DStudio Max: Could not seem to separate out stuff to get materials to latch onto.  So I made an FBX file of it and whipped it into Revit.  Success! Well, not huge quality, but not too bad. Really pleased with how the pool water actually looked something like it should.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Revit Rendering

Just gone into panic mode, trying desperately to get a good interior render from ANY software.
Preferably one I have paid for!

I did a try using Twinmotion, looking in vain for the right settings to improve the quality and finding none.  It is fast though.  Here is a sample done using Twinmotion:

  After much fluffing around, I have come to this conclusion:

1. Revit does not seem to be good at exterior renders.  This could be me not knowing the right buttons to push, though.

2. Revit is the one to use for interior renders.  Yup, even if you have 3D Studio Max!
Here is the evidence, again, is it that Revit has less buttons to press, so I have less chance of stuffing it up?

This is the Revit one:

This is the 3Dstudio Max one.

In the process of setting up the model, I trolled the net in vain for a "fancy" coffee table as shown in one of the customer's photos.
So I made my own one in Autocad and slung it into Revit.  Oh joy: it works well!
Another 5 minutes to make a bowl in Autocad, then a picture for the wall.  The little mirrored cabinet also modeled in Autocad and materials were applied to it.

Then I thought to download a trial copy of Corel Photopaint, which lasts for 30 days.

Unlike, I found I could leap into a photo of some cushions, cut them out and stick them in the rendered image fairly easily. I had a copy of Photopaint years ago and found things had not changed much.  I do like the 2015 one and if I get more work might buy it.

Then I had a rush of blood to the head (must be Wed morning badminton!), and thought: Have I tried dear old Autocad for a render of the Revit model?

My first thought was to import an FBX model.  This is ok, but no materials showing.  Then an export from Revit to a dwg file.

This was better, but all the material names got renamed to numbers in the process, and were not applied to the right items.

Anyway, hours later I ran out of patience with it. I can see that it might be a possibility if you had enough patience.  A bit weird as some glass came through from Revit. Note: the tiles on the underside of the roof!

Here is the Autocad pic: