imageI had wanted to do a quick post on Lighting, but have found it difficult to do.  The Viewing enhancements are really off the chart. I will try to be brief this time.

We used to have the basic ‘Two Lights’ style, nothing special, but now we have unlimited choices and some powerful settings.

The Ribbon

First thing that is noticeable is the accessibility.  Navigate to the View tab of the Ribbon, and we find the Lighting style pulldown on the appearance panel.  Very centralized, and very easy to use.


It makes sense doesn’t it?


The image above depicts how things were lit in previous versions (I added shadows and reflections).  However Autodesk has prepared a handful of new presets and the ability to make your own, without going through the render environment to get a specific scene lit.

Custom Lighting Styles

While Autodesk has provided numerous preset styles for us, new styles are easy to make in the Style Editor.  This can be accessed at the bottom or the lighting pulldown.


Lighting angle, brightness, quantity of sources, ambience and many more settings are available as you might expect. Here is the twist:

Image Based Lighting

At the middle and bottom of the settings dialog you will see the Image Based lighting check box.  This takes preconfigured lighting based on where the light is in an image.  Let’s say you have a beach scene, and the sun is rising in the east.  You would want lighting to come from the direction of the image’s light, so shadows and glare match how they are in the image.  That’s what you have now.  There is also the check box to turn off the image.  You may want 2 settings, lit with and lit without an image so that you can keep the lighting the same, but shut off the image when it’s not desired.


ummm…That’s bloody cool.

This amazing feature seems to have come over from the awesome rendering platform Autodesk Showcase.  You are placed in a sphere, with 360° panorama view of the imagery.  Just awesome.  Be careful, because you’ll find yourself playing with it…a lot.

Well that’s pretty, but what does that mean to me?

I see this as a real time design canvas enhancement, with a wide range of visualization possibilities.  The one that comes to my mind the most is the benefit to the audience of marketing and webcasts.  I mentioned previously how this really sets the mood of the viewer to what is happening on the canvas, a new twist on presentation capability.

Keep in mind that last year I had to set a scene, lights, etc, and render the image, and that took hours upon hours.  This is a screenshot of the modeling canvas!!!!  HA!

Let’s see…it took 5 seconds to navigate to the ribbon panel, and use the pulldown; then start the screenshot was another 1 second.  Should I do the math to evaluate the time savings?  I don’t think we need a graph for this one.



It is not the Lighting style alone that creates such a dramatic change to the canvas work area, but the entire array of enhanced viewing components working together.  Lighting however is the fundamental basis of rendering and photo realistic images.  Inventor 2011 delivers a large quantity of canvas based control to the mood and perspective of the viewer.


…and it’s photorealistic render quality in the real-time working space.