Rendering Software for Solidworks

Hello all,

I am looking for a bit of advice.

I use Solidworks as my modelling software (both at work and at home) and have been using the built in Photoview 360 for my rendering, which is fine for quick images.
However, I am wanting to create more realistic renders with better lights/textures etc and really don’t think Photoview 360 can achieve this.

I was wondering what everyone else uses or if anyone had any recommendations for software that works well for models coming from solidworks.

Thanks in advance :smiley:

Have you upgraded to SW16? Bunkspeed, which was quite a competent tool, got bought by Dassault and integrated into SW replacing PhotoView.

Hey mcpbowman! I just had the same thought a few months back and started looking in to this.

Check out Modo if you haven’t already. You can really get into more detail with rendering and produce some awesome results. I’ve been learning it for the past month or so, its really powerful. Since you’re already familiar with Solidworks type modelling, Modo offers more in depth rendering but also a different kind of modelling that makes organic forms more easy to work with. It’s a very different workflow from Solidworks but Modo packs a ton of value for the price which is why I decided to buy it. If you sign up to their newsletter they usually have a few good sales throughout the year on a seat of Modo for around 30% off.

I haven’t yet, the disks have arrived…they just remain uninstalled!
Ill get upgraded and have a play, its always fun learning a new bit of software as well! thank you for the help!

Thank you Gmay, I haven’t heard of Modo before, but I will definitely give it a go! I’ve used a number of different modelling packages in the past few years so hopefully ill be able to pick it up easily :slight_smile:
And with a 30% that sounds even better
Thanks for the help, Ill let you know if I have any success!

Sounds good! I’m not super deep into it yet but if you have any questions about it please feel free to message me!

You may want to look into Keyshot. I have worked with it at a design studio for several years - it works very intuitively, with great rendering results, simple animation capability, and relatively affordable pricing.

There’s also this company which offers a program that looks almost suspiciously similar to Keyshot, but for half the price:

Thanks Ralph - I think I have tried a free trial of Keyshot and got on really well with it.
I will have a look into it again, maybe persuade work to buy a license :slight_smile:

Thanks for the help!

Bunkspeed and Keyshot are the offspring of when Hypershot split in twain a few years ago and are more or less the same product (I haven’t used the SW16 integrated version of Bunkspeed, but from their site it doesn’t look like it’s changed much, if at all, in terms of quality.) If you need better quality than either of those, look at Vray or Maxwell. There is a lot more time involved in creating materials and lighting environments, and you’ll have to import your SW models into another program (for a long time I ran everything through Vray for Rhino), but the potential for photoreal renderings is much higher.

My personal opinion is that Bunkspeed and Hypershot offer the best combination of speed and quality. When I ran Vray I would end up with some stunning renderings, but the amount of time I had to spend tweaking my materials and environments made it too cumbersome for regular studio work. I can get a dozen 7-out-of-10 renderings from Bunkpseed in the time it takes me to get one 9-out-of-10 from Vray.


I just saw your post, you can also try our Visual Designer 3D , it is a photo-realistic software oriented for product & industrial design.

You can find more at

Get me to me if you have any question, suggestion…

Hope you will like it

I don’t think that SW Visualize (Bunkspeed’s new name) is meant to replace Photoview 360, and at the present it is still just a stand-alone application (not integrated). From some things I read on the Solidworks boards, Visualize Standard (only static renderings) will be packaged with a SW Premium or Professional license purchase, and Visualize Professional (animations, 360 views) will cost extra. I was extremely disappointed with the initial release of Visualize. The interface is very clunky and the materials controls are confusing. Couple this with the fact that Dassault has hidden all information contained on the Bunkspeed message boards by forwarding all traffic to the Visualize home page, and it means that there is little to no information out there on actually how to use the software. I spent a full day messing around with it and barely got anything usable. At this point, from my perspective, SW Visualize isn’t worth the time to download and try teach yourself how to get good renders out of it… go with something more established like Keyshot.

On a side note, I’ve been playing around with Blender a lot recently, and am absolutely blown away by it’s versatility. The modeling approach is completely different than SW (polygon vs parametric), and the interface is very difficult to get used to at first. However, in addition to modeling, it supports scripting via python, provides real-time raytraced rendering, animation, and game-engine development. Oh, and it’s completely free and open source, so there are tons of tutorials out there to show you exactly how to accomplish anything you’re looking to do. The one downside is that the workflow from SW to blender is not that great, since you have to convert your geometry to STL data, there is no good way to update your models if the design changes. Since it’s free, there’s no reason not to check it out!

