Export Best Practices

What file types and export settings to use for different workflows

Last updated on June 21, 2022

Gravity Sketch allows you to export to 3 different file types, each with a set of options. This article will walk you through the various file types and how to use them. When Exporting your data from Gravity Sketch VR, you can choose to export to the OBJ, FBX and IGES file formats. Choosing which format to export to depends on your workflow and how you will be using the file once exported. In this article we will breakdown which file types you should export to depending on your workflow. For each workflow we will list the file types that can be used as well as the recommended settings for that workflow starting with Mesh Type, what data to export, and what normals setting to use. Before we list the various settings to be used, lets quickly take a look at the 3 different formats you can export rom Gravity Sketch VR:

The OBJ File Format

The OBJ file format is widely compatible with other polygon modeling software programs. An exported OBJ contains geometry information, color information, and normals information and is a relatively simple file format as it is one of the oldest interchange file formats around. OBJ files do not contain layer information and when imported, come in as a single object with material groups. It’s important to be aware of this limitation when exporting to OBJ, as editing can be more complicated. OBJ files can be a good option for relatively simple files, or for creating quick renders. OBJ files work well with Autodesk Alias, Maya, Blender and Keyshot. They do not work with Solidworks.

 

The FBX File Format

The FBX file format gives you several unique options, and is widely compatible with many workflows and other software programs. The FBX file format is essentially a modernized version of the OBJ format that can contain more information about your model. In addition to containing geometry information, color information, and normals information, the FBX file can also contain layer information, part information, and camera information. This can enable more efficient workflows. For example complex models can be edited with ease in other programs. And if you plan on rendering, you can set up the cameras inside Gravity Sketch with viewports, and these same viewports carry over into other programs as cameras. In addition to this, FBX files can also contain NURBS data too in the event you have a mixed file format. In the advanced settings, you have the option to choose between Mesh, NURBS plus Mesh, and Full Data. Mesh will convert everything to mesh geometry. NURBS+ will retain any NURBS data, and export that alongside any Mesh data. Full Data will export everything in the model, but goes one step further. With full data, you will get both the Render Mesh and the control mesh in the same file, and everything is neatly organized in a set of easy-to-use layers. This is a great option for more advanced workflows where having components of both the render mesh, and control mesh could be useful to have. FBX files work well with Rhino, Blender, Maya and Keyshot. They do not work well with Alias or Solidworks.

 

The IGES File Format

The IGES file format is primarily used for exporting NURBS Geometry. Since you can create both NURBS curves and NURBS surfaces in Gravity Sketch, using the IGES File format is a good option if you want to continue working in other NURBS based software applications such as Alias, Maya or Rhino. It is important to note that any polygon data will be converted into NURBS patches, which can make it tricky to edit later on. NURBS data on the other hand exports like for like. Any strokes or curves created in Gravity Sketch are converted to NURBS curves however, and do not have any kind of dimension. There are no advanced options for the IGES file format as the format itself pretty much packages NURBS data into a well recognized interchange format. IGES files work well with Rhino, Maya, Alias, Keyshot and Solidworks. IGES files do not work well with Blender or other poly-modeling software programs.

Workflows

The following information indicates what formats to use depending on the workflow and end result.

Exporting for Photorealistic Rendering

For example programs like Keyshot, Blender rendering, VRED and Substance Painter

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File types to use: OBJ - Render Mesh > Mesh Only > Welded vertices for 80% of the time (might lose hard edges in some situations. If this is the case use single sided normals). FBX - Render Mesh > Mesh Only > Welded vertices for 80% of the time (might lose hard edges in some situations. If this is the case use single sided normals). FBX is recommended due to the fact that cameras and layers transfer with the FBX format, making it easier to add material and render more complex models.
 
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NOTE: When exporting for Keyshot be sure to use Welded Vertices, as using double sided normals will create problems opening the file.

Export for Rendering in Game Engine

For example Unity and Unreal engine

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File types to use: FBX (recommended) - Render Mesh> Mesh Only> Double-sided OBJ - Render Mesh> Mesh Only > Double sided

Exporting for Factory Communication

For example sending models to factories to prototype.

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File Types to Use: FBX (Recommended) - Full data

Exporting for Model Continuation

For example Blender, Rhino, Alias SubD Modeling: FBX (Recommended) - Control Mesh

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NOTE: If you have a mirrored/ symmetrical model be sure to turn off mirroring prior to exporting. This way you can re-mirror and re-subdivide in your software such as Rhino 7.
 

OBJ - Export two (2) versions - 1 control mesh file, and 1 render mesh file.

 

NURBS Modeling:

IGES (Recommended)

Exporting curves Only

Useful for building curve networks or guides to build surfaces in other programs such as Rhino or Alias.

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File Types to Use: - IGES
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Strokes will export as curves only with this setting.

Exporting for 3D Printing

If going directly to printing, be sure to ensure that all surfaces are closed, and all points are welded in Gravity Sketch. Also be sure to ensure that any thin surfaces have thickness, and are not simply a surface.

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File Types to Use: FBX (Recommended) - Mesh, Welded vertices, and Render.

UV Unwrapping

For Texturing and adding materials.

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File Types to Use: FBX (Recommended) - Mesh, Welded vertices, and Render.
 
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