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HDR Environment images in PhotoView 360

PhotoView 360 uses HDR Environment images to create photorealistic renders. This video explains what these images are, and why they are the default method for lighting scenes in PhotView 360.

These HDR Environment images can be broken down into two components:
  • The Environment, which is a 360degree panorama of a scene, which is reflected by the model you are rendering.
  • The High Dynamic Range (HDR) image format, which captures more information per pixel than a standard image file, which provides PhotoView 360 with accurate lighting information for the scene
The panorama can be stitched together from a number of ordinary photographs, and the HDR image can be created by combining multiple exposures of the same image – both techniques can be done in image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop.

You can find all of the default PhotoView 360 HDR Environment images and backgrounds under [Program Files]\SolidWorks Corp\SolidWorks\data\Images\textures\background, where [Program Files] is your default Windows Program Files directory.

While the Basic scenes provide a range of generic photo studio environment images that create clean-looking renders, if you want to create interesting reflections, or an “in-context” shot of your product sitting in front of a realistic scene, you should consider using a custom Environment image that matches the model – e.g. a model of a car should use a road or car park scene, not a kitchen scene.

There are a huge number of resources on the internet for HDR Environment images that cover as many different scenes as you can imagine, most of which you can use in PhotoView 360:

Free HDR resources (not all products listed may be free):

HDR resources that you must buy to use:
HDR Light Studio is a program for generating custom HDR images of photographic studio set ups:
You can find many more HDR Environment image resources, plus detailed instructions for creating your own, simply by searching online.

Once you have your custom HDR Environment image downloaded, you can load it in PhotoView 360 through Display Manager tab >> RMB Scene >> Edit Scene >> Environment >> Browse... to the image location. Then rotate it to suit the model, adjust the floor options, alter the brightness and if you add any SolidWorks lights, you can save the whole shebang as a custom scene file for later use under the Advanced tab in Edit Scene.

Happy rendering!

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