Using 3D Box Shot Pro
3D Box Shot Pro User Guide
What is 3D Box Shot Pro?
3D Box Shot Pro is a cover design application that can turn flat, 2D images into stunning 3D virtual covers for use on the web, in print or as application icons. It features a diverse range of models and some stunning pixel shader effects
Who uses 3D Box Shot Pro?
3D Box Shot Pro is used by a diverse range of individuals and professionals in a wide range of environments. These range from Independent Software Vendors that use 3D Box Shot Pro to create superb quality “box shots” and icons for their products to transnational publishing companies that use 3D Box Shot Pro to create print quality images for use in promotional campaigns.
3D Box Shot Pro is used by eBay power sellers to make stunning graphics that help them to outsell their competitors. It’s also used by many online e-commerce businesses to create virtual packaging for products they sell online. 3D Box Shot Pro is also used by retailers to create compelling point of sale (POS) marketing materials.
Please note, the current version of 3D Box Shot Pro does not include any image design tools. It is assumed that you already have the necessary tools or devices to create your own 2D cover images. These can then be loaded into 3D Box Shot Pro and transformed into stunning print quality images or razor sharp low resolution images for use on the web or as icons.
However, the full version of 3D Box Shot Pro does include a series of design templates that you can use with Adobe photo shop, or the popular online image editing tool http://www.pixlr.com/editor. Design tutorial videos are available to 3D Box Shot Pro customers on our website.
What’s special about 3D Box Shot Pro
3D Box Shot Pro has several exceptionally powerful features that are worth looking at in some detail.
1. Hardware Accelerated OpenGL Graphics and Pixel Shaders
3D Box Shot Pro harnesses the power of the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) in your PC to produce stunning results. Hardware accelerated pixel shaders produce amazing realtime reflections, shadows, depth mapping and environment mapping effects.
2. 3DS Model Loading
3D Box Shot Pro can load 3D models made in the popular 3D Modeling Package 3D Studio Max as long as they are exported in .3DS Format. The 3D models that we supply with 3D Box Shot Pro are of exceptionally high quality and display an eye popping level of detail.
Please note the 3D Box Shot EULA specifically prohibits the re-distribution of the 3D Models that ship with the program. This does not mean that you cannot distribute images that you create in 3D Box Shot Pro. It means that you cannot redistribute the 3D models that are bundled with the program.
3D Box Shot Pro can also load .MD2 Format models.
3. Hardware Accelerated Anti-aliasing
3D Box Shot Pro exports exceptionally high quality images using a custom shader based anti-aliasing algorithm. The shader samples 64 pixels to produce 1 pixel in the final image. The resulting image is often better than the maximum quality setting available on the graphics card.
4. Clicker Picker Interface
The Clicker Picker Interface in 3D Box Shot Pro makes it a breeze to select images to load on your virtual packaging. Simply click the face of the model you want to load an image onto. When you do this it will highlight in Red:
You can then select the surface tab and load in your image onto the selected face.
5. Realistic Transparency
3D Box Shot Pro takes virtual packaging to the next level. 3D Box Shot renders transparent elements of 3D models realistically.
6. Print Quality Image Output Resolutions
3D Box Shot Pro can export extremely high resolution print quality output on nearly all computers including low specification laptops and netbooks. This makes 3D Box Shot Pro the ideal choice for graphic designers that have a requirement to include 3D virtual packaging in designs for print or the web.
The 3D Box Shot Pro GUI (Graphical User Interface)
3D Box Shot Pro uses a simple tabbed interface. We designed 3D Box Shot Pro so that it would be simple and intuitive to use. However, the following section of the manual covers each element of the control system in 3D Box Shot Pro in some detail.
The 3D Box Shot Viewport
The 3D Box Shot Pro view port provides a real time preview of the scene. The quality of the display in the view port is dependant on the display capabilities of the graphic card on your computer. However, the image export capabilities of 3D Box Shot Pro are not hardware dependant, and as result all machines capable of running the program will be able to export exceptional high quality images.
