Archive for the ‘Rendering’ Category

It was the start of the year just before SolidWorks World 2014 that I first became aware of the new rendering program -  Lagoa.

Lagoa describes itself: “Lagoa is a web-based platform for 3D visualization and rendering. Use Lagoa to produce stunning, high-quality, photoreal images for marketing, prototyping or creative projects – without the need for expensive hardware and software”
LagoaAt that time I had very little time but to register for an Account and have a quick look around!  Which was the first interesting part from Lagoa.  There is a “Community” account, which allows free use!  There are restrictions – 5GB Cloud storage – 2Hours per month Render time!    Although I’m not too sure how set up that is at this stage.  As currently my “Statistic” show 4.5hours for 2 months use. (i.e last week/weekend February,  this week March)

I had a chance at SolidWorks World to see Lagoa in action, on their stand in the Partner Pavilion.  The Renders they were displaying were creative and impressive!  So I’ve been more than interested to try for myself.  I would have like it to have been sooner but I finally found some time over the past week to do so!  Now common sense would suggest that I would run though a tutorial or at the very least had a look at the getting started section!    But as my daughter tells me “Nobody got time for that”

With any rendering it’s about the realism which equates to the provision of the  Materials, Lights (Shadows, Reflection) and Cameras (Angle and settings).   There is a reasonably good selections of Materials.  There is also a very good Material Guide (which I discovered a few days later) which provides in depth descriptions Material My approach to this first use was straight forward, upload my (now reasonably old but always good to render) SolidWorks – Chess Assembly.   Add Materials, select Lights and Render.  Change Materials, Lights and Camera then Render.   Repeat as many times as time provided!   So these are the firsts of those renders.

Game 3028 - Adjusted

Game 3028 Paint

Game 3028 ss

Game 3028 SSM

Game 3028 Water

Game Glass

Game 3028

Game 3028 GoldIt’s hard to be too critical of these renders and I’m reasonably pleased with the results.    Although the renders are basic most of the materials display very photorealistic.  The “Realistic Car Paint” is exceptional and I now “need” to produce a render of a vehicle.   The “Tinted Colour Glass” is again outstanding!  The “Metals” have a very pleasing mix of reflection and shadow!

These render were simple to produce and the program is intuitive to use, from the uploading of files to the adding of Materials and Lights.  Everything can be adjusted! EVERYTHING!


This was a brief (but very enjoyable) use of Lagoa and from what I’ve seen and tried it is impressive.  More importantly it does what it claims!   It produces renders that are of high quality and photorealistic.  Add to that they were produce using my home “family computer” a Dell Vostro 460, i5 – 2400 3.1Ghz 32bit 4Gb RAM not your typical Render machine!

I look forward to finding some more time to spend with Lagoa ….. now where is that model of the Zonda!

There is an interesting little enhancement in PhotoView 360 with SolidWorks 2014.   It only has a paragraph (or 2) in the “What’s New” and it’s only a check box to tick.

Accurate Environment Lighting!   The description in the “What’s New” has a slightly ambiguous statement and a fairly definite statement.     The slightly ambiguous statement is that, you would use Accurate Environment Lighting when, “Shadows in the current rendering are too noisy”.       The more definite statement would be, “When you use this setting, it can significant slow down rendering”

The only way to see what both those statements mean is to run some renders.   I’ve set them all of the render size to 1920 x 1080 and a  Gamma setting of 1.3.  A fairly simple render with Appearances of “White Marble” & “Jade” (so we can have a little translucency & reflection), use Basic Scene – Backdrop-Studio Room with Environment – Studio Room (rotated 90°) and a 35mm Wide Angle Camera

Which produced this Render in 41minutes, (on a Core i5-2400 – 3.1GHz 32bit, 4GHz RAM) jpeg file size 872kb

Chess Alt - Render - Standard

Chess Alt - Render Standard - StatsThe next was to re-run with Accurate Environment Lighting selected.  Edit Scene and select Accurate Environment Lighting

AccurateWhich produced this Render in 77min jpeg file size 926kb (an increase in render time of 87%).  You can see a far more pronounced “cleaner” shadow line around the board and the pieces in the foreground (off the board)  All of the pieces have a more defined shadow which has created a slightly darker image to the whole render.

