5 Tips to Improve Your PhotoView 360 Rendering Skills

This is a guest post from GrabCAD superstar JE Paz. He's been sharing his models and renderings with others. Now, he shares with us what he's learned to help improve your PhotoView 360 Rendering Skills. Take it away JE!

So, there are a lot of aspects that go into creating a very accurate, highly realistic rendering. You pick up tricks along the way, how to look at models in the context of reality and use composition to frame your rendering. To get you started down this path, I’m going to share some rendering tips that will help improve your rendering skills using SolidWorks Photoview 360.

Did you know there's an updated Photoview 360 tips post (2015) and that you can find it here?

1. Adjusting the Image Quality

First of all we need to do a little setup, once you have an open part or assembly document go to the OPTIONS button, choose the DOCUMENT PROPERTIES Tab, and finally select IMAGE QUALITY. You will see this screen. By selecting a high draft quality you will get smoother curves in the model, as well as in your rendering.

2. Adjusting the Appearance (Materials)

Another important feature is choosing the right materials. The best approach to doing this is capturing the lighting in what you are rendering. Sounds odd, but remember, plastic does not always look like plastic. The color red to many people looks more like brown. It all depends on the lighting you want to show the rendering in.

For example, in the previous rendering, I knew the tires are rubber, the wheels are made of plastic (low gloss) and the nut is anodized aluminum. Those Appearances exist in SolidWorks, but sometimes the look and the color will need adjustments depending on the lighting you are using.

As you see here, a Part or Assembly Apperance is selected from the SolidWorks Taskbar. You can select a face, feature, body, part, or assembly and then add an Appearance or you can drag and drop an Appearance from the Taskbar onto a part. This applies the Appearance to the entire part.

You also need to realize that there can be a top level Appearance (in an assembly) that can override a lower level Appearance (in a Part) as shown in the image below.

Here you can notice that even though I choose the appearances for each part (lower levels) the assembly appearance (white) is replacing all of them (top level).

3. Adjusting the Scene (Environment)

Once you are comfortable with the chosen Appearance, we need to move on to the Scene, which adds an Environment and Background to your rendering. The scenes I recommend are Black with fill Lights, Grey with Overhead Lights, and Soft Spotlight. Each of these Scenes has its own Environment and Background.

Black With Fill Lights

Grey with Overhead Lights

Soft Spot Light

Notice how the Background and shadows change? You need to compare which Scene best accentuates the model, the composition and the lighting. Are you beginning to see the aspects that go into producing an amazing rendering? Excellent!

Sometimes you model may be “floating” off the floor casting a shadow away from the model. This means the floor in your Scene isn't located correctly, but it's simple to adjust. To change the floor offset simply go to the Display Manager Tab (multi-colored ball) on the left sidebar. Right-click on Environment, and then select Edit Scene. Near the bottom, you will see the Floor Settings. You can select the plane you want your floor to be and offset it to fit your  needs.

Adjusting the floor offset allows you to move the floor to the desired location of the model.

Another interesting feature comes in the Advanced tab inside the Edit Scene Dialog, here you can add a little more adjustment to the Scene, setting the Environment size and orientation. All of these setting, however, will not be seen in the SolidWorks window. To see adjustment to the floor, the floor size and rotation and the illumination, you will need to bring up the PV360 Preview Window or use the Integrated Preview. Both of the options can be toggled on and off from the Render Tools tab or the PhotoView 360 menu.

Edit Scene Dialog, Advanced Tab.

4. Adjusting the View (Camera/Perspective)

You have the option in SolidWorks to adjust or create a Camera to change Target Point, Camera position and rotation, as well as your field of view. This is also done in the DisplayManager tab on the left sidebar. However, one quick way to add realism to your image is to simply enable Perspective and Shadows. To do this, go to the Heads-up Display (the toolbar at the top of the screen), and on the View Setting tab, select both Shadows in Shaded Mode and Perspective.

