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How To: Create Appealing DriveWorks 3D files (KB17022801)

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How To: Create Appealing DriveWorks 3D files

These tips will help you create better looking DriveWorks 3D files.


Ambient Light

  • Keep light level low, this is the minimum light level for your scene. Default is set far too high so you may forget to add lights.
  • Keep color gray-scale or very slight tints towards general daylight colors (slight blue for daytime, orange for sunset etc)
  • If you're using Image Based Ambient lighting, you'll want this value to be higher, doubling the intensity would be a good starting point

Environment Map

  • Use Environment Map must be set to true to use any of these features
  • Just enabling it will allow reflections of the skybox on your model (even if you don't enable the skybox). The reflection strength is affected by the material Reflectivity property.
  • Image based ambient tints the ambient light by the skybox color, this gives a more realistic base lighting, especially when you're using a skybox.
    • If you use this, remember to increase the ambient intensity a bit.
    • This will tint your model a bit to the color of the skybox which might be what you want, but you can undo this by tinting the ambient by the opposite color. (Yellow-Orange).
  • Display Skybox will show the skybox instead of the background color (when TRUE). If this is enabled, background color is irrelevant.

Background Color

  • Document background is different than on the control as it's the rendered background color. If this is opaque it will obviously effectively override the control's background color.
  • If you're setting this to transparent, make sure the rest of the color is black or it will still tint transparent objects (unless that's intended).
  • Using an opaque value here is better as it will allow the Anti-Aliasing to do a better job, and transparent objects' colors will be more correct.
  • Try to avoid semi-transparent colors especially if you have transparent objects in the scene.
Standard ambient lightingImage based ambient lightingImage based ambient with color correction

Scene Composition

General Tips

  • Look for good real-world references of interior design depending on the project.
  • Try to add more than just the model you're configuring, Add a small surrounding scene.
  • At the very least add a floor, and make sure it's big enough that you can see the full effects of any lights you're using. You can apply a texture to make it fade off at the edges.
  • You can add simple shadowing by using a texture of semi-opaque black on a model (cube/plane) placed just above the ground.
  • Be careful with borders between materials. It doesn't look good when texture meets texture. Edges should be more defined/bordered; for example if you have a room, don't have your carpet meet the wallpaper. Make sure you add a skirting board to break it up.
  • Avoid transparent objects as much as possible.
  • If you have to use transparent objects, split the parts as much as possible and don't put transparent objects within transparent objects ever.
  • Also avoid self-occluding transparent objects where possible.
  • Try to have a 3D modelled light-source for point lights and spot lights.
Transparent self-occlusion:


Directional Lights

  • Takes the rotation of the node it's placed on. Position is irrelevant.
  • Light affects the entire scene from the same direction at the same intensity.
  • Generally used to simulate the sun.

Point Lights

  • Light affects surrounding objects in all directions from the position of it's parent node. Rotation is irrelevant.
  • Light intensity falls off over distance, how quickly it falls off depends on the Falloff Exponent. Real-world is 2, a decent value to use though is about 1.5.
    • Reduce this value when you want the light to affect more of the scene more evenly.
    • Increase this value when you want a very local light.

Spot Lights

  • Light affects objects in a cone from the position of the node. The center of the cone is the node's Z direction (blue triad arrow). Therefore both position and rotation are important.
  • Light intensity and falloff are exactly the same as a point light, just constrained to a cone.
  • The cone is controlled by the falloff start and end angle properties.
    • The light is at full brightness from straight forward, to the falloff start angle. The light then falls off from 100% to 0% between the start and end angle.
    • The bigger the difference between start and end, the softer the edge of the spotlight. If you want a hard edge have the values just off equal, this is free anti-aliasing for the light.

General Lighting Tips

  • Make lighting "moody". You want to have dramatic contrast between light and dark areas. Spot lights are great for this.
  • Final colors max out at 1, this is calculated based on all affecting lights and the appearance's color.
    • This can sometimes be intended and simulates overexposure on a camera when used carefully. (Eg. inside light fittings)
    • Hitting the limit can make your colors seem off as R/G/B can hit the limit at different times.
    • This can create harsh edges where the lighting gradient just stops.
    • If it happens, you can adjust light intensity and falloff. Lowering intensity AND falloff together will make lights dimmer at short distance while staying bright at longer distances.
    • If you can't avoid it, textures can help make the harsh line less obvious.
  • Use a directional light to give your scene a base light level, but don't set this too bright or you won't notice your other lights.
    • You can add a much dimmer "up light" to simulate sunlight bouncing off the ground, color this to match your floor.
  • When you use a spot light, add a dim point light too, this simulates light leaking from a fixture.
  • When using strip lights, use multiple lights along the length of the light fixture.
  • Use colors according to the light-source. There are values easily found online for values like daylight, incandescent bulbs, LED lights, street lights etc.
  • There are limits to the number of lights affecting each object. Only the brightest lights are used per object, this takes into account distance to a point/spot light so generally you shouldn't have to worry. (5 directional, 3 point and 3 spot)
  • You can still use the control's lighting presets for base lighting. These use 1-5 directional lights.
  • 3-Point-Lighting is nice using point lights.
    • Use a white directional, and a blue tinted and orange tinted point lights sat in front and behind the model.
    • This highlights the contours of the model using the color contrast from the different lights.
  • Don't use a light to try and light up an actual light emitter like a bulb. Just increase the ambient/diffuse intensity on its appearance.
Maxed out lightingSplit RGB colorsCorrected lighting


