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Decals: Applying images to Revit elements

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In this article we will take a look at Revit’s Decal tool and how it can be used to apply a graphic image to the face of an element. Decals are used to add realism to your rendered scenes. For example, you can add paintings and artwork to the walls of your interior scene. Or you can add images to the “screen” of a TV that you have modelled in Revit. The Decal tools can be found on “Insert” menu, in the “Link” tab….



Let’s work through a very simple step-by-step example in order to show you how this all works.


First of all let’s create something to apply our decal to. A simple length of wall will do….



So let’s say we want to portray a painting on this wall, when we render it. (Note: Decals only display properly when you render the scene. In any other graphic mode, they appear just as a place holder). Here is a lovely (in my opinion!) piece of art that I would like to hang on the wall, in my rendered scene………



So let’s go about getting this into Revit and hanging it on the wall! First of all I have to set up a new “Decal Type”. Go into “Decal” and select “Decal Types” from the drop-down menu….



You are now presented with the “Decal Control Panel”. If (like me) you do not have any decals in your project yet, the panel will be pretty much blank. Go ahead and select the “new” icon from the bottom left of the panel, to “create a new decal”…



Go ahead a name your new decal…..



A “profile” for your new decal is created and shown in the list on the left. Setting appear in the right, which let you control a variety of parameters……



What we need to do now is load in our graphic file. At the top of the panel, to the right you will see “Image File”. It is currently blank- go ahead and hit the selector button to the right. You are now able to browse your various drives in order to find the image file you wish to use…..



Notice how you have the choice of a variety of different image file formats. Go ahead and find the image file you want to use and select “Open”. You will now see the file name listed as well as a thumb nail of the image; in your decal profile…..



So far so good! In this article we are not going to explore what all the different settings in this panel do- we can save that for another day. Let’s just press on and put the decal in our scene. Select “OK” to exit from the “Decal Types” control panel. Now go back to the drop-down menu and select “Place Decal”….



Upon doing this the menu changes to show you a drop-down selector so you can choose which decal to place. We only have one, so the list is pretty short…..



Right, here’s where we start having fun! I would suggest being in a 3D view in order to place your decal. Make use of Section Boxes (or the “Temporary Hide” function) if you need to gain “access” to the inside of a complex 3D model. As you hover over the different faces of your model, you will see the decal place holder follow the cursor….



Do not worry about the size of the decal right now. We can easily resize it once we have placed it. When you are happy with the location, just click to place the decal onto the face. You will notice that you can go on to place as many instances of this decal as you like. I’m going to stick with one. Now I want to make my decal much larger. So I select the decal that I have just placed. I can now either drag the whole decal about (on the same face as it was placed) OR I can change the size of it by dragging on one of the corner grips….



I have dragged the corner of the decal so the image is of a more appropriate size, compared to the wall…..



I’m afraid this place holder is all you are going to see until you come to render your scene. So let’s do that now….



That’s a bit more interesting! Our lovely painting is now hanging on our interior brick wall. One thing worth noting here is that decal can also be applied to curved surfaces too.



The process is exactly the same. Revit will automatically detect that the plane is curved and it will apply the decal accordingly.

There’s no limit to what you can do with decals within a Revit project. They are a really efficient way of adding a lot of additional detail to your scene- ie the controls on a Hi Fi unit, for example.


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