This Is Not Real: Lifelike Renderings From Eagle Files

Look at it. Just look at it! This board is a lie. It doesn’t exist (at least not what’s seen in the image here). Instead this is a lifelike rendering made from Eagle CAD files.

We’ve already seen that it is rather easy to pull Eagle CAD files into Google SketchUp thanks to the EagleUp package. You’ll get a 3D model that looks quite nice but it’s hardly photo-realistic. This process starts exactly the same way. But you’re going to want to process the SketchUp file one more time.

A program called Kerkythea does this for you. It’s an open source project aimed at producing realistic renderings. It has a plugin which will process any SketchUp model and apply the textures and shadings that look so wonderful in the image above. It’s not a one-click process, but reminds us of the mountain of options you’d find in a program like Blender3D. You’ll need to map out settings for each different material you’d like to map, but the guides found at the link above do a good job of showing how it’s done.

20 thoughts on “This Is Not Real: Lifelike Renderings From Eagle Files

  1. There is a way to do something like that with Kicad and Blender. It takes a lot of work (seriously), but it is very fun !!!

    I don’t like Eagle too much, but this is a very nice result.

  2. That’s very obviously CG.

    Not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s not exactly easy to mistake for a photograph.

    Far too clean, precise, and uniform.

    … that said, this can all be corrected once you have all the geometry and do your textures/materials right, with a good unbiased render such as Lux…

    1. Assuming all the step files imported correctly and the formats were all recognized and everything got mapped to the correct mechanical layers and oh by the way the built in renderer still looks like crap… Another example of Altium having a great idea and really poor execution. Although there was a 3rd party utility that took Altium files and rendered them using POVRAY. I forget the name (something German maybe) but it looked MUCH better (assuming you had all the right models). I’m still a fan of importing into Solidworks and doing all the 3D stuff there.

    2. Dude, how is the Altium renderer “crap”? It makes a 3D model that is good enough to make sure mechanical clearances are met. Its not a ray tracer that takes hours to make a render. Its not designed for that.

      You can export the whole board in a STEP file and import it into Google Sketchup (with a plugin), then run Indigo or Maxwell or Kerkythia and make it as photo-realistic as you want.

      I don’t really need that functionality to be built inside Altium….

      1. You seem to be in a bad mood today. Here is how you appear:

        1. Complain about someone thinking a basic renderer is bad at making pretties.

        2. Offer an alternative with no proof over a simpler example that has proof on the same page.

        3. Sour grapes it up.

        Its okay, somebody wants pretties from something that isn’t designed for it nor pragmatically needs it. No big deal.

      2. You misunderstand, I wasn’t talking about the mechanical correctness of the Altium 3D stuff (though that has its own bugs) I was pointing out that the “pretty” picture shown by viewing boards in Altium in 3D is about as photo-realistic as a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Still useful, but not even close to the same league as the original Hack a Day article. The alternative I mentioned can take the Altium files and produce a result MUCH closer to what the article has. You still need to be or know someone with mad crazy POVRAY skills to be as good as or better than the article, but even if you aren’t, you still get something much better than the built in Altium view _AND_ you have an alternative to designing in Eagle if that’s not your preference (I prefer Altium myself, warts and all). Still, mad kudos to the guys from Kerkythea.

    1. Amen brother!

      I have noticed a delightful trend that some manufacturers are providing 3D models of their parts that can then be imported into SolidWorks, Altium, etc. Failing that, learning to model is a great skill if have the time and the resources. I just wish there was a free/cheap version of SolidWorks… :(

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