Visual Designer 3D Manual

Rendering Suite

By the term Rendering Suite we mean that Visual Designer 3D is more than a renderer, it is a complete solution that brings all the tools to create immaculate images on a deadline.

Our solution provides the power of the most advanced rendering software with all the related tools that help to finish a rendering and publish it on the right media. It is also designed with simplicity in mind where we get rid of all the technical and complex settings we traditionally found in

It offers maximum quality, speed, and compatibility for designers, architects and visual effects artists.

Visual Designer 3D offer the complete suite of tools to manage your workflow, everything starts from a simple rendering but it continues with the post effects to give a personal stylish to your creations, the LookBook to handle all the versions of your artwork, then the video creation to publishing on any media channel or to create great presentations, another option is the creation of an interactive version on the Web to gives more control of your page visitors.

Physically Based Rendering & Photo-Realistic Rendering

With the advent of new technologies and the mix of both gaming/real-time technologies with the advanced physically based concept, it is difficult to understand what B-PBR (Basic Physically Based Rendering) and A-PBR (Accurate Physically Based Rendering) stand for. It is the subject of this blog article where we will try to clarify all theses terms and explain the difference and the purposes.

To take a good example, Visual Designer 3D is the kind of rendering that uses the highest level of accuracy and strictly follows the physics & optical rules to produce a perfect and photo-realistic image; As we will explain in further detail it is not trying to produce a visually pleasant image … it is just an accurate light simulation.

rendering equation

PBR (Physically Based Rendering) is a confusing term !

This paragraph is a little word of caution because most of the times this term is quite confusing. PBR does not mean that it accurately applies all the rules, but just some of the physical rules.

This term can be used in several real-time tools or games where the real-time aspect is more important, but it doesn’t mean that the same level of realism is achieved.

To achieve perfect matching with a real photo shot, you have to apply all the rules in order to simulate all the subtle effects produced by the light. More the rules you will apply more will be the computations required to generate the final image, because the light itself is complex by nature.

Accurate – Physically Based Rendering vs Basic – Physically Based Rendering

Accurate Physically Based Rendering means that the way the image colors are computed is based on the real world physics. It’s a way to make everything look more photo-realistic/natural-looking by changing how light bounces off of everything.

On the other side, the terms Physically Based Rendering mean that some physical rules are applied but some emphasis on the real-time aspect and the visual appearance of its output rather than the techniques used to achieve it. Anything goes, basically, as long as the final image looks nice. In some situations, there is no attempt to use physically realistic values for the light sources or the surface reflectances. In fact, the light sources themselves often have physically impossible characteristics like 1/r fall-off (as opposed to 1/r^2) or there is a lot of ambient lighting that comes from nowhere but somehow manages to illuminate the room.

Such numerical shortcuts (S-PBR) are often just conveniences provided to the user, so they can get results easily and quickly without having to worry about fussy details, like where to put the light sources and what to use for reflectances. As you might expect, there is a penalty paid besides meaningless values, and that is fake-looking images.

Accurate Physically Based Rendering (A-PCR), on the other hand, follows the physical behavior of light as closely as possible in an effort to predict what the final appearance of a design will be. This is not an artist’s conception anymore, it is a numerical simulation. The light sources start in the calculation by emitting with a specific distribution, and the simulation computes the reflections between surfaces until the solution converges.

Visual Designer 3D, in contrast to most photo-realistic methods, uses a “path tracing” based approach to follow the light. This has significant advantages when the scene geometry is complex and permits the modeling of some complex interactions between surfaces.

Why Physically Correct Rendering ?

The Visual Designer 3D physical rendering engine is capable of producing a high degree of realism. Because all of the interactions between lights and objects in the virtual scene are simulated, we can capture effects such as refraction and glossy reflections. Most importantly, we can produce images with indirect illumination where light reflecting off the virtual objects is accounted for. Even light that reflects several times (called multi-bounce light) has an impact on the scene, incorporating subtle and not-so-subtle lighting effects.

Visual Designer 3D delivers photorealistic results through strict adherence to the physics of light. Rendering with Visual Designer 3D is conceptually more similar to photography than it is to use conventional computer graphics applications.

A-PBR aspect : Progressive Rendering

Shorter renders will have a grainy appearance that will decrease with time. This amount of noise is initially quite high, but very sharply decreases. Eventually, a ceiling is reached where the image quality is not noticeably improved with further rendering, and rendering can be stopped.

