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SOLIDWORKS Visualize: Rendering with Gravity

Tuesday July 11, 2023 at 1:00pm

SOLIDWORKS Visualize Pro allows you to recreate the imperfections of photography by creating random, organic arrangements of components with gravity.

The Physics Simulator removes the rigidity of placing models by hand, and SOLIDWORKS Visualize harnesses this to help you render dynamic and realistic images and videos.

We’re going to take our tennis ball model we made during this previous tutorial and animate it bouncing to create this render.


Throughout the course of Wimbledon, we're exploring how to create and simulate tennis balls in SOLIDWORKS. Check back during the tournament for new content!


We’re starting with a blank, new Visualize project. To add a model into SOLIDWORKS Visualize, head up to File > Import and select the model.

These are the import settings we’ll bring in. Visualize recognises that we’ve added appearances in SOLIDWORKS already, so it can import them too.

We’ll monitor the file in case we ever need to make a change to the model in SOLIDWORKS, so it will automatically update after saving.

Position the ball at a height in the Y-axis. We’ll choose 5m here.

Before simulating the motion, it’s a good idea to swap over to the Preview Render mode to ease up on the CPU and GPU while tinkering with the settings.

We’re going to stick with the default basic scene and environment for this render set up.


The Physics Simulator can be found on the Physics tab when selecting a model in the model tree.

Static, dynamic, and vehicle are the three types of simulation available.

  • Static should be used for stationary objects such as floors and walls.
  • Dynamic should be use for moving objects.
  • Vehicle simulation can be assigned to cars and other vehicles. This allows you to steer them and control them.

Check out this neat slot car race that was simulated with SOLIDWORKS Visualize!

Collider geometry can be specified for each model. Selecting bounding box is the fastest way to see your results, using the bounding box of the model to interact with other geometry.

Choosing mesh considers the physical geometry of the model and gives a more realistic result.

For our tennis ball, we want to select Dynamic and Mesh from these options.

The physical properties of each model can be modified.

As SOLIDWORKS Visualize isn’t an FEA simulation tool like SOLIDWORKS Simulation, it doesn’t consider the mechanical properties of materials. So this is less of an exact science, and more about getting the result that you feel is right.

Static friction is the friction value needed to be overcome by the model to start moving when against other models, and dynamic friction considers the interaction between moving geometry.

Elasticity controls the bounce of the model. The higher the number, the greater the bounce!

You can preview the animation by clicking Show Simulation Manager and pressing play. Tweak settings and play the simulation until the animation looks and feels right.

We’ve tweaked the settings to those shown in the image for this animation.

Now we need to scatter the balls!


Once the physical properties are set, we can then consider multiplying the number of tennis balls or models.

Patterns are a powerful way to add order or natural variation to an array of models.

On the model tab, select the model you want to pattern, click the + icon and select new pattern.

The Formation section of the General tab contains our pattern controls. Choose between various organised pattern types, or select Scatter to create a random array.

Ranges are used to tell SOLIDWORKS Visualize between which dimensions we want the model to be randomised.

These are the properties we’ve chosen for our pattern.

To add an extra level of realism, it’s always good to throw in a rotation if appropriate – we’ve changed the maximum X and Y rotation values to 90 to introduce some more variety across the array.

We’re happy with how the preview looks so we’re ready to record this simulation. Click the record button to capture the simulation and create keyframes in the timeline.


Now that the animation is set, we can start work on our camera set up.

Camera positioning is always very individual but it’s worth considering the basics of composition and perspective when creating a render.

Position your camera where you feel is best in the viewport by rotating with the mouse.

Add some perspective and then activate Depth of Field.

Activate Accurate mode to see the results of the depth of field setting. Use the Pick tool to set the focal point of the image.

These are the values we’ve chosen for our F-stop and perspective.

TOP TIP - When you’ve tinkered sufficiently with your camera, lock the camera and duplicate it. Then unlock the new camera and name it FREE CAM. You can then use this camera to navigate without disturbing your previous set up!

This is a fairly simple and straightforward setup. To take your renders to the next level, bring in new environments and plates, and add lights and emissive appearances.

Find out how to add realistic lighting in SOLIDWORKS Visualize and create stunning product renders with this blog.

All that’s left to do is set the render running.


Now the answer to that varies with the product and scene.

In our case, we want a video out of this, so we’ll set the animation up to render with the Create Movie option ticked at 30 fps.

To keep our file size down, but maximise quality, we’ll render this at high screen resolution 96 ppi at 1080p.

Make the most of lighting and shadows and turn on the Accurate render mode for 150 passes.

Our AI denoiser helps to keep the passes down and speed up our rendering process. The total time to render this short clip was about 8 minutes.

And the finished result…

Take the Next Steps...

Check out the final post in the series where we look into the Magnus effect and how it forms with a tennis ball...

To learn more about SOLIDWORKS Visualize and how you can create stunning realistic product renders, why not book on to one of our CPD-accredited training courses?

Whether you’re a beginner or already intimately familiar with CAD, our friendly and expert trainers are ready to help you get the most out of SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS Visualize, either online or in a classroom local to you.

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