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Thread: I use Revit to model, should I use 3ds max or blender to render?

  1. #1
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    I use Revit to model, should I use 3ds max or blender to render?

    So my current situation is that I use revit to model my architectural projects. I have a basic knowledge of 3ds max (I would be using vray), however recently I started to learn blender and I have picked the program up so much faster than 3ds max. I am able to create scenes efficiently and to a relatively high standard even before photoshop. I'm currently about to go into my 3rd year of architecture at university. I have free time during this summer to practice and try to expand my current knowledge of revit and a rendering program to go with it (I know revit can produce pretty nice renders, but I'm looking for the more photo realistic and atmospheric type of renders).

    Since revit and max have a great connection with each other in terms of importing and exporting I think this would be a highly beneficial feature since max can understand the layers of revit and you can select multiple objects under the same category. Or the other option would be to model in revit and use it for drawings and sections which can be taken into photoshop to give them some life. Then using the plans and sections make a fast model on blender.

    So the question I would like to know is should I spend some time trying to use and improve my skills on max since it is used in the office more too. Or stick with blender for the efficiency of texturing.

    Thanks for your time.

  2. #2
    Moderator snowyweston's Avatar
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    I'd start by first suggesting (seriously) that you step away from your desk and use your free time (less) wisely. Get out, see the world, travel, relax, commune, dine, eat, sleep...


    Beyond that, honestly, you touch on so many points we need to break down a few things - which can be readily posed with two questions :

    Q1. You understand Revit's not "just" about "modelling" don't you? As in, you appreciate the distinction to be drawn between it and Max/Blender right?

    Q2. Do you see yourself practicing architecture after architectural school, or architectural visualisation?


    To pre-empt your answers to those questions, some answers/observations to your own.

    1. Blender hasn't a large presence in commercial (architectural*) practices - 3DS remains king there, if that's where you want to remain strong, don't let that slip.
    *viz. houses might employ it - but again, I believe it too largely remain a Max world - even Maya.

    2. Don't over-estimate Revit-Max interoperability - you will still have to learn how to work with translating formats, segmented-part-model exports, etc.

    3. "Life" in architectural drawings is a concept (mostly) fostered by school. Come the working day, you will discover very quickly fidelity and accuracy in drawings wins over "pretty stuff" (fluff) no end.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply.

    To answer your first suggestion I didn't mean that I would spend the whole summer doing this, what I meant is that I now have 'free time' compared to when I'm in school. So don't worry.

    1. A: Yes this is also why I need to explore so much more about revit, there is so much I still need to learn in that field.
    2. A: I would be doing architecture as a practice, I am just highly interested in architectural visualisation.

    1. A: Yes that's one problem, that learning max would be more profitable for my future.
    2. A: Thanks for the advice.
    3. A: That's why I want to make the most of it, enjoying adding character to drawings will only last for so long, and I understand after that most offices will produce the type of work you mentioned.

    Again thanks for the advice.

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    Member TheRevitKid's Avatar
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    Don't get so caught up on the "tools". It doesn't matter. Use what you are comfortable or you like to use and master it. Any one of the render engines or software packages you mentioned can yield the results you may be looking for.

    My politically correct advice would be to use the tool you feel most comfortable with and want to learn the most and become a GURU. You will know when this happens because you won't feel like the software is a barrier anymore...

    My unpolitical correct view is to use Revit alone and master the crap out of it. You will benefit from all of the practical aspects mentioned by snowy above but you can also create beautiful images (IMO).

    For example, I used to think the only way to create the photo-realistic images and renderings I saw in magazine was to learn V-Ray! In reality, you can make images that are very similar with Revit and Photoshop alone...

    Exhibit A
    Exhibit B
    Exhibit C

    I decided that Revit was my tool and I would make my tool yield the results I was looking for... All of the images in the links above were created using Revit and Photoshop ONLY.

    I hope that helps!
    Erchprime likes this.

  5. #5
    Member TheRevitKid's Avatar
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    I just realized I am on RFO... scratch the politically correct version... USE REVIT!
    snowyweston, truevis and CADiva like this.

