How to color objects in Revit?
So in this segment we're going to detail how we go about creating color in our Revit models.
Now first of all, why color objects? Well, color is one way to quickly differentiate between different characteristics or different elements in a drawing model. If you've gone through our drawing series, we know that drawings exist in order to effectively communicate a concept to somebody else.
Color is one way that we can be more effective in how we communicate a concept.
Now, historically color has not been used on construction drawings, it has not been used as a way to differentiate different objects on a construction drawing. When we hand drafted, color was sometimes used. The problem was that it was difficult to change. When we got into computer based drafting.
We still tended not to use color because the plotters were generally printed only in black and white.
Now, at the advent of color printing, we now have a way to plot in color, but it's still less common because it's more expensive than a black and white plotter.
However, in my own experience more recently, color is becoming more and more prevalent in building drawings today.
Because our main source of communication, our main method of communication is PDF drawings and PDF drawings don't have any limits on what you put on those PDFs. So color is becoming more and more prevalent. I've also seen even with cost conscious consultants and contractors – (that's a lot of alliteration) They still prefer to have color plots so that they can easily go through a set of drawings, even though it's more expensive to plot.
Why use color?
Well, color can be one way to help your drawings pop. Visually it can look very nice, but other than just looking nice, there actually can be a very quick way to differentiate between two different zones or two different systems, or two different really of anything.
Instead of tracing systems or tracing pipe, color can be an immediate way to grab somebody's attention and differentiate easily between one's own and another. There are other ways too, and we don't want to discredit that.
One is transparency, another is shading - using a different tone, such as a black versus a 50% black or a or a gray, a lighter gray versus a darker grey. We can also use different symbols or different styles. So a hidden line type, for example, is one way to differentiate underground pipe versus above ground pipe.
But what about drawbacks?
We need to consider accessibility. There's an estimated 300 million people around the world with some level of color blindness. That means they can't differentiate between two different colors. In men, that comes out to one in 12 and women, it's much less common - around 1 in 200 women.
Now there's obviously varying degrees of color blindness. Sometimes there might be a red - green color blindness, where it's only two colors, red and green that can't be differentiated. In other cases, it's much more widespread, and there's very little ability to differentiate between colors.
We don't want to exclude those people in our audience from interpreting our documents.
So how do we go about that?
Well, if we're using color - use it only as a supplement to help communicate with your drawings. Don't use it as the only method to communicate a concept.
If you have to have the ability to see color in order to interpret your drawings, then you're doing something wrong, because you're excluding that group.
We want to use color and drawings where it's ONLY an additional supplement, it ONLY helps the situation.
Now on this project - I had a dry system which is on the northern side of the page and a wet system which is on the South side of the page. I differentiated between those two zones with blue and red.
Now in this case it's relatively easy to see just by tracing the pipe which system is covering which area.
However, when we have dry and wet systems that are really close together, it's not always that easy and color can be a nice way to differentiate between those two.
Aside from the visual pop that you get with color, I also here use half tone backgrounds in combination with darker toned pipe sprinklers, pipe accessories, hangers and the things that I want to pop in the foreground.
So if this is plotted, the pipe and the fittings are going to plot darker than the background that's used here in addition to using color.
So all of that being said, how do we go about changing color? How do you use color in the drawings in a Revit model?
Well the first way to do it would be to change object by object. Now this is really easy and this is the first thing we usually gravitate towards, but it's a manual method and anytime we want to change something, we have to manually select and change item by item.
How do we go about doing that?
Well, we can select really anything that we want to select, right click - go to override graphics and view by element. I prefer two key commands for everything and in this case I actually have a three key command - EOD and that's going to change the visibility graphics just for that item.
Now here I can change the lines on the edges, I can change the color - Let's say I want to change those to a dark blue.
I hit OK, deselect and now you can see I've got dark blue lines.
Change the thickness on those. You can see the dark blue lines that changed in there. I'm going to control Z to take off those effects.
That's one way of changing color in a drawing. Another way is to change the model category. Now how we would go about this is we would go to- VG for visibility graphics. You'll see here that I actually have a view template applied.
What's a view template?
A view template is like a visibility graphics setting, except it's a template that's applied to all the views that use that template.
So here I know I've got a view template applied because all of the model categories are grayed out.
I can't make those edits here.
Instead, what I've got to do is I've got to go to the view template that's applied to this view - so I go to the view template.
Then I go to the model categories and now I can make those edits.
So if I go down to pipe, right down here I can select that and all of the subsections and I can change what I want to.
Let's say I want to make the outside a thick purple, and go solid.
Change the weight to 8. Whatever visibility overrides I want.
