Join Paul F. Aubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Customize symbols using custom fonts, part of Revit: Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting.
- In this video, I wanna talk about, creating custom, electrical symbols that incorporate nested 2D generic annotation symbols within them. Now often when you create electrical symbols, the planned symbol that's used is actually an abstracted version. It's not an accurate rendition of what it would really look like. For example, if we look over here at these light switches, we use the letter "S" to indicate that it's a switch rather than actually drawing something that looks really like a light switch or this card reader. The same thing. It's got this box with the letters "CR" in it. It's not an accurate rendition of what a card reader would actually look like.
Now that's what we do typically in the plan views and we also exaggerate the size of those elements to make them more legible. But when we look at them in elevations or sections we typically draw them at their correct size and scale like you can see here in the section view. Now the switches that I have here and the card reader that we have here are actually slightly different because the light switch is actually using a nested generic annotation symbol that uses graphics. In other words, it's been drawn in to look like a letter "S" so that really just two arc connected to each other where here, the card reader is actually using fonts.
It's using a real piece of text. Now, right here I have another symbol. This one's an accessibility door control and that on was just a copy of the card reader and I've built most of it but I've left out a few of the final steps. So let me go ahead and select this one and click Edit Family and I wanna show you why it matters whether we use line work like these light switches or whether we use a font like in the card reader.
Now here in 3D, again everything is built accurately so we've got this backplate over here and then I've got this nested generic model family in the shape of the accessibility symbol. So nothing really to talk about there. But if I open up the floor plan, here what I have is just a simple, generic annotation symbol that has this box. It's just a square. Now, what it doesn't have yet is the accessibility symbol so I'm going to select that, edit that family, and that takes me inside of that family and then here in the background, I have this accessibility symbol right here.
Now I've got a filled region as well as some line work. So I'm gonna take the filled region and hide that element and then I'm gonna select just the line work. Control C to copy it to my clip board. Control Tab to switch back to the plan symbol and Then Control V to pace this in. Now, I'm gonna place it off to the side because as you can see it's significantly larger than we need it to be, so I'll just click anywhere to accept the paste then I'll select all of that line work again, go to my scale command, pick some start point down here in the corner.
A reference point over here and then I'll drag back to make it small enough that it should fit within that box and then click again. I'll zoom in a little bit, drag this line work over here and kind of place it in the middle of the box. So now I'll click Load Into Project and close. That I wanna load back into the accessibility door control family so I'm gonna uncheck everything else. Click Okay. I'll go ahead and save the symbol, replace the existing file, and then overwrite this existing one and now it displays the symbol.
So let's do that again. Let's load into project and close. This time I'm gonna load it into the custom symbol project file, click okay. Do I wanna save the changes? Yes, replace the existing. And then overwrite the existing here. So it looks fantastic, right? Exactly what we want? Well, here's the trouble. Like these light switches here, that's using graphics. Now if I took one of these light switches and did Create Similar and placed in on this side if you look carefully, you'll see that they are actually flipped version of each other but we're not bothered by that so much when it's a light switch.
However, if you take this symbol and do Create Similar, this time, I think you'll be less satisfied with the results, because typically we wouldn't want that accessibility symbol to be upside down like that. Now, contrast that to the behavior of the card reader. If I select it and do Create Similar and place it on the other side of the wall, notice that the letter "CR" continue to be right reading. That is a function of text. So you can't get line work to behave that way but you can get fonts to do that because fonts do it automatically.
So maybe it sounds like a kind of outlandish idea, but what if we created a font that looked like our accessibility symbol? Now before you dismiss the idea and think that it's too difficult to do that, it's actually easier to create a custom font than you think. There are lots of programs out there that you can search for. Some are inexpensive. Some are very expensive depending on your needs and there are actually several web-based services as well some of which are free. So I've located a website that's a free service.
