Tips on using mechanical CAD visualization effectively

May 8, 2011

Today, mechanical design engineers have access to a wide range of sophisticated products, enabling creative and useful effects, such as CAD animation and 3D max rendering to be applied to both new and archived designs. The one downside is that the more creative a product is, the more of an artist you have to be to use it. Photorealistic rendering sits uncomfortably with engineers who are unfamiliar with lighting, surface reflection and other aspects of photorealism. Once the image starts moving, there’s even more to think about.

Even with static images, one of the biggest problems for novices is creating realistic lighting effects. What you should remember is that mechanical CAD software is designed for engineers, not movie makers and artists. Image based lighting (IBL), for example, takes away the uncertainty of virtual light positioning. IBL utilizes pre-lit HDR (high-dynamic range) background images, and wraps them around the CAD model. However, the result can still look wrong if you don’t also consider things like shading and reflection distortion.

To look realistic, a design must have believable texture and light-reflectance. This can be complicated where multiple materials, such as glass, metal and plastic, are involved. To overcome this, 3D render software often incorporates a Render Appearance Library, which allows engineers to choose the right surface properties for their CAD designs.

If you don’t feel photorealistic graphics is your strong point, come to us at Enventure Technologies. We are experts in the field of CAD animation and 3D max rendering, and can create photorealistic imaging which Spielberg himself would be proud of.

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