Light up the Jack-o’-Lantern with SOLIDWORKS Composer

We all know that SOLIDWORKS Composer is a great tool to use when it comes to creating illustrative images or animations. However, every now and then we will face a situation where we need to create images that are a bit more aesthetic.

There are a lot of tools for this as well in SOLIDWORKS Composer – creating additional light sources, adding ground/model shadows, working with different render settings, controlling the focal point… the list goes on.

The tool that we are focusing on this time is one that is often being overlooked. I am of course talking about the render setting GLOW. This tool can be found in the Lightning section under the Render tab.

The first impression a lot of users get when activating this function is that “everything just glows” and it might not seem very controllable!

In this example we want to make the pumpkin (or Jack-o’Lantern as the Americans call it) extra spooky by adding glow to its eyes and mouth. If you want to try out Composer and all the cool features for yourself, you can request a SOLIDWORKS Composer trial right here.

Before and after:

So, here is how it works.

Glow applies to more or less “every colour” you can see in your viewport. This includes the actors themselves, the reflections on the actors, the ground, the background and collaborative images.

The brighter the colour – the more it glows.

With this knowledge, we can adjust the brightness of colours to correspond to the amount of glow we want to apply.

Since the background of the viewport often is quite bright – or completely white in most cases, this means that the glow effect also will be applied to the background. This results in the entire image being very bright due to the intense glow, and the edges of the actors becomes blurry.

Therefore, applying a darker background will stop the background from being affected by the glow feature, and you will have an easier time controlling the glow on your actual model.

How to do it:

To make the eyes glow, we need the eyes to be brighter than the rest of the pumpkin. Same goes for the mouth. In this demonstration the pumpkin is completely hollow so first we need to create some actual geometry that can absorb the glow effect.

To fill the hollowness inside the pumpkin, a single sphere will suffice – but feel free to create as many primitives as you might need. You can find the tool in the Primitives section under the Geometry tab (see the following figure). Once a primitive is created, it will show up in your Assembly Tab along with the rest of the geometric actors.

When the primitive is created, position it as you desire.

I want the sphere to radiate a bright yellow, rather than white. Let’s change the colour of the sphere.

Changing the colour of the sphere to yellow will still make it kind of dull, and not bright enough to glow. The property Emission can then be used to increase the brightness of the sphere. Emission is an actor-specific property so make sure to select the sphere first. With Emission set to 60% it looks something like this.

The sphere is much brighter while maintaining some of its yellow tint. Now all we need to do is to activate the Glow effect (as well as shadows if we please).

In the Property Panel with the viewport selected (nothing selected), you are also able increase the “Glow intensity”.

Here’s our tip this time to make your Halloween more creepy – in a positive way. Have a happy Halloween!


Jonas Sörell
Technical Consultant, CAD
PLM Group


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