Perspective and Shadows Enabled

Perspective Disabled, Shadows Enabled (Notice how depth is not very well apreciated )

Shadows Disabled, Perspective Enabled (Notice the floor shadow didn’t go away, it affects the shadows on the model)

5. Setting up to Render

From the DisplayManager Tab, select Photoview 360 Options.

Display Manager Tab.

Photoview 360 Options

Under Output Image Settings you can select an image size for the final render (the higher resolution the longer the Rendering process will take!) as well as the image format and default location for saving them.

For render quality, I typically set Preview render to Good and Final Render quality to Best (or Maximum) with a Gamma between 1.2 and 1.8.

Even though the Preview rendering is decent, there is no option to render part of an area, so if you want to want to do some faster test renderings, just reduce your Final rendering to Good.

The other settings below these, like Bloom, Contour rendering and Direct Caustics are additional effects you can add to the final rendering, but are not enabled by default. Bloom ads glow around emmisive materials, Contour adds a line around your edges, and Caustics adjust the reflections of spot or point lights. Little effects that can really add spectacle to your image depending on what you've selected for Appearance and your Scene.

Now, just Click the green check at the top of the DisplayManager and you're ready to render your Scene! Select PhotoView 360, Final Render and the rendering process will begin.

All of this goes hand-in-hand to help you get a sense of all the adjustments you made above to see if the outcome is what you desire. You'll find that you'll be making a lot of little adjustments, tweaking the view to get the angle just right. It's part of the creative process and is how you'll become faster and better at creating drop-dead gorgeous 3D images. Until next time!


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  • Vineeth

    Really useful. How to add more than one view in same rendered image.

  • J

    Do you have any experience with clear plastics? I’m having difficulty getting it look right. Sometimes the appearance changes seem like they have no effect. And the scenes seems really hard to control. Do you have any experience with this or know where to look for help or downloads?

  • Brice Parmentier

    Did you get any help on this topic of rendering clear plastics ? I am experiencing the same issue, rendering translucent plastics and glass.
    Let me know,

  • Aref

    Hi , Vineeth.

    To add additional views to your same rendered image , I assume you want multiple parts/assemblies within a single render ?
    If so, you need to do create an assembly of a sub-assembly.

    Hi, Brice.
    I faced the same problem rendering translucent/transparent/clear/ see-through plastics & glasses materials.

    What I did , Brice, I adjusted the desired part’s/assemblies’ transparency.
    You have to readjust it from part level.

  • I’m doing an abundance of renderings on my heavy workstation. It’s fast and I’m looking for quality. The tip about getting under the document properties was the icing on the cake. Thanks so much. This is great!

  • Andrew Wylam

    Any idea why the cosmetic thread dose not show in Photo view 360 works within solid works all the view but not in full render mode in photo view 360. I have the up to date drivers the jpeg images work ok but the p2m file that is used for cosmetic thread dose not.

    Dell Precision T3500
    W3530 (2.80GHz,8MB)-Memory runs at 1066MHz,
    4GB(2x2GB)1066MHz ECC-UDIMM,
    500GB (7200RPM) Serial ATA ll with NCQ and 8MB DataBurst Cache,
    1 GB ATI FirePro V4800 Graphics Card,

  • Hi JePaz and Josh,

    I’m looking for what is the best config to achieve a “edged rendering style”.

    I have to do some captures for a installation manual that we have modeled in SolidWork. Is there any software for this type of rendering?

    Thanks in advance for your time!

  • john

    I have stuiupid question how i can back from pohotoview to normal modeling view. Thanks for answer.

  • Ruan

    Hi Jose, if I understand correctly you need faces rendered as per usual but edges rendered too?

    If you check your photoview360 options there is a dialog header at the bottom which says “contour rendering”.

    If you tick that box you will get to the settings for rendering edges. It doesn’t offer a lot of choice as to how your line work shows up but in a pinch it is quite handy.

  • Thanks for these helpful tips!

  • Thanks for the tips, I am a little boring of 3ds Max and Vray.

  • Steve


    Great article wish I had found it earlier. Do you have any thoughts about output to print? I have tried many save formats to get the kind of resolution that I need for printing and I am unhappy with the results.