3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 05 - Adding and Removing Details

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  • Design Visualization
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
10 min

3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 05 - Adding and Removing Details

In this tutorial, you work on the curtain wall types to optimize the geometry for better transfer to 3ds Max.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2015
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2015 or higher.


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In the last movie, you started cleaning up the Revit model in anticipation of exporting it to 3ds Max.

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Another part of the process is adding and removing detail where needed.

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Sometimes it's easy to pinpoint the problem, other times, they only become apparent once you're in 3ds Max.

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Continue working on your Revit project or you use the file 02-Museum_curtainwalls.rvt if you need to catch up.

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This project has two types of curtain walls.

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One is made of clear glass, the other seems semi-transparent in Revit (made of frosted glass), but we'll make it opaque in 3ds Max.

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However, the material is not the concern right now. We're mostly interested in the geometry.

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It looks fine in Revit but let's take a look at it in 3ds Max.

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In the last movie, you created an .fbx file that you named mycurtainwalls.fbx that you're ready to link to 3ds Max.

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If you didn't have Revit and weren't able to create the fbx file, you can use the one provided to you (02-Museum_curtainwalls.fbx)

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In 3ds Max or 3ds Max Design, make sure your System Units are set to Feet as discussed at the beginning of this tutorial.

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Also set the Display to Feet w/ Fractional Inches to match the Revit display.

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You can set it to metric if you're more comfortable. Display Units are quite forgiving.

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Use Import > Link FBX to link the museum fbx file.

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Use the Combine by Family Type option for this example and attach the file.

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You will be prompted for a Daylight System;answer Yes for now, it'll be some time yet before we worry about rendering.

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If you're using 3ds Max or 3ds Max Design 2015, you will probably need to relocate or re-dock the Scene Explorer.

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Dismiss or move away the Links dialog.

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Zoom in on the building and take a closer look at the curtain walls.

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The curtain wall on the lower levels is made of clear glass and the panels are there to show it.

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However, there are currently no mullions separating the glass panels.

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Although you usually want to limit the number of polygons in a 3D scene, you still want to have important detail where you need it.

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Mullions are important and you need to see them if and when the camera gets closer to the wall.

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On the other hand, we want opaque panels on the upper level of the curtain wall, perhaps with a hint of a grout between them.

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Usually, such a grout can easily be simulated with a bump map in 3ds Max.

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Currently, even though the "upper curtain wall" is a single object, it is still made of a multitude of polygons.

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So, where you need to add detail to the lower curtain wall in the form of mullions,

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you need to remove detail from the upper curtain wall to simplify the geometry.

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You will rely on materials to simulate the tiling effect.

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So go back to Revit to make the necessary changes:

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Start with the grid lines you need to remove on the "blue" curtain walls.

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Select a blue wall section, it is defined as Curtain Wall - 10'

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You can directly edit this family type or make a copy if you plan to revisit it later.

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Click the Edit Type button and duplicate the type. Name the Duplicate: Curtain Wall - NO GRIDLINES

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Set the Vertical and Horizontal Grid Layouts to None, to prevent the creation of grid lines.

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Click OK to exit. You get a caution reminding you to completely delete the gridlines from this family type. Accept the recommendation.

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The grid lines have disappeared but the glazing seems to have reverted to clear glass.

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Click an empty area to make sure all objects are deselected.

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Hover over the curtain wall section you worked on and press Tab until only the perimeter gets highlighted, then click the mouse button.

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This selects the glass part of the curtain wall assembly.

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Switch the glazing again from Clear to Frosted.

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Repeat on the opposite side and at the front of building.

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At this point, you could take a moment and edit the frosted glass material if you're comfortable with Revit.

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If you're more comfortable with 3ds Max, you can also edit the material there.

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I will choose the second option in this tutorial, simply to emphasize that both methods are valid.

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So, leave the frosted glass material for now and concentrate on the mullion creation process.

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To start with, I would suggest making the clear glass curtain walls more consistent.

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The roof sections seem to be based on 10-foot spacing. We'll switch them to 6-foot spacing, as in the lower levels.

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Since we're at it, let's add a few door openings as well.

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For that, go to the Architecture tab and chose Curtain Grid.

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By default, it is set to work across all segments, this is fine for now.

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Set a grid line to be 7-feet high.

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Repeat on all other roof walls.

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Click the Modify button to exit the command, and click an empty area to deselect all objects.

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Hover and use the Tab key to select the panels where you want to have doors.

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Switch the panel type to use the Store Front Double Door system.

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Repeat where needed.

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To create mullions out of grid lines, first you need to have a mullion type defined.

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Expand the scene browser and the Curtain Wall Mullions category.

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You'll use a simple rectangular type. Right-click Rectangular Mullion and choose New Type.

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Name it 2x4. Once you've named it, right-click to edit its properties.

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Set the thickness (or depth) to 4". Notice that you have two width values.

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The sum of both values must equal the overall length you want to have.

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Here, we need a 2" width so you can set the values to 1" on each side of a center line.

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For a material, you can create a new one or use an existing one.

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In this case, you can simply use the Railing - Polished material.

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Once you have defined a mullion type, you can use it to replace grid lines on Curtain Walls.

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This is done by going to the Architecture tab and clicking the Mullion button.

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You then select a mullion type, in this case the one you just created and named 2x4.

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You can then choose to replace a grid line,

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a grid segment,

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or all grid lines on a curtain wall section.

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Save your file when you're done. More importantly, you need to update the fbx file you already linked to 3ds Max.

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Use the Export to FBX feature to overwrite the file you created earlier and that you named mycurtainwalls.fbx

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Go back to 3ds Max. Your scene has not updated yet.

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Use References > Manage Links to access the Links dialog again.

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Go to the Files tab and notice the red flag, indicating the FBX file has changed.

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Click the Reload button, a Settings dialog appears.

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Arguably the most important options here relate to Materials.

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My advice is to always retain 3ds Max material adjustments on reload, so that any material tweaking in 3ds Max is not lost.

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Once the file is reloaded, you should notice significant differences.

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The redundant opaque panels are gone and now you have additional geometry in the form of mullions and doors.

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In the next movie, you'll take a look at stairs and railings.
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  • 3ds Max
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
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