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In Rhino 4.0 Essential Training, author Dave Schultze shows how the 3D NURBS-based modeling tools in Rhino 4.0 are used to engineer products from toy robots to full-sized aircraft. This course concentrates on using Rhino 4.0 for industrial design and rapid prototyping, with a review of common 3D terminology using specific examples. Along with a comprehensive exploration of the Rhino interface, the course includes an introduction to building 3D objects with Rhino's three primary entities: the curve, the surface, and the solid. Exercise files are included with the course.
In this video, we'll raise the bar a bit with our visuals and generate our first rendering. Keep in mind renderings can take a long time to set up and dozens of tests to get just right. No matter how experienced you'll get, you still spend a ton of time testing, tweaking, then retesting and retweaking etc. So, in interests of time, I've already assembled most of the scene. I will start off by going to the Perspective viewport. Here is our robot primary. I've made some additional copies, so I'm going to turn that layer on right now.
So, briefly I want to discuss just the staging. These were copies that were then been grouped together to keep the geometry together and then just moved and/or rotated. One of my philosophies here is it's very difficult to make a single object very interesting, so I've got a combination analogy and bad joke. While comparing it to painting when you have a still life, it's pretty unusual to see just one fruit or one vegetable. Typically, you'll have multiples together, so this is a great opportunity to add interest to the scene by having copies and also rotating them around so you can get different views and different angles.
It's a great little trick. Additionally, we have the backdrop. I'm going to turn that layer on now. Pan it out here. This is just a curve that has been extruded. So, we want to make sure that it goes underneath the objects and then up out of the viewport, so we have a nice clean environment, much like a photography studio. Finally, we have some lights. I'll turn that layer on now and if you go to the Top view, you can see we've got all three of rectangular lights. We've got one on the top. That's usually the biggest, with a gentle glow.
I've got it about three times the height of the characters. One in Front. That would be the key light and then a little bit of fill light so that it gets no dark shadows along the edges. Key lights usually are about double or triple of the fill light. I want to make a quick light for you. We'd go up to the Render menu > Create Rectangular Light. Instead of multiple steps of clicking, just make a quick one here in Right viewport. So, I'm going to find a rectangle, and typically, you want to hold down the Shift key and then hit the other edge.
That typically also it comes out on the origin, so it will take some maneuvering to get it into the scene and at the right angle. I'm keeping this simple. The three that I'm going to keep here are just every 90 degrees and since the light is coming out pretty much from all directions on these lights you don't have to worry about the exact angle. I will get rid of that last one. One thing also to check is the camera. By default, Rhino will start the Perspective viewport at around 50 millimeters. That's kind of a neutral lens.
I'd like to exaggerate the Perspective a bit. So, I'm going to right-click on the viewport and go to Viewport Properties and switch that lens to about 30, so it's going to be a little bit more wide angle. And notice it looks like the camera jumps back. It actually has got wider, so I'm going to have zoom back in a bit. Okay. Let's check some of our options. We're going to go to the tools and check under Rhino Render. The defaults here typically go to the viewport size, so I'm going to make a change to that.
I want to pick a custom size. I'm going to type in 900x600. It gives us a nice widescreen look, with a ratio of 1 1/2:1 width to height. I'm going to go ahead and just leave the Antialiasing by default. Briefly the ambient light is just the color of light in the room. If it's black, it's none. The background we're not going to even see. We've got this backdrop, and I'm just going to go ahead and leave all these options checked. We'll see how it looks, and then we'll adjust them later if needed.
I'm going to go ahead and say OK. Now the rendering will be on whatever viewport is selected. So, make sure you've got the Perspective selected and then click on this icon here to start the render. We'll probably cut back here as soon as it's completed. All right. The rendering is complete, and it will take a bit of time. It all depends on the complexity of your scene, as well as your computer power. So, looking at the rendering I'm noticing right off the bat a couple of things we definitely want to fix. First of all, the backdrop should be continuously and we shouldn't be able to see the background anywhere, so we'll have to scoot that over.
The other thing I'm noticing is we've got the isocurves showing up. This is supposed to be a rendering on the screen capture. It does look kind of cool so you may want to keep this option for some renders. I want to remember to turn that off when we revisit the options. And then also if these isocurves weren't here, I'm noticing that the highlights or the reflections in some areas are just blowing out. We probably won't be able to see the edge of this robot at all. He is so close to background color. So, we need to adjust the materials. One thing to note, without assigning any materials, everything is pretty much default white and in that case it will just blow out any lights in the scene.
Okay. So, I'm going to close this rendering and start on the fixes. First of all, let's get the backdrop scooted over. So, I'm just going to use the nudge key to scoot that over so we don't see any of it. I'll just drag it from one of the other viewports, and I might need to rotate the camera just a little bit of pull in. Next up, let's fix the materials.
I'm going to select some of the geometry here. I want to pick all of the robots. We can do that by right-clicking on the layer that's currently on and select the objects and then go to the copy layer and select those objects. So, now all of them have been selected. Now, we'll go to the Properties menu here. These items are all selected. I want to go down to Material. We're going to select the Basic material here. So, the default may be different on your screen. We'll click on color. Here's the white I mentioned, which is basically no material assigned.
And with the color wheel, I'm going to pick up a medium gray, but just to be totally accurate, I'm going to type in 128. This is halfway to 255, which will give us a perfect 50% gray. Okay, so the robots and the material changed. We can now switch to the Rendered view, giving it a little bit of a real-time preview here. So, you can kind of see the material color and a little bit of lighting, not the final but just a little bit. I'm going to select the backdrop and fix its material.
It's also got kind of a white default, which means none and we'll just pick kind of a light gray there. That should be fine. Just a word of warning. You don't have any colors in the rendering close to zero or close to 255. Those are just unnatural. So, I would stay away from 0 and select somewhat between 20 and 30 and likewise stay away from 255 and be around 230, 235, hit OK. Now let's go back to the settings and check those, right before we start the next render. Okay, so I'm going to up the Antialiasing.
I noticed some of the edges were a little bit jaggy, and then I'm going to turn off all these options. We don't really need the curves, or any text, or any edges. Okay. So, it's always good to do a double- check here before we start the rendering, since it's a bit of a time investment. So, we've got 900x600, with the Perspective viewport still active, we're uping in the Antialiasing, which is the edge, and then all those options have been adjusted. Notice that the isocurves are not showing anymore, so this update is fairly accurate although not final quality.
I'll go ahead and start the Render button. Okay. The render is complete, and let's take a look. I see a bunch of improvements along the edges that was fixed by the aliasing. The material is now really popping out, and the backdrop has no gaps. One note here. If you like this, and it's ready to share or display, you can go ahead and save it. So, make sure you do the Save As command. This render will not be saved with the Rhino file. When you open it back up, you'll always have to regenerate the rendering if you didn't.
So, save it as a JPEG or your favorite file format. For additional practice, I highly recommend continuing to work on this scene. I might move the camera some more and then focus on the materials, such as adding colors and reflectivity to further enhance the realism. The use of 3D rendering can be a powerful sales tool for any idea or product and skill in this area is extremely valuable. However, the built-in render capabilities of Rhino are nowhere near some of third-party plug-ins. My personal favorite is called V-Ray for Rhino and is produced by ASGVIS.com.
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