Chess Alt - Render - Accurate

Chess Alt - Render Accurate - StatsSo I re-set the render.  Same Appearance of “White Marble” & “Jade” changed to a Studio Scene – Black Reflective Floor, changed the Environment – Studio Room (rotated 280°) and set using a 24mm Wide Angle Camera.  Adjusted the Illumination – Scene brightness up a touch

Which produced this Render in 38min, a jpeg file size 874kb

Chess C1 - Render - Standard

Chess C1 - Render Standard - StatsRe-run with Accurate Environment Lighting selected.  Which produced this Render in 75min jpeg file size 887kb (an increase in render time of 97%) With the environment light rotate around so much it has produced a more pronounced general shadow across the the whole board.  With more defined shadow on the Jade pieces

Chess C1 - Render - Accurate

Chess C1 - Render Accurate - StatsRetained the same Appearance of “White Marble” & “Jade”and returned to Basic Scene – Backdrop-Studio Room with Environment – Studio Room (rotated 90°) and set using a 200mm Telephoto Camera, added a Depth of Field, Focused on the White Queen (and a focal plane of 20mm) to see what difference that may make!

Which produced this Render in 69min, a jpeg file size 923kb

Chess FD - Render - Standard

Chess FD - Render Standard - StatsRe-run with Accurate Environment Lighting selected.  Which produced this Render in 106min jpeg file size 1010kb (an increase in render time of 53%)   Once more you can see the more defined shadowing which again has produced a slightly dark image.

Chess FD - Render - Accurate

Chess FD - Render Accurate - StatsHaving run those few renders and now with a (slightly) clearer idea of the effect that Accurate Environment Lighting has on the renders and how better to utilises it.   A point to note on the statistics is the quite dramatic increase in the “Indirect Rays” which would go some way to explain the increase in run time.

With the knowledge gained from above I thought I should try a more practical application of rendering with and without Accurate Environment Lighting.  The cabinet has a far less reflective material and a few more light sources!

Render produced in 24min, jpeg file size 847kb

Cabinet - Render - Standard

Cabinet - Render Standard - StatsWith Accurate Environment Lighting set, render produced in 68min (an increase in render time of 183%) and a jpeg file size 917kb.   You can see with Accurate Environment Lighting it has produced a far more defined and darker set of  shadows

Cabinet - Render - Accurate

Cabinet - Render Accurate - StatsThe use of Accurate Environment Lighting in PhotoView 360 has added another interesting dimension when rendering using SolidWorks 2014!

Over the past couple of weeks we have started seeing some “sneak previews” of the SolidWorks 2014 released over at the my.solidworks website.   Today we have seen the launch of SolidWork 2014 and with it the official website.   Over on the website Dassault Systemes SolidWorks have a series of videos which highlight some of the “Top Enhancements” in the SolidWorks 2014 release.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had some (limited) opportunities to start having a look through the release (with Beta).   After a quick run through of the “What’s New” and with no great plan of attack I went looking to see what I could find.  Apart from the “Top Enhancements” there are always many more small “day to day” and user interface improvement.  It is these enhancement which I find to give the best improvements in daily productivity!   These are some  observations and discoveries I’ve made after a few hours of use!

The first thing you’ll f32 bitind when you start SolidWorks 2014 will be the Message  “SolidWorks 2014 is the last release that supports 32 bit operating system.  SolidWorks 2015 will not install on a 32 bit operating system”    No great loss there! (said he who ironically is currently running SolidWorks 2014 Beta on 32bit machine)  I would be surprised that within the next twelve months you will even be able to buy a new system with a 32bit Operating System.   Have a look at any of the major manufacture websites (Dell, HP etc) and apart from a few entry level “Home” systems everything else is now 64bit!

