William Radigan

February 12th, 2015 NMSUG Meeting Minutes

Blog Post created by William Radigan on Sep 10, 2015
Our February 12th meeting featured "PhotoView 101" by Rob Rodriguez.  The presentation included a complete rendering workflow from model assessment through to final image creation.  His slides and example models can be found here (~152 MB):




The complete meeting minutes below are courtesy of
Randall Lynn, Lynn Technical Services
SolidWorks, Technical Writing, Technical Documentation

February 12th Meeting Minutes:

Rick Johnson was originally scheduled to give a short presentation about using library features. A last minute family emergency prevented his attendance. Our thoughts are with Rick and his family.


William was recently back from SOLIDWORKS World. He used his time there in part to discover content presentations that may be relevant for our user group, particularly in the context of the survey results that he presented at the December 10, 2014 meeting. Possible topics for upcoming meetings include Advanced Modeling, Weldments (Chris Castle-SolidBox), Surfacing, Rendering, Large Assembly Modeling. He also asked the group if they might be interested in a presentation by Jim Wilkinson who is the SolidWorks Vice President of User Experience. Jim’s presentation would give insight into how SolidWorks thinks. Audience members indicated that this sounded like an interesting and worthwhile presentation. Also, there was brief discussion about MBD, Model-Based Definition, (Hooray! No More Drawings.) SolidWorks announced a new product, SolidWorks Model Based Definition. An excerpt from the press release reads as follows

"With the SOLIDWORKS MBD application, engineers can now generate one master document for all product and manufacturing information, downstream processes, and compliance with regulations and standards without having to produce and maintain separate sets of expensive 2D engineering drawings."

Tables at the back of the room had free stuff on them and attendees were invited to leave their business cards and/or company schwag.


NMSUG President William Radigan presented a brief real world example that demonstrated three methods for creating a heavily perforated sheet metal enclosure panel. (12” x 12”, 1/16” holes on 1/8” spacing).

  • Pattern a hole: simple, looks good, can see the internal components, shows up in a drawing, high overhead-long rebuilds.
  • Use the “Fill Pattern” function: simple, looks good, can see the internal components, shows up in a drawing, high overhead-long rebuilds.
  • Apply a RealView “Cosmetic Hole Pattern”: This is a simple way to visualize the internal components.  The holes do not show up in a drawing unless the view is shaded.  Realview Graphics must be turned on.  This option does not create actual hole geometry which would create an unnecessary burden on rebuild times.



Rob (along with Mike Pelock-MCAD, William Radigan-Radigan Engineering, David Samuel-SNL, & Dave Furry-DF 3D Modeling & Design) were all just back from SolidWorks World 2015 which was held Sunday-Wednesday this week in Phoenix, AZ. Rob made an overnight stop in Albuquerque, en route to his snowy home near the east coast, to give his PhotoView 360 101 presentation to our user group.

Rob is the founder/owner of Axis Cad Solutions, www.axiscadsolutions.com. He is a familiar SolidWorks World presenter and many of his fine rendered images have appeared in SolidWorks literature and software start-up splash pages.

For much of his presentation, Rob used a hand-held cordless electric drill model that he downloaded free from GrabCAD. (www.grabcad.com, check it out!) He noted that the assembly model was exclusively imported solids and may not have originated in SolidWorks. Nevertheless, it was still suitable for applying SolidWorks artistic effects and rendering tools.

PhotoView 360 is an add-on that is included in SolidWorks Professional and SolidWorks Premium. Enable it from the Tools>Add-Ins menu.

APPEARANCES: It makes sense to first apply SolidWorks Appearances to the model before rendering. Rob indicated that while SolidWorks applies Appearances, most other software packages apply Materials. An appearance can represent a material, texture, or color. Access the Appearances tab from the Beach Ball tab on the Feature Manager or the Task Pane. Drag and drop appearances onto the model. A flyout menu will appear that gives the option of applying the appearance to the Face, Feature, Body, or Part. It is possible to apply appearances on top of existing appearances. Face appearances override Feature appearances which override Body appearances which override Part appearance. All the applied appearances can be seen in the Appearances tab of the FMT where they can be sorted by History, Alphabetical, or Hierarchy. Rob prefers Hierarchy because it show the overrides.

There was a question about component vs. part. In the context of SolidWorks appearances, SolidWorks uses the term “component” to refer to a part in an assembly. Keep this in mind if you when you are consulting SolidWorks help files.