Interacting with the View Port
Hold the left mouse down and move the mouse on the view port window in order to rotate the model on the X and Y axis.:
Hold down the right mouse button and move the mouse to pan the model around the scene:
The model tab is where you can load 3D Models into 3D Box Shot Pro. The program ships with a number of preset models of DVD cases and a wide variety of Software Boxes including the ever popular Vista / Windows 7 style box. For eBook cover designers 3D Box Shot Pro includes eBook Covers as well as iPhone Models, a TV monitor and a drinks can. Other model types will be added in later releases of the program. You can select any of these by scrolling up and down. Simply click on the model you want to load. It will then highlight in blue. Click on the "Load Model" button to load the models in. The model textures in 3D Box Shot Pro are optimized to work with the program and load quickly.
However all of the default textures have recommended print size information on them. To get the best out of 3D Box Shot Pro, use textures of at least these resolutions.
Load External File
3D Box Shot Pro can also load external files. The definition of an external file in this context is any .3DS file. .3DS is a very popular 3D image format. 3D Box Shot can load an display many .3DS files. However, as 3D Box Shot Pro cannot anticipate what sort of model you are loading in your mileage may vary using this feature. The Clicker Picker functions on 3D Box Shot Pro works on the basis that the 3DS model have defined materials and textures applied to its surface. If you load in an external file you may find that you cannot texture individual elements of the model. Conversely, if you find that you can texture individual surface of an external .3DS file, then it may require a lot of work and experimentation to create textures that map correctly to the model.
3D Box Shot Pro V2 can also load in .MD2 Models:
Images in Perspective
The Load external file button will also happily load in Jpeg, jpg, BMP and PNG files. Once these are loaded into 3D Box Shot Pro, they are used to texture a 3D quad with the correct aspect ratio of the loaded image. What this means in simple terms is that you can use the program to manipulate an image in 3D. Here's a quick example of what a screen shot of 3D Box Shot Pro looks like when it's loaded back into 3D Box Shot Pro using the Load External File button:
Preset Models in 3D Box Shot Pro
The following preset ship with the current version of 3D Box Shot Pro. We will inevitably add more models to the list of presets that ship with the program as we release new versions.
Software Box Models
The background tab lets you change the background and reflection settings in 3D Box Shot Pro.
The reflections options in 3D Box Shot Pro are active by default. The reflections create the impression that the 3D model is standing on a reflective surface.
Simply de-check the reflections enabled box to disable the reflections. Check the box to re-enable the reflections.
You can adjust the opacity of the reflections to make them more or less transparent. Simply drag the slider control from left to right. The effects of the adjustments you make will be immediately apparent in the view port.
You can adjust the length of the reflections using the reflection length slider. Simply drag the slider from left to right to modify the reflection length.
3D Box Shot Pro supports three separate types of backgrounds: Transparent, Colour and Image.
Place a check in the “Transparent” box to make the background transparent. 3D Box Shot pro will then display a gray scale “checker board” pattern in the background. When you export an image from program the background will be transparent. Images with transparent background are idea for design use since they can be placed in a layer in an image editing program and will composite seamlessly into a design.
Use the colour palette control to select a background colour.
3D Box Shot features a very simple background image loading function. Simply click on the Load Image button then browse for a .jpeg, .png, or .bmp file. This will then load the image in and display it as a background image behind the scene. It can be useful to take a note of the image size you are loading in, as this will allow you to render the scene at this size in order to create a pixel perfect background image.
If you decide that you want to remove the background image or need to replace it with a different background image click the “Unload Image Button”. This will remove the Background image from the scene. The “Load Image” Button will now be selectable once again (it is “grayed out” once an image is loaded). You can now load a new background image into the program.
Using Images Exported from 3D Box Shot Pro, as background images:
This is a really simply technique that creates quite sophisticated results. Simply use a smaller image generate in 3D Box Shot Pro as a background image to create a composite image. The background image will then appear slightly out of focus adding to the realism of the image.
The camera controls in 3D Box Shot Pro let you adjust the camera in order create exactly the scene you need.
Field of view
The Field of View slider lets you zoom in and out of the scene. Drag the slider to the left to move the camera closer to the 3D Model. Move it to the right to move the camera further away.
You can alter the perspective of the scene using the perspective slider. Generally speaking the perspective looks more natural when the slider is dragged near to, but not completely to the left.
