Join Paul F. Aubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Introducing materials, part of Revit: Rendering.
- In this chapter, we'll begin exploring materials in Revit. We're gonna focus mainly on materials as they apply to rendering, but we should back up and maybe talk a little bit about what materials are in general. So, our material in general, and this is true of any Autodesk software, not just Revit but AutoCAD, 3d Max, and so on, is a definition of all of the characteristics that actually define what an object is made of. So, they get into not only the physical characteristics of what it's physically composed of but what it looks like and its textures and whether or not its transparent, or permeable, or those kinds of things.
In fact, materials can even get into the thermal characteristics: whether or not the material has any insulating values, whether or not it has any structual capabilities. So, a material quite literally defines all the physical and visual characteristics of some substance that we're using within our projects. Naturally for rendering, we're mostly concerned with what it looks like, what textures does it impart to our rendering and what visual qualities it has. But, those other aspects of the material are there as well.
So, they're all kind of intergrated into a single material interface. So, let's go ahead and open up the material browser and start taking a look at the interface to start off with. We can get there on the Manage tab, and then over here we've got this icon that kinda looks like a mirror ball, and we'll click that to display the Material Browser. The Material Browser is organized into two main panes. On the left hand side, you'll have a list of all the materials and on the right hand side, you'll have an editor that pertains to whatever material you have selected on the left.
You can adjust the interface of the Material Browser in a couple ways. First of all, it starts off usually a little bit small. So, it's actually possible to enlarge this, and it's valuable to do because in some cases, there might even be some buttons that are hidden. For example, right here if I highlight this, it says displays more options and you can actually see that there was an icon tucked away underneath there. If I come down here to the corner, and I enlarge this, you'll see that icon will appear first of all, and secondly it just gives the whole interface a little bit more room to work.
I would recommend just enlarging this as large as your screen will allow. Let's say you're looking for a particular material. Up here you have a search field. This is by far the easiest way to find a material that you're looking for. You can just start typing in a keyword, and it can either be something that appears in the name of the material or it's actually possible for materials to have keywords associated with them. I started typing the word concrete, so it's looking for all of the materials in my document that either have the word concrete in their name or have a keyword concrete associated with them.
If I come over here and I click this small little red X, that will clear the search and show the whole list again. Another way that you can shorten the list and find the material you're looking for is to filter the list. Here, you'll notice it says Project Materials. That's indicating that this is the list of all the materials that are currently in this project. Next to it, it says all, so I'm seeing everything. But if I click this small little drop down here, you can see that there are certain categories that I could filter on. So, if I wanted to see only the carpet materials, there's only one in this case, or maybe the masonry materials, there I get a couple more, or how about all the metal materials.
When you choose one of these filters, it will shorten the list and disply only those materials that are that kind of material. Then, of course we can go back to all to see the entire list again. Using one of those two methods, you can quickly get to the material that you're interested in using or modifying. On the other side of this bar here, you can see two icons. This on was hidden until we actually widened the window. If you've got that little double arrow, which looks similar to this one here but pointing the other way, that just indicates that it's kind of hidden and you can click that to get to this little drop down.
This will just change the way that your list is displayed. We can see here that there's yet another way to filter. Currently, Show All is selected. I could change this to showing the materials that are in use, or the ones that are not used. That could be handy if you're trying to figure out one of those two things. I'll go back to Show All. You can change from a list view to just a simple text view or to a thumbnail view. Sometimes, it can be nicer to view these graphically rather than a list.
I'll go back to the default list view, which kinda shows both. You get a thumbnail and the text name. Then, you can sort either by name or even by material color, which is kind of interesting. And then finally, the thumbnail size is adjustable so if you do go to thumbnail view, you can go as large as 64X64, but you can also drop it down to much smaller sized thumbnails as well if you wanna see more on the list. Once again, I'm gonna go back to list view to see both a small sized thumbnail and the name of the material.
I have Brick, Common currently selected. And Brick, Common just happens to be assigned to that wall there in the background, and over here you can see the material editor portion is displaying the properties of Brick, Common. We're gonna get into these properties in much more detail in future movies, but I just want to briefly point out that there is a series of tabs across the top that pertain to the selected material. And if you chose different materials, a couple things might happen. In some cases, there might be fewer tabs, and in some cases, there might be more.
This is the maximum number of tabs. In other words, a material can have Identity, Graphics, Appearance, Physical, and Thermal. But it doesn't have to have all five of those. As you can see, some of these other materials like Analytical Wall Surface only has three. If it's missing some of the tabs, there'll be a plus sign here that will allow you to add the missing tabs if you need to. We'll talk about that more in a future movie. I'm gonna go back to selecting Brick, Common. As you click through each of the tabs, of course you'll see different properties.
So, Identity data is really more about just the information associated with this material. What information might we want to see in a schedule, or tagged in tags on a drawing, or information that we might want to export to a report. Graphics and Appearance controls what you see in the material in different kinds of views and more on that to come. Physical is the actual load carrying capability of this material. Does this material have structural properties? And Thermal is the aspects of this material that contol its R-value or does it have any insulation properties and that kinda thing.
I'm gonna click back over here on graphics. The last part of this dialog that we wanna look at is down here at the bottom. There's a collection of icons and these first two are little menus. This one allows you to open and create libraries. This one allows you to create and duplicate materials so if you wanted to create a brand new material, you would choose this option, or if I wanted to duplicate Brick, Common and create another kind of brick, it might be faster to do duplicate.
And then this option here would actually open up a separate dialog where we could find additional material properties and we'll talk more about that in a future movie. This drop down talked about libraries and what we don't see here is the library pane. So, if you don't have a library pane beneath your list of materials, this icon here will actually show or hide that library panel. I'm gonna click that and you'll see this extra panel will appear down here beneath my list of materials.
You can put your mouse between the edges and resize this if you want to, and once again we could enlarge the size of this window so that we can see whatever pieces of it that we want to more clearly. And all a library is, is a collection of materials that's being stored external to your Revit project. What can be really handy about a library is that I can collect a bunch of materials that I like and that I use frequently and then I can use those in multiple projects.
We'll talk more in detail about using libraries in a future movie. So, the material browser allows you to not only browse through and see which materials you have in your current project, but it also allows you to select and edit them in the right hand pane. You're gonna be in the material browser to do almost any task that involves materials within your Revit projects.
- 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