Glass, Water, and Reflections

How does Visualizer know which parts of your house model are windows?

For version 1, we've taken the simplest possible approach: if it's transparent, we assume that it's glass (or water), and Visualizer will draw it appropriately. Visualizer looks at both the material color and any applied texture, and uses the appropriate value.

Since glass and water often look alike, this can also be used for pools and other liquids. If you need a colored reflection, just raise the transparency (alpha) value, and more-opaque colors will tint the reflection more, while less-opaque ones will tint less. These simple rules can handle quite a wide range of appearances and get nearly every model "right" automatically:

Safe if you know what you're doing!

There are still a few kinds of surface that we're currently keen on improving. An obvious one: how to get a shiny but opaque floor?

As discovered by our users on several different forums, a useful strategy when using Visualizer is to simply add an extra "top coat" polygon, as if the floor is covered by glass. Here is a simple sample showing a wooden platform with and without the extra shiny surface, an extra blue-tone polygon 1/8" above the floor (actually, we dropped the floor 1/8" and put the topcoat at the original location -- your exact method depends on the model): 

Simple Wooden FloorOriginal Simple Floor
Slightly Transparent Blue TopcoatWith Slightly Transparent Blue Topcoat
Very Transparent Blue TopcoatVery Transparent Blue Topcoat

We're exploring more options to make this easier and even smarter -- our goal is to keep Visualizer as intuitively direct as it is today while steadily improving the appearance of every model. If you have ideas about how we can or should do this, be sure to let us know, via comments here, or by contacting us directly. We love hearing from you.