Parametric Escalator – Revit Tutorial

Can an escalator really break? If it stops working, it will just turn into stairs. Albeit, stairs that are not to code, but they are stairs. I also wonder where each step goes when it gets to the top or bottom? It just sort of gets really flat and then disappears.

What does that have to do with Revit? Nothing. So follow along and learn how to make a parametric escalator that will take you from here all the way up to the 13th floor and beyond!

The key to making this all work is the create the pieces of the escalator (railings, steps, & the base) as separate families, and nest them all together. This will minimize amount of time and guesswork, and also reduce the file size of the family. I also make the geometry of the family extremely simple, so we can keep the bloat down, and speed up our modeling time. But it has just enough information to give you a good sense of the space requirements for the escalator.

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Parametric Escalator – Revit Tutorial

Revit Tutorial: Parametric Operable Window

Are you in the mood for making the most parametric window ever? Well that’s pretty sad. But fortunately enough for you, I just created a tutorial on how to make the most parametric operable window ever! Follow along with the video below, and soon you’ll be creating parametric windows like they’re going out of style. Well, actually, on second thought, you won’t be… this window is parametric silly head! You’ll just have to make one! Just change-up the values as you need.

Disclaimer: there may actually be a more parametric window around town. I have not gone through every video ever.

Revit Tutorial: Parametric Operable Window

Line Based Filled Region

We can all agree that Revit really shines when it comes to using parameters. So why don’t we utilize any parameters when we are creating 2D details? Sure, lines and filled regions work great, but where is the BIMness in that? I have created a short video showing you how to create a filled region that uses the line-based family. This will allow you to create filled regions, of any length or thickness, without having to edit a sketch every time.


Line Based Filled Region

Column Hold Symbol

We all need to lock down our columns. Unfortunately, there is no built in column hold symbol. Today, we will learn how to create a simple parametric column hold symbol and lock it down. The procedure, is quite simple really, create a triangular detail item, and load it into the column family. Copy it 4 times and rotate it so that the two sides that are perpendicular are aligned to the edges of the column. Then create a different visibility instance parameter for each triangle; this will allow you to select which symbol you want to be visible for each column, without having to create a new family for each situation. Follow along with the video below for the complete tutorial.

Column Hold Symbol

Parametric Window Family

Creating window families in Revit can be a daunting task. We often just use the standard window families that come with Revit to save time or we are just not sure how to create them. We draw our own windows in CAD, so why would we not do it in Revit? I want to break down the barrier of creating custom content for your projects and save you time in the long run. This is your company and livelihood, don’t just boil it down to, “yeah that fixed window family looks good enough.” Sure this will be time consuming at first, but once your library of parametric windows is complete, your speed and efficiency will be greatly increased. The custom parameters allow us to repeatedly use the same geometry, but change the sizes to suit our current needs.

Over the next few weeks, I will be creating a series of parametric window family tutorials, each tutorial in the series being more complicated than the last. This way, I hope that everyone can build upon the skills that they learned in the previous video. The first video will teach you how to create a simple rectangular window that you can change the width and height independently.

Parametric Window Family

Create a Parametric Detail Drawing Title

Although Revit has a ‘drawing title’ built into its viewports, there is no bimtastic way to create a title for just your details that are on one sheet. What you might be currently doing is drawing a circle with a simple line coming out of it, and then just slapping some text over it. That might great for your project, but it leaves a great deal for error and inconsistencies between sheets and details. Especially of you have a very large project with a bunch of people working on it, you are leaving it up to everyone to create the exact same view title. Yikes! Follow along with the video below to learn how to create a parametric detail view title so that every detail in your Revit project will look exactly the same, sheet after sheet.

Please be sure to like the video if it helped you, and don’t forget to subscribe if you are picking up what I’m putting down!

Create a Parametric Detail Drawing Title

Align Views on Different Sheets

Revit has a serious lack of tools when it comes to aligning views in the same place on multiple sheets. Sure you could just slap the views on and nudge them until they “look close”. But we all know that it is not exactly in the same spot. We want to show all those skeptics that Revit can make an excellent set of documents. You would also want to think about how your drawings will look when someone is flipping through your sheets as a PDF and the plans are bouncing all if the place, sheet after sheet. So follow along with the video below to learn how to get the classiest set of drawings this side of Bimtown.

Align Views on Different Sheets

Rotate plan view in Revit

Let’s say you are working on a project that a portion of the building is on an angle. And I’m not even talking on 45 degree angle, but something crazy like 23 or 63 degrees. How in the world would you draw a “straight” line relative to the building? Yes you could just rotate the entire project; but that really isn’t a good idea if the other portion of your project is 90 degrees.