If you drag the perspective slider to the far right you'll get something like this:
You can drag the slider to the left and right to rotate the model X Axsis.
You can drag the slider to the left and right to rotate the model on the Y Axis.
You can drag the slider to the left and right to rotate the model on the Z Axis.
Please note, when you rotate the model (any model, including external models you load into the program) 3D Box Shot Pro will dynamically calculate the lowest point of the model and use this as the rotational axis. Give it a try, it's kind of fun!
Model Height Offset
Drag the model height offset slider to the right in order to increase the height offset. This makes the model appear to float in the air, effortlessly defying the forces of gravity.
The lighting tab in 3D Box Shot Pro gives you full control over the lighting of the scene.
Lighting is Enabled by default. While you can turn the lighting off, this is not recommended, as the models that ship with 3D Box Shot Pro require lighting to display correctly.
The Light Level controls in 3D Box Shot Pro give you precise control over Ambient, Diffuse and Specular light as well as control over the Horizontal and Vertical direction of the light source.
You can adjust these sliders to move the light source in the scene. The source of the light can have a dramatic impact on how the scene appears. The position of the light source does of course, also govern how the shadows in a scene display. With a little practice it’s possible to quickly tweak the lighting of a scene to achieve the best possible effect.
Use the horizontal slider to move the light source horizontally across the scene.
Use the vertical slider to move the light source vertically.
3D Box Shot Pro features a very powerful real-time shadow casting system. This uses hardware accelerated OpenGL Shaders to create authentic looking defuse shadows that interact dynamically with the lighting system.
While shadow effects are great and are enabled by default, you may not always want to use them in your scene. Simply de-check the “Shadows Enabled” box to disable the shadows.
The Shadow Options provide a fine level of control over the appearance of the shadows in 3D Box Shot Pro.
Adjust the Opacity of the the shadows using this slider. Drag it to the far left to make the shadows completely transparent, or drag the slider towards the right to make the shadows progressively less translucent.
Drag the slider to the left to decrease the level of blur. Drag it to the right to increase the blur on the shadows. Shadows work best with at least some blur applied as the shadows may appear slightly pixelated if no blur is applied.
The Length slider controls the length of the shadows. Drag the slider to left to make the shadows shorter. Drag the slider to the right to make the shadows longer.
The colour control lets you select the colour of the shadows.
The surface tab is used to load images into 3D Box Shot Pro. The Surface tab is used in conjunction with the Clicker Picker system. It is important to note that none of the controls on the surface tab with have any effect unless a face is selected. Fortunately the Clicker Picker system is very easy to use. A single left click on a specific model face on the view port is all that is required in order to enable to surface tab controls. Once a specific face has been selected on a given model, you can then modify the Material Settings of that face and load a texture.
3D Box Shot Pro gives you full control over the material settings of a given face on the model. The following material parameters can be easily modified. A good example of this would be changing the material colours of the DVD case to green in order to produce an Xbox 360 style green DVD case.
Click the “Unload” texture button to remove the current Texture from the currently selected face.
Click the “Load Texture” button to load an image onto the currently selected face (just click on the face to pick it). Selected faces will be outlined in red.
Click on any model face so it highlights in Red. Then drag the Environment Texture slider to right right in order to increase the Opacity of the environment mapping effect. This will apply an environment map to the texture, giving it a shiny appearance. This is good for mimicking the appearance of shiny plastic or metal. Sometime less is more with this effect.
Load Environment Texture
You can load your own environment texture into 3D Box Shot Pro. Here is an example of the sort of image you will need:
By using different environment textures you can significantly change the appearance of the the environment mapping effect in 3D Box Shot Pro.
You can assign a depth texture to every model face in 3D Box Shot Pro. In the example below we simply load the disc texture in as the depth texture. 3D Box Shot Pro then automatically calculates the depth mapping using the data in the image.
The depth mapping works by using a grayscale to calculate depth and height of the the texture. The RGB values of 127,127,127 are treated as ground level. Darker than this is treated as a lower depth. Brighter than this is treated as higher in the depth map. Using this technique you can easily add stunning embossing and de-bossing to your designs.
