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Conceptual Massing Families in Revit - Part 2

Guide to Conceptual Massing Families in Revit – Part 2

This second video in the series reviews some of the subtle nuances of creating geometry in the conceptual mass editor and how you align lock sub-elements to your framework to get the desired effect from your parameters.

This is a transcription of the above video by Travis Van Clieaf.

Model Category

OK so I’ll get started here in the Level 1 view and what I’m going to do now is click on my ‘model category’. So, when I check ‘model category’ what I’m going to be creating are model lines and you can see that the placement plane is set to level 1. That’s going to be where the bottom of this mass exists. I’m just going to click on the rectangle tool so I can get these all done at once and I’m going to go to where these planes intersect. I’m going to click at the top-right intersection and just drag it down to the bottom-left. By using a rectangle tool and drawing that in I get all four lock constraints at once. Now I can click these 4 locks and essentially I have enough now to create this mass.

Now I’m going to create another shape at the top. We could simply go to 3D view now and select these model lines and say ‘create form‘ and we just get a simple extrusion. Alternatively, I can go back here to ‘model’ click on ‘pick lines’ and instead of choosing ‘reference plane level one’ I’m going to use the reference plane ‘top’ that I’ve created and named. So now if I click on any of these lines you can see I get a temporary dash blue line to tell me where it’s going to be. So just to make this a little more interesting I’m going to put in an offset of 7ft. So, I’m clicking over these lines and just to make sure I’m getting the right side of this line, I’m going to use an orthographic view in the 3D view just so that I know where I’m clicking these two.

Now that I’ve got those lines in place, I’ll switch back to an isometric view and you can see I’ve got these two rectangles and I’m just going to hit ‘escape’. You’ll notice there’s a slight difference here in the ‘conceptual modeling’ editor. When I select a group of lines by clicking on just one of them, I get the entire chain. So, I’m going to grab the top chain, hold down control and select the bottom as well. Now if I click on ‘create form’ and choose ‘solid form’, I’m going to get that tapered form that I’ve got.

I know that this top is the top of my form but it should be align locked. If I switch to an elevation view and click ‘show constraints’ at the bottom of my screen, I can see it’s not. I can tell that I’ve got a burgundy line here that’s align locked on the bottom. So, what I’m going to do is hit ‘AL’ or use the ‘align’ tool from ‘modify’ tools and just select that reference plane. Then I’m going to hover over that line and you can see that when I hover over the top face of my mass, it’s telling me that it’s a form element and it’s a surface. So, I know that I’m getting the right geometry. I click on the lock and then go back to my 3D view and I’ll test out my framework again. I’m going to go back up to the ‘Family Types’ button to flex out my parameters. It brings up a dialog box that’s got the parameters that I’ve created. I’ve got height, length, and width in here. I’m going to make my width 80 feet and I’m going to make the length 120. And then for the height, let’s make that 56.

OK so you’ll notice that I didn’t enter any feet symbols there – I just typed in the number. If I did need to get it in inches, I would go back in here and type in 56 foot (‘) 6 and then I don’t need to worry about the inches sign because I put the foot (‘) in. But if I needed six and a half then I would put a space and a half (1/2) and then inches (“). Now we’ll hit apply on this and we can see we’ve got some strange geometry here.

So, let me just hit ‘OK’ and I’m going to move in here and see what’s going on with this. So, the reason why I’m getting a tapered form here, something that we didn’t quite expect, is because of these edges. These faces didn’t get align locked to the planes, only the edges that we created them from. OK so if I need those faces instead and I don’t want a tapered form, I’m going to go back and just take care of this. I’m not going to undo it. There’s another feature that we can use to basically deconstruct this mass. So, you’ll notice that right now I’m hovering over any of these faces or these edges I can select them. Right so if I grab this I get a gimbal that I can stretch this out or I can go to a specific point and make the change as well with the gimbal. These aren’t exclusive to just moving with the gimbal. We can grab these sub elements and we can use modification tools like ‘rotate’ on them. So, if we put that in you can see that skewed this whole form.

OK so now I’ll go back and just flatten this out a little bit. And what I’m going to do is hit ‘tab’ and what that does is it selects the entire form. And when I get the entire form, you see my ribbon extends as well and there’s a host of other tools that I can use like ‘adding an edge’. So, if I add an edge basically it’s going to put another line segment in there for me. To add that edge, all I’m doing is just putting my cursor on one of these boundary lines. From there, you can select these and start creating more complex forms.

Let’s go back to that regular shape. I’ll grab the entire mass again. Then we’ve got this other one called ‘add profile’. So, if I need another horizontal plane then I’m basically just hovering over the surface and placing it where I need it to be. And then by going in and grabbing these horizontal lines, we can grab that vertical line and then move it up or we can grab an individual line segment and move that out, which will give me that nice curve.

