Thursday, June 13, 2013


I came across the comment below yesterday on Mark Cronin's blog   It seemed quite appropriate.  It's easy to get carried away with being "clever" & pushing the boundaries. but ultimately the success of BIM hinges on what hundreds of thousands of ordinary guys & gals can do with it out there in the construction industry.

One thing that experienced users with a public presence can do is to create better content and make it freely available.  So in this spirit, I return to the world of entourage.  If you go to my post FLAT PEOPLE & scroll down to the end, you will see that I promised to make another 15 ... IF 2 of my readers made a collection of their own available.  Exactly 2 generous souls responded to this challenge.  You can find their links under comments, and expand your entourage options with two excellent downloads.

I set about making my next batch by asking a colleague to export some sketchup people to CAD, as pickable outlines.  This kind of worked, but sadly "TAB-pick" failed.  I was faced with a rather tedious session of mouse clicking.  I could have just thrown sketchup files into Revit families, but this makes the changing of materials a bit more cumbersome and sometimes impossible.  Better quality Pancake People means native Revit geometry, so I manned up and set myself to picking.

Every cloud has a silver lining.  You have to think of something while doing a repetitive task, and I found myself reflecting on what makes for a good Entourage object.  It was obvious that different people had been involved in the original tracing exercise.  It may seem strange to talk about style & panache when referring to tracing an outline using a mouse to create short line segments, but as I proceeded, I found myself looking for figures that had been traced with a certain freedom & economy of means.  It's more effective to vary the line length and sometimes to exaggerate the changes in direction slightly to emphasise folds in cloth (for example).

Also I prefer to have my people standing firmly on the ground.  Some of the figures out there look fine in perspective view, but pretty stupid in elevation.  Perhaps this is because Sketchup doesn't feature true orthographic (one of the reasons it's not really BIM)  Then I get to thinking, "why are we taking this cardboard modelling software as the standard to aim for when it comes to people & trees & furniture ?"   There is a reason.   It's much easier to find good looking objects of these categories if you live in Skup-World.  But that doesn't mean we have to copy mindlessly.  Rise to the challenge & think about what you are doing.

Soon enough I had my first 9 persons.  Then I realised I was seriously short of Arabic people.  Time to exit Skup-Copy mode and trace directly from images.  This was another eye-opener.  If you grew up drawing freehand, as I did, you know that when it comes to people, it's all in  the hands & faces.  Mindlessly tracing hands & faces from photographs is a recipe for disaster.  You have to have some experience, and you need to stop and look at the end product and make some critical adjustments based on what your eyes tell you.  This is where the shape arrows on a Revit extrusion come in really handy.  You can make tiny adjustments to the lips & nose working directly on the extrusion.  Tweak, assess, tweak, assess.  Am I being silly ?  It's only a stylised person to throw around your project to give scale.  Oh really ?  Not to me.  We design by creating images that catch the vision that is in our imagination.  Stylisation & abstraction are thousands of years old.  For most people the effect may be subconscious, but we live in a world of visual imagery, and small details count.

Anyway I went on to create 6 entourage objects based on people wearing the national dress of the Gulf Region where I live & work.  I'm not claiming them as great works of art, but I was focussing on the kind of issues I would have been thinking about if I had been drawing with a pencil.  This brings me to my final point.  It's useful to think about tips & tricks for Revit and it's good to extend the art of the possible BUT we should also strive to treat Revit like a pencil.  Just pick it up, let it become one with your hand, eye & brain, thinking about the vision you are trying to capture.  Let the tools become transparent.  Create.


Oh & if anyone else wants to contribute ... that would be nice!


  1. Andy,
    You may find Mark's comment appropriate; but others, me included, think it's ignorant and overreaching with bogus statistics and pedestrian, un-inspirational viewpoints.

  2. Have a collection of professionally made people done by our artists on this webpage:


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