Lighting in Revit

Overview

This article is a guide to using Revit’s artificial lighting components in conjunction with Enscape.

NOTE
This is not an exhaustive guide to lighting in Revit, as that would be beyond the scope of this article.
If you require more in-depth information in regards to the use of lights in Revit, then please refer to the Autodesk Knowledgebase, here.
When referring to Revit, it should also be noted we refer to the use of lighting within Revit 2019, and any differences in process and application compared to earlier or later versions of Revit have been omitted.

Lighting in Revit can derive from either the Sun, it’s geo-position, it’s brightness, and the time of day, or from artificial lighting, or from both. Here, we are looking only at artificial lighting in Revit.
Revit’s artificial lights are defined by a Revit lighting fixture Family. Revit comes bundled with a number of pre-made artificial light families for wall, ceiling, table, exterior, as well as other types of lighting, which are available for your projects.

Quick Tip
Generally, Revit’s default lighting will translate well in to Enscape, as long as the materials and the lighting fixtures are set-up correctly.
Even if the materials are not set up correctly, Enscape deals with Loadable Families the same way, by applying an aesthetically pleasing white tone.

Of course, it is also possible to design your own lights within Revit by the use of the Revit Family Editor, but this is outside the scope of this article. More detailed information regarding creating your own lights in Revit can be found on the AutoDesk website, here.

General Lighting Settings

If you do not want to deal with lighting in your project, you can always set Enscape’s Rendering Quality to “Draft” Mode which will result in light being evenly distributed throughout the project.

You can improve the image if we check Auto Contrast in Enscape’s Visual Settings window.

Auto Contrast option

Auto Contrast option

Another option is to manually adjust the Exposure Brightness setting, also found in Enscape’s Visual Settings window.

Additionally, you can also simply check the Auto Exposure option to control the lighting in an environment where there is no direct interior lighting.

Auto Exposure and Exposure Brightness settings

Auto Exposure and Exposure Brightness settings

Load Light Family into Project

To begin using a Light Family in Revit you need to load the family into the Revit project. Start by clicking on the Revit ‘Insert‘ menu option and then ‘Load Family‘ from the Load from Library panel.

Load family into project

Load family into project

A dialogue window will open up, which should default to the Library specified in the Revit Options dialogue window. In our case this is set to US Imperial, and within that folder you will find another folder named ‘Lighting’, which you need to navigate to.

Locating the Lighting folder

Locating the Lighting folder

Once you have navigated to the Lighting folder, you will have the option to choose between two folders named ‘Architectural’ or ‘MEP’ (MEP is mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) and, once selected, another two folders named External and Internal.

Load the lighting type

Load the lighting type

In this article we will only look at Architectural Internal lighting. So choose the Internal folder, and you should then see a list of available lights.
Clicking on any of the lights in the list should provide you with a Preview of the light in the Load Family dialogue window Preview area.

Select light and the associated preview of the light

Select light and the associated preview of the light

Once you have decided which light you want to place into your Revit project, click ‘Open‘ in the Load Family window and the Load Family dialogue window will then close.
The Lighting Family will then be loaded into the project and will always be available as a selection from Revit’s Project Browser Families section for that project.

Light component loaded into project, this is available in the Revit Project Browser

Light component loaded into project, this is available in the Revit Project Browser

Now that you have loaded a Revit light Family into your project you are ready to place the light in your scene.

Overview of Light Placement

Lighting fixtures in Revit are hosted components meaning they must be placed on a host component (wall, ceiling, table), either in an internal or external location within the project.
You can place lights in a Revit 3D view, as well as one of Revit’s Plan views in order to plan the appropriate spacing, angle, and setback of lighting fixtures in the building model.

However, when placing interior light fixtures in a project in Revit, although it is possible to place a light object in a 3D view, it is normally easier and better to perform this operation using a Floor or Ceiling Plan view which can be opened from within the Revit Project Browser.

You can use the Shaded or Realistic modes in the Revit viewport to see how the light hits a wall or other surfaces in Revit itself.

