Robert Burke - Illustration - Case study of a chimney flue system, creating the technical illustrations and sales images.

Case Study - Flue Deign Technical Illustrations and Brochure

Chimney Flue System,
Creating the Technical Illustrations, Training and Sales Images.

Working for the privately owned Red Bank Manufacturing Company Limited from the mid 1990's, initially in engineering and production management roles, then later moving to head up the design, project management and introduction of new products, from concept to final production. In the latter position I designed a number of new chimney systems and though experienced in both 2D and 3D CAD, I had quickly realised the limitations of these software packages for the creation of illustrations for use in technical manuals, training and sales literature.

In the early 2000's I discovered the 3D creative suite Blender and soon realised the power of it's 3D engine to create accurate models and output far superior images that could be output from any of the available CAD packages at that time. This allowed me to not only design the products, but also create all the supporting images for training and marketing to be able to get these new products to market.

Typically CAD packages output line renders, which are useful for conveying manufacturing information, but not a very convincing visual for a customer to understand what the product actually looks like. With the 3D rendering tools available in Blender it was easy to either convert CAD models to a surface mesh and even easier to directly model them as a 3D mesh surface.

CAD style line drawings

The image below shows a typical CAD line drawing, a 3D parametric solid model where the surface is mathamatically described and a 3D Mesh Model showing each of the surface mesh faces that make up the mode.

3D Model Types

With mesh modelling you can unwrap each of the individual 3D faces onto a 2D image, allowing the section of the 2D image under the face to be shown on the surface of the model. For for the visualisation of parts this offers considerably more freedom to create the style of the final product image. By carefully unwrapping the surface of a model, the surface can be effectively coated with a 2D texture.

(2D) UV layout of flue liner faces and concrete textured flue liner

Carefully creating image textures to match the material the component will be made from and setting up lighting within the 3D environment, the final image can rival that of a photograph.By carefully creating surface textures, large assemblies can be constructed that when rendered can portray far more detail of the product than a simple CAD line render. It is even possible to align the virtual 3D space with the real world location a camera, enabling a virtual product to be composited into a photograph.

Details of adding a 3D model into a photograph coming soon