3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 13 - Adjusting the Plaza

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

3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 13 - Adjusting the Plaza

In this tutorial, you continue adjusting the plaza area, mostly by fine-tuning materials and adding a few trees and shrubs. Later, you'll enhance this area further by animating pedestrians.


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


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In this movie, you continue working on the plaza, adjusting more materials and adding a few trees.

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Continue working on your file from the last movie or open the file named: "Museum_plaza.max"

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As you did before, you'll take a look at some materials transferred from Revit, and adjust them if and when they need it.

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Start by taking a look at the grass areas; there are four of them surrounded by concrete walls.

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Open the Material Editor and sample one of these areas.

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Adjust the material nodes for a better look and make sure the top node is selected.

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Set the material to show in the viewport as you have learned to do.

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Zoom in a bit and take a look at the texture in the viewport. It looks fine, doesn't need any adjustments.

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Do the same with the concrete walls.

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When you set that material to show in the viewport, it doesn't look too good. The tiling scale is too small.

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Before you change it though, you need to double-check which objects in the scene have this material applied.

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It's not working for those low walls but it may be adequate elsewhere in the scene.

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Right-click the material and choose Select > Select by Material.

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A dialog appears highlighting all objects affected by this material. In this case there's only one.

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Click Select and verify that only the low walls are selected by moving them around.

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Make sure you cancel or undo the Move command.

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To adjust the tiling, you need to adjust the bitmap scale.

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Double-click the bitmap node to edit its properties.

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The scale of the image is repeating almost every two feet in both directions.

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Increase these values until you are happier with the results.

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Values between 6 and 12 feet should work nicely to minimize the tiling pattern.

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You may need a refresh of the viewport, a simple pan should work well.

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In fact, the very same material you have just adjusted should also work quite well for objects such as the plaza steps and the ramps.

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Those objects already have materials assigned but this new one should look good as well.

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Go ahead and use the newly edited material to overwrite the material on the plaza steps.

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Simply drag the material's out socket and drop it on any of the plaza steps. The results are conclusive.

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Sometimes though, projection parameters or rather Mapping Coordinates can get corrupted.

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Try applying the same material to the smaller, nearby ramps. You'll notice some unexpected distortion and pixel streaking.

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You can adjust that by selecting the offending object, and apply a UVW Map modifier that resets mapping coordinates.

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Planar mode (projection from top) works in this case but typically, you want to set it to Box for side projections as well.

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You also want to use it in Real-World Map Size mode to emulate Revit operations. This is also the default in 3ds Max Design.

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Before you attempt applying this same material to the landing between two ramps, consider that landing first:

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Select it and try to move it. Notice that it is part of the same object that also includes the top two floor slabs.

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This may have been done on purpose in Revit, or it may have been an oversight.

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At any rate, you can still use the same material you used earlier, or you can opt to use a different one.

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You can also opt to separate the landing from the floor slabs, which is probably the safer option.

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That's the workflow you'll adopt: with the "Concrete" object selected, go to the Modify panel and access Element mode.

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Select the landing between the two ramps and then click the Detach button in the Modify panel.

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Give the new object a name such as: Ramp_Landing and then click OK.

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Exit Sub-Object mode when done.

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Select the detached object and notice it is not part of the original hierarchy anymore.

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To make it part of the hierarchy again, you can use the Link tool.

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In 3ds Max 2015, you can also use the Scene Explorer.

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Simply drag the new Ramp_Landing object and drop it on the 05-Museum_final.fbx node.

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Now you can safely apply the concrete material to it without affecting the floor slabs.

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To finalize the plaza, you'll plant a couple of trees on top of the grass areas.

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Trees and shrubs work differently in 3ds Max than they do in Revit.

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In Revit, they rely on the RPC plugin that creates what is sometimes known as "cardboard trees".

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This means it uses simple planar geometry with the image of plants or trees applied to them.

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This is a very effective way to scatter a lot of foliage without adding too much polygon count.

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Although you can use similar commercial plugins in 3ds Max, the native approach is to use 3D trees.

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They look quite good from all angles but they do tend to add to the total number of poly count, so keep that in mind.

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To add a tree to the scene, use the Create > AEC Extended panel.

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Click Foliage, a library of trees and plants appears.

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Browse all the way down and select the Oak tree, we'll use this one in this example but feel free to experiment with other options.

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Keep in mind that some trees are heavier than others in terms of poly count.

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Enable AutoGrid so that you can snap to a surface and click to plant a tree on the grass area in front of the building.

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At this time, it's quite huge. You can decrease the height in the Modify panel. Make it about 30-feet high.

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Right-click and check its properties. Right now, this tree has in excess of 23000 polygons.

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Exit the dialog. Set the Level-of -Detail to Medium and try again.

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This time, the poly count is under 8000.

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You can also disable other options like Flowers, Fruit and even Leaves, perhaps when rendering a winter scene.

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Let's leave the leaves enabled for this example.

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Render the scene to view the results. This may take a few minutes, depending on the performance of your system.

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It looks good, but the color of the leaves looks more in line with a rendering in the fall.

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You need to adjust the tree material to make the leaves greener.

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Open the Material Editor and sample the tree.

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A new material appears, move it to the side to take a look at it.

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The leaves are defined in sub-material #4, which is in fact named accordingly.

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It already has an opacity map that defines the shape of the leaves, but you still need to change the color.

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Double-click the material node and change the Diffuse Color to a green shade that you like.

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Ultimately, you can use a mix of colors using a variety of maps like Noise and Smoke, but we won't do that here.

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You'll test render in a moment but first, let's add a couple more trees to the scene.

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In fact, you can copy an existing tree,

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and edit it.

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To prevent two trees from being identical, you can change the "Seed" of a tree.

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This is done by specifying a Seed number or randomly generating one using the New button.

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It's still based on the same tree type, but the shape and form of the trunk, branches and leaves are different.

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You can introduce further variations by changing the height.

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Add two more trees and change their appearance before doing a test render.

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You'll notice that a tree that is not selected turns into Canopy mode to make viewport interaction a bit easier to work with.

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Experiment a bit more with your scene. Save your file when you're done.

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In the next movie, you adjust the building's materials.
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
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