In Best Practices, General, Materials & Lighting

Wood is an amazing and versatile natural material we all love, in its natural setting, as carved figures and furniture or as finishes within buildings. This material has many characteristics such as species, finish and modern applications like plywood and glulam beams and columns. In this article I will share some tips on ways to represent wood optimally in Enscape.

This article will focus on developing wood materials in Revit, but many of the concepts also apply to SketchUp. For more on wood in SketckUp, be sure to check out this YouTube video by Architecture Inspirations called REALISTIC Wood Materials Tips and Tricks | Enscape for SketchUp . He does a great job of covering many important concepts in just six minutes! And many of his tips also apply to Revit indirectly.

First, we will look at some of the materials that come with Revit, how they are setup and how they look in Enscape. Then we will look at how to adjust these materials and, finally, create new ones.

High Quality Wood Textures

REVIT’S WOOD MATERIAL

Revit has a physically based material type for wood. Enscape understands this material type, which results in high quality images. This first image is based on the Wood Flooring material that comes with Revit. Looking at the material settings, you should note three helpful settings; Stain, Finish and Relief Pattern. These three settings can drastically change how the wood looks.

As you would guess, the Finish controls the roughness, or gloss, of the surface. But, compared to the advanced materials covered later, this is an all or nothing setting.

The Relief Pattern setting is able to simulate the three-dimensional nature of the material, like the joints between the boards and the recess along the gain. Similar to the Enscape material editor in SketchUp, this material type can base the wood grain on the albedo using the Based on Wood Grain option.

Wood flooring material – default settings

Wood flooring material – stain color applied

When Stain is checked, the Stain Color becomes available. Adjusting this value affects the overall color of the wood as shown below.

Wood flooring material – default settings

Wood flooring material – stain color settings

Wood flooring material – Bump height adjusted

In this next example, using the same wood-based Revit shader, a custom material is used. I downloaded this material from SketchUp Texture Club . Here you can download quality textures for free, and for a fee you get access to the highest quality versions. I downloaded the seamless texture shown below and applied it to a new wood-based Revit material.

Tip
When creating a new material, remember to click on the image preview and adjust the size.

Wood-based material with bump defined by woodgrain in the main texture (albedo)

Wood-based material with bump defined by woodgrain in the main texture (albedo)

REVIT ADVANCED MATERIALS

Now let’s look at Revit’s new advanced materials for representing wood. With this opaque shader type, you can achieve the best results, which is closest to Enscape’s own material settings found in SketchUp. A few examples, rendered in Enscape, are shown here.

Examples of Revit’s new advanced materials

Examples of Revit’s new advanced materials

One of the best ways to test a material is in context, as shown in the next two images. Here we have daylight, artificial light, various shades and shadows as well as reflections. Just testing a material in an empty model does not reveal the true character of the material. Notice the difference between the finished bamboo flooring and the unfinished plywood. Also, a larger area like this will quickly reveal any unwanted repeating patterns, which results from the seamless texture sample area being too small.

Revit advanced material - Bamboo

Revit advanced material – Unfinished plywood

PLYWOOD PANELS

In addition to the plywood panel shown above, Revit 2019 also provides two materials which represent the laminated layers at the edge of a panel. In the example below, I painted the edge material to make the plywood panel look more realistic.

Advanced plywood material with painted edges with painted edges

Detailed view - Advanced plywood material

DISTRESSED WOOD

Now let’s look at customizing a Revit material to get specific results. In this case, we want to represent an old wood floor with several scratch marks. Let’s say the client likes the aesthetic and desires to simply clean and seal it. The first step is finding a texture that matches the wood species. This Revit walnut material is pretty close. The default settings produce a matte finish, so adjusting the Roughness value gives us the clear coat finish we want.

Revit advanced material – Walnut with default settings

Revit advanced material – Walnut with roughness adjusted to 55

Next we need to modify the bump map to add the scratches. I opened the bump map used in the original walnut advanced material, made a copy and then added two new Photoshop layers. On one, I added the scratch marks and on the other, the joints between the boards. Here is the final bump file and the results in Enscape… amazing!

Final bump with scratches

Sample result in Enscape

Now let’s look at the result in context. The next two images embody the idea that this floor as been in service for many years, and in this sustainably remodeled project, it will have many more!

Walnut floor material with scratches

AUTODESK PROVIDED WOOD TEXTURE AND BUMP FILES

When looking for wood textures, you can start with the ones installed on your computer. The following image shows the search results for “wood” in this folder: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Autodesk Shared\Materials\Textures\3\Mats. You may find textures here not associated with Revit materials, or are used in some other context, such as fencing or soffits, but could still fit your needs.

Tip
Be sure to use the textures in the “3” folder and not “1” or “2” as those are lower quality versions.

Search Autodesk Textures folder for “wood”

Notice in the detailed list above, I added the Dimensions column to the view. This helps to identify the higher quality images, likely associated with the new Revit 2019 advanced materials. When switching to the previews, the same sorting is still applied. Notice how the high-quality material are not square? You need to keep this in mind with setting the texture size in Revit.

Search Autodesk Textures Folder for “Wood”

Of course, there are many placing to find high quality textures. Some are discussed in the YouTube video linked above and some in the “Free Resources ” Enscape blog post.

GENERIC REVIT MATERIALS

In addition to the advanced and wood-based materials (i.e. shaders) we can also use the Generic material type. In the example below, the exterior wood shake siding, I use a Revit provided material and then fade the image so the custom color bleeds through; similar results can be achieved using the Tint option here as well. The result simulates a green colored stain where the color variation of the wood is telegraphed through the finish.

Exterior wood shakes material settings

Exterior wood shakes

PAINTED WOOD

In this final example, we will look at representing painted wood. This is done using an advanced material with no main image, just a color. Then, a woodgrain bump file is used for both the roughness and bump. The results can be seen in the following image. There are many cases where this level of detail cannot be appreciated, but when it can be seen, it makes for a very compelling visualization!

Painted wood - window shutter with woodgrain bump applied

CONCLUSION

With these tips in mind, creating the right wood material for a real-world design project becomes a simple task. These assets can then be saved in a custom Revit material library and used on other projects. And, if saved on a shared network, everyone on the team – or in the office – can benefit.

If you keep an eye out for it, you’ll notice that wood materials pop up all over your project. So it’s even more important that you make sure each material looks its best. In the end, you want to give your client the most realistic experience of their project, before the construction has even started. By paying special attention to your materials, you’ll be sure to blow them away. For more tips on how to make your materials even more accurate, check out my previous post about getting your albedo just right .

Give wood the love it deserves… make a quality material and render it in Enscape!

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB - a 250 person full-service design firm.

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