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SOLIDWORKS 2014 Hidden Gem - Ambient Occlusion Render

Thursday January 30, 2014 at 1:12pm
 
PhotoView 360 2014 added many new enhancements, one that wasn’t mentioned in the What’s New guide was Ambient Occlusion output.
 
Ambient occlusion allows you to visualise areas of a design where light struggles to reach and can be used either on its own as a alternative output style or to bring added depth in terms of shadows to your render.
 
First you have to turn the output of ambient occlusion on, this is on the Render Tools tab > Options.
Then tick ambient occlusion output. 
 
 
Right away you won’t notice any difference. However an extra output type will be available from the pull down at the top of the screen after a final render. It is usually set to “Final Colour Output” but you can choose Ambient Occlusion from the drop down. 
 
You can then save this out as an image file to be used for post processing. However note saving as a PNG does not work so you will have to use an alternative format such as JPEG then remove the background manually, you can use the alpha output  option on the same drop down to assist this.
 
The resulting image can then be combined with your final render in post process. The easiest method I have found is using an image editor, apply it as a layer on top of the original image.  Selecting the layer and changing the blending mode for that layer to “Multiply” or “Soft Light” gives the desired effect. 
 
Below is a comparison of the final render  with and without the ambient occlusion layer added:
 
Without Ambient Occulsion (click to download larger full resolution images)
 
 
 
With Ambient Occlusion
Notice how much darker the shadows are, and how details are brought out.  I've tried to exaggerate the effect here but you can adjust the opacity of the layer in your image editor to increase or lessen the effect.
 
 
An alternative use of ambient occlusion is to combine it with photographic renders, outline renders etc using layers in an image editior. E.g. 
 
By Alan Sweetenham
Applications Engineer
 

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