The first discovery was now you have a number of options when you “Save As” including “Save As Copy & Open”   No longer do you have to tick a “As copy” box & then open that saved file!   Let’s be honest! anyone who has ever used the “Save As”> “As copy” command has been caught working on the wrong file!   We have all done it!  This should at least help reduce that chance of working on the wrong file!

Save As Copy

Assemblies are where you’ll find, what I believe to be, are some of the best enhancements!  I know that’s a early big call, but for reducing mouse movement & mouse clicks these two are hard to beat!  The first is Standard Mates from a Context Tool Bar!

I spend a major portion of my SolidWorks working time in Assembles!  Which means I spend a good portion of that time Mating components!  As much by habit (as much as anything else) I’ve always started the Mate by selecting (left button mouse) the required face (or edge) from one part, then holding Ctrl & select (left button mouse) the required Face (edge etc) from the other part,  then Right button mouse to display a context toolbar, then select the “Mate” feature, which would then open the Mate Property Manager (in the Feature Tree)!  …..  That’s even a handful just to type!

The Standard Mates from a Context Tool Bar in SolidWorks 2014 simplifies all of that!  Now all that is required is to Select (left button mouse) + Ctrl the two required faces (edges).  Once the Ctrl key is released the Context Toolbar appears with the available Mates! Then all that is required is to select the required Mate!  For day to day use this would have to be one of (if not) the best improvement!

Context Toolbar - Mate

Mate Context

Let me continue expressing my love for the enhancements to the Context Tool bar!   With SolidWorks 2014 you can now select a Configuration from the Context Toolbar!

How do you know if a part even has Configurations?  Without either opening the part and having a look or right button mouse and display toolbar, then configure Component, then go through the Modify Configuration display panel.  No more!  Left button mouse the part (in either the feature tree or from the graphic display),  will bring up the Context Tool Bar and shows the current configuration

Select ConfigSelecting then Displays all of the configurations

Display configSelect the required configuration, then confirm (tick)

Confirm ConfigShows the selected configuration


These enhancement to the Context Tool are a great improvement and will greatly reduce mouse travel (& clicks).   Even after using SolidWorks 2014 for only a short period of time I found myself, when back in previous versions, selecting a part and “looking” for the Configuration to appear (in the Context Toolbar)!

This one is one of those “niceties” enhancements!    Preventing Rotation in Concentric Mates  Nobody likes to have that little dash (-) showing an under defined Assemblies but lets be honest we all get a bit lazy to add a additional mate just to stop something rotating!  By editing a Concentric Mate

Lock Rotation - ConcentricYou have the option of Selecting Lock Rotation

Lock Rotation -EditThe Concentric Mate is indicated as “Locked” with a “solid fill” to the inner circle

Lock Rotation -IndicateThe Lock Rotation can be toggled “Lock” – “Unlock” by right button mouse the Mate from the Feature tree

Lock Rotation -FlyOut

There are some interesting additions to what SolidWorks 2014 can Save As along with what files it can open (Open Files)

New inclusions to Save As are Portable Network Graphics (.png) (with a range of options! including dpi settings and the ability to include/ or not include background), along with SolidWorks Composer (.smg) and Luxology Scene (.lxo). Most notable is the Luxology Scene reflecting the ongoing closer collaboration between SolidWorks/PhotoView 360 and Luxology Modo.

Just when I thought I had seen most file types I discovered how little I know.  SolidWorks 2014 is listed to be able to open Nastran (.NAS) and SimpoeMold  (PG1, PG2,PG3) files.   Which shows I’ve had little to do either FEA or Plastics as I had to look up both the file types.  I would have liked to have a better look at both but finding (.NAS & .PG) files on the web proved unsuccessful!     The SimpoeMold is most understandable as they are part of Dassault Systemes

Open & SavePortable Network Graphics (.png) options!

