Snapshots of PhotoView 360: Appearances

Read the entire series: (Part One: The Basics, Part Two: Appearances)

Appearances are usually one of the first properties added to produce a rendered image. They can add a color, texture, or illumination settings to an assembly, component, face, feature, body, or part. Applying appearances works in a hierarchy; assembly appearances will always override component appearances, and component appearances will override face appearances, and it continues down the list.

TIP: Adding appearances does NOT add mechanical properties.

When dragging and dropping appearances onto a part from the task pane, pressing ALT while dragging and dropping will enable the property manager for that appearance. This gives you the option of choosing your settings without having to edit the appearance to enable the property manager of that appearance.

A strong recommendation when using the task pane to apply appearances is to always go into the advanced settings and make sure the options are set the way you want it to be rendered. Just because an appearance is labeled as transparent blue plastic, does not mean it is at the same transparency you would like it to be rendered, nor does it mean it is the correct color blue. This Appearance Snapshot will discuss the four tabs on the appearance property manager, adding decals, and saving custom appearances to reuse from the task pane.

When you add an appearance from the task pane while holding ALT and dragging the appearance to the assembly or part the appearance property manager on the left appears. The following four tabs are in the Advanced Options:


Read the rest of this tutorial below the cut.


The first group box “Selected Geometry” allows you to choose which geometry this appearance is applied to whether it is applied at the component or part level, and further part, face, surface, body, or feature application.

Appearance” group box shows the path where the appearance is located; it also gives you an option to save the appearance.



If you modify the appearance from the task pane in some way, save appearance will save it with the modifications as an appearance file (.p2m). Once you save an appearance in a new folder, SolidWorks will ask you if you want to make that folder visible in the task pane, giving the user easy access to their custom appearances.



The “Color” group box allows the user to pick a color either from swatches, or from RGB/HSV values. If you double-click on the color box next to the eye dropper, there are even more options for custom colors.
Finally, “Display States” allow the user to choose which display states in their model take on the new appearance.



The “Illumination” tab on the appearance property manager is where all the lighting settings for that appearance are set. Examples are diffuse amount, specular amount, transparency amount, and luminous intensity. By using dynamic help, diffuse amount controls the intensity of light on a surface, while luminous intensity controls the brightness emitted from the surface.



Mapping” allows you to place your textures in the correct orientation for your render. Again, you can choose the selected geometry. Then there are five options under mapping: automatic, cylindrical, spherical, projection, and surface. Each of these brings up a different size/orientation group box to fit the parameters of each particular type of mapping. The Automatic mapping only allows the user to scale and mirror the texture, whereas the spherical mapping gives the user more controls over scale and orientation with axes and rotation.

Automatic – texture maps to one of the X, Y, Z axes
Spherical – texture maps to all points of a sphere
Cylindrical – texture maps to all points of a cylinder
Projection – texture space projects on to all points
Surface – texture maps automatically onto the selected surface; if the surface is not planar, the texture space maps all points based on the UV texture coordinates of the model

(Source: SolidWorks and Photoview 360 Self Study Guide)



Surface Finish allows the user to pick a surface finish for the model. Bump mapping uses light to apply the surface finish, whereas displacement mapping actually changes the geometry of the model to apply the surface finish.



Decals have their own menu under the DisplayManager – the second icon, labeled Decals. To insert a new decal into your part or assembly: on the command manger under render tools, select the edit decal icon. Within this property manager, the user can browse for the image file path, apply the correct mapping for the decal, and choose the illumination settings for the decal. After you select the image, you can save the decal and also choose if you want to apply an image mask.



Second, you can map the decal onto the surface you are applying it to. One option that is different for decal mapping is the label option. This will apply the decal like a sticker, if there are bends in the geometry. The size and orientation can also be chosen.



Finally, the last step is to choose the illumination settings. The option of checking “use underlying appearance” will give the decal the same illumination settings as the appearance it lays upon.



Now our model should be complete as far as adding appearances and decals. The next snapshot will cover how to add scenes and environments to our model, then make the background come alive. My model looks like this so far:

Katie Huffman is a Customer Support Engineer at Fisher/Unitech, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations across the Midwestern
and Northeastern United States. She is a regular contributor to the Fisher/Unitech blog.

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