PBR aspect : Physical Units

In order to support Physically Based Rendering the first step is to support the physical units, used in every physics and optical rules. First your scene has to be modeled in the real world size, it can be related to thickness and depth, or simply to the object’s size.

With this, all the lighting power units have to be strictly supported, both when defining the emissive properties and internally when handling the light interactions computations.

The last is related to materials that have to describe the nature of the real materials. Just as an example, we can compare how the light reacts with a metallic material against a glass material. The rules we apply are very different. From these base materials, we also have to apply several specific properties which can be related to the color, the specularity, the roughness and much more.

PBR aspect : Physical & Measured Lighting

Reproducing real life lighting condition is very complex, and there is a ton of reasons we can imagine. The light that illuminates the surface of your scene comes from all the directions, with different intensities, spectral colors etc. It is where the HDRI comes to help, it is a 360-degree picture of a real environment.

By using these pictures, you reproduce the real condition and illuminate your scene in a natural way and then give a natural look to your scenes.

PCR aspect : Physical Materials

The last step to support a complete physically based workflow is to use physically based materials. By nature, all the materials are different and have varied behavior against the light. However, they can be categorized in several major categories like metals, glossy, cloth, glasses etc. From these categories, we can derive a large number of materials by changing the colors, the textures, the roughness and other physical based properties.

Visual Designer comes with a predefined materials library that you can quickly use for prototyping and later iteratively customize to achieve the perfect result.

Carbon fibbr - Physically based materialShiny plastic redSmooth plastic light blue - Physically based materialRed wine - Physically based materialCopper lattice - Physically based materialFine wood - Physically based materialOrange wool gabardine - Physically based materialGold hammered - Physically based material

GPU & CPU rendering

As already explained before simulating the real physics of light required an infinite number of computations, even with the advanced techniques we have today, if you want to support the subtle effects of the light it can required a lot of computer mathematics before obtaining a final rendering.

With Visual Designer 3D when you’re at home or on a trip you can render on your small laptop, using a low-end CPU and later once at the office you can use the powerful multi-GPU computer to quickly generate your images and animations. The Visual Designer  rendering engine can run on any CPU or on any GPU (Both NVIDIA and AMD are supported). It is a flexible solution to bring your work everywhere and / or changing your hardware without any constraints.

In this article, we will see what are CPU rendering is and what GPU rendering is, you will learn which one is the best for your specific case.

Why GPU rendering ?

GPU rendering means, that all the rendering computations are done by your graphic card (GPU = Graphic Processing Unit), it is from far faster because today’s GPU have more computational power than the CPU. To achieve the same result with CPU, you will need to use an expensive cluster with many CPUs.

GPU rendering is definitely the future of rendering because they are incredibly fast and less power hungry and at the end it will be really much CHEAPER for the same result.

A common question from is “How much faster is GPU rendering as compared to CPU rendering“, but, unfortunately, there is no strict answer because it depends on the GPU and the CPU you compare but also of the image you try to generate. Except this, we have drives several benchmark with the same scene settings and the same hardware price and we conclude that in average the GPU are 6 times faster than the CPU.

Which GPUs are supported ?

Technically speaking, the Visual Designer’s rendering engine is based on OpenCL that allows it to run on any existing hardware, thanks to this you can possess an AMD or an NVIDIA video card it doesn’t care and it will result in the same rendering quality.

This also bring you more flexibility, you can work from home or from the office, you can forward your projects to your colleagues and you don’t care about the kind of hardware they use. Even in the future if you change your hardware configuration you will continue to use the same hardware without any constraint, just use the hardware you want?

Why CPU rendering ?

It remains some circumstances where you prefer to use the CPU, it can be a constraint of your working environment or simply because you already own a computer with a low-end GPU but a good CPU. Another reason is that you expect to render a scene that requires a huge amount of memory, you need to store all the textures and all the geometries. With Visual Designer 3D everything is possible, it is the most flexible rendering solution on the market.

HDR lighting

The light is a complex phenomenon and variate a lot depending on the environment conditions, to illuminate a scene in the most natural way we have to simulate a real environment and it is there that the use of an HDR light (High Dynamic Range) help. A HDR light (also called HDR dome or HDR sphere) can be used to add the surrounding lighting and reflections of the scene. With an HDR dome, 3D objects can be integrated into any image in a photo-realistic style. By using the lighting and reflections of an HDR dome for the rendering of your objects, the end result will look as if it has been shot on location.

A HDR light capture an omnidirectional representation of real-world light information as an image (typically using a specialised camera), and so allows highly detailed real-world lighting to be used to light a scene.