Thanks Engelhjs - I will have a look at Bunkspeed and see what sort of quality I can get out of it and then progress from there if necessary. :slight_smile:
thank you for advice!

Moczys - That doesn’t sound great. Its included in our work license so I will give it a go and see i I can get on with it, but the idea of not being able to get any information on it doesn’t sound like a great feature!
I do like the sound of Blender though…the price tag sounds perfect and the tutorials are always helpful - I am going to check this one out regardless of if I use SW Visualize or not because it sounds fun!

I just downloaded Blender and have been playing with it for a couple hours. The “Cycles Renderer” that they have packaged in is amazing. Thanks moczys for mentioning. You are correct that .STL seems like the only way to import Solidworks unfortunately … but then again, Keyshot was never too good at accepting any model changes after importing anyway!

I remember playing around with Vray a few years ago, and you could only see how your scene looked like by hitting “render.” Like Keyshot, there is a mode here in blender that lets you move your camera and objets while seeing the rendering preview update real-time.

This was a good tutorial for the Cycles render mode, done in about 25 minutes, including modeling:

Thanks for the feedback, I didn’t know that. We decided to get a floating Keyshot license even though we technically already pay for Visualize Standard.

I agree that the sudden and complete disappearance of the whole Bunkspeed site was very weird.

The Bunkspeed forums weren’t too helpful to begin with, so no big loss there.

If you have questions, I think it’s still pretty easy to get ahold of David Randle, who seems to have stayed on board during the transition to Dassault.

I’ve been trying to force myself over to Visualize since it came out, and it is improving. The big deal breaker for me right now is the fact that I can’t send jobs to a remote queue (render farm.) The pluses are pretty big though: Decent auto updating (the scene in Visualize updates when your CAD is updated and saved) and the materials are a little better. There are a couple nice UI changes (illustrated camera views) as well.

One neat trick: You can open Solidworks Visualize files in Bunkspeed by changing the file extension to “.bif”. It even imports materials! That alone is worth the wonky workflow.

I use Modo. Still on SW 2014 to modo 701 but hope to upgrade to modo 901 soon.

Modo was a bit of a pain to learn, but once you’ve mastered the shader tree, UV mapping and global illumination you’re good to go. I’d recommend Richard Yot’s videos.

Check out my coroflot for some examples. All 3D content on there is Soldiworks to Modo.

Has anyone come across any tutorials for Visualize Pro ? Tough to figure out - like how to assign different colors to three different shape sin a SWX16 file ?

I really wish the software developers of the big cad tools like SW and Creo would develop more into the core rendering tools than they do. Interface designers say ‘expose more of the tool’ indicating it’s just an interface thing. The render engine for Creo is now Mental ray and using that in Maya I can see 70 options for leather. In Creo and SW there is less than 5 settings for the same tool.

Reviving this topic as I’m starting to look at alternatives to Bunkspeed/Visualize. While that engine has been my preference for a few years it definitely has its limitations, the largest of which being a very homogenous look to most of the renders you get out of it. Until you really dig into and tweak a scene most materials are extremely plastic-y, and it has a habit of rendering soft shadows as large blobs of grey (similar to something you would create in Photoshop with a heavy gaussian blur.) I’m also less than stoked on Dassault axing the entirety of the Bunkspeed materials, support, and forum archives, which were really helpful.

The most useful features I’ve found from Bunkspeed, and what have kept me running a legacy version post-Dassault buyout, are GPU rendering (both real-time and final image) and the ability to queue up multiple renders to process all at once, rather than setting up and rendering each image separately. If there’s something out there with these features and potentially better quality, I’d be willing to take a look.

I haven’t found anything better than Keyshot. And as with all rendering packages, the standard features are not enough as good renders require lots of preparation. In Keyshot you can modify a lot - customize HDRI environments, you can add lights to manipulate shadows, do a flat render for manipulation of individual parts in photoshop, basic animations, while keeping a good overview through the scene hierarchy which preserves the imported model’s hierarchy.

The only thing bothering me about Keyshot which I haven’t solved yet is how to work with geometry -spheres and planes- as emissive lights. Even with a high (40) sample amount and ray bounces you get dots in less lit places, for example with vehicles underneath edges and near the end of the light falloff. In animations these dots flicker so the whole approach does not work - If anyone has a solution it would be great.
samples result2.jpg

Hi Ralph,

You might want to bump up the Global illumination setting. It could also be a tessalation problem. And if it is purely on the ground, then it could be a problem with ground size/shadow quality.