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Chapter 2. Creating a Model > Using Reference Planes

2.2. Using Reference Planes

Reference planes are construction lines that you can place in your model to establish center lines and to use as an aid for symmetrical geometry. If you add a reference plane in one view, it will show up in another. If you add one in a plan view, you can see that same plane in an elevation. This approach is a great way to build using a common reference. Also, reference planes, by default, will not plot.

The only drawback to reference planes is that they suffer from overuse. Try to use them only as what they are: a reference. To practice using reference planes, follow these steps:

  1. Open the file you created in Chapter 1. If you did not complete that chapter, open the file called NER-01.rvt, which you can download from the book's website at (You can also use your own building, but the dimensions specified here will not be consistent with your model.)

  2. On the Work Plane panel of the Home tab, click the Ref Plane button, as shown in Figure 2.2.

    Figure 2.2. The Ref Plane command is on the Home tab's Ref Plane panel of the Ribbon.


    As you move through the exercises in this book, you will discover that the Ref Plane command is found elsewhere in the program.

  3. Draw the reference plane through the center of the building, extending each end past the exterior walls. (Remember, this is a construction line. You can go long if you need to). See Figure 2.3 for an idea of where the line should go.

  4. If the line is not the length you would like it, you can stretch it. First select the line; at each end, you will see blue grips. Simply pick (left-click) the grip and stretch the reference plane to the desired length, as in Figure 2.3.

  5. Start the Ref Plane command again.

  6. Press Esc, and then click the Ref Plane button again. Now, on the Draw panel, click the Pick Lines icon, as shown in Figure 2.4.

  7. Set the Offset to 15′−0″ (remember, you can just type 15), as in Figure 2.4.

    Figure 2.3. You can grip-edit reference planes to the required length.

    Figure 2.4. Offsetting a reference plane

  8. Hover your pointer above the mid-reference plane. Notice a blue alignment line will appear either above or below.

  9. Move your pointer up and down. See the alignment line flip? When it flips to the top, pick the middle line. It will add the line to the top.

  10. With the Ref Plane command still running, hover over the middle line again. This time, offset the alignment line down. Your plan should now look like Figure 2.5.

    Notice you did not actually use the Offset command. Revit Architecture has the offset function built into most of the commands you will be running. You just need to remember to look at your temporary tab and your Options bar and you will be fine.

    Figure 2.5. Reference planes are used here to aid in the placement of walls.

2.2.1. Adding More Walls

Let's add some walls. To do so, follow along with the next set of steps. (Before we start, here's a tip. In this procedure we're going to add walls in a counterclockwise direction, so follow along in that manner. But keep in mind that Revit assumes you will add walls in a clockwise manner. In the future, try adding the walls clockwise; it "forces" the exterior of the wall to the outside.) OK, now back to adding walls!

  1. Press the Esc key.

  2. Select one of the exterior walls in the model and right-click.

  3. Select Create Similar. (You can still start the Wall command from the Home tab. If you do, make sure you select Basic Wall: Exterior - Brick and CMU on MTL. Stud.)

  4. On the Options bar, make sure Location Line is set to Finish Face: Exterior.

  5. Start drawing your new wall from the intersection of the west wall (the one on the left) and the upper reference plane, as shown in Figure 2.6. Make sure you are using the face of the wall and not the ledge below. The blowup in Figure 2.6 can help you.

  6. If the wall is starting on the wrong side of the reference plane, tap your spacebar. This will flip the wall to the correct side.

  7. Making sure you have a horizontal line started, type 25 and press Enter

  8. Press Esc.

    Figure 2.6. Drawing a single wall from a defined starting point

  9. Do the same for the other side. Your plan should now look like Figure 2.7.

    Figure 2.7. The two walls drawn here are 30′−0″ from finish face to finish face.

  10. Start the Wall command again.

  11. From the top 25′−0″ wall, pick (left-click) the corner of the finish face (again, the brick face and not the ledge below). The wall may be in the wrong orientation, so tap the spacebar to flip it if it is.

  12. Move your cursor up and to the left at a 135° angle (Revit will snap at 45° intervals).

  13. After you move your cursor far enough in this direction, Revit will pick up the north finish face of the building drawn in the previous procedure. After these two alignment lines appear, pick the point on the screen, as shown in Figure 2.8.

    Figure 2.8. Allow Revit to guide you in the placement of walls.