When placing standing lights, or upwards facing recessed lights you can only do this using a Floor Plan view.  When placing hanging or downward facing recessed lights, you will need to use a Ceiling Plan view.

With the relevant plan view open, you can then choose Revit’s Insert -> Load Family menu option to initially load the light into the project.

Placing Light into Scene

Now you need to select and place the light into your scene.
To do that navigate to the Architecture tab in Revit and select Component -> Place Component.

Revit's Load Component menu option

Revit's Load Component menu option

When you hover your mouse in an open Revit view you should see the selected component appear and it will be attached to your mouse movement, along with some guidelines that will assist you in lining up the object for more exact placement within your scene.

Place Light in Floor Plan View

Revit will help you place the light in your scene by displaying some guide lines, which can be seen in the following screenshot as faint, thin, blue lines.

Placing a lighting component

Placing a lighting component

If you open up the Revit Default 3D view, you will also see the light has been placed and therefore will be visible in the 3D view.

Lighting component now placed and the light as it's displayed in a Revit 3D viewport

Lighting component now placed and the light as it's displayed in a Revit 3D viewport

As well as it being instantly visible in the Enscape window.

The light is now placed and can instantly be seen in the Enscape Rendering window

The light is now placed and can instantly be seen in the Enscape Rendering window

Place Light in Ceiling Plan View

Now we will place a wall light in the same room as we placed the standing light but we will perform this in a Ceiling Plan view instead and again, when placing a wall or ceiling light, Revit will offer some blue guidelines to help you position the light correctly. Wall Lights will automatically snap to wall objects.

Placing a wall light

Placing a wall light

In the Revit 3D view.

Wall light placed and seen in Revit 3D view

Wall light placed and seen in Revit 3D view

Again, the light placement will be instantly seen in the Enscape window.

The wall light is now placed in the scene and can Instantly be seen in the Enscape Rendering window

The wall light is now placed in the scene and can Instantly be seen in the Enscape Rendering window

Placing a ceiling light is a similar process, although it will obviously not snap to walls.
Here you can see the ceiling light before actual placement, with the blue guidelines also being visible.

Placing a ceiling light in the Ceiling Plan view in Revit

Placing a ceiling light in the Ceiling Plan view in Revit

Once you have finished placing the light, if the light is selected, then further information about the light is displayed.

Ceiling light placed showing further information about the light

Ceiling light placed showing further information about the light

Editing Lights

To edit a light, you can either select the light you require in any of the Revit Viewports (here we are using a Floor Plan view) and then from the Modify | Lighting Fixtures menu in Revit, click on Edit Family.

Modify | Lighting Fixtures options in Revit

Modify | Lighting Fixtures options in Revit

This will open the Family: Lighting Fixtures, whereby you can begin to edit the family.

Component now opened in Revit's Family Editor

Component now opened in Revit's Family Editor

You will be able to edit the electrical connections for the light in circumstances where you need to use the light for MEP for instance.
This will mean that you can now also access such things as the Light Source Definition, and each light source can be adjusted by its position and brightness to achieve the desired lighting effects.

Open the Light Source Definition window

Open the Light Source Definition window

Light Source Definition

Clicking on the Light Source Definition button will open the Light Source Definition window:

The Light Source Definition window

The Light Source Definition window

Choose the shape of the light emitter from the Emit from Shape area. From left to right these are Point, Line, Rectangle, or Circle.
For Light Distribution you can choose between Spherical, HemiSpherical, Spot, or Photometric Web from the Light distribution options.
The middle image in the window changes to represent the combination of choices made by the user.

Quick Tip
You can also edit other aspects of a Light Family by having the light selected in the Revit viewport, then by clicking on the Properties -> Edit Type button.

The following examples are all using a light that is set to 60Watt with 15lm/W intensity setting.

