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SOLIDWORKS Elite Specialists

Gift Wrapped with Visualize

Friday December 15, 2017 at 10:53am
How to use multi-layer appearances to add bling to renders in SOLIDWORKS Visualize 

It’s that time of year again and people are putting up decorations. So that means fairy lights and baubles. Baubles come in all sorts of colours and with Visualize we can explore these in depth. But not everything is a single colour we have ones with stripes and snowflakes or even complete pictures. How can we achieve this in SOLIDWORKS Visualize? Do we need to model split lines and complex geometry in SOLIDWORKS, or is there another way? We are talking about SOLIDWORKS here so there is always another way. In SOLIDWORKS Visualize we can use multi-layer appearances.

So let’s have a look at a couple of examples I have put together. The first example uses content that is ‘out-of-the-box’. It is already in Visualize. So what are the steps required? First we need the base elements we want to use. To add them to our project we just need to drag them into the scene, but off the model. Starting with a basic bauble design I imported it into SOLIDWORKS Visualize. Just bringing it in adds the appearances from SOLIDWORKS, but I would like more. With the model open I dragged in Diamond Yellow from the Gems section and Red Reflector from the Automotive section to the project. You then need to add a multi-layer appearance. Just add a new appearance in the appearances tab.  Either use the PLUS or right click in the thumbnail pane. This will generate a new Matte appearance. You can now change this to Multi-layer appearance.

Before adding appearances to our new Multi-Layer appearance I want to alter the Red Reflector. I am looking to create a bauble with crosshatched, to do this all we need to do is add an alpha channel to it. For this example I used the built in texture Mesh_Spec.jpg and we can see the results of that.
So what does the alpha channel actually do? If you look at the Alpha images you  can see that they are black and white. Any region that is black is treated as being totally transparent. Essentially a hole in the material. With this knowledge you can generate your own textures for future appearances. These are the ones that I used in the main image:
     

You then need to add the new appearances to the Multi-Layer one. You can have a maximum of four. The order that they appear in the side bar is inverted so the top appearance is the base appearance with subsequent appearances being layered on top. You don't even really need to know that as you get an instant feedback in the model. For an extra flourish you can ensure that the mapping is set to spherical and consider adding a slight rotation as in the snowflake bauble to get a twisted effect.

 
Finally don't forget that in SOLIDWORKS Visualize 2018 we now have a great Podium starter project that can be used to display your designs against a smooth backdrop. The remaining feature to be added was to ensure that bloom was turned on in the camera settings to get that all important glow to give you that warm fuzzy feeling on the cold winter nights.
           

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