Autodesk Revit: Visual Styles

In this Autodesk Revit tutorial I am going to explain Visual Styles. If you’d like to watch the video version of this tutorial first, simply click in the box below….



There are many ways to customise the look of your views within Revit. In a separate tutorial we will look at how you can manipulate the look (line style, transparency, etc) of a single element within a view. But to control the fundamental, overall look of a view we have a setting called “Visual Styles”. Visual Styles are applicable to all views that reference (i.e. show) the model- eg Floor Plans, Elevations, Sections, 3D Views, etc. Take the 3D view below as an example…..





If you take a look at the “View Control Bar” for this view…..





The third icon along is the “Visual Styles” button- highlighted by the arrow in the above image. Go ahead and click on the “Visual Styles” button on the View Control Bar. A popup immediately appears, which gives you access to all the available Visual Styles. You then simply click on the one you want for this view- and the view updates immediately. Remember: All the settings on the View Control Bar are “view-specific”- so whatever changes you make here only effect THIS view.





Let’s now run through each Visual Style in turn:






The first style is “Wireframe”. This makes all the surfaces of the geometry totally transparent. Personally I find no use at all for this style-n the resultant view is just too confusing to be of any use. You can see in the above image that it’s already getting quite difficult to see what is actually going- i.e. does the handrail adjoin the face of the external wall?


Hidden Line



Hidden Line actually obscures the lines and surfaces that you would not see in reality. This is far more useful than Wireframe- but can look quite bland. This is ideal for “working views”, less so for “presentation material”.




Building upon “Hidden Line” this style now shades the surfaces of your geometry. The colour for each surface is defined by the “Shading” colour in Material designated to the elements. To change this colour “globally” use the Material Editor. To change the colour of a surface in just one view, apply a Graphic Override to the element.


Consistent Colours



Very similar to “Shaded” but it does not apply any darkening to the faces- i.e. it’s as if there is one overall non-directional, light source. This makes it easier to see all elements clearly, but can leave the view looking quite flat.




Instead of using the colour set against a marterial’s “Shading” property, the “Realistic” Visual Styles actually uses the material’s bump map image (if available). For example, if you external wall has an outer layer made of a “Brick” material, then Revit will display the Brick materials’ bump map image of real bricks.

If you are using Revit LT then that’s the end of your Visual Styles. You will NOT have the following Visual Style available to you.


Ray Trace





The “Ray Trace” Visual Style is only available in the “Full” version of Revit- i.e. it’s NOT included in Revit LT. When you change the Visual Style to “Ray Trace” Revit does some serious computation in terms of calculating many separate light paths and their subsequent reflections across multiple surfaces. This results in a highly-realistic rendered scene. HOWEVER: This can place a big strain on your computer, depending upon the complexity of the model. And EVERY time you adjust the view (i.e. rotate or pan the model), Revit has to perform the Ray Trace again! In reality this really SLOWS DOWN you workflow. For day-to-day use of Revit you are much better working with either the “Hidden Line” or “Shaded” Visual Styles.


Graphic Display Options


At the top of the list of Visual Styles (the one that appears when you hit the icon on the View Control Bar) is an option named “Graphic Display Options…”




This gives you access to even more settings that can fine-tune the look of a particular view. Go ahead and select “Graphic Display Options” and the following panel will open…




I wont run through all the settings in this Beginner’s Guide. However a couple of setting worth mentioning are:-

  1. Sketchy Line: Only available in Full Revit, this allows you to create the classic “SektchUp” look- i.e. an arty / hand drawn style
  2. Background: Allows you to set a Revit-generated “sky”, or even select one of your own images as the backdrop.

Key Points

  1. Visual Styles are applied on a per-view basis
  2. In practice “Hidden Line” and “Shaded” are the 2 most useful styles on a day-to-day basis.
  3. The “Ray Trace” Visual Style is NOT available in Revit LT
This tutorial is taken from "The Complete Beginner's Guide to Revit Architecture" FREE online course.
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Posted in Autodesk Revit.