PNG Options

Saving Animations as Luxology Scene (.lxo)


A nice enhancement is in Section View.    You now have the the Option to display a Graphics Section.

Section - Graphic

One of the big enhancement right though the entire SolidWorks 2014 release is to Slots.    Slots have now been added to the Hole Wizard.  The Hole Wizard now shows the available holes in a Isometric Graphic displays!

Hole Wizard - Graphic

Counterbore, Countersunk and Straight Slot from the Hole Wizard


A quick look into PhotoView 360 the first thing I notice is that there is a new Appearance in Plastic – Soft Touch.  As well as a substantial range of outdoor Scenes within Presentation Scenes.  To go with the Outdoor scenes (Landscape & Urban) there are the corresponding Environment (hdr)

Appearance Scene

We have all experienced it, the “Boss” comes in and casually drops “I have a meeting in 10min can you just produce a few Renders for me!”   In the past I may have just taken a screen shot of the Render Preview but now you have better options.   There are now options in the Preview to “Extended Refinement”  and to “Full Resolution Preview”   More importantly you can also Save Preview Image.  

Preview - RenderWhich produces a quick “acceptable” Render with the “Save Preview Image”

Tap - Preview

Well that’s covers my first couple of hours of just looking through SolidWorks 2014 and seeing what I could discover!  It’s barely scratched the surface of the some 200 odd plus enhancements. It certainly has the feel of a great release.   Go visit the official SolidWorks 2014 website and have a look at the videos of some of the “major” new features!

Hopefully I have some more time over the next few weeks to start having a more in depth look at SolidWorks 2014 and some of the “Top Enhancements”

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks working on some new projects & helping out with some new ideas for marketing! It’s started with some new Renders for the revised brochures!

Trakkaway 750
Trakkaway 750 - Layout

Trakkaway 860
Trakkaway 860 - Layout

The “new” Torino”
Torino - 2Seat - Rear Left - HR

We also had a weekend away for both some product test and getting some images and video for upcoming Marketing.  Part of the filming was to dismissing a few myths about front wheel drive Motorhomes and their off sealed roads performance!

These are a  few of the images from the weekend!






Now sit back, turn up the sound (after first changing the Quality to 1080 and setting to full screen) & enjoy our Trakkaway 700 (based on the Fiat Ducato – AL-KO) in action

Follow it up with the action of our Trakkadu All Terrain (Volkswagen 4Motion) and  Jabiru 4 x 4 (Mercedes-Benz Sprinter)

It was way back in January of this year (the 8th to be precise!) that Mark Biasotti (Senior Product Manager – Dassault Systemes SolidWorks) posted his SolidWorks Doesn’t Do Trains Planes and Automobiles post on the SolidWorks Forum!  It covered his story on why he produced his incredible model of one of the worlds most magnificent vehicles the – Porsche Carrera GT!

In a post a few days later he very generously made available the models for downloads  (both the master model and a assembly version!)

I was fortunate to bump into Mark (in one of the corridors of the “Swan” ) at SolidWorks World 2013 and had a brief discussion with him about the Porsche.   Apart from complimenting him of his amazing work I said I was keen to put my own spin on Rendering the GT!   Now a mere 12 weeks later and I’ve finally found a few spare nights to run the Porsche through PhotoView 360!

Apart from keeping a few of Mark’s modified textures, I started from scratch and gave it a whole new colour system!
Even in my most vivid dreams I don’t know if I have half of the ability to produce a model like this but at least I hope my renders can do some justice to Mark’s model!

First I ran it through the “Studio”
Porsche - Studio Front

Porsche - Interior

Porsche - Studio Rear

Before taking it out on location!
Porsche - Boston Morning

Porsche - Oslo Opera

Porsche - Driveway

I have a few more locations I would like to run it by! Hopefully it wont take another 12 weeks!