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New in SolidWorks 2012 – Ambient Occlusion

November 10th, 2011

One of my favourite additions to SolidWorks 2012 is the Ambient Occlusion option. It makes models appear really realistic. (wikipedia explanation) It does require a RealView graphics card or a “patch“.

How to turn on Ambient Occlusion in SolidWorks 2012

Even though it appears that if the RealView Graphics icon is not available, the Ambient Occlusion does appear, however both “RealView Graphics” and “Ambient Occlusion” need to be turned on.

Before and After Ambient Occlusion

SolidWorks 2012 with Ambient Occlusion (Note the extra shadows in the wheels and seat)

SolidWorks 2012 with RealView Graphics only (Note: no depth shadows visible)

Further details

You may find that as you rotate the model, the Ambient Occlusion shading disappears, and as soon as you stop rotating, the shading and shadows re-appear. There is a “Draft Quality Ambient Occlusion” option which can be turned on.
Tools -> Options -> System Options -> Display/Selection -> “Display draft quality ambient occlusion”.
When this is turned on, you can rotate in 3d and have the Ambient Occlusion shadows remain in real-time, however it is a more draft quality shading.

Either way, it makes models really stand out. It’s great for doing Animations without having to render in PhotoView360 which would take quite a long time.

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