Remoticon: KiCad to Blender > PCB renders

Learn how to go from KiCad 3D exports to photorealistic renders in Blender

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Eventbrite link: how to go from KiCad 3D exports to photorealistic renders in Blender!This workshop requires two software downloads. Please download and install before the workshop begins.KiCadBlenderInstructor: Anool Mahidharia

Workshop Details:

Those of us using KiCad for circuit board design know how useful the built-in 3D viewer and associated (rudimentary) renderer is. KiCad renderer is getting better, but if you want to get there fast, and want to create some amazing photorealistic renders of your PCB, then Blender's the way to go. Blender can be intimidating to start with, so we'll walk through a couple of simple steps to go from KiCad VRML export to photorealistic Blender renders.

Instructor: Anool Mahidharia

Anool is an Electrical Engineer, who works in the field of Test & Measurement at Lumetronics. He loves to dabble in Astronomy, Origami, Photography, Tinkering, Hacking, and Cycling.
Anool is one of the founders of WyoLum Emergents, a global group of Open Hardware enthusiasts, where he creates original Open Source circuit boards and projects. He is also the co-founder of Makers’ Asylum, one of India’s first community-driven Maker Spaces. He also writes for Hackaday.


RENDER from Blender 2.83

  • Getting from KiCad render to Blender

    Anool Mahidharia11/10/2020 at 17:48 2 comments

    Here are the notes I made to go along with the workshop. I updated some parts and elaborated others. Ideally, these notes ought to supplement the workshop video, but until that gets released, folks can try and see if just the notes are sufficient. Let me know.

    Everything I used for the workshop has been shared on the project repository on Github

    • /blends folder : Contains the various BLENDER files I created as I progressed with my learning of Blender
    • /kicad_3d_models : Contains the STEP and WRL footprint models. The default ones that come with KiCad, and then the modified ones where I added text and logos and such
    • /KiCad/tiny_blinky_coarse : Contains the KiCad project files. Coarse indicates that the 3D footprint models used are the default KiCad versions without any embellishments
    • /KiCad/tiny_blinky_fine : Contains the KiCad project files. Fine indicates that the 3D footprint models used are the detailed versions created from FreeCAD
    • /renders : Contains some saved Blender results.

    REMOTICON :: KiCad to BLENDER workflow

    If you are recording a video showing Blender workflow, enable the “SCREENCAST” option to show keyboard / mouse events.

    • EDIT > PREFERENCES > ADD ONS > search for “Screencast Keys” and enable checkbox.
    • Then, in main Blender workspace, press “N” key to show number panel, select Screencast Keys tab, check Screencast Keys checkbox.


    • To add greater realism, in FreeCAD, add text/graphics to all generic footprint models – IC part numbers, resistor color codes, capacitor markings etc
    • Text items can be added using DRAFT (workbench) > Text String
    • Convert Text String objects to Sketches, merge Sketches, apply thickness (extrude) and do either Boolean Cut or Fusion (depending on if you want engraved or embossed text.
    • Logos can be added similarly, by importing SVG, converting to sketch, applying thickness (extrude) and doing Boolean Cut or Fusion.
    • Use FreeCAD StepUpTools WB to generate .STEP / .WRL models for all footprints. During model export, choose the appropriate colors for different elements of the model – example for THT Resistors, choose the band colors to match value (1k 5% = Brown, Black, Red, Gold)
    • Export VRML from KiCad
    • Some examples can be seen in the Github repository folder : /kicad_3d_models
    • These steps add a greater level of realism to the final renders


    • Basic navigation
      • Press middle mouse button (MMB) for ORBIT
      • Press SHIFT + MMB for PAN (WALK)
      • Press Scroll Up/Down for ZOOM (or CTRL + MMB)
    • IMPORTANT : When selecting objects, make sure to be in X-ray mode so you can select hidden elements. Check out the icons above the XYZ Gizmo.
    • “A” to toggle selecting ALL / “ALT + A” to select NONE
    • “B” to BOX select
    • “G” to MOVE
    • “R” to Rotate
    • “S” to Scale
    • “T” to transform
    • Blender workbenches used will be Layout, Shading, Compositing and Render

    BLENDER PROPERTIES SETTINGS (Properties TABS, left side of screen)

    • Render
      • Render Engine > Cycles
    • Output
      • Set Resolution and % Scale
      • Set Save folder, Color Space, Color Depth etc
    • Layer
      • Check Passes > Data > De-noising Data (only available in Cycles)


    • (If below steps don’t work in ver 2.83, then do these actions in ver 2.79 first, and then go to 2.83)
    • Blender > File > New > Delete the default Cube
    • File > Import > Import X3D/VRML2 > SET TRANSFORM to “Forward = X Forward” and “Up = Z Up” > Select XXXX.wrl (your PCB file)
    • Your PCB ought to be visible with “colors”, not white chalk. If you see white chalk in ver 2.83, then try this in ver 2.79.
    • Once Imported, and with everything still selected, type “M” and add the imported items to a new collection called PCB
    • In the other default “Collection”, hide Camera and Light
    • Choose X-ray mode, then in the “PCB”...
    Read more »

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