Showcase your Inventor Files

Posted on February 13, 2013 by Gregg Reinhart, Mechanical Helpdesk Technician:

With the inception of the design suites, Inventor users have gained access to Autodesk Showcase as a resource for doing high-quality renderings of their Inventor models.  In this post, I’d like to show you how the interoperability between the two programs allows you utilize the Inventor setup that automatically creates assets within Showcase to minimize any rework needed.

Starting with a simple assembly, I’ll walk you through the steps of setting up view representations and positional representations that will automatically be transferred into your Showcase file for use in making your renderings. The assembly below was created with all the solid parts set as the default material and appearance:

Setting up view representation within the model you will be able to assign new materials to the parts and save specific angles at which you want to view the model. To create a view representation, expand the “Representations” folder in the browser tree, and then expand the “View” node:

Right click on the “View” node and select “new”:

After creating a view representation which I called “Version 1,” click on each part in the assembly and use the appearance pull-down to assign a new color or texture to the part.  Here I made the “floor” blue, glossy wall paint:

Continue this process until you assign all the parts a new color/texture and get something like this:

Next, you can also rotate the model to a specific viewing angle.  In this case, I want the front view:

Now, do a save and create another view representation and assign different colors/textures to the parts.  Here I  set the viewing angle to look at the assembly from the right side:

Save the file and run through the same procedure to create one more view representation with different colors/textures and looking at it from yet another angle and save the file:

If you look at the browser it will now show all three representations, and if you double click on each one it will automatically change the model to the combination of colors/textures and the viewing angle you assigned for that view representation.  Next create a positional representation by right clicking on the “Position” node and then right click and select new:

Here I created a positional representation called “Elevated Spike.”  I then went down the browser tree to Part 2 and selected one of the constraints for that part, right click and selected “Override”:  

In the override dialog box I changed the value of the mate constraint from a value of -3 to 4:

The result is that the sphere moves from its original position to a new one to the right of the rest of the model:

I then did the same thing on part 5 and overrode the constraint so that the spike was now raised up from its original position:

Something to be noted, if you leave this positional representation active and switch to one of the other view representations you will get an accumulative affect.  You will see the model with the other materials/textures applied with the different viewing angle you assigned but with the sphere and spike moved to its new position:

Lastly, you can create another view representation and turn off the visibility of some of the parts as well by right clicking the part in the browser tree and deselecting the “visibility” setting by turning off the check mark:

Here I continued this process until only the spike was left in the view:

I then set everything back to “Master” and saved the file to get this:

New in the 2013 products, you can now easily transfer this model from Inventor into Showcase by simply going to the application menu, selecting “Suite Workflow” and “Showcase Realistic Presentation.”

A conversion setting dialog box will open where you can either accept the default settings or modify them if you wish.  In this example I went in to the settings dialog and changed the environment setting to be the photo studio environment rather than the default just so there will be more noticeable shadows later on.

Now click run and Showcase will automatically stat to load and convert the Inventor assembly.  Once the process is complete, you will see the following scene:

Now press the “T” key on your key board, or the “Story/Shots” pull down at the top of the screen to open the “Shots” pallet.  Shots in Showcase basically define the camera angle and movement.  Along with some standard default shots Showcase creates, you also see that there are shots created and named for each of the view representations you created back in Inventor.

Clicking on the “Version 1” shot will automatically change the viewing angle to front view, which was what it was set for in the view representation:

To look at the model from the other angles you setup in Inventor, simply click on the shot with the name of the view representation it was created from in Inventor.

At this point you’re probably wondering, what about all the colors and textures I set up in Inventor. Press the “A” key on the keyboard or the “Story/Alternatives” pull down to open up the alternatives pallet.  You’ll see that Showcase has automatically set up several different types of alternatives based off the view representations in the Inventor model.

Showcase uses three different types of alternatives: Visibility Alternatives, Material Alternatives, and Positional Alternatives.  Visibility Alternatives basically show the model with certain parts of the model either shown in or hidden from view.  You’ll see that Showcase has created two visibility alternatives, one called “Master” showing the entire model and another called “Spike” that shows just the spike all by itself.  These were created from the default “Master” view representation and the view representation called “Spike” that was in the Inventor file.  When Showcase was converting the file, it detected that the view representation “Spike” and the visibility turned off for all the parts accept for the spike.  So it created the two visibility alternatives to show the two different states that were present in the Inventor file.

The material alternatives are what display and saves the different combinations of the materials/textures in Showcase.  Each of the three view representations in the Inventor file now have an associated material alternative with the same exact materials already applied to them.  So there is no need for any rework to apply any materials to the model with in Showcase.  Here, I’ve reset the view so you can see the whole model, but you’ll see the Showcase alternative has the same material applied as it did back in Inventor.

Alternative “Version 1”:

Alternative “Version 2”:

Alternative “Version 3”:

Positional alternatives in Showcase are used to show the model with some of the parts of the model in different locations.  You can see that Showcase has automatically created two positional alternatives: one called “Master,” where all parts of the model are in the original position in the Inventor model, and another called “Elevated Spike,” created from the positional representation of the same name in the Inventor assembly.

All the different alternatives and shots can then be used in any combination within Showcase to make totally new configurations of the model that didn’t exist in the original Inventor file.  This gives you massive amounts of flexibility in setting up your model for renderings.   For instance, here I’m using the shot created from the “Version 1” view representation back in Inventor, the “Master” visibility alternative for the “Master” view representation, the “Version 2” materials alternative from the “Version 2” view representation, and the “Elevated spike” positional alternative made from the “Elevated spike” positional representation back in Inventor.

Or here, I’m using the shot generated from the “Version 3” representation, the “Spike” visibility alternative, the “Version 1” material alternative, and the “Master” positional alternative.

screenshot30

Hopefully this has made you aware of just how easy it to get your Inventor models ready for use in Showcase to be able to generate high-quality renderings like the one above without the need of doing any rework or setup to the model.

I hope this little entry to Showcase helps you stay ahead.  Let us know if you have any features you would like to hear more about.

-Gregg

Gregg Reinhart comes to Synergis with a B.S. in Ceramic Science and Engineering.  He previously worked at F.L. Smidth as a Mechanical Designer.  Gregg has expertise with AutoCAD, AutoCAD Mechanical, and Inventor as well as many other Autodesk solutions.  Check out Gregg’s Linked In for more info.

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