Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Creating FreeCAD Lux Render Template

This is for the upcoming Render Module. Despite my very limited experience with rendering and modelling it appears that to get that 'wow' factor it will take a lot of scenes. Most people have better things to do so that is where templates come into play.

This guide will hopefully show how it will be possible to specify your own templates (for lux render):

Beginning with Blender & Lux Render:

The easiest way to create a template is to start with blender. A useful build and instruction guide for compiling Lux Render and using this in  Blender has been provided by Yorik on his blog

I don't have any clue how to use Blender, so you will have to figure that for yourselves. Nevertheless the important that you must have the scene normalised to a unit length. Ideally you have a cube with side lengths as one and build up a scene around this.
This is important because the scene will be scaled to the bounding box of the scene. I cannot guarantee this will work in all situations but it should give satisfactory results. Within blender you will need to export the scene to a  Lux Render Scene File Format with an extension .lxs 

Yorik created three example scenes that I am going to show you how to import as a Render Template in FreeCAD, these I have made available using google docs

Importing templates into FreeCAD:

For the scene template, we only need to find lights, geometry and materials information.

Materials are most likely to be used on the geometry within the scene. Using a templates like this means we can texture surfaces, which isn't going to appear within FreeCAD in the near future.

In this example open up luxscene-classic.lxs

Essentially we need everything from World Begin to World End. So extract all of this and you should be left with 

One thing we need to change:

I discovered the long way that there is a problem with the way Blender exports the scene information to Lux Render. Unfortunately, you will need to go through the file and look for lines like these:

Transform [-0.083770856261253 0.000000133886644 -0.996485054492950 0.000000000000000 -0.000000133886729 1.000000000000000 0.000000145614280 0.000000000000000 0.996485054492950 0.000000145614365 -0.083770856261253 0.000000000000000 -0.465571254491806 -0.011301971040666 0.364225387573242 1.000000000000000]

These are transformation Matrices. These need to be removed and replaced with seperate Translation and Rotation properties for each object like so:

Tanslate x y z
Rotate angle x y z

With the rotation, you specify an angle about a given axis, so in the case of blender this may have to be done three times, in the x,y,z directions.

For example in the classic scene:

Select the Plane.006 object and look the object properties

So you would replace the Transform line with this: 
Tanslate 0.459 -0.01 0.6
Rotate 253.4 0 1 0

Place this into a file such as luxsceneClassic.lxs

Then inside the FreeCAD build folder navigate to data/Mod/Raytracing/Templates

Create a folder in Templates/Lux to hold your template such as Templates/Lux/Classic. Then copy the file luxSceneClassic.lxs you previously created inside here.

Within the same folder create an xml file and copy into this file the following excerpt:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1" ?>
 FreeCAD Scene Template for LUX Render, see for more information...
<Document SchemaVersion="1">
  <Templates render="lux">
    <Template id="lux_classic" source="external">
      <label>Lux Classic Scene</label>
      <description> Classical Elegance</description>

For reference you only have to change the following:
  • id="lux_classic" : this attribute must be a unique identifier for the template
  • <label> Label for the scene template </label> : a graphical name for the scene
  • <description>Description for the scene template</description> : a descriptive identifier
  • <filename>luxSceneClassic.lxs</filename> the file name that contains the scene information
You should have a file structure like this:

I am not sure when you compile and build FreeCAD each time if this template folder will be deleted. Most likely not. Later, I will make a preference option so you can use your own folder. 

Using the Template:

Launch FreeCAD and switch to the Raytracing Workbench:

Create a new Render Feature.

A task view will appear. FreeCAD will automatically find your template. You can now select the template that is used in your scene. If nothing appears when you render, it is likely that the Lux Render Scene File Format has incorrect syntax...

Now position the camera where you want and hit Preview Window. Currently there might be times where the render is just a black screen - so to quickly solve this just play around with the camera a bit. 

Hopefully this make sense, feel free to post questions on here if you're stuck!

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