Join Paul F. Aubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a material library, part of Revit: Rendering.
- In this movie I'd like to talk about managing your materials, and sharing them with other project files. Now, this could actually be a fairly large topic in itself, so what I want to do is sort of hit the high points of the issues that you might run into. There are potentially a couple different ways that you can share your materials between one project or another, but the most important thing to recognize with materials is like all other content in Revit, they live within a single project file. So there is no sort of master list of materials that you're drawing from.
Now, having said that, there are ways that you can get aspects of the materials, and share those very easily among the different projects. So, let's go back to Manage and Materials here. And let me remind you of this portion of the material editor right here, this is the library portion. Now, what this actually has is, there's two built in libraries here, they have the little lock icons next to them. Autodesk Materials and AC Materials. They also provide this one here called Favorites, which is currently empty in my case, but you can add to that.
And then it's actually possible for you to add your own libraries here. And you would do that with this small drop down. I could say I want to create a new library. Or, I could use this option to open an existing library off the network server for example, or if somebody sends me a library through email, or in a cloud server, I could open that library and have it show up here in Revit. So, just what is a library? Well a library is actually a file that contains a reference to all of these different materials here.
Now, the thing about this is, is that, you know, if you look at some of the materials, what we've been calling materials, like I'm going to go back to our Brick Common material here. And recall that it's got the five tabs across the top. When you load something from the library, like I'm going to grab this Wood Shake material here and use this up arrow here to add it to my library. It will add the Wood Shake in, and it might even come in with all of it's different aspects.
So in this case it's got Appearance, it's got Physical, it's got Thermal. But in my experience, it rarely actually configures the Graphics tab, which at first seems a little bit surprising, but when I explain to you what it's actually doing, it'll maybe make a little bit more sense. The material mechanism in Revit is actually not unique to Revit. Autodesk has taken the concept of materials, and applied it more broadly across the entire portfolio of products. So, what we see in Revit will actually be similar in AutoCAD, and in Showcase, and in Inventor.
So, all of the aspects that these programs share in common, things like Appearance, Physical and Thermal for example, are what you're seeing here in these libraries. So the library is storing those common aspects of the material that could be used in any of these products. Now, if I were to create a new library, or open an existing library, I could actually do those same tasks in these other programs as well, and use the same materials over there.
The Graphics tab is unique to Revit. So unfortunately, any of the aspects of a material that are unique to a particular program don't get stored in these libraries. So if you want to share the overall features, like your appearance, which is pretty important because it's got the bitmap, and it's got all the other settings here, whether it's got bump map and so forth, that becomes very easy to share, not only with Revit, but with other programs. If you want to share the Graphics settings, you'll have to make a few adjustments once they load into Revit.
It turns out this is pretty easy to do. In most cases, the most important thing that you want to do, is actually take advantage of this little check box right here. Now notice over here on Appearance that this Shake material has this sort of brownish grey color. If you kind of squinch your eyes, and look at that image, it starts to kind of seem mostly brown, with a little bit of grey in it. Well if I come over here to Graphics, and I check this box, watch this color right here. It will kind of take that greyish brown, and it's as if it took the image and kind of blended it all together, and it found the predominant color within that image.
And it applies it to the shading for you. So, that's a single check box, and then it's just basically assigning surface and cut patterns. So yes, it's a couple steps, but that's the downside, but on the plus side I can create a library, I can call this anything I want. I'll put it in my Textures folder. That creates a folder right here. And now I could take any materials and drag them to this library.
And when I save this library and give it to another person, they can just simply choose the Open Existing Library here to load that into their copy of Revit, or their copy of AutoCAD, or their copy of Inventor. And like I said, they're gonna get the majority of the features for that material, they just might have to reset a couple of the Graphic settings, depending on the situation. So that is one way that you can share materials among a larger project team.
Now, incidentally the file that this creates, if I hover over this you can see it creates a file with an extension adsklib. So, it's actually several characters adsklib. Now. That's kind of a global approach. A slightly simpler approach to sharing materials, there's two methods that have been around in Revit for a long time. One is called Transfer Project Standards, and the other is just simply copy and paste. So, let me briefly show you both of those.
Transfer Project Standards is on the Manage tab, and it's a command that allows you to share any of the assets that are part of your file with another file. So I actually have two files open right now, and you can see the other file is called Sample Material Library. And it's saying it's going to copy from that. Now currently everything is checked, so it's going to copy Wall Types, and Door Types, and Materials. So, what you probably want to do is do Check None, and scroll down and find just the item that you're interested in.
Like perhaps Materials. Now, if I click OK, it will take all the materials from that sample material library file, and copy them over to this file, and it won't leave behind the graphics tab, it will be everything about that material, so when you're going Revit to Revit, this might be a nicer way to do it. However, this command does all of the materials, so you're getting absolutely everything. So let me cancel that for a moment, go to my switch windows, and switch over to that Sample Material Library, so that we can see what it actually is.
Now, here, what you've got is a floor plan view, but I've changed it to Realistic shading. And that means that if you zoom in here, you're actually seeing the image of the material displayed right here in the floor plan view. Furthermore, I added these material tags to them to give me the name. Now, this is just a generic model family that is just a little solid object with a material assigned to it. And this technique has been around for years. Users just create one of these little library files, they put these little chips in here, they're literally like virtual paint chips, and assign materials to them, and then you just spread them out and name them like this, and it becomes a really quick and easy place to store your common materials.
In fact you can use this technique to store common walls, and common doors, and common furniture. So, you see this technique used quite a bit by CAD and Bin managers for a variety of things. Well now, if I want to use this stone material, Masonry Stone, in another project, all I have to do is select the paint chip, copy it to my clipboard with ctrl+C, switch back over to the other file, do ctrl+V, it'll display a duplicate warning here, you can just click OK on that, and click to place it in.
When I do, let's change to Realistic shading here, you can see that it brought that chip over, and it brought over that stone material. So if that stone material wasn't already part of this file, it is now. So that can be a really quick and easy way to get just one or two materials that you need from another project. So whether you just do the simple copy and paste, or the Transfer Project Standards, or you set up these adsklib library files, all the techniques that I've described here can be valid given a set of circumstances, and you probably want to be familiar with each of them, because some are more appropriate than others in various contexts.
But just know that the materials are not automatically part of every Revit project, so you'll have to use at least one of these techniques when you want to take materials from one project, and use them in another project.
- Creating 3D views and 3D cutaway views
- Adding details to the model
- Creating and editing materials
- Working with the sun system
- Working with lighting groups
- Configuring render settings
- Preparing a cloud render
- Creating a walkthrough
- Rendering a plan