It's called Fontastic.me and you can setup a free acct, upload SVG files and then convert those SVG files to custom fonts and you do it all online in a web browser. Now, you need something that will create an SVG file for you. This is a Vector based file format that will create the outlines or the glyphs, they're called for the fonts. So I'm gonna switch back to our accessibility symbol, reset the temporary hide isolate and I'll select that filled region again but this time I wanna isolate that element so that will hide everything else.
And now I wanna export this to a vector based format. Now, I'm gonna go to the file menu, choose Export and under CAD formats, my best choice here is DWG. Unfortunately, Revit doesn't export to SVG directly so I'll choose DWG, I'll come over here and click the Modify Export Setup and then on the General tab, Illustrator doesn't like the current 2013 format from Auto CAD, so what I usually do is back up to 2007, just to make sure that Illustrator is happy with the file format that we're giving it.
So I'm gonna change that to 2007, I'm gonna click Next and then decide where I want to save it. I'm gonna remove this excess from the file name here and call it just Accessibility Symbol and then I'll click Okay. That will ask me what I want to do with the temporary hide isolate mode, so I'm gonna choose the Leave Temporary Hide Isolate so that I just get the filled region. So now I'm gonna switch to Illustrator, and I'm gonna open up that file. Now if you don't have aces to Adobe Illustrator, you'll need to choose another program that's capable of exporting to SVG files.
But I'm gonna use Illustrator because it does a really nice job at that. In the DWG options, I'll just click Okay and accept all the defaults. Now, here I'm gonna click the Magnifier, hold down the Alt key and click once to zoom back just a touch and then I'll click the little hand icon here and just kind of pan over slightly. Now, if you go back to the Fontastic site, and click on the menu option here. There is a choice here that says How To Add Your Own Icons and there's a pretty nice help file here that explains to you what you need to do when creating your files from Illustrator.
So if you scroll down in here it gives you some feedback on exactly how to do that. So it tells you how to create an SVG, what settings to choose in the dialogue, and more importantly it gives you some tips here on things to do to the Illustrator file before you export because the service will have a hard time with some of the features. So for example here, you wanna expand strokes and you know, there's options here about deleting extraneous geometry and so on.
So if I switch back over to my Illustrator file, what you're gonna see here is I've got these boxes out here. I want to get rid of all of that stuff. Now if I look at my layers panel here in Illustrator, you can see that I got Layer Zero and I got GANO end plot. I want to delete that extra layer, okay? I don't want that one at all. Okay, then I'm gonna select some of these extraneous boxes out here and just delete them. So I'm gonna just kind of a do little selection windows out around here.
Now when I select this element next, it highlights the entire thing and then in that help file for Fontastic it said, "Go to object and choose expand." Okay, so I wanna just make sure that I've expanded that object so I'm trying to set myself up best for getting the cleanest export possible. Then I'll go to File, and I'll choose Save a Copy, following the instructions on the Fontastic site, and choose SVG for the files of type.
Now I already have one right here so I'm just gonna select it and overwrite it. Do you want to replace it? I'm gonna say yes. And then these are the option that the Fontasttic site asks for. So we're gonna do SVG1.1 we're gonna accept all of these and we're gonna uncheck all of these Illustrator-specific options. So what it explains on the help file is that all of that information will not be useful to the web service. So we'll just make sure that's all unchecked and click Okay. So that's all we needed to do in Illustrator.
So now the next step will take place back here in the Fontastic site. So what I want to do is come back up to the top and click on Log In. Now if you've logged in previously, you can just put in your email address and password otherwise, you can click Create New Account and then you just you put your email in here, choose a password, and then click Create Your Icon Font. So this will load up several sets of symbols already.
So you can see here there's quite a few to choose from. You could go right away and start picking glyphs from these pre-made packages and create your own custom font. What I'm gonna do right here is, it automatically created untitled Font One, so I'm gonna click on Modify Font here and give that a better name. And I'll just call that Accessibility and click Save. Now, the next thing that I want to do is, add in our customer icons.
