Overview

This topic provides an overview of the graphics pipeline and creation guidelines, as well as the preparation and optimization of graphic assets.

Graphics are an important part of the simulation. However, care must be taken to optimize and create graphics that are efficient and properly formed to provide a smooth and appealing simulation.

Planning is important to importing a graphical asset in the Vortex® Studio Editor. A well defined asset will allow the simulation to run at optimal efficiency with exceptional realism.

Creating a 3D Model

The workflow starts with the 3D model, whether it is created from scratch or purchased from another source (make sure the licensing allows your intended use).

Task Notes References
Research the object being modeled Use blueprints, drawing, photographs, or CAD files to acquire data about the object.
It's especially important to understand how it moves or functions, so that all the required parts will be modeled for the mechanical engineers.
Possible sources of information:
  • Internet
  • Library
  • Client
 
Create a 3D model Models can be created in your favorite software, but the default Digital Content Creator (DCC) for Vortex® Studio is 3ds Max.
Models can also be purchased, but they are rarely ready to use and will need to go through the same steps detailed below.
Vortex® Studio supports a number of formats, but .fbx is recommended.
Importing Models from 3ds Max
Clean 3D model hierarchy The 3D model must be structured using Degrees of Freedom (DOF), or dummy objects in 3ds Max.
DOFs are added for moving parts: wheels, pivot points, pistons, etc.
Make sure to orient the model and its parts correctly, this will save a lot of work later.
Importing Models from 3ds Max
Unwrap 3D model Model can be unwrapped in your favorite software, but the default DCC for Vortex® Studio is 3ds Max.
Vortex® Studio supports up to four UV sets per geometry.
UV unwrapping
Multiple UVs
Create textures for the 3D model Based on the unwraps, textures are created in your favorite software; the default DCC for Vortex® Studio is Photoshop.
Vortex® Studio supports a number of image formats, such as .jpg and .png; note that .tga 32-bit is recommended for the display of vegetation's alpha textures.
The following maps can be used on a model (masks are also supported for each channel):
  • Emissive
  • Occlusion
  • Albedo
  • Specular
  • Gloss
  • Normal
Use square textures in powers of 2, such as 256x256, 512x512, 1024x1024, 2048x2048, etc.
Make sure to use a pixel size proportional to the texture's intended use (far-away objects don't need a large, detailed texture).
Texture Creation
Export the 3D model The completed model is exported to a usable format using the 3ds Max exporter.
Since Vortex® Studio 2017a, the recommanded pipeline is to use .fbx format 3D models.
Export Settings


Importing the 3D Model in Vortex® Studio Editor

Vortex® Studio imports and stores the 3D model and all its components (materials, textures, etc.) into a single native file: the Graphics Gallery. This file is then sent to the mechanical engineers to build the simulation.

Task Notes References
Launch Vortex® Studio Editor Locate the Vortex® Studio shortcut on your desktop and click on it.
You will find yourself on the Vortex® Studio Home page.
 
Create a new Graphics Gallery file On the Vortex® Studio Home page, click the Graphics Gallery shortcut to create a new blank file.
Rename and save your new file (*.vxgraphicgallery) in your preferred location and folder.
Creating a New Component
Import the 3D model From the Toolbox, double-click 3D Model and point it to the desired model file (.dae, .fbx, etc.).
The resulting Graphics Gallery will then contain:
  • A locked container displaying connections between the graphics nodes (these change only when modifying the node hierarchy in the Explorer panel)
  • A hierarchical list of graphic nodes (hierarchy can be changed by drag-and-dropping nodes in the Explorer panel)
  • A flat list of graphics geometries
  • A flat list of graphics materials
  • A flat list of textures
Importing Models to Build a Graphics Gallery
Clean the hierarchy It's preferable to have graphic node names that clearly identify the corresponding mechanical component, such as Front_Left_Wheel, or Lower_Front_Suspension_Arm.
You should have properly located/oriented transforms, a logical overall hierarchy, and no empty nodes.
A number of tools are available (via right-click contextual menu) to perform this operation:
  • Remove Orphans: this removes unused materials and textures, making the model file smaller
  • Bake Graphics Node(s): set the transform back to 0,0,0
  • Merge Graphics Nodes: merge the selected nodes and their associated meshes (note: nodes must use the same Graphic Materials)
  • Set Transform to Center: set the transform at the center of the mesh
  • Set Graphics Node Transform: set the transform at the same coordinates as the reference node
  • Change Mesh Orientation: reverse the normal of the triangles
Child nodes move with their parent nodes, unless they are connected to a dynamic part.
Graphics Node
Import textures Normally, textures are imported with their model. If they were created separately, you need to import them and insert them into the desired Graphic Materials.
From the Toolbox, double-click Texture and point it to the desired file (.jpg, .png).
Check the textures and adapt the UV as required (position, tiling, set, etc.).
Textures
Set up Graphic Materials Open the Graphic Material and place each texture (or mask) in its proper channel. You can add layers with the + button.
Adjust values such as color, transparency, reflectivity, using the preview at the top of the Properties panel.
Check the Environment Reflection box and set a value if you want reflection from a SkyDome inside your material.
Graphics Materials
Clean up the Graphics Gallery Perform some house-keeping to give order to the Graphics Gallery; this will make it easier for other users to read.
  • Rename textures
  • Rename materials
  • Rename geometries
  • Group similar files into labeled folders (e.g., Textures)
Graphics Gallery
Verify the finished model Verify the model with the Daylight feature, or by placing it in its intended environment (in a Vortex® Studio Scene file).
Adjust colors and parameters as needed until the desired look is obtained.
Graphics Gallery

Making Further Corrections to a 3D Model

Task Notes References
Modify the 3D Model in Vortex® Studio Use the Graphics Gallery tools listed in "Clean the Hierarchy" above to perform this operation:
  • Remove Orphans
  • Bake Graphics Node(s)
  • Merge Graphics Nodes
  • Set Transform to Center
  • Set Graphics Node Transform
  • Change Mesh Orientation
Model Simplification Tools
Export the 3D model for use in the DCC It's possible to export the content of a Graphics Gallery back to a 3D model (.fbx format only).
Once you've done the changes in 3ds Max, re-import the 3D model into the Graphics Gallery.
Graphics Gallery
Export textures for use in DCC It's possible to export a texture (for optimization purposes, for example, or to fix an issue).
Once you've done the changes in Photoshop, re-import the texture into the Graphics Gallery.
Textures