Appearance Properties

  • Diffuse Color
    • Base color, determines the color of diffused light.
    • Alpha can be used for transparent objects. For things like glass this should be set very low.
    • This color is multiplied with the light color.
      • This means black will always be black no matter how many lights you shine at it. As will a red light shining at a blue diffuse color.
  • Specular Color
    • Color of the specular highlight that simulates directly reflected light.
    • This should pretty much always be white for organic materials.
    • For metallic materials use the same color as the diffuse color.
    • Like diffuse this is multiplied with the light color.
  • Ambient Intensity
    • Multiplier for intensity of ambient light on this appearance.
    • Use this to make objects look like they're glowing. Light bulbs etc.
    • Reduce for transparent objects.
  • Diffuse Intensity
    • Multiplier for intensity of diffuse light on this appearance.
    • For transparent objects reduce this to near 0.
    • Mostly avoid using this outside of transparent objects.
  • Specular Intensity
    • Multiplier for intensity of the specular highlight on this appearance.
    • Turn this up to make something look shiny.
    • Simulates how much light get's reflected by a surface.
  • Reflectivity
    • Affects strength of environment map, the higher this is the clearer/brighter the environment map will be.
    • Makes specular highlight spots smaller.
    • Generally makes specular highlights dimmer, so turn up spec intensity as you turn this up.
    • Turn this up to make things look glossy or wet.
  • Texture Scale X/Y
    • Affects the size of the texture, horizontally or vertically.
    • Higher numbers make the texture look smaller.
    • Numbers > 1 will make the texture look bigger.
    • Numbers > 0 will flip the image.
    • Eg. Setting this to 2 will make the texture repeat twice. Setting to 0.5 will only show half the image.
  • Texture Angle
    • Rotates the texture around the top-left corner.
  • Texture Name
    • Path to the texture to set on the appearance.

General Tips

  • Use textures for pretty much everything, nothing in real life is a solid color.
  • Use the Texture coordinate remapping as much as possible.
  • Use separate appearances and swap between them rather than changing appearance properties via rules (sometimes necessary).
  • For all colors. Never have a pure color like (0,0,0)black or (0,1,0)Green. Do black as like (0.02,0.02,0.02) and the green as (0.1,1.0,0.05) for example.
  • Specular highlights are reflections from dir/point/spot lights. If you don't add any you won't see any.
  • Reflectivity dims the specular highlights while making the spots smaller.
  • For most materials, reflectivity should be > 1. For something mega shiny, > 20 but for transparents you want nearly all the color from the environment map. so go up to 20-30.
  • If you scale a model and want your texture to stay the same size (texels per meter) apply the exact same scale.
  • We wouldn't recommend using negative texture scales, instead just flip your image.
  • Using texture angle can add seams to your textures so try not to use it unless you have a good seamless/repeating texture or stick to 90/180/270 degrees.
  • Use appropriately sized textures. No point having to download pixels you'll never see.
    • You can estimate size on screen to determine what's appropriate, if you have a preview control that's 1000x1000 pixels you will not need 1024*1024 images.
    • Huge textures actually look worse in WebGL as there is no mip-mapping (this causes a speckled effect to occur as you move the camera, as the chosen texel from that texture at that pixel jumps 4-5 texels across the image at a time from one frame to the next. Blurring the image (reducing size) stops this effect.

Example Appearances

  • Seamless stone texture.
  • Low reflectivity, stone isn't glossy.
  • Medium specular, stone still reflects a good amount of light, it just diffuses a lot of it (matte).
Wood Floor
  • Seamless wood floor texture.
  • Medium reflectivity and specular.
  • Seamless leather texture.
  • Low reflectivity, quite matte.
  • High specular.
  • Gold metallic color, created by eye - You could find a texture with a few flaws on it, this gold is super polished.
  • Very high reflectivity, super polished.
  • Equally high specular intensity. Color matches the diffuse as it's a metallic material.
  • Seamless Tile texture.
  • Reflectivity medium, rough tiles so quite matte. skybox barely visible.
  • Seamless carpet texture, highly scaled, most carpet textures you find are very magnified.
  • Almost no reflectivity/specular. Almost no light reflects from carpet.
  • White color with low alpha. You could find/make a texture with imperfections like dust/scratches.
  • Very low ambient and diffuse intensity. Pretty much the only way you can see glass is the reflections/refractions it makes.
  • For the above reason, very high reflectivity and specular.
  • Shown with skybox because it's very important with transparent stuff to show off the fact that it is transparent by putting something behind it.

Resources and Tools

  • http://www.textures.com/
    • Search for the material you want, and look for "seamless" textures. These look good repeated.
    • If a texture you've selected has multiple bits to it. (like albedo, diffuse, specular, normal etc) The one you want is 'diffuse'. Sometimes you can use an 'albedo' texture.
  • Use Gimp or Photoshop to edit textures.
    • You don't need any experience to edit the brightness/contrast/saturation/hue, or flip/mirror/resize the image. All quick to do and make a big difference.
  • Light values (just divide by 255).

Knowledge Base Article Ref:KB17022801