Hit apply - that's going to apply it for the entire template and everything in that model category.
Now one weird thing happened.
You'll see this is actually still red.
Why is that red?
It's because I'm using filters in order to adjust color and this is the third method which I would recommend and I use myself.
With a filter, all I have to do is make whatever selection I want to make and it can be any number of categories and I go and I adjust the property on the color parameter.
So if I want to change this to green, I deselect - now we have green pipe and fittings.
If I want to change those same things to blue, I can make that selection.
Maybe say purple. Now they're purple.
Now how did I do that?
Well, I've got a parameter, that's applied to sprinklers, pipe fittings, pipes and pipe accessories that if I change the color to a specific thing that I've designated before, that it'll override and create them.
So first, where is that filter?
Well if I go to the view template and I go to filters - override filters - These are all my filters, and you can see the color overrides that I've got in here.
So as an example for this purple filter -
If I go down to pipe accessories purple. You can actually see this is what's going on, this is the override that's happening. I'm overriding the background, which is making the center solid purple and I'm overriding the edges with this dark purple line.
For sprinklers I'm only overriding that outside line. You'll see there is no override on the foreground and background. And finally, for pipe fittings I actually use a darker purple for the outside and a darker fill on the inside.
Those are my three different filters.
How do those filters work?
Well, let's go with the pipe and let's see. So I go to edit the filter. This is the one that we're talking about and what I'm doing is with the filter is it's selecting everything that's in this column, so it's selecting all pipes and all pipe accessories that have this rule, and that is all pipes and all pipe accessories where the color parameter, which is what I've created - equals purple, and the capitalization here doesn't matter.
So, the pipe and the pipe accessories, if it has this parameter of color that equals purple, then it's doing the override on the filter. So that's where the override is providing.
All filters do are selecting a specific subset of elements that are in our model. It's up to us to do something with that filter, and we're taking that filter and we're overriding the graphics for those items.
Now, how do you go about getting that parameter of color for your items?
Well, it's relatively easy to do.
To create a parameter, let's go to shared parameters. Let's group this under - we'll call it generic, and then we'll create a new parameter. Let's call this - color new.
Discipline - common is fine and then type or perimeter we're going to make this a text parameter, so I hit OK - that's our new shared parameter. I'll hit OK.
Now to apply that shared parameters to specific things in our project, I'm going to go to project parameters, and here I'm going to go down to color. Hit C so I can scroll down a little bit faster.
You see, it doesn't show up in our list yet. That's because we haven't brought it in to our project.
So I'm going to add - Share parameter. And I’m going to select the share parameter we just created.
It doesn't show up, that's because we're in this accessories group. If we go down to our generic group now, we have this new one that we've just created. That's the ‘color new' parameter.
Now, without going into a ton of detail, these are type and instance. We'll get into more detail when we get into properties, but in this case, like a type parameter, is going to change every element of that type at the same time. We don't want that. We want it to be instance by instance, so let's leave this as instance.
And what do we want to group this parameter under?
Well, it could be anything.
Let's group this under constraints C - just so it shows up at the top.
Now, over here. This is where we are selecting what categories we want this parameter to affect.
So I know the first one offhand is pipes - We want pipe accessories, we want pipe fittings and we want sprinklers. If there's anything else you use like generic models or something like that as a category, then we're going to want to apply this to that as well.
So if we’ve got to hide unchecked categories, these are all the things we have selected. This is only toggling our view so it doesn't really matter.
Constraints, instants - we're good to go - so I hit Ok, and that's going to take this ‘color new’ and apply it to all of those things. Now you'll see when I select this pipe instead of just having color, we also have this new parameter that we've just defined.
So if I go to let's say, orange. Type in orange and hit apply and then I deselect - Well, nothing happens.
That's because we haven't created that filter yet.
All we did was create that parameter.
So let's go back to our filters and create a new filter - I'm just going to go to edit - new and create new.
I like to start my filters by fire just in case we have any shared models that I'm claiming it as a fire filter and then I also like to describe what I'm selecting. So, in this case let's just select pipe and then I'm going to say orange pipe. The last description is what I'm actually doing with it, so I typed in orange - we're good there. Now here I'm going to go down to pipe, I'm going to say - let's select all the pipe in the model that has a ‘color new’ - this is that new parameter we created, where the color new equals orange. And again, capitalization here doesn't matter.
So now I'm going to find that new one that we just did - that's in all caps - just typed in all caps.
We're going to apply that filter, and let's move it all the way up to the top - so it takes priority over everything else.
Now under anything, any pipe that this filter is selecting, we want to change the line to a different color and we want to override let's say, the background - Let's change it to orange, and we want that pattern to be solid. It's going to make it a nice bright orange. – Hit Ok – OK.
