It’s the holiday season and many of us are getting into the spirit by decorating our homes and escaping the cold. In this blog, I’ll be using a clever method of combining projects in SOLIDWORKS Visualize to quickly transform an empty living room into a warm and cozy winter escape that we’ll bring to life with a rendering.Once you’ve used Visualize, it becomes abundantly clear that the software is top in its class at creating photo-realistic images. Typically, only experts know that you can import other file types. This includes 3D models that weren’t created with a traditional CAD system, such as models created for video games and movies. Examples you’ll see in this blog of these “non-CAD” 3D models will be a couch, candles, a holiday tree and wrapped presents.
There are many places online where you can purchase these non-CAD 3D models and they are perfect for supplementing your SOLIDWORKS models in renderings. I typically use .OBJ or .FBX files to import and then add the appearances in Visualize as usual.One major benefit is that these models often have more organic geometry that would be hard to model with traditional CAD. Think of things like rocks, water droplets, trees, animals, people, etc. These files also have the unique benefit of utilizing the “UV” appearance mapping method, which is able to realistically wrap appearances over their more complex geometry. Due to these reasons, rendering these models alongside your SOLIDWORKS models will greatly increase the overall realism with very little effort.
So, let’s get started and cover the simple steps for creating our perfect holiday scene.
Step 1: Gathering 3D Models
- I’ve started by exporting my SOLIDWORKS assembly to Visualize, adding the appearances and surrounding it with a winter night environment. The SOLIDWORKS models are the more basic objects in the living room like the walls, windows, coffee table, tree lights, lamp and tv.
- I’ve created independent Visualize projects for each imported .OBJ file, added their appearances and saved them separately to keep them organized. These models include a couch, candles, holiday tree and wrapped presents.
Notes About the .OBJ Models
- Couch: This couch model has organic geometry that forms the cushions and upholstery in a very realistic way. The model also came with fabric texture appearances that wrapped onto the couch perfectly with UV mapping.
- Candles: The candles are simple geometry, but this model came with a flame appearance plus an alpha map which hides the background to make it look like a real flame!
Holiday Tree: This tree model came preloaded with the tree topper and ornaments. It has numerous branches that utilize the same alpha channel method as the candle flame to allow you to see the individual pine needles. I modeled the tree lights in SOLIDWORKS using a helical curve as a sweep path for the braided wires. I then used a curve driven component pattern to space the bulbs along the helix.
- Wrapped Presents: The present models have very organic geometry in the bows as well as the wrapping paper itself. They are not simple cubes and sweeps created in SOLIDWORKS. Rather, they have slight surface dimples and organic curves that boost the realism.
Step 2: Combining Projects
- Already having my SOLIDWORKS models set up in Visualize, I need to import the other Visualize projects that I’ve created.
- To import a project, activate the “Models” pane, click the “Add” symbol and select “Import Model.” Then simply select the Visualize projects and click “Open.” This will insert the models with the same location and scale as they exist in their individual Visualize projects.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: The total polygon count of your project has the tendency to grow large when using this method. It greatly depends on the mesh quality of the imported .OBJ file since they come in various resolutions. Each imported project will add to the overall polygon count and can increase rendering time as a result. However, this is a small price to pay for the realism we achieve. For reference, this project has over 22 million polygons.
Step 3: Locating the Models
- This step is to simply use the “Move” tool to move the models within the scene. At this point, I’m taking care to place the models so that they realistically sit on the floor and are positioned naturally throughout the scene. I paid special attention when placing the presents around the tree by placing them in different positions and even angling one, so it appears to be resting on another present.
Step 4: Adjustments and Final Rendering
- To wrap this project up, it’s worth spending the time to adjust the lighting of the emissive appearances in the scene. The Visualize HDRI environment I used is set to nearly zero brightness, so the emissive objects in the room are producing all the light in the scene. The lighting gives us a warm and cozy feeling by using the glowing red and green lights on the tree and tv along with the soft white light cast from the candles and lamp.
- With the lighting adjusted to our liking, I’ll render this as an image using the AI Denoiser to rapidly speed up the rendering. The final 1920×1080 image took less than 5 minutes.
Getting in the holiday spirit, whether at home or with SOLIDWORKS Visualize, should be an enjoyable experience and one that makes you happy. Our SOLIDWORKS models are core to the work we do with Visualize, but you’ve seen how supplementing your models with more organic, non-CAD, models can rapidly increase the overall realism of your renderings. Like gathering with your loved ones and decorating your home for the holidays, combining your Visualize projects and putting together a beautiful rendering can be just as fun and fulfilling.