PhotoView 360 Tips and Tricks #1


Many of you may have used this new tool from SolidWorks.  It has been available since the beta program for SOLIDWORKS 2009.  It is available to those who have a license of PhotoWorks.  PhotoView 360 is targeted at quick and easy renderings.  Open your SOLIDWORKS file in PhotoView 360 and it will bring in the materials applied to your SOLIDWORKS models.  Then just choose an environment and render.  It really is that easy.

But, what if you want to do something a little more custom?  Due to the fact that PhotoView 360 is a new direction for SOLIDWORKS rendering, as well as a new release, it has limited customization options.  PhotoWorks is still the work horse for heavily customized renderings.  In PhotoView 360, you can select a material and drag it onto a part.  But, the selection of materials is the same as the SOLIDWORKS material database.  This presented me with a problem, as I wanted to create a Christmas scene.  I had modeled a Snow Globe in SOLIDWORKS and wanted to render it on a Christmas themed cloth.

Christmas PhotoView Example

Since there is no way currently to select a custom material or import a texture as a material, I browsed to the install directory to see if the materials were available in a recognizable format.  Sure enough, there is a material directory located at:

“C:\Program Files\SOLIDWORKS Corp\PhotoView 360\resrc\presets\materials\”.

Under “material” is a “fabric” folder.  I looked through there and noticed that for every material listed in PhotoView 360 there was a texture and bump map.  The texture holds the image or color information and the bump map is a file that helps PhotoView 360 give depth to the texture. You can learn more about bump maps here.

I tried to add my own file Christmas_Fabric.png and Christmas_Fabric_bump.png to the folder, but they were not recognized in PhotoView 360. I wasn’t going down that easy. I then decided to rename my files so that PhotoView 360 would have to try to read them. It worked perfect! Here is what you need to do to use your own texture in PhotoView 360.  I chose to replace cottonwhite.png with my file, Christmas_Fabric.png

  1. Browse to “C:\Program Files\SOLIDWORKS Corp\PhotoView 360\resrc\presets\materials\fabric”
  2. Rename cottonwhite.png to cottonwhite_original.png
  3. Copy your “texture.png” file into the fabric folder.
  4. Rename your file to cottonwhite.png.

Open PhotoView 360 and drag the white cotton material from the fabric\cloth flyout. It should look like your material. You can also change the scale of your texture.   Turn on the select tool in PhotoView and select the object that has your cloth on it. Now that the object is selected, go to the advanced tab in the material flyout.  Now you can use the “texture scale multiplier” to change the scale of your texture.  Additionally, you could make your own bump map, if you are really creative.

17 comments on “PhotoView 360 Tips and Tricks #1

  1. Excellent Tip!

    In your case, I take it you modelled a wall/floor and applied the png to this?
    You seem to have done a great job with your red christmas background. Was it a special image you created, or a special surface you modelled in SolidWorks? Its probably the latter.

    I wonder how easy it would be to edit the scenes if I was to get a HDR image.

    Anyways, thanks very much. I’ll stay tuned.

  2. I took a look at having a custom scene.

    It is possible using the same method.
    Going to:
    C:Program FilesSOLIDWORKS CorpPhotoView 360resrcpresetsenvironments
    (I’m using Vista), renaming a .hdr image, and copying in a new one and calling it the same works.
    There doesn’t look to be an Advanced option for the scene, so the scale might have to be done with a image program.

    Thanks for your initial tip.

  3. Excellent tip!

    In regards to PhotoView360, do you know how to re-orient the model with respect to the environment. The “rotate environment” option in the render settings dialog box only seems to rotate the model with respect to one axis. I tried saving the model in SOLIDWORKS in different orientations before opening it up in PhotoView360, but it doesn’t seem to have an effect. I am beginning to think the orientation is fixed to one of the three primary planes in Solidworks.


  4. Yes. The isometric view in SOLIDWORKS is the same as the Isometric in PhotoView 360. As you said, the “Rotate environment” does not work as expected.

    You can re-orientate the views in SolidWorks. Press the spacebar to bring up the view orientation, and click the middle telescope icon.

    An easier method would be to create a very small part. Check that its isometric is correct. Then make a new assembly. Insert this base part first to get the Isometic of the assembly correct. Then bring in the original assembly/project and mate it into position so that it is upright and ready for PhotoView.

  5. Stephen, Yes, I modeled the surface. If you can make the surface as one face without any edges then there won’t be any opportunity for the tiling to get off. If you have multiple faces then the edge may show up when the tile doesn’t match. If you search for seamless or tileable textures you will find many that will work well.

    You can make HDR files with Photoshop CS3 or greater. There is another tool called HDR Shop you can find at I learned a lot about HDR files from their site.

  6. Dustin, Stephen is right the orientation is based off of the SOLIDWORKS Isometric view. There is a way to update the views in SolidWorks(Using View Orientation), but this doesn’t move the model relative to the planes. It just sets all the named views to something other than the original planes. I am not sure if PhotoView360 would recognize that. My guess is, “no”. So the other solution would be to put the assembly or part into another assembly and orient the model inside of that assembly however you desire. Then open that top level assembly in PhotoView360. I think that would work.

