This is a guest article by Michael Lord. Michael is a Design Engineer at Trakka Pty Limited in Sydney, Australia where they use SolidWorks to design Campervans and Motorhomes. I first talked with Michael on Twitter and asked if he would write up his experience using PhotoView360.

The iPad Rendering Challenge is finished and won by Dripta Roy. I can only look on with envy at his efforts. I was pleased at what I came up with, grateful for being chosen as a Top Contender and even more honored that Josh should ask it I could provide some insight into my process. So with that…

I’ve been keen to try PhotoView 360 every since we upgraded to SolidWorks 2010. It’s one of those parts of SolidWorks which I knew could be a benefit to the presentation of our vehicles, but more of that later. I managed to find a little time earlier this month to finally have a look at what PhotoView 360 was all about and soon found out how simple it can be. I also found it to be highly addictive. I made my first couple of attempts at rendering and a few days later I discovered I could get better results with a few simple changes to the Settings. Here’s where I started.

iPad & Stand Assembly

I started with a stand. A simple stand modeled in SolidWorks. I had plenty of ideas of what the stand should do and how it should look. I used two criteria to dictate what the stand should look like. The first was time and the second was displaying the Apple logo. Regardless of your thoughts on Mac products, their marketing in the use of their logo stands out, so I wanted to keep that.

After creating the concept for an iPad stand, I applied the material to the parts in SolidWorks. For the stand I used Plastic Medium Gloss on the base and iPad attachment, Satin Aluminium for the arm and vacuum leveler, and Glass for the seal (as I wanted a translucent colored polyurethane look). I have found applying materials to the SolidWorks Model to be the simplest way to go straight on to render and environmental settings after opening the model in PhotoView 360.

Opening the model in PhotoView 360

Opening the Part or Assembly in PhotoView 360 is as straight forward as any Program. Select Open File and navigate to where you have saved the SolidWorks file. The Part or Assembly opens in PhotoView 360 with the same view and features as you last saved to the model in SolidWorks.

Applying Environments in PhotoView 360

As I have applied the textures in SolidWorks, I skip the Appearance and go straight to Environments – shown open in the image above by clicking the “Environments” button. I tend to use “Overhead Spot Reflect” or “All White Studio Reflect” in my renderings. It’s mostly personal preference and I find you can also get a benefit with the mirrored reflection, especially if you have a downward facing object you would like to display. To apply an Environment it’s easy as selecting and holding the left mouse button over one of the options, then dragging it onto the background.

Applying Background Images in PhotoView 360

You can also apply an image as a background. For my rendering, the first thoughts was to go with an aircraft seating/table arrangement. However, when choosing an image there are a few factors to consider. First, determine the quality and size of images that are available. Second, make sure the view and perspective work with how you want to position the model. Third, determine what you want to promote in the rendering (as with the shameless promotion of the vehicles we manufacture in the example I’m sharing.)

To apply a background images, go to File, Open Background Image. Then, navigate to your image. In my case I am fortunate to have a wide range of professional quality images to choose from. Selecting the right image for the background is critical, both for technical accuracy and image composition. Here’s what it looks like after the image has been inserted, before adjusting the model size and position.

I selected the above image because it allowed me to have the iPad in the foreground showing the Apple logo. I also have a countertop to place the stand on. The photograph would have been taken with a 35 or 28mm lens. So therefore it gives the iPad the “correct” perspective. It’s also an environment where the iPad looks great.

Working with Perspective

This image may look ok at first, but it’s quite wrong. The proportions of the iPad (being in the foreground) are incorrect if you compare it to the drink cup. In this case, we would want to find another photo that works better for the model. It’s possible the model’s perspective could be changed through the camera setting. It all depends on what parts of the model you want to show and the overall composition.

Adjusting the Model in PhotoView 360

Once I had the background image it’s only a matter of rotating, positioning and sizing the model. It’s critical the model has the right proportion and perspective to suit the image. There are toolbar commands to Pan (position), Rotate and Zoom (size) the models. I use a Logitech TrackMan, so I can Pan by holding the left mouse button (and moving the ball), Rotate by pressing the center wheel (and moving the ball), and Zoom by scrolling center wheel. I assume that most mice do the same.

Adjusting the Output Settings in PhotoView 360

I adjusted the default Image Output Resolution to fill the entire screen, in this case 1000 x 600. If you right-click the work area it allows you to select a number of different default size images. I like to have larger final render images, so I set it higher. I have the Preview Quality set to “Better”. I don’t see too much of a difference when it’s set to Best (or Max) and it takes longer for the preview to resolve after you rotate the model. For the Final Render Quality, I tend to use Best or Max. I haven’t seen a big difference between Better, Best and Max apart from the time it takes to complete the Rendering. The final change I make in the Output settings is for Image Processing. I change the Gamma from 1.6 (default) to 1.4. This gives the renderings a “deeper color” saturation. You can tweak the Gamma and Brightness to get just the right appearance you need.

Adjusting the Camera Settings in PhotoView 360

I also change the Focal Length to 35mm. These changes are just a suit my personal preference on how I want the image to look but also to get the correct perspective for the model when using a background image. You have the options of choosing a preset Focal Length or choosing your own custom setting. The Depth of Field setting gives parts of the model a nice blurred depth effect from the point you choose. In this example, with a single model, the Depth of Field wouldn’t be necessary unless you’re zoomed close into the model with a deep perspective.

Creating the Final Render in PhotoView 360

Before you commence with the final render you can save the scene via File, Save. You also have the option of closing the file and rendering the model at a later time. When you open the Part or Assembly next time in PhotoView 360 the setting will be just as you left them. Only one thing to do now and that’s press “Final Render”. Here’s an image of the Final Render in process. Note the Four Boxes. This is where a Dual Core processor (with Hyper Threading) really excels.

So, here’s the final result complete and ready to save.

Final Thoughts

The reason I’ve been keen to learn how to achieve good results with PhotoView 360 is, as I mentioned at the beginning, to present our product in a better way. At Trakka our core business is the manufacturing of our Campervans and Motorhomes but we also produce low volume Special Purpose Vehicles. Special Purpose Vehicle normally requires a greater need for presentation of the vehicle as a concept or during consultation with the client during the design stage. With SolidWorks we have been able to present 3D images, normally with a PDF. I’ve tried presenting the vehicles with eDrawings but for the non-technical people I commonly present to, it’s been less than successful. With PhotoView 360 I feel it’s the ideal tool for our application to provide the customer the best visual of what they will receive. Here are some other in-work examples.

I can be contacted at if anyone has questions or would like further information.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.