By Garry Stockton
Whilst working on several Revit Architecture renders, I am coming to find that with the right combination of settings, you can get good output without the need for third party add-ons in relatively little time. Granted there are limitations for using Revit or Autodesk cloud render, but out of the box with a tweak here and there you can achieve good results. If you’re doing large format presentation boards or poster work that will be looked at very closely, you may want to push it out to Enscape, 3ds Max or similar, but you can get reasonable quality for e-mailed .jpgs quickly.
- Make sure that you’re running Revit with enough memory (RAM) than the minimum requirements (See Autodesk’s website for recommendations), the more the better. If you find things are taking a lot of time to achieve, chances are that your memory is inadequate for the task. Additional memory can be purchased for very little cost these days and makes a sensible upgrade.
- Also, make sure you have 64 Bit Revit loaded, this will give you significantly faster and smoother renders.
- Select the right resolution for the job. In my experience, the difference between medium and high is hardly notable at times, but the difference in time can be significant. Unless you’re doing large format presentation boards that will be looked at very closely, you can get reasonable quality for e-mailed .jpgs in a fraction of the time. Also, be careful about the region you choose to render. Click the region box in the render screen and adjust it so you don’t go rendering everything under the sun, but rather, only what you really need.
- Render views that are set up with a camera perspective. Use the camera tool from the view pull-down menu and play around with the settings. These views will always be more realistic than an isometric view from the basic 3D view. Once you dial in the right view, you can save it and return to it later. Also, important to note that the sky background only renders in the perspective views and not in the basic 3D view.
- Save your renderings to the project. For a long time, I exported the views from the rendering navigator to .jpg. It is much more useful to save these in the project and name them the same as the views so that you can flip through them at any time.
- Run draft renderings before your final rendering. This one seems so basic, but it’s easy to take for granted. You may think you have everything dialled in, so you go ahead and run the rendering and leave for lunch only to come back and find out that your sun settings were set for morning when you wanted afternoon. Unless you take two lunches that day, you’ll be waiting for that second rendering. Select the draft resolution and spend a minute making sure things are coming out right before you commit to the long render. You can also render a small region of the image first to make sure materials look right before the full render as well.
- Populate the image with real life objects. Things like furniture, glass bottles, ornaments, plants, car and the occasional person will go very far to make the rendering more lifelike (go to com). These objects help to animate the image and a lot of the objects are generally modelled with a high degree of quality.
- Spend time adjusting the exterior materials. Some of the basic materials from standard Revit simply don’t render very well, while others do. I have yet to see brushed metal on a flat surface really turn out as I expect. However, in the materials editor, there are additional choices to take a look at and once you get it to look right, add it in and put it in your template for future use.
- Consider Revit 64. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know much about this one, but I understand that the 64-bit version of Revit will be available to subscription users very soon. Rumour has it that 64-bit rendering runs significantly faster and smoother. Graphics gurus can speak volumes about this more than I, but with a basic understanding, 64-bit has got to be better than 32 bit no matter how you slice it.
- Be aware of the lighting scheme that you’re using. This is a big enough topic to warrant its own entire post (if not a book), but at the basic level, try to be realistic. Set the drawing up so you can control where north is and for exterior renderings, select edit/new under the sun dialogue box and you can dial in your date, time and place. This will give you an accurate account of a solar study and make your rendering more realistic. Artificial lighting is more relevant for night-time or interior renderings, but you will have to place that lighting in the model and I daresay, that will be a fairly advanced model than the basics we’re discussing here.
- Be realistic about your expectations. If you have need for serious rendering horsepower, Revit is probably not your best tool. other programs like 3D Studio are much better suited for true rendering and ease of use. We’ve had great success building the model to a practical level of detail necessary for the construction drawings, and then running the photoreal renderings through another platform. It depends on the purpose of the rendering and at what point in the design process the rendering takes place. You can get great things from Revit, but if you expect the world, you may be disappointed.