Using tools in the 3D Render Role in 3DEXPERIENCE Works, we can create photorealistic renders to make great-looking marketing material, and make more informed decisions on the aesthetics and form of our designs. Today in our 3DEXPERIENCE circular saw project, we are using xStudio xApp to take advantage of its browser environment to create a CAD rendering using a fine balance of efficiency, simplicity and quality that can be used on any device.
Watch the video below to see the amazing quality that xStudio can produce in your rendering!
One of the main focuses of the xStudio xApp is simplicity in the workflow, and it shows through the user interface. The important sections highlighted in the app’s screenshot are the feature tree of the product files, the viewport, and the toolbar. Because we’re working in 3DEXPERIENCE Works, we can pull files from any of the community spaces we have access to by dragging them into the project from the search results on the right.
The toolbar also has a very simple layout. Starting from the left, and after the four Community Space-related tools, is the Insert tool, as well as, Create Ambiance, Live Preview Rendering, Render Export and Render Job Monitor. The next four buttons are related to viewport manipulation. The last button on the far right accesses the Camera Properties of the currently active view. This simple toolbar lowers the knowledge required to create renders as you can move down the toolbar chronologically through your project.
These xStudio projects are called “Experiences”. When a new project has been created through the splash screen, the search tool through your community spaces is automatically started. Note that this is not the only way to bring your projects into xStudio, but it is the quickest way in this environment. For this example, a photorealistic render has been requested for a circular saw project with updated components. We’ll obtain this project from our community space and drag it into my viewport.
When creating a render, it’s generally a good idea to start from the environment and work your way down to the actual geometry and their appearances. Environmental lighting and color refraction play a huge part in photorealism. To make more accurate decisions when tweaking the appearances, it’s important this is implemented first.
To create a new Ambiance, select the appropriate button from the toolbar. You have the ability to upload an HDR file you may have created or downloaded from an online database (HDRHaven is a great option to start your library). The backplate may be plain white as shown to be used in PowerPoints. Toggle the environment angle and light intensity to complete your custom Ambiance.
A good question that gets asked often is, “If the materials are already assigned in the CAD tool, do we need to re-apply materials and appearances in the rendering program?” The answer is, “yes”. CAD appearances typically prioritize performance over actual looks, so there’s not a lot of information about the material added to them. This is especially true with non-uniform colors like wood. It has also been noted that sometimes metal materials brought in from CAD programs just don’t look quite like it should in the rendering software.
We can easily apply materials by first selecting Insert Material. Second, pre-selecting the object for the material, and third, by clicking and dragging from our material database that shows up to the right onto said object. You can see the highlighted sawblade and the appropriate steel appearance applied. There’s also an in-depth material slider menu to make your materials match your final products exactly. This example project will have a new palette of materials through xStudio that will make it look less cartoon-like.
Live Preview Rendering
The Live Preview Rendering button is an incredibly effective way to test your material and environment settings. On the left is the CAD-imported materials, and the image on the right is with applied materials through xStudio. The new materials pop more and matches material that will most likely be used in the final production. However, there are some camera properties that need to be adjusted to make the image even more realistic. Before combing through the camera properties, we should first make sure the camera angle is about where it needs to be for the final render. The view is manipulated and at the top right the button to Apply Scene to Camera can be used to set the actual camera position (or use Shift + A if you like keyboard shortcuts).
Selecting the button at the far-right side of the main toolbar will display the camera options. If you’ve dealt with cameras or other rendering tools, these settings will be very familiar. One of the most important items to pay attention to is adjusting the Focal Length. A focal length of about 60mm and is typically used for product marketing. 100mm is nice and flat for more technical images.
Another very important setting to adjust is the Focus. When our eyes focus at a specific distance, things much closer or further appear blurry. This happens naturally. Applying just a bit of blurriness to the closest and furthest points of your model make it look professional. Renders without this may look too “perfect” to be realistic, and since photographers can use this blur to hide imperfections, this is a good way to fake realism. Also note, a 360 sequence can be created, which essentially puts your product on a turntable.
If we’re happy with what we see in the Live Preview, we’re all set to export this project and see how our final image comes out! Select the Render Export button and then choose the options that match what you’re looking for. As expected, creating higher detailed and larger images take up more credits. The higher the quality and the larger the image, the more light passes xStudio will need to take to create the final image. Once Rendered, the computer can be used for any other task while the Job Monitor tool can be used to check on the progress of our render.
Once it’s done, we’re ready to publish! Download the completed files to use in your local documents or use the images in your community’s 3DSwym forum to see what your team thinks of your work.
Using the xStudio xApp is incredibly easy to use and can generate fantastic quality images without taking up your computer’s resources. The simple interface makes it very easy to go through the intended workflow without the steep learning curve most rendering tools require. Customizing the environment, as well as, materials and camera properties is as easy as adjusting some sliders with one eye on the Live Preview mode. Creating visual prototypes and marketing content has reached a new level of accessibility through the xStudio application on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
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