Rob applied, removed, and reapplied several appearances to his drill model. He showed how you could select a group of components in the FMT Appearances tab and change the appearance them all at once. This is particularly handy if you need to update the appearance on a large number of components.

Some of the audience members mentioned unusual behavior with regard to appearances on imported parts and appearances in the SolidWorks appearance database. Rob indicated that imported parts often have a hidden display state and that may cause unusual behavior. He suggested switching to a different display state. He also indicated that many of the appearances in the current SolidWorks database are like to old PhotoWorks appearance definitions and this sometimes causes some problems.

DECALS: For his example, Rob located and downloaded some DeWalt logos from the internet. He used PhotoShop to convert them to PNG files but indicated that there are a number of other image editing programs that can do the same thing. PNG files work best for decals because they include an alpha channel which is a separate layer that is the area surrounding the image. The alpha layer includes the area within the picture border that is not part of the image (such as the spaces inside the letters D and A) AND it is clear or transparent. Hence, when a PNG file is applied onto a face in a SolidWorks model, the face color/appearance show through the alpha layer surrounding the graphical elements. Rob demonstrated how you can use image editing tools to create a mask layer on a jpeg but this method still has drawbacks and a PNG file is really best for decals. Once you have a PNG file,  you can drag it into the Decals Library folder in the Appearances, Scenes, and Decals Tab in the task manager. Once you have it in the Decals Library, you can drag it onto any surfaces. Be sure the View> Decals option is turned on, otherwise they will not appear. Rob applied Dewalt decals to his drill model and it looked Great!

TEXTURES: Everything Rob demonstrated to this point in the presentation was preparing the model for rendering. Textures are also available from the Appearances Tab in the Task Pane. Rob applied a knurled texture to some surfaces the same way he applied appearances earlier. NOTE: RealView Graphics must be turned on to see textures in the model while in SolidWorks.

Keep in mind, all the work up to this point, applying appearances, decals, and textures, occurred in SolidWorks and not in PhotoView 360.

RENDERING: At this point, Rob started rendering his drill model. Rendering uses lots of overhead and can really slow down your computer. Rob demonstrated the PhotoView 360 Render Preview window and Image Quality settings to show how to create “Preview” renderings quickly before tying up your computer for a 1+ hour Final render job.

RENDERING TRICKS: Perspective, Cameras, Lights.
Rob always puts the SolidWorks model in Perspective mode before rendering. Perspective more accurately mimics what we see in real life.

Camera views are his preferred way to set the model up for rendering. Access Cameras under the Scenes, Lights, and Cameras tab (under the Appearances FMT tab).Right-click, Add Camera will show two screen windows. The left window is the camera and the right window is what the camera sees-the model. Use the two windows to create a view orientation that you think you want to render. Saving the camera is a lot like saving a view. Also, cameras can actually see inside a model and even look out from inside a model whereas in traditional orthogonal views, you can never see inside the model.

Lights are accessed from the same tab as Cameras. There are Directional, Spot, and Point light options. Lights are either off or on in both SolidWorks and PhotoView 360. Right clicking on a light in the FMT gives the option to turn it off and on in the difference program modes. Rob prefers to turn lights on in PhotoView 360 and off in SolidWorks for rendering. It gives a better appearance. There are times however that a SolidWorks light in addition to the PhotoView 360 lights can yield some interesting affects. While lighting can be controlled with individual lights, Rob prefers to use the lighting “presets” afforded by environments. Environments are HDR files that contain preset lights. The default SolidWorks scene is 3 Point Faded. SolidWorks/PhotoView 360 share and Environments library. Rob demonstrated some the the lighting settings and options like Bloom and Shadows.

Lastly, Rob showed several renderings he has done for customers. He showed the Drill model rendered in three different colors and also with cartoon and contour effects.

Rob’s company, Axis CAD Solutions is close to announcing a new SolidWorks Add-In they have been developing. It is called PV360 X. It enhances PhotoView with improved scenes, appearances, and a streamlined user interface. Beta is expected within 30 days and a possible summer release date. For more information, visit www.pv360x.com .

REFERENCES: Photorealistic Rendering Using SOLIDWORKS AND PHOTOVIEW 360 is available from the SolidWorks store and from Rob’s company website, www.axiscadsolutions.com . Rob also indicated he will make the presentation slides available for download.  (See Above)


The meeting ended with a whole bunch of great giveaways. The RapidGroup donated two $25 gift cards. SolidWorks donated laptop mice, journal books, and umbrellas (go figure).

We had leftover pizza and salad. Bring your Tupperware next time.