Step-by-Step: Revit Tutorial / Creating a Simple Family

For this tutorial, we’ll create a standalone Family (.rfa extension), which could be inserted into any Project (.rvt extension). The family consists of a simple four-sided box with a floor.

1. Open Revit and begin a New Project by choosing [Application Menu] > New Project; use the Architectural template.

2. Choose [Application Menu] > New > Family. Select the Generic Model.rft template. (The Application Menu is in the far upper left hand corner of the screen.)

3. In the Project Browser, make sure the Ref. Level Floor Plan view is current: Double-click on the view name to make it current. Notes: By default, the Project Browser is docked to the left side of the Modeling Window. Its visibility is controlled with View > User Interface. In Revit, one view is always current (i. e. you are always viewing your model from a certain point, direction, and projection).

4. Set the View Scale to 12” = 1’-0”. This is done in the lower left-hand corner of the Modeling Window. Notes: This command changes the display size of text and annotations (e. g., dimensions).

5. From the Create tab, choose Forms > Extrusion. Notes: An extrusion is a solid form generated from a 2D (flat) shape.

6. In the Modify | Create Extrusion tab, choose Draw > Rectangle. Notes: This extrusion will begin with a rectangular base. Alternatively, you could draw the extrusion base using the Line tool, but it is much simpler to use the Rectangle tool.

7. In the Modeling Window, position the mouse at the intersection of the two reference lines. Click on this intersection to begin drawing the rectangle.

8. Draw a rectangle approximately 1” x 5”.

9. On the Modify | Create Extrusion tab, click the green check mark.

10. In the Properties palette, check that the Extrusion Start property is set to 0’-0”. Notes: This property relates the “bottom” of the model base to a reference plane. By default, the Properties Palette is docked to the left side of the Modeling Window. Its visibility is controlled with View > User Interface.

11. In the Properties palette, change the Extrusion End property to .25” (1/4”). This represents the thickness of the box base.

12. In the Quick Access Toolbar, click on the Default 3D View icon. Notes: This is a good way to check the 3D form of the model. The Quick Access Toolbar is at the top edge of the screen. The Default 3D View icon looks like a house.

13. To change the display thickness of the lines in the 3D view, change the View Scale to 12” = 1’-0”. Notes: This command changes the display size of text and annotations (e. g., dimensions). It also changes the display thickness of lines in 3D views.

14. In the Project Browser, double-click on the Ref. Level Floor Plan view.

15. In the Modify tab, choose Measure > Aligned Dimension. Use this tool to add a horizontal and vertical dimension to the plan of the box base.

16. Click [esc] twice. Notes: This returns you to the basic “no tools selected” view of your model.

17. Left-click on the short dimension to select it. Then right-click on the short dimension. Choose Label from the popup menu. Notes: This command begins the process of adding “parameters” to our model.

18. In the pulldown menu (below the word “<None>”), choose <Add Parameter…>. This brings up the Parameter Properties dialog box.

19. In the Parameter Properties dialog box, select Family Parameter.

20. In the Parameter Properties dialog box, under Parameter Data, name the parameter Halfwidth. Notes: This parameter represents a distance which is half the overall width of the box. Later, when we insert new instances of this family, we will be able to adjust this parameter to create boxes of different sizes.

21. In the Parameter Properties dialog box, set this as an Instance parameter (not a Type parameter). Notes: If the value of an Instance parameter is changed in a Project, the change affects only one copy of the model. By contrast, if the value of a Type parameter is changed, the change propagates to all copies of the model in the Project.

22. Click OK.

23. Repeat steps 17-22 for the long dimension, naming the parameter Halflength.

24. Click [esc] twice and Save the family as an .rfa file.

25. On the Create Tab, click Family Editor > Load into Project. Notes: This command inserts the box into the Project. It is a good way to check whether the defined parameters are operating as we mean them to do.

26. Revit automatically switches to the Project modeling window. Zoom in (spin the mouse wheel) and click in three different locations to insert three instances of the family. Click [esc] when done. Notes: The purpose of inserting multiple copies (or instances) is to compare the effects of variably adjusting the defined parameters.

27. In the Quick Access Toolbar, click on the Default 3D View icon. You should see all three instances of the family in your project.

28. Select one instance of the family by clicking on it.

29. In the Properties palette, experiment with making adjustments to the halflength and halfwidth properties.

30. Type WT (window-tile) so you can see all windows on the screen. You can close any windows which you aren’t using. Notes: After typing WT, one or more of the Modeling Windows should show you a view of the .rfa file you saved earlier. (If you have accidentally closed the family you saved earlier, you can re-open it.)

31. Click within a Modeling Window showing the family (.rfa file). Maximize the window.

32. Draw a selection window around all objects and dimensions in your model. From the Modify | Multi-Select tab, choose Modify > Mirror – Pick Axis, and reflect the objects and dimensions around either the vertical or horizontal axis. Notes: Here, we are testing whether our family is correctly defined. This step and the next one will take our box base and expand it across the x- and y-axes. Later, we will erase these expansions.

33. Repeat the previous step for the other axis.

34. Click [esc] twice and Save the family.

35. On the Create Tab, click Family Editor > Load into Project. This time, Revit will prompt you with a warning. Choose “Overwrite the existing version and its parameter values.” Notes: Revit is attempting to warn you that you have already defined this family in your project. Because you have changed the definition (mirroring the model), you are now being asked whether to update the family with the new definition.

36. Select an instance of the family. In the Properties palette, experiment with making adjustments to the halflength and halfwidth properties.

37. Return to a Modeling Window showing the .rfa file.

38. Erase the extra copies of the objects and dimensions, i. e., return to a single quadrant of the model, with the two parameters (Halfwidth and Halflength). Notes: Now that we have successfully tested the family, we’ll go back to working with a single quadrant of the base.

39. From the Create tab, choose Forms > Extrusion.

40. In the Modify | Create Extrusion tab, choose Draw > Rectangle. Use this tool to draw a rectangle corresponding to the end wall of the box.

41. On the Modify | Create Extrusion tab, click Modify > Align. Use this tool to Align the edges of the end wall with the edges of the base: click in turn on each of the lines you want to align. When a padlock symbol appears, click it to lock the edges together. Notes: This means that the wall will “follow” the edge of the base.

42. On the Modify | Create Extrusion tab, click the green check mark.

43. With the end wall still selected, in the Properties palette, check that the Extrusion Start property is set to .25” (1/4”). Notes: This property relates the “bottom” of the end wall to the top surface of the base.

44. In the Properties palette, click on the small box to the right of the Extrusion End property.

45. In the Associate Family Parameter dialog box, click Add Parameter.

46. In the Parameter Properties dialog box, select Family Parameter.

47. In the Parameter Properties dialog box, under Parameter Data, name the parameter Height.

48. In the Parameter Properties dialog box, set this as an Instance parameter (not a Type parameter).

49. Click OK.

50. In the Quick Access Toolbar, click on the Default 3D View icon. Notes: This is a good way to check the 3D form of the model.

51. In the 3D view, drag the height of the extruded wall to its desired height.

52. Repeat steps 39-49 to create the side wall. Note, when you adjust the Extrusion End property, you can select Height from the list of defined parameters.

53. Return to the Ref. Level floor plan and repeat steps 32-34 to complete the model.

54. On the Home Tab, click Family Editor > Load into Project. Again, Revit will prompt you with a warning. Choose “Overwrite the existing version and its parameter values.”

55. In the Properties palette, experiment with making adjustments to the halflength, halfwidth, and height parameters.

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