When used effectively, it can produce realistic rendered appearances of objects and can be an effective tool for integrating computer graphics objects into real scenes.

The user interface

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The toolbar : gives you access to the main features.

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The rendering viewport : it gives a real time and a preview version of your rendering.

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The Library Browser: use the library to quickly assign materials, lighting, textures and more to your rendering.

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The Scene Browser: Gives an overview of your scene and allows to customize everything in your renderings.

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The 3D Animation Browser: it handle all the animation related features.

Preferences

In order to feel comfortable, you can customize Visual Designer to match your preferences. Visual Designer 3D has a flexible user interface where you can change the color scheme, the widgets and text fonts size depending if you have a 4K screen or laptop one bye example, but you can also adapt the rendering settings to your hardware and the kind of rendering you do.

  1. Choose the way you want to navigate with your mouse in the viewport.
  2. Choose the size of your user interface, make it bigger if you have a 4K screen by example or smaller on a laptop.
  3. Define your color scheme, change the colors to have your own style.
  4. Choose the location on disk where you will put your materials library, textures, environments and more. It also allows you to share your library between several computers.
  5. Select the type of video card (or CPU) you use, depending on the hardware you own the viewport preview settings will be automatically adapted.
  6. You can define the path length for your viewport (preview rendering). If you want more details, add more depth, if you expect faster feedback decrease it.
  7. Choose the hardware you want to render with. Mainly useful is you own multiples GPUs / videos cards.
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Choose the way you want to navigate with your mouse in the viewport.

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Choose the size of your user interface, make it bigger if you have a 4K screen by example or smaller on a laptop.

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Define your color scheme, change the colors to have your own style.

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Choose the location on disk where you will put your materials library, textures, environments and more. It also allows you to share your library between several computers.

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Select the type of video card you use, depending on the hardware you own the viewport preview settings will be automatically adapted.

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You can define the path length for your viewport (preview rendering). If you want more details add more depth, if you expect faster feedback decrease it.

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Choose the hardware you want to render to.

The Real-Time Viewport

  1. Press the left mouse button and move: allows rotating the camera around the focus point.
  2. Press the right mouse button and move: allows panning (translate on the plan) the camera.
  3. Press the middle mouse button and move: allows precise zoom operation.
  4. Use the wheel mouse button: allows a zoom operation, step by step.
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Press the left mouse button and move: allows rotating the camera around the focus point.

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Press the right mouse button and move: allows panning (translate on the plan) the camera.

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Press the middle mouse button and move: allows precise zoom operation.

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Use the wheel mouse button: allows a zoom operation, step by step.

The Library Browser

The Library Browser is where you will find all your resources, ie. materials, textures, colors, environments and background images. Just select the right resources browser with the small button on the top and navigate through your resources. To apply them to your scene, click on your choice and drop it into your scene or directly into the scene browser.

It is also where you will organize your own resources, you can add your resources, create / delete / rename /move categories.

  1. Material browser: click on it to assign a materials to an object part.
  2. Color browser: click on it to assign a color to an object part.
  3. Texture browser: click on it to assign a texture to an object part. A pie menu will appear and let you select on which material channel you expect to apply them (Bump, color, roughness, specular…).
  4. Environment browser: click on it to drag & drop an environment to your scene.
    Background browser: click on it to drag & drop a background to your image.
  5. The search box allows to filter the resources, it is a convenient way to find exactly what you are looking for.
  6. The resource tree: present all the resources (materials, colors, textures, …) in an organized tree.
  7. Select on of the resource and drag & drop it into the preview viewport in order to apply it. You can also drop it on the scene browser tree.
  8. Change the size of your resources images, to see more details or to see more resources at once.
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Material browser: click on it to assign a materials to an object part.

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Color browser: click on it to assign a color to an object part.

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Texture browser: click on it to assign a texture to an object part. A pie menu will appear and let you select on which material channel you expect to apply them (Bump, color, roughness, specular…).

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Environment browser: click on it to drag & drop an environment to your scene.

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Background browser: click on it to drag & drop a background to your image.

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The search box allows to filter the resources, it is a convenient way to find exactly what you are looking for.

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The resource tree: present all the resources (materials, colors, textures, …) in an organized tree.

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Select on of the resource and drag & drop it into the preview viewport in order to apply it. You can also drop it on the scene browser tree.

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Change the size of your resources images, to see more details or to see more resources at once.

The Scene Browser

The Scene Browser is where you will customize your scene and play with specific settings to achieve specific aspects. It is also where you have access to the LookBook and handle different versions of your rendering.

