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HelpTutorialsHow to Get Great Material Renders

How to Get Great Material Renders


We know you spend a huge amount of time creating the perfect product in your 3D modeling software.Shapeways new renders are a great way to show off your hard work and entice shoppers. We’ve assembled some tips to make sure your renders come out looking just as you imagined in each material you’ve made available for sale.

Who gets renders?

Renders will be generated for all models that are for sale, regardless of if they are public or private. We will generate a render in every material that is enabled for sale to shoppers, unless there is already a photo which you have tagged in that specific material. We’re giving you a few weeks to tag your existing images and pose your renders before anyone else can see them, and are planning to start displaying them to shoppers by the beginning of August.

Managing Your Images

  1. Go to the Details tab of your Model and tag any existing photos with the material that they are showing.
  2. If you have more than one image for a material, pick which one should be the default when a customer is looking at that material.

If there is no image for a material yet, as it hasn’t been printed or you don’t have a picture, you can create a render for each material that you’re offering it for sale.

Creating Renders

On the Details tab of your Model, below the images scroll down to the Material Render Pose and set an orientation for your render. After you save this pose, we’ll generate your renders in all materials that are for sale. Be patient, as it can take up to 10 minutes for the renders to appear on your model.

Best Practices for Posing Your Render

1. Renders default to using the Y-axis as the ‘up axis.’ You can adjust the way the position we use to generate renders on your Edit Details tab. We utilize turntable rotation mode, so the ‘up axis’ is fixed and your model rotates around it as you click and drag.

New Models: To avoid having to change the pose when you upload a new design, you can orient your model around the Y-axis in your 3D modeling software.

Existing Models: Your existing models will automatically inherit their position when you use the ‘Update File’ button on your Edit Model page. If you’ve changed the orientation of your model in your 3D modeling software, you may have to adjust the position accordingly.

Note: In the past, renders were generated with Z as the up axis, but our new 3D viewer now uses the Y-axis as the default.

2. When designing the model, the mesh’s "natural up" (i.e. resting on its base) should be aligned to the positive X, Y, and Z axis. Aligning "up" to positive Y is best since that is the default up axis. Aligning to X or Z is fine also since render posing allows you to change the axis easily by clicking the ‘X’ or ‘Z’ buttons. If your model is not aligned to any axis, you’ll need to manually rotate the model to its natural up, and may require several iterations to get it right.

3. Long thin triangles make for lower quality renders on reflective materials (precious metals) because these materials rely heavily on the normals of polygons for rendering. If the polygons are not well-formed, or have widely varying adjacent normals, the surface polygons are much more noticeable. Rendering of materials such as WSF and Detail are less dependant on normal calculations. It is best to avoid thin triangles if possible.

4. For some materials, sharp edges tend to be obscured in the render. They can blend into the rest of the model and make it hard to see the edge. Normally, changing the orientation with render posing should help as a different angle of light could help showcase the edge.

Here’s an example where the left edge of the "lantern" is indistinguishable (left image). After orienting the ring to face the right, the edge is easier to see.

5. When we generate your previews, we are using the Cycles renderer using a real world-style Image Based Lighting (IBL) lighting system with physically based shaders to represent the materials. This means the preview of your model will resemble it's real world look.

Hopefully these tips will help you generate beautiful renders to make your products shine. We’re giving you a few weeks to tag your existing images and pose your renders before anyone else can see them, and are planning to start displaying them to shoppers by the beginning of August.

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