I don’t want any curves in this right now. I just want something like a simple box to start laying out some schematic design. So, I’m going to grab the entire form and just hit ‘dissolve’. What ‘dissolve’ will do is to turn this back into the four profiles that ended up being that loft. So, I’m going to remove the two centre ones and I’m just going to grab this bottom guy and hit create form and get that box again. If I switch back to an orthographic view, you can see I’ve got my top reference plane. I’ll hit ‘align’ again and get that locked up.

And then in the isometric view I’m just going to switch that back and I’ve got these other reference planes that I need to get attached to these faces. OK so I’m going to hit ‘align’ again and then grab a reference and then hit the face. And you can see this dashed blue line comes across to say ‘hey you’ve just aligned this face to that reference plane’. But I need to lock it so that my parameters work for me. So, I’m going to do that three more times. That should be all you need to do to get this fully flexible with the parametrics.

So, move that to the side and open the ‘family types’ dialogue again. Now you can see I’m going to switch these back so 56 feet. Length, I want it to be 120 and the width, I want it to be 80. So, if I hit apply you can see that my entire cube or my rectangle here has decreased with those sizes that I put in.

There’s one more thing before we get out of here. You might want to create a material to help you with your schematics so that you can name it according to a usage or a space type. Another thing that I’m going to do is to come up to my ‘family types’ dialogue again and then I’m going to create a new parameter from here for the material. I’m going to call this one ‘usage material’ or ‘mass usage’ maybe we should be specific. We’re going to make this an instance because when we place this into the project I might have multiple masses and I’m going to want to use them for different things.

So, you can see here, this time by creating the parameter from this dialog box, ‘discipline’ and ‘type of parameter’ aren’t grayed out. I’m going to leave the discipline as ‘common’ but the type of parameter I don’t want this to be ‘length’. I want this to be a ‘material’. By changing that to ‘material’, it moves the group parameter under ‘materials and finish’. And I’m fine with that so I’m going to hit ‘OK’. And now you can see I’ve got a mass usage material, which is set ‘by category’. So, I’ll hit ‘OK’ on that for now.

What I want to do is grab either the entire mass form or maybe one specific face. So right now, if I select just that one specific face you can see there’s instance parameters for that sub-element, which I can change or by hitting tab I can grab the entire mass and then assign this category through the instance parameters for the entire solid.

What I’m going to do now is click on this button right here that says ‘associate family parameter’. We can enter this parameter in here but I don’t want to do that. I want to be able to associate it so that in the project I can change these materials for every single form that I put in here. So, I click on this button and you can see that material parameter that I created is sitting right here. I hit ‘OK’ and I think we’re pretty much ready to go.

Void Geometry

Let me just put in another rectangle, and I’m going to set my reference plane to be the top here this time. So, whatever I draw now is going to be on that plane which is essentially the top plane. But what I’m drawing is going to be relative to the top of the form not the reference plane it’s attached to. So, I’m going to put in another rectangle here.

I’m just going to use the ‘pick lines’ option again and I’m going to make this one 20 feet. Then use that ‘pick lines’ option to come in here and put four more lines in. So now when I grab these line segments, I’m going to say ‘create form’ but this time I’m going to use the ‘void form’. And you can see these lines are orange. When I select this form, or I don’t really have to select it, I just have to let it finish what it’s doing. You can see it’s removed that geometry. By selecting the bottom of that geometry I can use this z axis and push it all the way down. It should snap into place and you can see it’s given me an align lock there. With that said, we could put four more reference planes in here, call those ‘atrium void’ or whatever you want. I’m not going to leave that in there. I just wanted to let you see how easy it is to put the void geometry in here and start carving out from this initial mass.

So I’m going to hit the tab again a couple times and then just grab that void mass and hit delete. I don’t want to actually have that space in there for the time being.


OK so now that that’s done I’m going to hit the big ‘R’ at the top and hit ‘save as family’ and I’m just going to save this to my desktop as ‘conceptual mass schematic’.
I’m going to load this into the project now. I’m going to leave it open so I’m going to click ‘load into the project’ and what happens now, is you can see that I’ve got this square and it’s just asking me ‘where do you want to place this?’. I’m going to place two of them side by side, with a bit of space in between. So now I’ve got two instances of this one mass family.

PART 3 of 3 is coming soon!

Autodesk Subscription Roles - Making the Most of Your Autodesk ID - PDF

So many are still unaware of the power that lies latent in their Autodesk ID. In this 13 Slide PDF, Travis will show you what your Autodesk ID is, how it can greatly benefit you, and how to get it!


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