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    Thanks for the reply.

    I will make my priority to improve my skills in revit, as my ability in the other fields as at a good standard for my 3rd year.

    Thanks for the advice.

  7. #7
    Moderator snowyweston's Avatar
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    Jeff, it upsets me the chairs in Room 104 cast no shadow.




























  8. #8
    Member JeffreyMcGrew's Avatar
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    As a fellow Revit and Blender fanatic, I too struggle with this issue.

    I just don't like MAX, never really have, and find Blender much better. Now with Cycles, it's stunning, and it's our go-to when we need to do Sub-D style organic modeling at my company.

    However, until recently, getting Revit models into Blender was terrible. Now it's just bad, not terrible, but still; using an OBJ exporter for Revit gets the model into Blender, but at the cost of losing all the materials, cameras, and lights. MAX linking gets the model into MAX with all materials, cameras, and lights.

    That, unless you're using Mental Ray, you'll probably have to swap out altogether anyways, and there aren't any good tools to do that quickly (which is sort of shocking, given that MAX is supposed to be the 'pro' option here).

    So what we do is this:
    - for most views, we simply use Revit Realistic Views with shadows / exposure tuned to look nice enough. Combined with good custom-made materials, this works surprisingly well for standard design views and design communication that we might have rendered in the past. This way we're not leaving Revit, and staying more productive.

    - If we do need to do a small number of renderings for marketing images that help 'sell' the project, we use a decent rendering plug-in for Revit that gives better results than the built-in Mental Ray. We're using Octane Render's beta plug-in and are pretty happy with it, but there are others here. Again, not leaving Revit, which keeps us more productive, but we do have to do extra work to define better materials / lighting.

    - If we need to do a real lighting analysis or many renderings (so we need to batch render them or render farm them in-house) we'll use the Cloud Rendering if possible. If that won't give us what we need, then we use MAX, but we use MAX with the same 3rd party rendering engine we're using in Revit. Octane Render is very similar to Cycles, and even one guy worked on both, so if you like Cycles you might want to check out Octane. We don't model in MAX, because it sucks. We're just using it as a glorified rendering engine, and the DAY that the Octane Render Plugin for Revit gets batch rendering we'll (hopefully) stop using MAX altogether except for very specific lighting analysis.

    - If we need to do design work that isn't in Revit at all, and is better suited to Sub-D style modeling, we use Blender 100%. Sometimes we'll have a 'placeholder' in the Revit model for the Blender model, and just export the joints where the more organic Blender model meets the Revit model; for when we fab we'll fab directly from the Revit model or the Blender model. So as long as the connections are identical between the two, we're good.

    - That said, we are exploring using Fusion 360 for some more organic modeling, for you can get real solids out of it which work better in Revit. Many would use Rhino here instead. T-Splines are pretty awesome, and while you can't get the detail out of them you can with Sub-D modeling, you can certainly do some great work.


    I agree that MAX is terrible. Blender is awesome. Whatever tools you use, get really good at them. But as others here have said, think more about the process and the overall picture. Picking the 'wrong' tool to learn isn't really a danger, and spending more time on a design with an 'inferior' tool you know how to use really well will give better results than lackluster work in a theoretically 'better' tool. This is why you see plenty of terrible renderings done in MAX by people who don't really know how to use it well, but because "it's better!" they refuse to render in Revit instead, where they might actually get better results because it's easier and there's way less time re-working everything, so there is more time for actual design.

    Hope this helps!

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    Thanks so much for the in depth reply.

    I think I'll stick to using revit and use it's rendering features and then just photoshop. If I have time I will use blender mainly because it's pretty fun to use.

  10. #10
    Member TheRevitKid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowyweston View Post
    Jeff, it upsets me the chairs in Room 104 cast no shadow.
    Haha... Give me a pass... It was 4 years ago and in school... High stress, no time, and lots of caffeine were most likely involved.

    Those chairs looks real good in 3D, though!
    snowyweston likes this.

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