Use the Load and Unload button to change depth texture.
The render tab is where the magic happens in 3D Box Shot Pro. This is where you can select the size of the image you want to export.
Simply drag the Width and Height sliders until you have the image size you require. Please note, very high resolution images are only really ever required for print purposes. For example for an A3 print you would need to see the width slider to 3508 and the height slider to 4961. A typical thumbnail for a website would normally need to be no bigger than 300 x 300.
It’s worth noting that we’ve placed an arbitrary limit on the maximum export size from 3D Box Shot Pro. This is simply because PC’s with limited ram will struggle to display images more than 67 mega pixels. The rendering engine is capable of generating any size image. If you need images bigger the 8192 x 8192 please contact us, as we’d love to know why!
Press the Render button and 3D Box Shot Pro will ask you where you would like to save the final rendered file. 3D Box Shot Pro exports images in the PNG format. This is primarily because the PNG format support alpha transparency and is a lossless format. PNG is now widely regarded as the de facto standard for web images.
Loading and Saving Scene Presets
Select presets on the File Menu:
From the presets menu you can save a scene. This will save the positional information on the models orientation in the scene as will as shadow, reflections and lighting configuration. In the current version of 3D Box Shot Pro, this is all it saves. Therefore you will need to select your model and load images onto the required surfaces before you load a preset back in.
You can set the scene to default values by selecting the “Reset Scene” option from the Presets menu.
About 3D Box Shot Pro
The about box in 3D Box Shot Pro is still currently rather minimalistic:
It gives you some information on what version of 3D Box Shot Pro you are running and provides you with a quick link to www.3d-box-shot.com. Hopefully we'll make the about box a little more interesting in the next version of the program.
3D Box Shot Pro uses OpenGL graphics technologies.
Minimum System Requirements.
3D Box Shot Pro uses OpenGL 2.1. Your graphics card must support OpenGL 2.1 or greater in order to run the program. Fortunately this means that most computers purchased over the last five years will run the program without problems. In its current iteration, 3D Box Shot Pro will only run on Windows. However, since OpenGL is cross platform, we will not rule out the possibility of a Mac version in the future.
If your graphics card does not support OpenGL 2.1, you can download a software only version of 3D Box Shot Pro than comes complete with a software OpenGL 2.1 driver. The software driver does incur a performance hit, with the real time preview in 3D Box Shot Pro running at a lower frame rate. The preview output also lacks anti aliasing, however the render output, while taking significantly longer to generate, looks as good as always.
If the hardware accelerated 3D Box Shot Pro will not start on your system, then it is possible that you do not have the correct graphics drivers installed on your system, or that the graphics drivers you are using are out of date. Frequently, updating your graphics drivers will boost the overall performance of your computer as a whole, so this is a worthwhile activity in general, not just as a mean of running 3D Box Shot Pro.
Design Templates and additional Design Assets
The full version of 3D Box Shot Pro ships with a range of templates and additional design assets that we do not supply with the demo version of the product. We do this partially to reduce the size of the demo, but also to provide an additional bonus for individuals or companies that purchase the product.
Design templates can be found in the “Templates” folder in the 3D Box Shot Pro Installation directory or on the 3D Box Shot Pro customer portal. The templates are in .PSD format and can be loaded into Adobe Photoshop, The GIMP or the popular online image editing application http://www.pixlr.com/editor
Demo Version Restrictions
The Demo version of 3D Box Shot Pro is fully functionally and not time limited. The output from the program is however watermarked. A "salt and pepper" pattern is placed over the image in order to prevent the commercial use of images created in the demo. The idea is that you will get a feel for the product by using the demo. In order to generate images without watermarks, you will need to purchase a license.
3D Box Shot Pro is designed to work on all Windows PC's.
- Operating System:
Windows XP 32/64bit, Windows Vista 32/64bit, Windows 7 32/64 bit.
Minimum 128MB, Recommended 2GB
- Hard disk
26MB for installation
1GHz or above.
- Graphic Card:
ATI or Nvidia Chipset Recommended. Please try the Demo Version of 3D Box Shot if you are not sure about the graphic card installed in your PC.