Surface evaluation: 6 environmental maps for Rhinoceros

Surface evaluation has a very important role inside the design practice, but often is forgotten or underestimated.

You can download the 6 environmental maps in .zip format from this page (using the service Box, about 90 Mb).

During the modelling phase, it’s fundamental to know tools we can use to control the surface’s quality of the object on which we are working on. Generally speaking, all we want is to obtain perfectly smoothness and beautiful surfaces. But this is not only a technical problem, but also a perceptual one. Our eyes and brain evaluate surfaces paying attention to the interaction between the object and the ambient light.
Light is the enemy of every designers! Because it has the power to reveal every little and tiny defect.

In particular with NURB surfaces, small imperfections in the management of the control points can bring unwanted coarseness in the aesthetic quality of our final object. In the end, we must adopt appropriate monitoring tools during all stages of modeling, able to report this kind of defects and/or errors.

Rhinoceros, among others, provides the surfaces evaluation through the use of environment maps. This function evaluates the smoothness of one or more surfaces or polysurfaces, projecting a bitmap image on the 3D models. To understand how this works, we must imagine our 3D model like it was built with an infinitely shiny and reflective material. We will check how the surface deforms the reflection, evaluating the presence of any unwanted concavity or convexity, which may decrease the aesthetic quality of our surfaces.

How to use the maps:
– Download and open the .zip files;
– Copy the images inside the folder Rhinoceros, ‘Environment Maps’.
(You can look it up with your search system on the PC. Normally, on Windows systems is usually located at the following address C:\Users\Your_User_Name\AppData\Roaming\McNeel\Rhinoceros\5.0\Localization\en-US\Environment Maps)
– Select the solid, surfaces or polysurfaces you need to analyze;





– From the menu bar select Analyze> Surface> Environment Map;
– Will open the panel ‘EMap Options’;





– Check if new images are already available in the drop-down menu;
– Otherwise click on ‘Browse…’, and go to the folder where you copied the maps, then upload the image you want to use by selecting it and clicking the ‘Open’ button.





At this point the object should be illuminated by the reflections generated from the map, by rotating the perspective view you can analyze how the environment map interacts with your surface (you don’t need to rotate the 3D model, only the view).

All maps are in high definition, 2048X2048 px.