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Rendering and Customization in ZWCAD

May 20, 2011

ZWCAD allows you to create custom rendered images by applying materials, background, and light (including shadows) to your drawing.


     Specify materials for different surfaces and define how the materials map to those surfaces. Predefined materials are available in the materials library, which can be customized further using the built-in editor. You can choose to use procedural or bitmap materials.

      The Material includes Material Library and Material Mapping. Material Library allows you to select from among a variety of predefined materials. Material Mapping controls how the material is mapped to the surfaces in the drawing.

      Most of the procedural materials and bitmapped materials are 2D in nature, while the surfaces in the drawing are 3D. Therefore there must be some method of mapping the 3D coordinates of the surface to the 2D coordinates of the material.

      The Plane Normal Vector defines the orientation of the projection plane and is perpendicular (or normal) to the plane itself. For example, if you would like the projection plane to be the X-Y plane, the normal vector would be the Z Axis. For a Cylindrical projection, this vector defines the axis of the cylinder. For a Spherical projection, the vector points to the north pole of the sphere.

       Materials can be assigned to either individual drawing entities, to drawing layers, or to drawing colors. When rendering an entity, first material properties are retrieved for that entity if they exist. If no material assignment has been made for that entity, then material properties are retrieved for the layer on which that entity resides. If no material assignment has been made for the layer, then material properties associated with the drawing color are used. Finally if no material properties have been assigned to that color, then the entity is rendered using the DEFAULT material properties and the drawing color that it has been assigned.

       The quickest way to get started with materials is to select from among the predefined materials available on the Material Library tab. The available predefined materials are shown in a file selection box on the left-hand side of the window. Folders in the file selection box can be opened or closed by clicking on the plus or minus sign to the left of the folder name. Individual materials can be selected by clicking on the name (ending in ".tex"). Once you click on the material name, a preview image will be shown in the right-hand-side area, and the properties for that material will be loaded. You can then click on the "OK" button to accept the properties, or you can click on the Material Mapping tab to adjust the way the material is mapped to the surface.


      Specify the background or backdrop for a rendered image. Several predefined backgrounds are available. By default, no background is used and it appears black. The background is an infinite, planar surface and reflects off of any reflective surfaces in your model. The background is not affected by lighting however, so no shadows or highlights are seen on the background.

      You can select or edit a variety of predefined materials from the materials library for the background. You also can specify how the material is mapped to the surface in the Materials Mapping dialog box.


       Specify the placement of lights, light color, and light intensity to determine how your drawing or scene is lit, including shadows and reflections in the scene. Lights can be placed either outside the field of view or inside to illuminate different areas of the scene. Three types of lights are available to use in your drawing, Ambient light, Point lights, and Distant lights.

Ambient light: An Ambient light illuminates the entire scene evenly (depending on the Ambient component of the Material finish). It does not cast shadows or change with viewing angle.

Point light: A Point light represents light emitting from a single point in the drawing. Shadows will be cast by surfaces in the drawing and you will see highlights where the light reflects off of the surfaces. Point lights can also have a size or diameter to them so that they cast soft shadows.

Distant light: A Distant light represents a light from a large distance away from the surfaces in the drawing (e.g. the sun). All of the light rays are essentially parallel to each other so the shadows cast by the light have sharp edges.

To apply materials, backgrounds, and lighting

  • Choose View > Render, and then choose Materials, Background, or Light.

  • On the Render toolbar, click the Materials tool , Background , or Lights tool.

  • Type materials, background, or light and then press Enter.

Commands Reference

RENDER: Creates a rendered image.

FULLRENDER: Creates a fully rendered image.

MATERIALS: Assigns materials to models.

BACKGROUND: Sets background for a rendered image.

LIGHT: Assigns lighting for the scene.

RPREF: Defines the settings used to render images.

System Variables Reference

FACETRATIO: Determines the aspect ratio used for the display of 3D solids, particularly when they are rendered.

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