How to create Renderings in Solidworks if your ‘Render Tools Tab’ is missing

Solidworks is an extremely powerful and popular CAD program that is used to create all sorts of 3D designs for manufacture. But sometimes you’d like to create a rendered image – or rendering – to show off your design.

Rendering of a Socket Set created in Solidworks

You might need renderings for marketing presentations, portfolios, or just to test your skills and luckily most Solidworks versions come with a pretty good built-in Rendering module called Photoview 360.

You can use this to create renderings like the one above, directly from within Solidworks.

The Render Tools Tab

There are tonnes of great Photoview 360 tutorials online but they’re all based around accessing the Render Tools tab in Solidworks. However – sometimes my students face the problem that the tab seems to be missing from their Command Manager entirely!

To fix this you can try a number of steps:

  1. Make sure that the tab is visible!

To do this simply Right click on any existing tab on the Command Manager and make sure there is a tick next to the ‘Render Tools’ option.

  1. Ensure that the Photoview 360 Add-In is enabled

If your Render Tools are greyed out, or you can’t see the ‘Render Tools’ option then make sure the Add-In is enabled.

To do this go to Tools>Add-Ins (near the bottom) and then ensure there is a tick next to Photoview 360. (If you put a tick in the Start Up column then PV360 will open every time you open Solidworks).

  1. If the Add-In is missing you still have options

If you don’t see Photoview 360 in the list then unfortunately it means that your package doesn’t include Photoview 360.

Some of the basic packages such as student licenses don’t include this. This means you can’t create Photoview renders but there are still ways to get an image out of Solidworks:

  1. Taking a screen shot by pressing the Print Screen key (then Paste the image into an image program like Photoshop or Paint)
  2. Using the Windows Snipping Tool to take a screen shot

  1. If you need higher quality pictures…

If these screen shots aren’t quite good enough then try:

  1. Turning on RealView Graphics (if available – this does depend on your graphics card) under the View Control Bar or View-Display-RealView Graphics
  2. Turning off edges in your model under the View Control Bar or View-Display-Shaded

  1. Save as a High-Resolution image

You can also save images out as a higher resolution.

Go to File>Save As… then adjust the Save As Type to an image type (PNG, JPG, TIFF etc.). Then click on Options and change the output to Print Capture and select DPI/resolution you want.

  1. Use a standalone Rendering program

Finally – if these images still don’t cut it then you can try using a third-party rendering program like Keyshot or Maxwell Render.

These can be pricey but can represent a good investment if you need amazing quality renderings with extra features like Depth of Field adjustment and a wider range of realistic materials.

Keyshot renderings of Solidworks model

Top Tips for creating renderings

  • Use the Render Tools tab to access Photoview 360 within Solidworks.
  • If the tab is missing – check that it is turned on, then check the Add-In is enabled
  • If you don’t have Photoview 360 installed – try saving a screen shot
  • Adjust the lighting and edge settings for a better image
  • You can also save hi-res images out from Solidworks
  • If you need amazing photo-realistic renderings then try using a program like Keyshot

Happy modelling and rendering!


About the Author: This is a guest post by Johno Ellison, a design engineer with over fifteen years or experience, who specializes in SolidWorks 3D CAD modeling. Johno is the author of the following online SolidWorks courses:
Master Solidworks 2019 – 3D CAD using real-world examples
Master Solidworks 2018 – 3D CAD using real-world examples
Master Solidworks 2015 – 3D CAD using real-world examples

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