Watch along with this video below to learn how to rotate your plan view without wrecking havoc on your other views and sheets. Don’t forget to subscribe to my videos and my email newsletter!

Rotate plan view in Revit

Simple Copy/Paste From Floor to Floor

The least fun thing fun thing to do in Revit is copying objects from one floor and pasting them on the next floor. Sure you can just go through the floor plan, select what you want, and then go to the next view and paste aligned to current view. But this can really take a lot of time if you have a boat load of stuff in one plan. Plus, you might just select something you don’t want to copy, such as an  exterior wall, window, column, etc.

There must be a simple way! Two words: View templates [and technically filters]. OK so 5 words. You make view templates for everything…so why not a create a view template to just copy and paste stuff? The simplest way to make a view template is to just pick a view, get the view to look how you want, and then Create Template from Current View. Don’t do this yet though! We have not actually done anything.

First, let’s turn off the categories that we do not want to copy. Open up Visibility/Graphics override and turn off windows, columns, curtain systems, curtain panels, mullions stairs (basically anything that does not repeat on the next floor). Unfortunately, you will not be able to just switch off the walls category, so we will need to create a filter for that.

Visibility / Graphics Override

The first filter we will make will turn off ONLY the exterior walls. But before we do that, you must make sure that all the walls that you are using as an exterior wall have their function set to “Exterior”. Select an exterior wall and click on Edit Type under the properties pallet. Then in the Type Properties pallet, make sure that the wall’s function is set to Exterior as seen below. Hit OK.

Edit Type > Function Exterior

Press VG to open up the Visibility/Graphics again and click on the Filters tab all the way on the right. Click Edit/New…

Create New Filter

Click on the create new filters button and give it the name of “Exterior Walls”.


Scroll down the list and check walls. On the right, change the filter rules to the following (see image below):
– Filter by: Function
– equals
– Exterior

Filter Rules

Hit OK once to get back to the Visibility/Graphics. Make sure that you are still on the Filters tab and click on Add. Select the Exterior Walls filter (the one we just created) from the list and hit OK.

Add Filter

The filter will now appear in the list. Un-check the box under the Visibility column and hit OK to get back to the drawing board. All walls with an Exterior function specified will no longer be visible in this view.

Hid Exterior Walls

Please keep in mind that you will have to repeat this process for other wall types that you do not want to copy/paste between floors (i.e. shear walls that you may have modeled as one continuous wall up the building).

Other family specific items that you might want to hide is the refuse chute if you have that modeled as one “specialty equipment” object going up the building. To do this, create a new filter, but select specialty equipment in stead of walls. Then filter by family name, equals, and select your refuse chute family. Repeat this process as many times as you may need.

Now that all the grunt work is complete, you can finally create the view template. Go to View tab > View Templates > Create Template from Current View.

Create View Template

Give it a snazzy name and hit OK (I prefer Copy/Paste). You can thank me later for all the drinks your coworkers will be buying you to express their gratitude for this time saver. All that is left to do is to select the remaining objects, press Ctrl + C to copy them and go to the next view. Go to the Modify tab, Paste > Aligned to Current View. This will put your object in the same spot as the other view.

Paste Aligned to Current View

You can also make this a keyboard shortcut if you will be using this command a lot. I use AC.

To modify the filter is quite simple. Go to the Properties Pallet, under Identity Data, click on the button next to View Template. The button should say the name of the template you specified.

Modify View Template

When you are done copying and pasting you can switch the view template back to what ever you like. If you do not have a view template set up for how you like to work, just go to another view in your project, and create a new view template from that view. Switch the copy / paste template to the new template you created.

Cautionary side notes! Some objects or categories are not able to be hidden. For instance, wall reveals. If you run into this situation here is my work-around.

  1. This only works for Revit 2014 (and above I assume). Select one of the reveals, right click, select all instances > in entire project. Then click on the Pin in the Modify tab. Then make sure that you have pinned objects “not select-able”. This can be found in the lower right corner of the drawing window.
  2. Don’t use reveals (just kidding, that is not an option)
  3. Always check your filter on the Modify tab after selecting your objects to make sure that you have every unwanted category turned off before you copy.
Simple Copy/Paste From Floor to Floor

Rusticated Stone Blocks

You just got this great new renovation project! The building has a beautifully rusticated base that you must show in your renderings. Why on earth would you want to show that much detail for a renovation you ask? Hmm, maybe because your building is landmarked and you have to express the building in a rendering exactly as it appears in real life. How in the blazes would I get all that detail into a flat surface?

