The latest update to AxoTools includes three improvements to shaded fills on extruded art. First, curved paths now have a gradient fill to more accurately show the curvature of the surface.
Second, the lighting is based on the location of a theoretical light source, so surfaces are shaded based on their actual orientation relative to the light, and no longer assigned a simple “top,” “left,” or “right” tint or shade.
Third, the light source is user-definable.
When you extrude a path, its fill color is used as the base color for shading values. For each base color AxoTools uses, it creates a gradient that’s stored in the document’s Swatches panel. To use your own gradient for shade values, just fill your starting object with the gradient and extrude it.
There is also a new panel where you can make adjustments to your light and shading, but it’s important to stress that you don’t ever have to fuss with those controls in order to use the new lighting and shading features. Most of you will probably want to stop reading here and just go download the update!
More for “explorers”
For those other few people in the room who want to take things a notch or two higher, the new panel works in three areas:
- Gradient colors
- Light location
- Lighting properties.
At the top of the panel is a series of five color well widgets that represent the five stops on the shading gradient ramp for your current document color. The gradient itself represents the range of all possible colors to apply to your fills. AxoTools generates a shaded gradient ramp for each fill color you start with when you extrude with the shading option enabled.
The gradient represents the range of possible tints and shades available based on the angle of the lighting. The first gradient stop represents the lightest highlight color where the light hits it at a 90° angle. Using the default settings, the angle of light on the left isometric plane falls very close to the second stop, which is set to the original color. The third stop represents the shade when the light hits an object on its edge, and stops 4 and 5 represent the rear surfaces, with the last stop showing the effect of backlighting.
The light source’s location is defined with the familiar Tilt and Turn adjustments, which are relative to the viewer. Following these are slider controls for the light intensity, ambient light, and amount of backlighting. As you make adjustments to the lighting properties, the color wells along the top of the panel will preview the results of changes to the intensity, ambient, and backlight lighting properties.
At the bottom right, the “Reset to defaults” button will restore the default settings for all slider controls.
Below the color wells are two buttons relating directly to them. The “Rebuild gradient” button will generate five shades of the current document color.
The “Save gradient” button, I’ll confess, was included for the true “explorers.” If you changed the colors in the color well controls, either by changing lighting properties or using the color pickers in the color wells, this will overwrite the gradient ramp used for the base color.
Please see the online documentation for more information.
I hope you find this new feature useful!