Custom Planting Symbols in Revit

Make your mark in custom planting across the Revit landscape

Across the landscape design community, landscape architects and designers prefer to keep their own plant graphics in plan view as well as define view.  This helps maintain consistent brand definition and clarity in front of their clients and along the supply chain.

In response to customer requests, a new Custom Symbols utility has been made available to automatically convert AutoCAD DWG symbols into Revit components that are  dynamically created in planting families when planting is placed in a model.

Working with Custom Plant Symbols

Organisations frequently have preferred plan view graphics for displaying planting created. Symbols are an integral part of nested planting families in the Revit environment using CS ArtisanRV and default symbols are provided for all planting classes and sub-classes.

Create singular planting

Here is a video showing the Custom Symbols utility in CS ArtisanRV


Custom Plants enables users to add symbols from previously created AutoCAD DWG format into Revit components that are an integral part of nested planting families in ArtisanRV. The Custom Symbols utility automatically converts AutoCAD DWG symbols into Revit components used as planting families that are dynamically created when placing planting into a Revit model.

Select Custom Symbols to display the Custom Symbols panel that is divided into a Guidance Notes and Create Symbol tab.

An Upgrade Families utility is available to convert Custom Symbols created in previous versions of Revit to a new destination folder.

Guidance Notes

In order for custom symbols to be dynamically created as Revit components constrained correctly within planting families, the source DWG files have to have been created in accordance with the details explained under Guidance Notes including sizing, origin and version. Ensure that source DWG files have been created in accordance with the Guidance Notes.

Guidance Notes

If necessary, modify DWG files to ensure compliance with the Guidance Notes prior to proceeding to Create Symbol.

Create Symbol

Having ensured that source DWG files are in accordance with details under Guidance Notes, select Create Symbol…

Create Symbol

Custom symbols are created in a folder of your choice and consideration should be given to define a central share that is accessible to other team members in an organisation. Due to Revit’s lack of backward compatibility, it is recommended that the defined folder path reflects the Revit version you are using (e.g. YourNetworkDrive\ArtisanRV\Custom Symbols\2019).

If this is the first time you have loaded the Custom Symbols form and a folder has already been setup by your admin team or another user, then you should browse to and select that folder, which will automatically load any symbols contained in that location. Note the recommendation about ensuring you are pointing to a folder path reflects the Revit version you are using [see the Upgrade Families section].

By Select Folder, pick Browse to define or change the folder location where Custom Symbols are to be stored.

Select Folder Browse

Note that an option is provided to display the Select Folder in Windows Explorer.

select folder

This enables users to check the contents of the folder prior to importing a new symbol and also to confirm that symbols are added after importing. Symbols imported comprise a Revit family (*.rfa) and associated *.xml file.

rfa files

Add new symbols to the defined Custom Symbols folder by picking Select DWG File – Browse.

select dwg

Select the appropriate Aspect (Plan), Plant Class and Sub Class and pick Import to convert the selected DWG file to a Revit (*rfa) format.


If the import was successful, the image should fit the square box displayed.

square box

If the image inside the box is blank, very small or only contains a part of the source DWG, it is recommended that users review the Guidance Notes, modify the source DWG before reattempting to create the Custom Symbol.

If the image looks correct, pick Yes to save the symbol.

Continue adding symbols to the Select Folder changing Aspect (Plan), Plant Class as required.

Custom Symbols added to the defined folder are displayed in the Create Singular Planting dialog when the Plan Symbol Type tab is selected.plan symbol type

User defined symbols are identified with a title ‘Custom’ and these can be deleted by picking the red cross (X).

Upgrade Custom Symbols to current Revit Version

Custom Symbols are created as Revit families (*.rfa) in the Revit version in which they were created. If users target the same folder and symbols when placing planting while operating later versions of Revit, the selected symbols are automatically converted to the later Revit version. This process will result in a time lag as files are converted dynamically as ArtisanRV planting families are dynamically created and also the updated symbols will no longer be available to earlier versions of Revit as the program is not backwardly compatible.

To overcome the above, it is recommended that the Custom Symbols folder path reflects the Revit version you are using and that a new sub-folder is created for subsequent Revit versions. Custom Symbols need to be recreated for each Revit version required and a utility is available to automatically upgrade all families within the source folder to the current Revit version and saves these to a folder of your choice.

Upgrade Families

Custom Symbols need to be recreated for each Revit version required and a utility is available to automatically upgrade all families within the source folder to the current Revit version and saves these to a folder of your choice.

Pick Upgrade Families from the Create Symbol area.

pick upgrade families

The Upgrade Families dialog is displayed.

upgrade families

Browse to select the source folder, where Custom Symbols are already available.  Browse to select the destination folder, where a copy of the existing Custom Symbols will be created in the current Revit version.

pick upgrade families

Pick Convert to run the Upgrade families utility. Each symbol family is upgraded in turn from the source folder to the destination folder. A progress bar indicates the number of successful upgrades completed. Newly upgraded Custom Symbols can immediately be selected when placing single planting in the model.

[This content was first published in a Linkedin article by CSD Director, Tim Calnan. Follow Tim to stay up to date with the latest functionality and news on BIM for landscape design in a Revit environment using CS Artisan RV.]

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