Can’t I just use a bump-map in Revit to get the same effect? Can you lift a 20 lb weight and get the same result as lifting a 50 lb weight? Of course not! So follow along, and let’s learn how to knock the socks off the landmarks preservation commission, your boss, and your client!

I’m going to start with a plain old wall in Revit with a thickness of 1′-6″. Create a new Revit family by going to the R button > New > Family. Select the Generic Model wall based template. The file will open and you will be presented with typical wall with a 6″ thickness. Should you adjust the wall thickness to match yours? The answer is no because we are going to make a block family that could be used on any wall thickness, so lets test our skills now and keep the thickness different.

Navigate to the Placement Side elevation. Your screen should look like the image below.

Placement Side Elevation

Go to the Create tab >Void Forms > Void Extrusion. You will now be in sketch mode.

Create Void Extrusion

Before the getting gets good, click on Set Work Plane under the modify tab. The Work Plane dialogue box will pop up. Next to the radio button name, chose Reference Plane: Wall Edge as the reference plane, and hit OK (see below). This ensures that the family will always be based off of the wall’s surface, no matter the thickness.

Select Work Plane


The rusticated block in our example will be 2′-0″ x 1′-6″. Select the pick lines tool and change the offset value to 1′-0″.

Pick Lines Offset


Hover over the center reference plane in the center, and add a line to both sides of the reference plane. Add a dimension from one pink sketch line, the center reference plane, then to the other pink sketch line. Click the EQ symbol to change the dimensions to EQ/EQ. Then dimension from one pink sketch line to the other pink sketch line. It should read 2′-0″.

2' EQ EQ


Select the 2′-0″ dimension, go up to the options bar, and select Add Parameter next to label. Type Width under the name and hit OK. Your 2′-0″ dimension will now read: Width = 2′-0″.

Add Parameter


Go back to the pick lines button, and change the offset to 1′-6″. Hover over the Ref Level line so that you see a dashed line above and click.

Bottom Line


Now change the offset value back to 0′-0″ and click on the Ref Level line again. But this time, make sure to click the lock button next to the offset value. Use the trim tool to trim the four lines into a rectangle.

Trimmed Rectangle


Select the aligned dimension tool again. First pick the pink sketch line, then select the Ref Level line. Click away to finish the dimension. Select the new 1′-6″ dimension, go up to the options bar > Label, and click on Add Parameter. Type Height  into the Name field and then hit OK.

Height Parameter

Go back to pick lines, and change the offset value to 1/2″. Hover over a pink sketch line, but make sure the mouse is slightly towards the inside of the rectangle. You will see the dashed line appear on the inside. Now press tab so that all of the pink sketch  lines highlight, and you see a continuously dashed line on the inside of the rectangle. Click to place the lines.

Pick Lines


You should now have 2 sets of lines that look like the image below.

Offset Lines


Change the extrusion end to 1″. You can really make this value anything you want. Just ask yourself, how deep do you want the “cuts” to be. Just remember that, the first cut is always the deepest.

Extrusion End

Finish the Sketch by clicking on the green check. Please note that we do not need to dimension the 1/2″ offset because since we used the pick lines from an already existing set of lines, Revit will automatically create the relationship and lock in the 1/2″ offset. Wow thanks Revit! However, if you run into problems adjusting the size, then you will need to dimension every 1/2″ (4 times) and lock it.

Go to the 3D view, and under the Modify tab, select Cut.

Cut Geometry Tool


Select the wall, then select the void extrusion. Your wall is now cut.

Cut Wall


Save the family with a cleaver name and bring it into your project by clicking on the Load into Project. Place it anywhere on your wall you wish to rusticate and have at it! It even works great around windows and doors!

You will find that corners don’t always work out for you, so here is my work around:

  1. Don’t place the first block at the exact edge; align it with the edge, then move it out and inch or so.
  2. Try adjusting the wall joins (miter or butt).
  3. When you copy the corner block, you will get a notice that the element was deleted. To fix this, just MOVE the corner blocks into place, then COPY it back to the spot it came from.
  4. You can move and copy multiple rows into place to speed things along.

Here is a look at the finished product:

Finished Rustication

If you really want an extra punch, you can use the paint tool and paint the inner surface a darker color to accentuate the shadow lines.

Rusticated Stone Blocks