  7. Just would like to check if we can make a enviroment to be white. A pure white background without any effects on the spot light or anything. Why i am asking this kind of option is because it will be really handy to have white background for uploading image on the website. Most web developer will be asking the image on white background and i notice that in Photoview there is no option for this as for now. I am wondering if this is possible to edit by ourself? Thank you

  8. I had the same issue with the model being upside down. This was solved by re-orientating the floor in the “lights, camera, scenes” section in the design tree. Right click on the bottom option in this section and edit. The floor can be modified quite easily. Instructions on this can be found in the SOLIDWORKS help file if you search for floor. Easy to do and solves the problem.
    I’d like to have a custom environment. Has anyone done this? I do have photoshop CS3, do I just make a HDR image and follow the steps like the material edit?


  9. Photo view 360 is working great. But the main problem is the simple enviroments that we could not change or edit only if we had to use a hundred programs to make a new custum one.

  10. Scott,

    Is there any explanation as why my environments no longer show up in Photoview 360? When I select the environments tab all I get is a message that say “no files”. I am running SW2010 SP0…all of the files are where they are supposed to be but I’m thinking there is some alternate file location that maybe Photoview 360 is looking to first???

  11. David,

    There is no way in the PhotoView360 software to change the location of the environment. They should be under the installation directory. For example, mine is located at:

    C:Program FilesSOLIDWORKS CorpPhotoView 360resrcpresetsenvironments

    Check under your installation location to see if the environments folder is there. This folder should be filled with the different environment files. Each environment will have three file types. For example, the first environment is “3 point beige”. In this directory, I have a “3 point beige.cfg”, “3 point beige.lxo”, and a “3 point beige.lxp” file. PhotoView 360 needs each of these files to build the environment. Check to see if those files are there. If not, you will need to repair your installation and check for these files.

  12. Scott,

    What you are describing is exactly the problem I had after upgrading to SW2010.
    after a long struggle I found that the problem and the solution is the settings folder under C:Documents and Settings(your user name)Application DataLuxology

    All you have to do is to rename this folder (or delete it) and restart 360.
    Good luck!

  13. Scott,

    We have upgraded to SOLIDWORKS 2010. In using PhotoView 2010, I tried to do this, but the appearance files are now *.lxp files instead of *.png. Is there still a way to do this?

  14. Joy,

    They definitely changed some of the structure. PhotoView 360 is undergoing major changes as it will be the sole rendering tool with the release of SOLIDWORKS 2011. I saw a preview at SOLIDWORKS World and I am really excited about it.

    To answer your question: It seems we can still perform this trick, just a little different. I couldn’t find any applications that can save as a lxp file. This is a Luxology file that contains a lot of different information about the material preset. It isn’t just an image file. So, I opened it in notepad and searched for “jpg”. Sure enough this file references a jpeg file.

    My lxp file:

    “C:Program FilesSOLIDWORKS CorpPhotoView 360resrcpresetsmaterialsfabriccarpetcarpet color 1.lxp”


    C:Program FilesSOLIDWORKS CorpPhotoView 360resrcpresetsimagesfabriccarpet1.jpg

    I was able to swap this jpg out with one of my choosing.

    Hope this helps,
    Scott High

  15. Hi guys

    Here’s a tip I worked out after spending ages trying to find interior *.HDR images on the net. Lots of room for changing and improving the technique, skip to step #6 if you’re the impatient type.

    1. Make a box in Solidworks, size doesn’t really matter. I used 1000mmx1000mm.
    2. Shell it, I used 10mm, then Split it in two in using a plane parallel to either Right or Front plane.
    3. Sketch and then extrude ( height of 10mm) big rectangles on the interior walls of your cube (the splitting made this easier) to roughly simulate windows and doors.
    4. Apply AREA LIGHT-type appearences to your extruded ‘doors’ and ‘windows’. Apply what you want to the walls – I went for CREAM HIGH GLOSS PLASTIC.

    5. In Photoview 360, open your Cube model.
    6. Settings > Camera > Camera type is SPHERICAL
    7. Zoom into your Cube so that you are seeing the inside. The SPHERICAL camera type makes this view resemble a ‘Latitude Longtitude’ hdr environment map > ie, your view of the inside of the cube resembles the very environment maps that SWX and PV360 use.
    8. set the PV360 environment to the totally black one (doesn’t make any difference, since you are inside an opaque cube, but it can’t help and might (untested) make PV360’s job easier
    9. do a Final Render and save it as a .HDR file.

    That’s it!
    It can give an impression of a model sitting in a generic inter situation. I would feel rather smug about this, if it weren’t for the fact that the SPHERICAL camera option begs for it. It’s a rather nice touch in PV360, the ability to create its own backgrounds, donchathink? : D

    Cheers to eveyone whose posted tips!

  16. Hello I have a problem with the rendering of a drawing.
    I have the means of drawing S.W. created, have in view the photo surfaces and determined the background and wanted to make it render with Photoview360. However, the message appears “because this only applies diffuse distance amount is nonzero,” and now I can only render the drawing in quality not so good.
    what can I do?
    or how to work around this and still in “best quality” rendering?

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