How Pixel Density works in SOLIDWORKS Visualize

Article by Scott Ellery created/updated June 15, 2016

By now you have probably heard of the brand new product from DS SOLIDWORKS called SOLIDWORKS Visualize. Visualize allows you to Photo-realistically render your SOLIDWORKS models in an intuitive and quick workflow, making the creation of stunning lifelike product images and animations faster and easier than ever before.

One thing I have noticed is the SOLIDWORKS Visualize pixel density settings do not perform the way you might expect.

Pixel Density controls the Pixels per Inch (PPI) quality of an image, this is much like Dots per Inch (DPI) the difference between these variables is:

  • PPI is how many pixels live in a square inch of your screen
  • DPI is how many dots live in a square inch of printed paper

There are some general guidelines when creating renders for certain applications, for example creating fast loading content for the web generally requires 72 PPI while print material needs a higher resolution of at least 300 DPI.

How to check the PPI value of an image

There are a few ways to check this but the easiest is simply right clicking on an image file in windows and selecting properties from the shortcut menu:

Image Properties

Image Properties

In the image properties dialog you can navigate to the Details tab and scroll down to the image section, here you can see the pixel density of the image

SOLIDWORKS Visualize Pixel Density

Image Pixel Density

SOLIDWORKS Visualize Resolution Best Practises

If I am ready to render a Visualize project and I go to my Output Tools I will see a variation of the image below under the Resolution section

Visualize Resolution

Visualize Resolution

Here I can set the Resolution, Print Resolution, Print Size and Print units but you will notice that if I were to render out at these settings I would get a 1920×1080 pixel resolution image and if I checked the PPI it would say 96 even though I have the Print Resolution set at 300 and would expect the PPI on the file to be 300?

This happens because Visualize accounts for print resolution by increasing the actual resolution of the render so when it is scaled down for printing we get an image that is 300 pixels per inch.   For example say I want to print an image once it is rendered and I want to print it at a size of 16″ x 9″ at 300 PPI.

Change the Print Size

Change the Print Size

I can make sure my print units are set to inches and that my print resolution is 300 and when I change my print size to 16″ x 9″ notice that the resolution increases to compensate for the print size and density; this can also be seen when we adjust the print resolution from 300 to 150.

Change the Print Resolution

Change the Print Resolution

Conclusion

So in short if you are rendering for the web or screen you do not need to concern yourself with anything except resolution.

However if you are rendering for print you need to set the print size and print resolution before rendering your model.

Update

It has just been announced by a SOLIDWORKS Visualize Developer that the resolution tool has been redesigned to be more in line with what user were familiar with in PhotoView360 where it will actually set the Pixel density of the Image instead of scaling the resolution.

For convienience, Visualize will now write the DPI resolution that a user enters into the Output Tools dialog into the exported image (JPG, PNG, BMP, TIF). That way, it could directly be printed out to the Print Size that this dialog states.

This will be released with Visualize 2016 SP1 end of July!

— Bastian Krueckeburg

Get more information

Read more related SOLIDWORKS Visualize blog posts, and if you are interested in trying out the professional version you can download a free trial of SOLIDWORKS Visualize Professional.

To help you become a rendering expert we also offer a brand new SOLIDWORKS Visualize Training Course covering all the features, which you take live online!i

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Scott Ellery, CSWE

Scott Ellery is a CSWE and an avid contributor to the SOLIDWORKS Community, He is a two time SOLIDWORKS World Presenter and contributes regularly to SWUG meetings organized by four different user groups in Canada, Scott has worked with many CAD Software packages for over a decade in a multitude of different industries including Steel Fabrication, Injection Molding and Sheetmetal. With a background in Mechanical Engineering Technology and Design, Scott enjoys pushing SolidWorks to it's limits and teaching users to be as fast and efficient with SolidWorks as humanly possible.

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