I had a customer ask me the other day how they could get more control over the lighting in PhotoView 360. Obviously in its current form PV 360 doesn’t give us a lot of control of lighting and settings. You have the out of the box environments and that is about it. Here are a couple things that you can do to control some aspects of the lighting:
1. You can rotate the environment once it is loaded. This will affect the way the light is cast on the model. To do this, go to Settings, Environment Settings, and change the Environment Rotation. If you grab the arrows on the right you can drag to change the angle.
2. You can load a custom environment file. This is new for 2010. Go to File, Load Environment Image. The environment is not seen but can be reflected in the geometry and can add lighting to the geometry. There are only certain types of files that can add light to the geometry. A “jpg” has color information that can be reflected. An “hdr” file contains light and brightness information that can light up geometry. There are places where you can purchase HDR files. These files are very similar to the environments in PV 360. There are some you can play with under the SolidWorks textures. These are generally used by PhotoWorks and RealView. You can find them under your SolidWorks install directory (C:\Program Files\SolidWorks Corp\SolidWorks\data\Images\textures\background). It appears that you can load an HDR file through the environments to capture lighting effects and then load a background image to set the background. I haven’t played with that process a whole lot, but it seems to allow that.
3. Lastly, you can create geometry in your SolidWorks model that represents a light. Then in PV360 add a light material to the geometry. This object will now cast a light on the model. I create one single surface (not solid) to represent each light. This way, I can use the “hide element” to hide the light in PV360. If you use a solid, you will have to use the hide element for each face of the solid. Just create your lights far enough away from the model that they aren’t seen in the view you want to render. Here is an example model with surface objects as lights. These can be used in conjunction with an environment to highlight a specific area of the model. You could also build an assembly with these light objects and make a reusable studio.
PV360 is getting some major enhancements in 2011. Hopefully we’ll have an easier way to create and control lighting effects. Until then, I hope these ideas help you to get the results that you want.