  14. After you pick this point, draw a horizontal wall to the left 25′.

  15. From the left point of that wall, draw a wall up 25′.

  16. From the top of that wall, draw another wall to the left 80′.

  17. Draw a wall down 25′.

  18. On the Modify | Place Wall panel, click the Start-End-Radius Arc button, as shown in Figure 2.9.

    Figure 2.9. Draw a radial wall using the Start-End-Radius Arc method.

  19. Because the Wall command is still running, the next point to pick is the endpoint of the arc. Pick a point straight down at a distance of 30′−0″.

  20. After you pick the second point, move your pointer to the right until Revit snaps it to the tangent radius. (You may not get a tangent snap, but Revit will hesitate when you have reached the tangency.) Once this happens, pick a point.

  21. On the Draw panel, check the line button in the upper-left corner as shown in Figure 2.10. This will allow you to draw a straight wall again.

  22. Draw a wall straight down from the end of the arc 25′.

  23. Draw a wall to the right 80′.

  24. Draw a wall straight up 25′−0″.

  25. Press Esc. Your building should look like Figure 2.10.

    Figure 2.10. The building up to this point


If you are having trouble sketching the outline, remember to slow down a little.

The next few walls will be a little tougher. You will have to place them using the embedded offset function within the Wall command. Remember, you need to keep watching the Options bar for this one.

  1. Start the Wall command.

  2. On the Draw panel, click the Pick Lines icon, as shown in Figure 2.11.

  3. On the Options bar, you will see an Offset input. Type 30 and press Enter.

  4. Move your cursor over the outside face of the wall, as shown in Figure 2.12. When you see the alignment line appear below the wall, pick the outside face, as shown in Figure 2.12.

    Figure 2.11. The Pick Lines icon from the Options bar lets you add a wall by using an offset from another object.

    Figure 2.12. Adding a wall using the built-in offset function may take a few tries to get the method down.

  5. Repeat the procedure for the angled wall. Make sure you offset the wall to the left (see Figure 2.13).

    Figure 2.13. Creating the bottom of the corridor Wall Adjustments

You've probably noticed that the walls are joining themselves together. This behavior is inherent to Revit. For the previous procedure, however, you will be left with a gap between the bottom two walls. It was too far for Revit to realize these walls need to be joined. You can fix this by following these steps:

  1. Pick (left-click) the bottom diagonal wall. You will see a number of blue icons and dimensions appear, as shown in Figure 2.14. Each of these icons plays a role in the adjustment of the wall.

    Figure 2.14. By selecting a wall, you can make adjustments, such as stretching the ends, by picking the blue grips.

  2. On each end, you will see a solid blue grip. Pick the right solid blue grip and drag the wall down to meet the reference plane, as shown in Figure 2.15.

  3. Select the horizontal wall to the right.

  4. Pick the left blue grip, and drag this wall's end to the left until you hit the bottom corner of the diagonal wall. The two walls will join together (see Figure 2.16).

  5. We need to add another part of the building. Select and then right-click on one of the exterior walls and select Create Similar.

  6. On the View toolbar, set the detail level to Coarse, as shown in Figure 2.17.

    Figure 2.15. Stretching the wall using the blue grip

    Figure 2.16. The walls are automatically joined when you "pull" the end of one into another.

    Figure 2.17. Sometimes setting the graphic display to Coarse can make the placement of other walls easier.

  7. On the Options bar, change the offset to 15′−0″.

  8. Pick the midpoint of the wall, as shown in Figure 2.18.

  9. Draw the wall 25′−0″ down from the wall by typing 25 and pressing Enter.

  10. After you pick the 25′−0″ distance, move your cursor up, back toward the wall, as shown in Figure 2.19, resulting in a 25′ long wall.

  11. Draw a wall across the front of the two walls, as shown in Figure 2.20. Make sure it is flipped in the right direction.

  12. Set the detail level back to Fine. Your walls should look like Figure 2.20.

    Figure 2.18. Adding the new walls requires picking the midpoint of this wall. Make sure your offset is set to 15′−0″ on the Options bar.

    Figure 2.19. By using the Offset command as you draw walls, you can use one common centerline.

    Figure 2.20. The completed walls for the south side of the building

Does It Measure Up?

In Revit, you can access the Measure function, which is the same as the Distance command in AutoCAD. To verify whether your walls are at your chosen distances, click the Measure icon as shown here. After you measure the distance, the Options bar will show you the result. The Measure icon is available on the Inquiry panel of the Modify tab.

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