Now our purple pipe is overridden by this filter that's taking a higher priority, and that's how we're able to use filters to define the color for a specific thing.
Now if I were to go and select all of this, and I change all of that color to orange. It's going to change all the pipe in there.
Now if you zoom in real close, you see, oh - we still have red caps and red fittings. That's because our filter only is selecting the pipe. If I want all the sprinkler and the cap and everything to be included in that filter - well I would go back to that filter. Go to the filters - go to the ones we created, hit edit.
And here, instead of just the pipes being selected, let's go down to pipe accessories, here, pipe fittings and sprinklers. So now we're selecting all of these things, that have color new equal orange and it's grabbing all of those things and turning them orange.
So even our sprinkler is going to fill in and look a little bit funky here.
But that's the effect that we get when we're using filters. That's the best way that I know to set up and make good use of the filters.
Now for this project, you can apply those filters to any kind of view, so if you're in an isometric, if you're in a 3D, whatever view you have, you can still use those same filters and use that same color. It's pulling the same color. So if I've got a red pipe or blue pipe in any one view, it's also going to be applied in my other views because I've added those same filters.
Here, even in an isometric I've got filters applied. If I go to a section, I've got filters applied - so no matter where I'm looking at it, I can see what's going on pretty easily, and in this case you could see the dry system, which I've done in blue is up in the attic and then this wet system, which is in red is over here and below.
Here's another project that, despite being small, was wildly complex and we had three different situations. One is that we had a dry system which we've built in green, we've got a wet system which has red, which is showing the steel portion of the wet system and we have orange which is the CPVC portion of the wet system.
Now, normally I wouldn't recommend mixing CPVC and steel because the oils that's used in the threading on the steel are incompatible with the CPVC, so we want to be very careful about their use.
We address this here in a different way.
What we did on this project was use color as a way to differentiate those different zones, and if we go to our 3D view, we can see this also.
We're using color as a quick way to see which zone we're working on.
So if I wanted to change any one portion of this, I can make a selection. I go to the color and this all relates to my different categories. If I want to change it to blue, I can change it to blue. If I want to change these to purple - type in purple, and I can change anyone of these segments.
Now the only downside is that if I take any one of these things and I change it - let's say I copy this.
Well, the copy is going to bring in the same parameters that was before.
So if I take a green pipe and I copy the green pipe. Well, once I deselect it, it's going to be the same color. But if I create similar, it's not going to carry those properties. So you see this as a red pipe, that's my default color, so if I don't give it any kind of color parameter, it goes red, if I give it any kind of color description, it's going to go green.
So the downside is - if we make changes, we add something, it's going to default back to whatever our main color is.
So what I do to handle that is after I go through and make the changes, I'll select the portion of the system that's applicable and I'll just select everything that's in that zone and the way I do that is if you have HydroCAD, you can go in and go system divider. Create a system divider there and then you use the system locker to select.
That's just the HydroCAD feature.
AutoSPRINK has something similar.
You go select everything you want to select - and then I'm just going to change that back to green.
So everything that I had selected that's attached on there is now green. Now you see, there's portions of here that are isolated that I did not have selected - so those remain purple.
For example, those pipe accessories, those hangers are actually not able to be walked. I have to manually select those.
If I go there and change this back to green, now I can change all of that back. So modifications are a little bit obnoxious. I've got to be cognizant when I make those changes, that I go back, select all those changes and change it to the color I want.
But in general those filter rules can be much faster way to do it.
Now one last thing, we don't want to go through creating the parameter and creating those filters on every single project.
What we want to do is we want to set that up once and use it for all of our projects. The way that we do that is we go back to our Revit template. Whatever template you're using to start up a job, go in, make edits there, and set up the filters there with the rules that you want.
So if you want to use the color orange or red or blue or green or whatever, set up those filters and set up those parameters in your template before you ever start a project.
That way, you're not doing all of this work on every single project. You're only doing it once and then from then on all you got to do is edit the property for your selection and everything else takes care of itself.
So in this segment, just to recap, we use color as a nice way to enhance our communication and our drawings. It's a nice way to differentiate between different things like zones where it doesn't really matter which zone something's on, but it's helpful to know at a quick glance, and color is a way to do that.
We do have drawbacks with using color though, and that's specifically accessibility and making sure that we're not making color the only way to differentiate between two things and then finally there's three ways to adjust color in a Revit model.
One is just changing that object and doing a manual override.
Two is changing the model category and
Three is creating filters and rules that affect all elements that meet that filter criteria.
I’m Joe Meyer, this is MeyerFire University.
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