RealView Graphics in SolidWorks 2008 (Solid Thinking SolidWorks Tutorial)

29 Feb, 2008 By: Richard Doyle

New model rendering feature works in real time and retains the appearance you set.

RealView Graphics, which was released in SolidWorks 2008, is hardware support of advanced shading in real time. By applying appearances and scenes, your models come to life without going through rendering processes such as PhotoWorks. Your system must have a graphics card capable of supporting RealView. See the SolidWorks Web site for a complete list of supported graphics cards and drivers.

RealView vs. PhotoWorks
RealView Graphics differs from PhotoWorks in a couple of ways. For instance, when a model is rendered in PhotoWorks, it must be rendered again after any motion of the model (rotation, zoom/pan). RealView Graphics works in real time and retains the appearances you've set. See the table below for a comparison of RealView to PhotoWorks graphics.

RealView GraphicsPhotoWorks Rendering
Hardware rendered Software rendered
Dynamic image Static image
Rendered during motion Re-render after motion
Applies to model Includes caustics, illumination, etc.

Appearances and Scenes
If your system is RealView compatible, you can assign appearances and scenes to your SolidWorks models. The appearance of your model is different from its physical properties. For example, you can assign the model a material property of 6061 Aluminum, but apply an appearance of Brushed Aluminum.

Component after application with the standard material property of 6061 Aluminum (left) and an appearance of Brushed Aluminum (right).

Scenes affect the way that appearances look by displaying different environments that include reflective floors, reflections of backgrounds, and even photos that encompass the model. Scenes also use different lighting schemes to change the appearances displayed. The models shown above are displayed with a scene called Light Cards. Look at what happens when I apply a different scene to the same models.

The same models with the Grill Lighting scene applied.

Getting Started with RealView and Applying Scenes
To use RealView Graphics, expand View Settings from the Heads-Up View toolbar and click RealView Graphics to toggle RealView.

Access the RealView Graphics command through the Heads-Up View toolbar.
Click the Apply Scene button to cycle through the scenes and apply the next consecutive scene. The scenes are organized in the same order as in the Scenes folder on the Task Pane. You can also expand the Apply Scene flyout menu to select individual scenes from a list. Basic scenes, characterized by simple lighting and backgrounds, include Warm Kitchen and Office Space. Presentation scenes like Wood Floor Room and Courtyard Background use photos that become part of the environment. Studio Scenes combine elements of the previous examples -- check out Reflective Floor Checkered for instance. When you find the scene that you want to use for your everyday modeling background, save the file as a part template and it will be available any time you start a new part.

Applying Appearances
Once you have selected the scene, select the RealView/PhotoWorks tab on the Task Pane.

The RealView/PhotoWorks tab on the Task Pane.

Applying appearances is a simple drag and drop operation. To apply an appearance to the entire model, simply drag the appearance to the graphics area. The appearance is assigned to the entire part. To apply appearances to individual features or bodies, preselect the feature or body from the FeatureManager Design Tree, and then drag the desired appearance to the graphics area. If you want to apply an appearance to only selected model faces, you must preselect the face or faces and then drag the appearance into the graphics area.

Model with no selection applied to the model (left) and with an appearance applied to just the selected face of the model (right).

Appearances can also be modified at the assembly model level by dragging an appearance into the graphics area and applying it to a part or parts.

Appearance of black oxide applied to just the hex bolts.

Modifying Appearances
If you hold the Alt key while dragging an appearance into the Graphics Area, the Appearances Property Manager will automatically display.

The Appearances Property Manager.

There are many options for modifying appearances. The Color/Image tab controls selection and color properties, and the Mapping tab controls the orientation of the appearance (for example, the direction of Wood Grain). Appearances without texture or pattern (such as glass), have no mapping. You can find other options for Illumination and Surface Finish by selecting the Advanced button.

You can change the color of the appearance by selecting from the color swatch area, or assigning RGB values. Select the Mapping tab to change how certain appearances are displayed on the model.

Choosing the Mapping Style from the Mapping Controls section allows you to change the orientation of the appearance using references like Axis direction, rotating the appearance, or changing the size of the mapping.

The Mapping Controls for appearances.

This is helpful for appearances like Stainless Steel Knurl where you must adjust certain parameters to suit your needs. The figures below show how this appearance is modified using the Mapping Controls.

Before (left) and after (right) Mapping Control is applied to the Stainless Steel Knurl appearance.

Modifying Scenes
Scenes can also be modified to suit your needs. To modify a scene, expand Lights, Cameras, and Scenes in the FeatureManager Design Tree. Right-click the scene, then select Edit Scene. From the Edit Scene Property Manager, you can change the display of the floor (including making it the ceiling), offset the geometry from the floor, and change the scale of the scene. If you are using a scene that contains a floor, you also have the option to rotate the floor. The scene below uses a scale to reduce the size of the floor that is displayed and offsets the geometry by 1/2 inch. You must deselect Auto Resize to use the scale modification.

The default Reflective Floor Checked scene (left) and the same scene after some modifications (right).

Using RealView Graphics in conjunction with Screen Capture will help you create quick and impressive presentation materials. The ability to set and control the modeling environment in SolidWorks also makes for a better overall experience -- you get to decide how your SolidWorks screen looks during the many hours you will spend in front of the computer. Have some fun finding the scenes and appearances that best suit your style or graphics needs.

About the Author: Richard Doyle

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