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Project North & True North Tutorial

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    Project North & True North Tutorial

    I've been using Revit for years now, and still get completely confused every time I have to adjust Project North and True North. So, I put together a step-by-step tutorial that I keep handy. I still couldn't explain how it works! The Revit User Guide is a good place to start on the subject (or maybe not ), but maybe this tutorial will help someone out.

    Let me know if there are questions or you spot errors in the thinking behind it. And of course, don't let it stop you from posting your own tutorial if you think you've got a good one.

    Tutorial Revised 12/09/2010
    Attached Files
    Last edited by iru69; December 9, 2010, 07:54 PM. Reason: Revised tutorial

    I have this as a note in our template when a user first goes to a floor plan. Right next to 2 reference planes that locate the project origin. I know it doesnt directly explain True vs Project north, but it does have an impact on it.

    "1. Always build your building near the starting point of the default template. (you can delete the referance planes after starting your project. Referance planes have no set use, but could be the center of a building or a major corner at an exterior wall.)

    2. Model it with Project North pointing directly up. (lay it out as you would have it appear on sheets)

    3. If you are using a dwg based site, Link your site file Center To Center.

    4. Move or rotate the SITE UNDER your project until it is correctly positioned relative to the building. (do not move or rotate the project itself).

    5. Use the Acquire Coordinates tool and pick the site dwg.

    This will set your project's shared coordinated to those of the dwg's wcs. True North will be the dwg's Y axis. Now your building knows where the dwg 0,0 is, but it can still record its own information in well behaving small numbers. It knows and can orient to either True North, or Project North. Once the shared coordinates are set, subsequent imports can be made origin to origin using shared coordinates."
    Jasen Arias

    "Thats all I got for now."


      Originally posted by iru69 View Post
      Let me know if there are questions or you spot errors in the thinking behind it. And of course, don't let it stop you from posting your own tutorial if you think you've got a good one.
      Great tutorial Iru, but since you asked for it:

      By default, Project North points up towards the top of the screen/sheet. If you place a column in your plan and turn on shadows (don’t forget to set the Ground Plane) and set the location to Los Angeles and date and time to 12/21 @ 11:50 am, you get an almost perfect shadow heading straight toward the bottom of your screen indicating the southerly sun.

      Never been to LA, but i´m almost certain that the shadow would point straight toward the top of the screen
      Klaus Munkholm
      "Do. Or do not. There is no try."


        Originally posted by Munkholm View Post
        Never been to LA, but i´m almost certain that the shadow would point straight toward the top of the screen
        Thanks Munkholm! LOL.

        That is really kind of funny, because I had it correct (i.e. top) yesterday, and it's been correct for years since I first wrote it, but yesterday when I was proofreading it before posting it, I noticed it said "top", and thought, that's not right! How did I ever not notice that before, and I changed it to "bottom"... obviously based on a total brain twist. Like I said though, the whole thing has always confused me... maybe partly because I don't know north from south!

        Original post has been updated with correction.


          Many thanks for the tutorial iru - every project I struggle with this.

          William Sutherland rias riba
          WS Architecture Ltd


            Excellent job Iru.

            It seems like I have to relearn how to set Project North on every new job.
            Manipulating True/Project North has got to be the most un-Revit-like part of Revit
            Scott Hopkins AIA LEED AP
            Peikert Group Architects


              Extensive post... Here's a stab at the difference between Project and True North and a simplified step-by-step which I always use:

              True North is the actual orientation as it will be when built.
              Project North is the orientation needed to set up your drawings. Project North is ALWAYS straight up on your screen.

              Set true North:
              An imported site plan will always have a true north arrow. Whether this is a jpg, dwg, or whatever. This doesn't matter. So what you do is this:

              1. Create any plan view (Site Plan being the most obvious) and set the properties to project north.
              2. Draw the outlines of your building. Set the view properties to True North, dont't worry: you shouldn't see any difference in your view plan.
              3. Import or link a site plan in any given format. Rescale (for jpgs) and rotate if necessary, and place at the outlines of your building.
              4. Go to Manage > Rotate True North
              5. Place the Rotation Origin on a corner of the north arrow in your Site Plan and rotate it so that this arrow is facing upwards. You can do this by taking the first point of rotation aligned with the current direction of the north arrow and the second point vertically upwards (if your siteplan is a dwg you can use snapping for accurate rotation).
              6. Check by setting the view properties back to Project North. Your plan should be oriented as it were at point 1. Setting the view to True north means that the North Arrow of the site plan is facing North.


              Just a note: True North is used for Site Plans (with large scale factors), Shadow Effects and Analysis purposes. By default inaccurate work. So don't go :banghead: over a half degree.
              Martijn de Riet
              Professional Revit Consultant | Revit API Developer
              MdR Advies
              Planta1 Revit Online Consulting


                This is always a dificult topic to explain to my users. Thanks IRU now I will just pass this pdf on to them. Hoefully it will kick inn for them. Took me about four years and I am still wondering some time.


                  Just starting up a new project, and for the FIRST TIME EVER i got the rotations right the first time around :hide:
                  This tool is just so counter intuitive.... Maybe my brain is working the same way on a late Friday night :beer:
                  Klaus Munkholm
                  "Do. Or do not. There is no try."


                    On the whole I don't mind or get confused by setting True North. What I do find though is that the direction you rotate will be one of two you try, and normally it will be the second!! I also haven't tried combining the linked files, so that was interesting. It was funny to see that it can throw some of you Revit gurus, it is very rare I am on the 'not confused' side! Give me a moment while I bask in it. Ahhhhhhh.:whiskey:
                    As far as shadows to the south are concerned, I really don't see the problem and nor would Ian or any other of the Aussies. That my friends is the natural way. :hide:
                    Motorbike riding is one long bezier curve


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