Setting up a 3D scene
This text assumes you already have set up a 3D board. This requires just choosing a few 3D parts for your (own) footprints. Have a look at Adding 3D Parts if you have not done, yet.
Open the 3D Scene Inspector Tab by clicking on this icon in the top area of the Inspector: . This will open the Scene Inspector where you set up your 3D scene, i.e. camera, lights, floor, and a lot of other settings. It’s as easy as dragging a few sliders and watching the result rendered in real time in the main editor view.
Of course it would be possible to allow for more settings to be changed. For example it’s not possible to change the color of the light. But if we would expose every setting Copper would get more and more complicated. Just drop us a line at email@example.com if you really need a specific feature or setting and we’ll look into that.
The top area of the Scene Inspector is dedicated to Presets. With Presets you can save specific settings under a name and by clicking on a Preset it will be activated and rendered in the main editor view immediately.
Clicking on one of the direction buttons will activate the next or previous Preset. Transitions from one Preset to next will be nicely animated. This allows for nice camera paths or detail shots of your PCB, very nice during presentations for example.
Once a Preset is created and activated, you can modify it anytime by setting new values. But don’t forget to click the “Update preset with current settings”. If you don’t do that, your Preset will not be modified. If you want to restore the viewport with the Preset, just click on “Restore Preset” to set it back and start over.
At anytime you may click on the small “+” button at the top right corner of this Inspector section to create a new Preset. Don’t forget to set a name, as multiple “Untitled” Presets don’t make your life easier. If you want to get rid of a Preset, select it, and click the small “-” button to remove it. You may reorder Presets by dragging them to a new position inside the Table and dropping it there.
Every Copper 3D scene is composed of two light sources: Top and Bottom. As their names imply, one light source is coming from above, the other from below the PCB. Bot light sources are “Spot-Lights”. To make your life easier, you will only have to concentrate on the position of the light. Copper will automatically adjust the size and position of the spotlights target to fully light the PCB.
Each lights position is adjusted with only three settings: Pitch, Yaw and Intensity. The light sources are placed around the PCB like satellites around the earth. Using Pitch you can set the vertical position of the light around the orbit. The value you set is an angle. Yaw will be the horizontal position of the light. It’s hard to explain, but easy to use. Just drag the sliders and you will set up lights in a few seconds.
As you can position both lights above or below the PCB you can create amazing light effects. If you activated the floor the bottom side of the PCB will never be seen. So you can bring the bottom light above the PCB and use it as a secondary, ambient type light source, while the other light source is bright and creates awesome shadows. Just play around with the settings, it makes fun and you’ll get results quickly.
Shininess of Solder Mask
Solder masks reflect the light, but the intensity varies. Using this setting you can set the solder mask shininess. Again, just play around to see the effect of different settings.
Not every PCB looks best when lying on the floor. Using these controls you can rotate your board. Notice: This only makes sense if you have activated the floor as you can see the board in any angle using camera controls.
The floor gives your 3D PCB depth and profile. But you can deactivate the floor at any time. You can place the floor vertically in relation to your PCB by adjusting the floor position. You can make the floor reflective and set how blurry this reflection will be.
We have created a few floor materials like dark, white and wooden floors. We’ll add more floor materials with each update of the software. Perhaps we allow custom setup of floor textures and material settings in the future, but in this first release our main goal has been ease of use and quick, nice results.
The background color adjusts the background color of the scene. Most of the time this color will be hidden by an activated floor, but if you are watching your board from the side you’ll see the “sky” above the horizon and using this setting you can set the skies color.
Please use the navigation controls described above to set the position of the camera. With these settings you control various camera settings like Field of View, Aperture and Depth Blur. I’ll described these settings in detail as playing around with these settings not always gets you quick results without knowing how all of these settings relate to the other.
Field of View
The FOV setting sets the focal length of the camera. The smaller the value, the smaller the area the camera can capture. Think of a real camera. Using a wide angle (large FOV value) allows you to capture a whole building when standing in front of it, but distorts it. If you zoom in with your camera, the picture will get more “flat” and in the end you will only see the house number of the door lock with your camera. In this case the FOV value would be very slow. Setting FOV is nearly the same as zooming the camera, but there are differences in distortion. You’ll have to play around with this setting to really understand it.
Focal Blur Radius
You certainly know these images where just a small part is sharp and the rest looks blurry. This is called depth of blur. Even your eye cannot get everything sharp, only a small portion. And it depends how far away the object you are focussing is. Any Blur Radius value above 0 will activate depth blur rendering. And the larger this value, the more blurry areas out of focus will become.
This setting sets the distance of the sharp area of the image, i.e. the focal point is relation to the camera. You will have to play around with this value after setting the blur radius. Sometimes, changing the value does not have any effect. Then you will have to increase the value until you see an effect.
The area of sharpness is set using this setting. If it’s very small, only a very small line will be sharp. Increase it in order to get more parts of your image sharp. Play around with this setting in combination with the focal distance. Both settings relate on the other.
How smooth the transition between sharp and out of focus areas are rendered is set with the Aperture. Have a very small value will render a “break” between sharp and blurry while larger values create a nice transition.