Point Light with Spherical distribution in the Revit editor

Point Light with Spherical distribution in the Revit editor

Point Light with Spherical distribution in the Enscape window

Point Light with Spherical distribution in the Enscape window

Point Light with Hemispherical distribution in the Revit editor

Point Light with Hemispherical distribution in the Revit editor

Point Light with Hemispherical distribution in the Enscape window

Point Light with Hemispherical distribution in the Enscape window

Point Light with Spot distribution in the Revit editor

Point Light with Spot distribution in the Revit editor

Point Light with Spot distribution in the Enscape window

Point Light with Spot distribution in the Enscape window

Point Light with IES distribution in the Revit editor

Point Light with IES distribution in the Revit editor

Point Light with IES distribution in the Enscape window

Point Light with IES distribution in the Enscape window

You will find the same options are available for Line, Rectangle, and Circle lights allowing you a range of lighting options.

Furthermore, when placing a light source into a light Family, you need to remember to check that the Light Source is enabled in the Family Category and Parameters window. This window can be found under Revit’s Create menu option available when you edit a family via the Edit Family button. Otherwise the light source will not function.

Light Source enabled in Revit's Family Category and Parameters window

Light Source enabled in Revit's Family Category and Parameters window

Further options that are available for a light can be found by selecting the light you want to adjust and then press the Edit Type button under its Properties.

Edit Type button

Edit Type button

This will bring up the Type Properties window:

Type Properties window

Type Properties window

From here you can then start to adjust further parameters.

Changing a Lights Basic Parameters

The basic parameters for lights will be found under the Photometrics section. To begin with, to change the brightness of a light you must adjust the Initial Intensity setting by clicking on the associated button which will open the associated window.

Initial Intensity listing in a lights parameters

Initial Intensity listing in a lights parameters

With the Initial Intensity window open, you can begin to adjust the settings to suit your requirements.
These settings are discussed in detail in the Revit manual that you will find here.

Initial Intensity window settings

Initial Intensity window settings

The Ambient Brightness slider in the Enscape Visual Settings -> Image tab can be adjusted to affect indoor lighting during daylight, but will also compensate for multi-bounce lighting by adding atmospheric brightness instead.

Ambient Brightness slider

Ambient Brightness slider

Not only that, but the occluded regions will remain darker to better emphasize the geometry and depth. This cannot be done in Photoshop!

You can change the initial color of a light by clicking on the button next to the Initial Color option.

Changing the Initial Color property of a light.

Changing the Initial Color property of a light.

Clicking that button will open up the Initial Color window, where you can either select one of the already existing options from the Color Preset dropdown, or by setting the Color Preset to Custom, you can then manually set the color temperature on the Kelvin scale (K).

Initial Color option

Initial Color option

To change the tint that a light has, you can use the Color Filter option which, when clicked, will open up a window to allow you to select the color you require for the light.

Change the Color Tint of a light

Change the Color Tint of a light

Using IES Lights (Photometrics)

If you have a light that has had its ‘Light distribution’ set to Photometric Web in the Light Source Definition dialogue box, then an option will become available under the Photometrics section of the Type Properties window which allows you to select a Photometric Web (IES) file that you would like to use.
Photometrics are a method of defining the visible light that displays in a rendered image of a building model and an IES files simulates detailed real life light bulb/fixture effects.
You can quickly see if a light has its source set to Photometric Web (IES) as this option will then become available in the Photometrics section.

Photometrics Web File option is now available

Photometrics Web File option is now available

This means you now have an option to specify an IES profile file for the light.
A great resource for the IES light profiles can be found here: https://renderman.pixar.com/ies-profiles.

By clicking on Revit’s Reveal Hidden Elements button, IES profiles will be visible as a web or mesh in the Revit viewport.

An IES Light's Photometrics Web revealed in the Revit viewport

An IES Light's Photometrics Web revealed in the Revit viewport

Nested and Shared Lighting

When creating a light that requires multiple light sources, such as a chandelier, then you would need to use nested lighting to be able to nest the light sources within a lighting Family.
These light sources can then be shared so that a lighting fixture schedule can display information for individual lights within the nested object.

More detail regarding this is beyond the scope of this article, but more information can be found available on the Autodesk website.

Extra Tips and Info

It is also worth noting that Lights will not be visible when the Time of Day is set to daylight hours as the sun will be too bright, resulting in artificial lights not being seen.

Set the visual style for a view in Revit to Shaded or Realistic to see how a light is hit other surfaces.


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