So you click this Add More Icons link right here and then import icons here. Browse out to wherever you created your SVG file and select it and then click open. It'll upload it. It says it uploaded one icon and when I click Okay, it will be generating an image and hopefully you'll see a nice image of your Accessibility Symbol. Now, if you look here you could see all of these different font groupings and some of them are labeled Premium so you have to actually pay for those but there are some that are free.
And so you could see those listed here. Now, those will all be included in your font. So if you don't want to include those, just simply click Deactivate on any of the ones that you don't want included. So I'm actually gonna deactivate everything accept for the one that we just uploaded. Alright, so now I'm gonna go back to Home which is a little bit counter intuitive at first, okay but you go back to Home and you'll see that you have the one icon set selected here.
I'll click Customize next. And it remembered the name from the file that we uploaded and it's assigned it to character A. So if you're satisfied with that there's nothing further to do but if you like, you can actually change the character alignment that it's using there and type in anything you want. That'll be the character that you're gonna type on this font in order to access that symbol. So A, seems perfectly fine to me and then I'll click over here where it says, Publish. Now I've not tried their icon font cloud service yet.
You're welcome to try that on your own. What I've done is just simply come over here and click the Install Manually and click Download. That will create a zip file for you. I'll show that file here in a folder. I'm gonna extract that and then here in the fonts folder you'll see your accessibility font right here and if I double click that notice that in place of the letter A, it now has the accessibility symbol.
So all that remains for me to do is click Install. That'll install that phone on my system, and then go back to Revit, switch back over to our custom symbol here. I'll select our symbol, edit the family, go to the plan view, select it again, edit the family again and what I'm gonna do is delete all of this line work, go to Create, add a label, click right there.
There's already two properties listed over here. I'm gonna add labels back to the label and put in a sample value of letter "A". I'll click Okay. You could see it right there. You might need to adjust it slightly. It looks pretty good. Centered pretty well. But you can fine tune if you like and then the trick here now is, it's using the letter "A" because the label font over here if we edit it's type it's still using Arial Narrow.
So now if I open up this list and look through the list of available installed fonts you should see your Accessibility Font. If you choose that font and click Okay, it'll now use your Accessibility symbol in place of the letter "A". Now it's a little bit small, so now I just have to fiddle around a bit with the height here, okay? So I'll just simply add maybe, it looks like I could almost double it in size, so it's currently 564, I'm gonna go to 1064, click Apply and that actually looks pretty good, okay.
So then I'll just adjust this slightly. Now it looks like I got a little bit of a clipping here and here so unfortunately, you'd have to go back to your Illustrator export there and adjust the size of your art board in order to capture that little bit of curve down there at the bottom but for now, I'm just gonna let that go. I'll load into the project which is the door control symbol. Save it, replace the existing, then overwrite and wait a minute.
Something happened. What happened to our symbol? Well, if you click on this symbol you're gonna see this little question mark so when we did overwrite, it overrode the value of the parameter. So just simply click on this little question mark, type in lower case "a" press Enter. It will confirm that you want to apply that to the type and you'll say Yes and then we'll load it in again and overwrite and finally, overwrite the existing one here and as you can see we now have it correctly oriented in both cases.
Now you do have a little bit of fine tuning to do in terms of size and positioning. It's best to do that with your arrow keys and just sort of nudge things around but you should be able to get in a nice spot where it works pretty well in any orientation. So it gives you an acceptable alternative to creating custom symbols like this. I think it works well for this accessibility symbol. It might work well for other symbols that you use but certainly in cases where that's not an appropriate solution you can always go back to the solution of drawing the graphics using the same method that's used there on the light switch.
So whichever method you choose, these gives you a lot more flexibility when embedding generic annotation symbols directly into your model families.
NOTE: The exercise files for this course can only be opened in the most recent version of Revit (Revit 2017).
Skill Level Appropriate for all
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.