Color Schemes: Not Just For Architects
Customization in Autodesk Revit allows users to tailor the software to their specific needs and workflow. This can range from customizing the user interface to creating custom families, templates, or even adding new features through add-ins. Using native Revit functionality, your project team, whether it’s someone with BIM in their title or your design staff can customize the way Color Schemes are used. Today, I will be discussing how I have used Color Schemes to help with our everyday MEP designs.
If you are in the Architectural field, you are probably using Color Schemes primarily for visualization and presentation purposes to enhance the understanding and communication of your design concepts. Color Schemes can be applied to Rooms, Areas, Spaces or Zones and Pipes or Ducts. For those that are not sure what Color Schemes are, a color scheme is a tool used to visually represent and differentiate elements or properties within a building model. Color schemes are often used to improve the readability and understanding of a project, especially in large and complex architectural designs. They allow you to assign colors to various elements or parameters, making it easier to identify and analyze specific information within your Revit model. It can be found on the properties palette under Graphics which can be controlled by a View Template or independently per View. It is grayed out in the screenshot below because it is controlled by a View Template.
In my 15+ years in the industry, I’ve only used Color Schemes for MEP at the first company I worked at back in Denver 15 years ago. More on that later. At the companies since, I have not used Color Schemes until now which is what this article is about. I bet you are asking yourself what I have used Color Schemes for in our MEP Designs. Below you will find 3 examples of what I am using Color Schemes for. The key to using Color Schemes in these examples is Spaces, without them, this does not work very well.
Before I started here at Garver, they were not creating MEP Spaces in their models. This is now required as part of our model creation/setup process to have Space created. The current process for showing the Fire Protection Hazard Classifications is to manually add these using a Filled Region with the same name as the Hazard Classification as defined by NFPA 13, see screenshot.
This process, while effective, can be quite time consuming, especially when multiple views/levels are present in the Revit model. By utilizing MEP Spaces, I have created a custom Shared Parameter called Hazard Classification that has been added to our MEP Template as a Project Parameter and applied to Spaces. Once created, Spaces are then selected, individually or by Hazard Classification and the Hazard Classification is typed in, copied, or selected from the drop down.
The customization does not stop there. In order to see those classifications identified in the views, you will need to create the Color Scheme(s). I have created 2 different Color Schemes to visualize the Hazard Classification of choice depending on the project: HC NFPA 13 and HC UFC 3-600-1. Each are slightly different and the one shown in the screenshot is HC NFPA 13. As you can see, it is set up to utilize colors based on the selected Parameter, Hazard Classification and “By value”. While I am currently just using the color black (because we don’t print in color), the fill patterns matters here.
Lastly, you will need a Legend of sorts to help your client identify what each of these fill patterns mean. I see 2 options for accomplishing this. The first being, using the Color Fill Legend found on the Analyze Tab of Revit or creating a custom legend. When using the Color Fill Legend, it will not show you anything until that parameter is filled out and will not give you anything other than the Hazard Name used in the Color Scheme. Therefore, it cannot really be customized unless that Color Scheme value is expanded more. By utilizing a Legend, you can customize it however you see fit which is what I would recommend.
Similarly, to Hazard Classification above, a custom Shared Parameter called Lighting Controls was used and applied to our Spaces. I have also created a Color Scheme and a custom View Template of the same name that is assigned to a set of floor plan views in our MEPF template that may or may not be on every project. At the time of this writing, some of the Fill Patterns are the same as the ones used for Hazard Classification and will probably expand the fill pattern list to create specific ones at a later date so they don’t accidentally get modified.
Unlike the Hazard Classification, I am using the Color Fill Legend from Revit because the Value, as seen in the screenshot, is detailed enough for the Lighting Controls plans. As I mentioned previously, if you want to customize this more and add more information, by all means use a Revit Legend instead of the Color Fill Legend.
Remember when I said, “more on that later”, well let me expand on that now. Back when I first started using Revit in 2007, the company I worked for was adding Hatch patterns to the CAD backgrounds they received from Architects to help the design staff visually identify where Electrical Rooms were located so they would not run their duct or pipe through those rooms. Revit for MEP was still in its infancy at that time and not all that great to use for MEP honestly so at the time, I had no idea how I was going to accomplish that. After a lot of exhaustive searching, I came across Color Schemes, but it was only being used by Architects. I quickly learned that I could create a space, use the spacing naming utility to that the space had the same name as the Architectural room. I then created a new Color Scheme, probably called Elec Rooms or something, that looked for the space name that contained a few variants like Electrical or Elec which then applies a specific hatch pattern in those locations. Now, some customization to that Color Scheme may be needed as necessary because, you know, no two Architect’s do the same thing or call things the same. That method worked great for us and became the new standard while I worked there. What surprised me was that no one else was visually identifying the Electrical Rooms in their views at the few companies I have worked at since.
I hope that I sparked some creativity. What thoughts are now running through your head about what you can use Color Schemes for in your Designs? Remember that while customization can enhance your workflow and improve efficiency, it's essential to maintain a balance. Excessive customization can lead to compatibility issues and make it challenging to collaborate with others who may not have the same customizations. Always document your customizations and backup your settings to ensure you can restore them if needed.