Make Your Model Look Like a Model

I saw a Tweet recently (I think it was a Tweet, I can’t find it again) that had an interesting workflow to make your Revit model render in a single material. The post had a rendering look like a hand made model fashioned out of wood. It was a neat idea, but it implied that the single material rendering inside Revit was not possible, mainly because you can’t override materials with View Filters. And while that last part is true, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it right inside of Revit. It takes a little cheating, but it’s cheating in a way that probably won’t hurt anything.

While View Filters don’t allow for material overrides, Phase Filters do. Taking a look at my Phases dialog box for the default Revit template, there is no default Phase Filter that has the New phase state set to overridden; and that makes sense because when do you want to override thew new work? You just want it to look like it normally does.


You can probably see where I’m going with this. I made a new Phase Filter called Single Material and set the New phase state to “Overridden”. Then for quick access, I went to the Graphic Overrides tab and opened the “Phase – New” material. My project didn’t have an appropriate material, but the installed asset browser got me a “good enough” chipboard material from the Autodesk material library. I didn’t bother making a new material, I simply replaced the asset for the “Phase – New” material. I did tweak the bump map, dialing the scale up to 40’x40′ since I was applying this to my whole model and I wanted it to look like it shrunk.

Sidenote – decades ago in architecture school, I was working on a model for a project up to the last minute (shocker) and I took a nice slice through the side of my thumb with a utility knife. I wrapped my thumb in those crappy brown paper towels you always had in school, and taped it up with masking tape. I did my charrette for that project with a hack job wrapped up bleeding thumb! Immediately after I presented I asked my professor if I could go to student health. She hastily agreed and I went and got stitches! You can still just make out the scar…

Back in 2016… In this specific case, my entire model was in the New Construction phase so it was pretty straightforward, but the same could be done to the other phase materials because honestly, when do you ever need to use those materials.

The results weren’t half bad:

Chipboard! I usually don’t say this, but it actually does look better full size, so click away!

Apply a touch of tilt frame effect…

Blurry chipboard!
Blurry chipboard!

I was pretty happy with the results considering the minuscule amount of time I spent on this thing. If I understood how exterior shadows worked, I could probably get those adjusted to look more appropriate. There are a ton of tweaks you could do if you wanted to apply this process to your own models, but you can easily start right in Revit for your rendering.

6 thoughts on “Make Your Model Look Like a Model

  1. Sean says:

    a nice tweak to this workflow that Phil Read suggested this last week was to set the material of “glass” and “storefront glazing” to nothing. this removes the whited-out windows and looks even more like a studio museum board model.

  2. Jason Kunkel says:

    I like the idea of having flexibility with the windows and fenestration, but I don’t think that will work with my workflow, since the Phase Override controls all the materials. You could probably turn off those subcategories in whatever view you were rendering, that would probably give the same look. I was mainly trying to replicate the chipboard model look from my college days, and I was way too busy (lazy) to cut out my windows back then. Related: a colleague mentioned I should render a coffee stain somewhere on the board to really give it that college fee.

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