Have you ever tried to create a realistic image from the SOLIDWORKS rendering software but struggle to figure out why it doesn’t appear to be completely realistic?  It has happened to me as well.  I quickly found out that the scene was the main contributor to this.  You can’t physically take a picture of your product floating in a generic environment, so it stands to reason that it won’t look realistic. Follow along as I show you the technique I used to get rid of the dreaded “rendered” look.

SOLIDWORKS Visualize is a recent addition to the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem of products, and it has the ability to create stunning realistic rendered images.  I attempt to be a photographer in my spare time, so I thought I would give it a shot to see what the hype was about as well as attempt to actually create my first photorealistic image.

After installing, I had Jesse Sprague (our resident photo expert) give me the quick run through of the software and I was ready to begin rendering images.  I was trying to create a rendering of an electric carving knife but this is where I ran into my first issue.  The product does render out nicely but the exported image still has that rendered look.

At this point I thought it would look better in the scene it should be in, a kitchen.  At this point, you would typically find an HDR environment to use as the scene. In this case, I couldn’t find one that would fit my needs. Furthermore, getting the product to look like it belongs in a specific place in an HDR can be a challenge. For this reason, I decided to build my own environment to get exactly what I wanted. I began scouring through 3D Content Central and GrabCAD for a kitchen model to place the product in.  I could not find a kitchen that I really liked so I decided I was going to make one! SOLIDWORKS is so efficient that I often find I can model things quicker than it would take to find one!

I started off by creating a countertop and backsplash and then the rest came quickly after that. I created all the cabinets and drawers using the same techniques. I decided to place a wall outlet and block of knives in there as well just to liven up the environment.

I even created some split line circles on the underside of the cabinets so that we could use those as lights. Jesse actually gave me this idea thinking it would add some dramatic effect to the image along with looking more realistic.  I added the blue color to the faces so that when the model is imported into Visualize they are grouped together. Once the files are imported into Visualize we can add a Warm light to those faces.

Now that my environment has been created I rendered the images using the same process I would have with an HDR environment (note that there is still an HDR environment lighting the entire scene but we’ve created more localized controlled lighting on the counter).

As you can see, they appear to be way more realistic than before.  If possible, creating the environment within SOLIDWORKS can certainly help create a more realistic image.  Creating the environment can be time consuming, but once it is created you can reuse it for other products! It’s similar to setting up a physical studio with lights. You only have to do it once and then the rest is easy. On a side note if you have Visualize Professional then you have the ability to render multiple camera views back to back like I did in this case.  Starting the renderings as I left work using this functionality made sure that all the renders would be done by the next morning instead of having to start and wait for them to finish them individually.

Here, the product needs to interact with its surroundings. Because of this, a simple backplate would not produce results that look as realistic. In certain cases, a backplate would be a good solution. For more information on that technique, see our tech tip here:

I hope this technique leads to more realistic images for you as well.


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