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Add more realism to your SolidWorks view with Ambient Occlusion

Article by Scott Durksen, CSWE created/updated May 2, 2014

Perhaps you need to grab a quick screenshot or show someone your model in SolidWorks and you want to add a bit of wow factor.  Of course to truly impress with a photo-realistic rendering, you should use PhotoView 360.  But maybe you don’t have the time to generate the PhotoView rendering or you don’t have the PhotoView functionality with your license (only included in a Professional or Premium license of SolidWorks).

Standard SolidWorks Image

Standard SolidWorks Display

You may have known about the RealView Graphics functionality in SolidWorks that enables real-time rendering in the SolidWorks graphics area.  This is sometimes required to see certain textured appearances.  A certified graphics card and driver is required for Realview capabilities.

RealView Graphics Display

RealView Graphics Display

Then you could enable Shadows to add a bit more effect from the lighting styles.  Depending on where the lights are placed, you will see the drop shadows behind.

RealView display with Shadows enabled

RealView display with Shadows enabled

However you may not have been aware of the Ambient Occlusion feature that was added in SolidWorks 2012.  This adds passive shadows like when it’s an overcast day and interior spaces are darker.  This also helps to highlight features by contrasting the darker areas to the lighter and gives it a more lifelike feel.

RealView with Shadows and Ambient Occlusion

RealView with Shadows and Ambient Occlusion

Be aware that enabling RealView, Shadows and Ambient Occlusion will affect the performance of your model.  When working in the design stages, be sure these are all disabled to improve your efficiency.

*NEW* – For PhotoView 360 users, SolidWorks 2014 has the ability to include Ambient Occlusion output to your renderings

PhotoView 360 Options in SolidWorks 2014

PhotoView 360 Options in SolidWorks 2014

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Scott Durksen, CSWE

Scott is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer and is based in our Dartmouth, Nova Scotia office.

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