An appearance is a set of parameters that determines the ways in which a model surface reacts and/or refracts light. These parameters are subdivided into individual channels.

SOLIDWORKS Visualize comes with a library of predefined appearances to apply to 3D models in projects. You can also create new appearances.

You can add an existing appearance to a project in two ways:
  • Apply an appearance from the Appearance library to a model.
  • Import an appearance using the Appearances tab on the Palette.

After an appearance is in a project, you can apply appearances to parts in models. A part is a subset of a model. A complex car model could have thousands of parts, for example: each of the wheels could be separate parts, and each wheel part could be composed of smaller parts for the metal rim, rubber tire, lock nuts, and brake rotors.

You cannot define parts in SOLIDWORKS Visualize. You define parts in the 3D modeling software used to create the original model. When you import a model with parts into SOLIDWORKS Visualize, the parts are preserved.

An appearance in a project is independent from appearances in the Appearance library. Appearances in the project are saved in the .SVPJ file with the rest of the assets in the project (such as models, HDR images, backplates, and cameras). Appearances in the Appearance library are files in the SOLIDWORKS Visualize Content\Appearances folder. SOLIDWORKS Visualize Appearance Files use the file extension/file type SVAP.

When you apply an appearance from the Appearance library to a model or part in a project, the appearance is added to the project. If you then edit the appearance in the project using parameters on the Appearances tab in the Palette, the copy of the appearance in the project is affected, but the source appearance in the Appearance library is unaffected. The reason is that appearances in the project and those in the Appearance library are independent of each other, even if they have the same names and parameter values.

If you open a project containing appearances that are not in Appearance library, the new appearances appear in the Palette on the Appearances tab.