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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.
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).
|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:
|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.
|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):
Make sure to use a pixel size proportional to the texture's intended use (far-away objects don't need a large, detailed texture).
|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.
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.
|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:
|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:
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.).
|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.
|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.
|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.
|Modify the 3D Model in Vortex® Studio||
Use the Graphics Gallery tools listed in "Clean the Hierarchy" above to perform this operation:
||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.
|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.