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Thread: Block Instances

  1. #1
    jackfry Guest

    Default Block Instances

    Hello everyone,

    I'm Andrea, I work as CTO for my company, in Italy. We have setup a Technical departmen six months ago, and we chose, after some demos, to use Rhinoceros 5 wih Iray for our 3d modeling and renderings.

    Now I'm stumbling upon a little problem here, that is not a big issue, but if resolved could really speed up our work.

    The problem is that if I make models of the parts of our structures, with materials from Iray placed on them, ready to render, and everything is ok, when I then import those parts as Block Instances linked on the file, Iray won't pass on the materials of the Instances to the assembly model. It won't even let me modify the layers materials.

    So what I do to avoid that now, is to leave the parts models on their files WITHOUT materials, and UNGROUPED, but with the parts divided in layers by materials, so that when I work on the assembly, with the Block Instances, I'm able to assign materials to the layers and correctly render.

    Is this problem only mine? Am I doing something wrong?

    Thanks so much in advance for any reply.


  2. #2
    ruediger Guest


    Hi Andrea,

    I tried to reproduce the scenario that you were describing in your post. However I was not able to reproduce the behavior, so please check the steps and let me know what is different in your setup (or even better if you could upload a ZIP file with a small example that shows it)
    1. I created block instance (block_01) in a file. the block instance contains three objects, each with a different material applied.
    2. I I then saved the file (called 'TMP_blockimport.3dm') and closed it.
    3. Next I started a new file and called 'insert'
    4. I browsed to 'TMP_blockimport.3dm' and inserted it as block instance.
    5. In the 'Insert File Options' Dialog, i set the following options: (1) Read linked blocks from this file: ON (2) Block definition type: LINK (3) Layer Style: Reference
    6. Then I placed the block in the new scene and started Iray Rendering.

    So I was expecting the block to render without materials, but on my end the materials showed up correctly.

    So I guess that I misinterpreted something in your description. Please let me know the exact steps that lead to the unexpected behavior that you are describing or post a ZIP file with an example that demonstrates it.

    Thank you very much and best regards,

  3. #3
    jackfry Guest


    Hi Ruediger, thank you for you quick reply.
    So I will check tomorrow at work to be sure, but I think I get the difference between our workflow:

    In you step 5, I use the layer style: Active option.

    That's because like that I can have one material layer for every blocks I use, instead of having so many more layers in play.

    Let's say for example that my structure is made of black painted steel, and is covered by alluminium carters. I have like 20 parts (e.g.: pillars, beams, curves, t juctions, supports etc) that are made of steel, and then an alluminium cover. So When I go building my structure, inserting all the parts, using the layer style: Active, every part having been divided in Layer with same names for the materials, they will automatically be subdivided in the layer, but this way I loose the materials, and I'm even stuck and cannot change it.

    Having that many layers in my tree would be very chaotic, But... maybe I can try to see if that workflow would make some improvement or not.

    Anyway thanks for the change in perspective!

  4. #4
    jackfry Guest


    So, after a little trial and error, I understood the problem as you exposed it. And it makes sense, in a way. So I decided to stick to my first workflow, and simply remove the materials from the base components. Then when I will need to render the single components, I'll simply add the materials to the layers in the components file temporarily.

    Thanks and I apologize for the silly question, I'm learning on the fly here...

  5. #5
    ruediger Guest


    No worries, there are no such things as silly questions, i know the feeling of trying to figure out how to successfully achieving a certain workflow. I did some more testing myself, and I was able to learn a few more things as well.

    First, I learned that insert gives you different options depending which option you choose under "insert as". If you choose to insert as Block instance, then the entire scene that you choose will be inserted as a block instance opposed to "group" and "individual objects"

    Insert as Block instance:
    I did the following test: If you have in your destination scene allready layers with the same names and layer materials assignments set up, these will be successfully merged. If you choose "Layer style > Active", then matching layer names will be merged. So make sure that in your destination scene you also have the same materials applied to those layers because this are the materials that Iray will see. As example: If in your source scene your layer "plasticmaterials" is has a green materials and in your destination scene the layer "plasticmaterials" has a red material applied, then after merging the materials will be red.

    However, after playing around with the insert command I figured that some behavior in Rhino is not as I would have it expected exactly as after inserting a block instance from another file I loose the assignment to layers to which is exactly what I think you have been describing.

    Just to be sure I tested this with the Rhino default materials to make sure this is not a flaw in our plugin, but I could reproduce the same weird behavior. This is in Rhinoceros V5, it would be interesting to see if there has been a an improvement to this workflow in Rhino V6, otherwise I know that the people from Rhino are always very responsive if you bring issues to their attention. I can recommend to join where you have some really dedicated users being around to help each other.

    Best Regards,

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