rendering

This is a continuation of Franco’s post on Desktop Backgrounds.

If you’ve seen a film documentary, you’ve probably heard the phrase “fix it in post.” It’s a phrase that I jokingly toss around whenever something doesn’t go right in the moment. The mindset is simple: Get things as close as you can on the first pass, then go back and clean it up. This philosophy is one that I apply to renderings on a regular basis. Let’s see how I apply this to my work flow on a rendering project.

Rendering can be a time consuming endeavor. Set up can be intimidating, all just to watch little boxes scamper around your screen sweeping off the fuzzies until the image emerges. If your image doesn’t come out the way you expected, it’s back to the settings, followed by another round of cross-eyed waiting. In PhotoView360, SOLIDWORKS gives you the ability to preview with a lower render quality which can be a huge time saver. However, what happens when you run a final render only to realize you made a small mistake? On the other hand, when can you save time by planning to create an image that isn’t final so you can “fix it in post?”

Let’s take this image for example:

rendering

Even this fun little image had a bit of strategy to it. Look at the before and after:

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Franco and I had a decision to make in setting up this image. We set the SOLIDWORKS logo as a galvanized material intending for an industrial look. We settled on a torch as the accent. Here is where things get fun in a choose-your-own-adventure kind of way. We can render the image without the torch and try to add a picture of one later. Alternately, we can create a model of the torch and render it in. I chose this example because we actually did both. We wanted the torch to be as integral to the rendering as possible. So we modified a model we got from GrabCAD (Great resource for rendering projects). I’ve pulled all sorts of “background actors” from the GrabCAD model database. With the model in place and modified to our liking, lighting was our next concern.

Lighting is one of the most important elements when it comes to rendering. Lighting will make or break your shot. Being a photographer, I am used to looking for lighting and knowing the capabilities of my tools. Photoshop does a good job at adjusting lighting conditions after a capture. However, you can’t adjust light that isn’t there. That is the case here. I was able to bump up the overall levels and contrast with no problem in Photoshop (this can now be done in the PhotoView360 editor as well as of 2013)! We can see that the “After” image has a bit more pop and less of that grey look. What I really wanted, however, was a nice warm glow off of the flame coming from the torch. As you can imagine, fire can be a challenge to render believably. Try to draw a lick of flame with varying transparency in SOLIDWORKS and you’ll find it a difficult task. But rendering a warm colored light to give the effect is easy! Add one orange colored directional light near the tip of the torch and you’re in business. You can see that the “Before” shot has a nice warm glow near the end of the torch. Better yet, it’s effects can be seen on the ground, sides of the letters in the logo, torch tubes, and in that wonderful shadow on the far wall. Once I add in the flames in Photoshop, that light really sells the effect!

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Here’s the Before & Afters! Many of these look like I did more work than I really did. A simple level adjust goes a long way (click on the image if you don’t see them switching back and forth).
This is what I added for each image:

Level adjust:

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Level adjust, wood chip accents:

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Level adjust, wall accent, floor accent:

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Level adjust, paint bucket:

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Level adjust, puddle. This one is actually a cross between 2 render frames. We liked our initial material settings better. Rather than completely re-render, I blended 2 render frames with a layer mask:

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Level adjust, Color adjust for the bush, clippers and trimming:

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Level adjust, flames:

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Level adjust, sand texture, starfish:

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In the end, I try not to push the limits of one package if I can easily make up ground in another. Playing to the strengths of your tools will provide you with the fastest start-to-finish product and will make for a more enjoyable journey.


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