  1. The scene tab: it display and gives access to the whole scene settings, ie. geometries, materials, environments, …
  2. The material tab: gives access to all the materials presents in your scene.
  3. The LookBook tab: gives access to the LookBook in order to handle different variations of your scene.
  4. This zone presents and allow to select the specific elements you want to work on.
  5. The properties zone: display and allow customization of a specific element of your scene.
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The scene tab: it display and gives access to the whole scene settings, ie. geometries, materials, environments, …

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The material tab: gives access to all the materials presents in your scene.

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The LookBook tab: gives access to the LookBook in order to handle different variations of your scene.

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This zone presents and allow to select the specific elements you want to work on.

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The properties zone: display and allow customization of a specific element of your scene.

The Animation Browser

The Animation Browser is the place where you will find all the animation tools. To start lets the Wizard drive you and create your first animation. Once your animation created you are still about to modify them and iteratively improve your animations.

  1. The Animation Hierarchy: contains all the animated objects and their related animations.
  2. The Animation Timeline: display the sequence of animations over the time.
  3. The Animation Properties Editor: allows customizing each animation with precision.
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The Animation Hierarchy: contains all the animated objects and their related animations.

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The Animation Timeline: display the sequence of animations over the time.

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The Animation Properties Editor: allows customizing each animation with precision.

Import a model

To import your model (or re-import after some modifications), you click on the import button (marked as “1”) in the following picture. Then you can choose the file to import, once selected the Import Dialog appear and will propose you a set of options.

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The import dialog is where you will define the import settings to place your new geometry at the right place in your current scene.

Action You have 3 possibles choices:
1) Add to the scene : will add your geometry to the existing scene
2) Update the scene : update your geometry and replace the previous one. Keep the materials unchanged.
3) Create a new scene : delete the current scene and creae a new one before the import.
Units Because Visual Designer 3D use the real physical units it is important to import your scene in the right units.
Swap YZ Sometimes the Y and the Z axis are swapped (depending on the export). This option allows to resets these axis to read this files in the right alignment.
Flip Z axis Sometimes the Z axis is flipper (depending on the export). This option allows to resets this axis to read this files in the right alignment.
Center the object in the scene It will center the imported geometry into the scene.
Put the object on the floor Put the imported geometry on the floor.
Adjust the camera for the changes It will reset the camera to match the newly imported geometry.

Working with Materials

Working with the materials library

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The Materials Templates Library gives you access to a set of existing Materials Templates, organized by Categories. You have the choice to create your own Materials Templates and to reorganize everything your own way.

Every Material is customizable by changing the different channels: Color (Albedo / Diffuse), Specular, Roughness, Displacement, Opacity.

Notice that there is a search box (HotSpot 1) that will filter the materials and will let you find the one you’re looking for. Another nice trick is that you can choose the size of the material thumbnails by playing with the size slider (HotSpot 4)

Assigning Materials from the Library

To assign a material to a surface you have several options. It depends on the way you work and the kind of scene you are working on.

The first option is to select a PBR Material Template from the Library then dragging and dropping it onto the real-time viewport, directly on the surface you desire. Just release the mouse button and the Real-Time Rendering Viewport will be updated instantly.

Another option is to dragging and dropping it onto the Project Browser‘s scene tree, directly on the mesh you desire. It is an easy way to assign a material to a specific mesh, even when it is not visible in the viewport.

Organizing your material templates

The are situation where you have created several materials categories and more and more materials templates, so in order to reorganize your material templates you can use the drag and drop from one category to another, it will allow to move a category to another, or to move a selected material template to another category.

By right-clicking a contextual menu will also appear, this one will allow you to create a new category, delete an existing category or rename a category.

You can do the same with the material templates by right-clicking on it and edit or delete them.

Working with the Materials Editor

In the Project Editor, you can select the Material either from the Scene Tree, either from the Materials Tab (HotSpot 1). The list of Materials are accessible from there (HotSpot 2), click on the one you expect to work on and all its properties will be displayed in the Properties Editor (HotSpot 3). This editor allows customizing every setting, from the type of Material to each Channel (Color/Albedo/Diffuse, Specular, Roughness, Displacement, Opacity). It is where you will set up your specific texture settings too.

Create your own Material Template

Once you have created your Material you can save it as a Material Template, this way you will be able to use the same Material either for the current Project either for any other Project.

Press the Save Button (HotSpot 4) in order to open a new dialog and generate the new Material Template.

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