SOLIDWORKS Visualize User Spotlight: Matt Russell

The Visualize Featured User spotlight has now launched! Join us here for a Q&A highlighting how one of your peers uses SOLIDWORKS Visualize in their daily workflow. This month’s featured Visualize user is Matt Russell from BendPak’s Marketing Team. You may know him as ‘Chris Cunningham’ on the Visualize Forum threads.

What you are seeing are not photographs! They are images and animations created Matt created in SOLIDWORKS Visualize.

Q: Let’s start with the basics. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for BendPak.
A: I am a graphic and 3D artist for BendPak. My roles range from content generation to photo manipulation to making a product look irresistible. I play a huge role in creating content for BendPak and its subsidiaries. Our products are featured on television, websites, magazines, flyers, brochures, and various other print materials. Visualize has been instrumental to getting our content out quickly in the highest quality possible.

Q: Well your command over Visualize definitely makes these lifts jump off the screen. How is Visualize currently used in your workflow?
A: SOLIDWORKS is the CAD software our company uses site-wide. I have a seat of SOLIDWORKS Professional 2017 and Visualize Pro 2017 as well. I started using Visualize January 2017 and SOLIDWORKS in February 2017. Visualize was the first 3D program I have used and is a major reason I was able to dive into the 3D CAD world.

Q: Wait, what? Visualize is your first 3D program and you’re able to produce quality of this caliber images and even animations in just a couple short months?!? Tip o’ the hat to you. With this new skillset of yours, how has Visualize improved or accelerated your company’s ability to bring products to market?
A: I bring CAD models created by our drafters into Visualize for all product marketing, including manuals and pre-photo product pages. By doing this, we are able to begin our marketing mock-ups before the actual product comes in. This has saved weeks in the marketing office. We are able to populate the website and marketing avenues to roll out with the content I create in Visualize.

Q: Why is SOLIDWORKS Visualize Professional integral to your daily workflow, and a ‘must-have’ for your company to stay ahead of the competition?
A: Since implementing Visualize, we have been able to replace old, outdated photography that is no longer relevant to modern life. We are also able to market smaller ticket items without going through a complete marketing workup. This speeds up development to the market timeline by weeks. Our previous marketing timeline involved waiting months on a prototype to be built. That prototype would be photographed and filmed. Then we’d wait two more weeks to obtain the images. It would be another couple months before we could start building mockups and advertising materials. Now we can take the drafter’s CAD drawing and start generating content with pictures and animations. I couldn’t achieve the same quality with traditional photography and especially not on budget.

Q: Based on all your time and cost savings, why would you recommend Visualize to others?
A: I would recommend Visualize to others based on the simplicity of the software and the quality of render it produces. Anyone can pick up a 3D render engine and learn it, but Visualize allows you to have a final product render the same day you install the software. It’s easy to learn but allows for some advanced quality product renders as you get more familiarized.

Q: You definitely know your way around Visualize with all the high-quality images and animations you create. What is your favorite feature in Visualize?
A: Hands down, the absolute best feature of Visualize is the Community on the Visualize Forum. I have hit roadblocks and will be provided with a suggestion or workaround that same day or the next. With other software, it usually comes down to searching Google and hoping for the best.

Q: What features do you use the most in Visualize?
A: The feature that I utilize the most is part grouping. I constantly find myself grouping items up for simplifying animations. I really enjoy the Part Splitting feature also. I have found myself splitting parts to get a material just right. And last but not least, I use the pivot tool in all most every render. I am always tweaking where I want the center origin to be, which makes moving and animating a breeze.

Another Visualize feature I use is the ‘Preview’ quick-render option in the Output Render settings. I often use this feature prior to committing the final ‘Accurate’ mode final animation render. I typically test out these quick renders all day, then send high-quality final Accurate mode renders to run at night.

Q: You use loads of cool workflows in Visualize to create this head-turning content. Care to share a few tips with our Visualize Community?
A: If you’re using an item of specific size in your scene, I would suggest you always have the bounding box turned on (Tools > Options > 3D Viewport). This shows the overall size of the item and will allow you to scale your product to the size needed for a composition. When adding a product to a photo, I prefer to take the photo into Photoshop first to zoom in and crop. That way, when using that image as a Backplate, I can keep the highest-quality render available.


One thing I like to do with products is to render off the same angle with varying post-processing and wireframe setups. After doing this, you are able to stitch them together in Photoshop to create an artistic look.

Another pro tip is saving cameras, materials and HDRs with specific settings outside the main program. For example, my computer was unable to handle more than five models in a single file, so I saved a camera and created several projects with said camera; I simply Photoshop’ed them together in the final image.

Q: Your animations are super cool and super smooth. Any tips on that workflow?
A: One tip when exporting an animation in need of moving titles: add a green dot decal to the part that needs the title, then quickly render it out. In Adobe After Effects, the green dot can be used as your tracking point. I find that this method works very well. You can also add multiple green dots for 3D tracking.

Here are a couple more examples of Matt’s awesome Visualize skills, using existing photos as Backplates. Thanks for sharing, Matt and happy Visualize-ing!

(Used Visualize and Grid overlay to easily add the Quickjack to the scene, using the existing photo as a Backplate)

(Used Visualize to render in the Ranger sign on left, using the existing photo as a Backplate)

To see more of Matt’s phenomenal Visualize content, here’s a list of companies Matt uses his Visualize powers to make their products fly off the shelves:

Connect with Matt Russell:

If you have SOLIDWORKS CAD Professional or Premium and are on active Subscription, then you get SOLIDWORKS Visualize Standard complimentary! And this free seat of Visualize Standard can be given to anyone in your company…even a different department! Visualize is a separate stand-alone product and does not occupy the SOLIDWORKS CAD license. Check out this blog post for download/install instructions and get started today!

Want to be spotlighted as a Visualize Featured User? Simply post your Visualize content to this Forum link for consideration.


Brian Hillner

Brian Hillner

Brian Hillner is a Senior Product Portfolio Manager for SOLIDWORKS, responsible for Education and Early Engagement, and specializes in the intersection of business, technology & user experience. He focuses on creating customer-driven software products tailored for schools, educators and students to develop designers, engineers and dreamers of the future. Prior to joining the Education team, he was the Product Manager for SOLIDWORKS Visualize, eDrawings and the Extended Reality (XR) workflows.
Brian Hillner

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