This tutorial is out-of-date and not being updated at this time. As such, the directions may be incorrect or not too clear.
|Table of Contents|
|Setting It Up|
LDD to POV-Ray™ Converter is a free, Windows-only application which takes an
.lxfml model created in LEGO® Digital Designer, and converts it to
.pov and (optionally) accompanying
.ini files which can be used to render a high-quality image of the model using the POV-Ray™ rendering engine.
If you would like to see example renders created using LDD to POV-Ray Converter, check out the creator’s Brickshelf page.
You will need a couple of items for this tutorial:
- Windows XP SP2 or greater (32- and 64-bit Windows are supported)
- LDD to POV-Ray Converter (obviously)
- POV-Ray 3.7.0 For Windows or higher
- LEGO Digital Designer 4.1.7 or higher
- Administrator rights for installation
.lxfmlmodel to render. I will be using my flat screen TV MOC, which you can get from my BrickSafe page.
- Plenty of hard drive space. LEGO Digital Designer itself requires over 1 GB of space, and LDD to POV-Ray Converter requires 30 MB for the program, and at least 500 MB more for the other files it creates. You also have to meet the POV-Ray system requirements, which are available on the POV-Ray website.
You will find two available versions LDD to POV-Ray Converter download page: a 32-bit (x86) 64-bit (x64) version. Which one is to be downloaded? I will make it simple: match the version to your computer’s bit. Right-click on Computer and for look for the following text:
(Click/tap on any picture in this tutorial to view the full size.)
then download the 64-bit version. If you see the following text, or you are running Windows XP,
then download the 32-bit version. What I have done is have you match the application’s bit to your OS bit. This is because the POV-Ray download contains both the 32- and 64-bit versions. If you are using 32-bit Windows, by default you will use the 32-bit version of POV-Ray, thus you will use the 32-bit version of LDD to POV-Ray Converter. The same applies for 64-bit Windows. 😉
Ensure LEGO Digital Designer and POV-Ray are already installed before you move on. I will not detail the installations for those programs (this is the The Beginner’s Guide to LDD to POV-Ray Converter after all), but I will say you can safely install them using their default settings.
All set? Good, let’s get started!
Setting It Up
We now move onto the trickiest part of the tutorial, setting up LDD to POV-Ray Converter for rendering. It does take not much to set up, but if something goes wrong here, you will have render failures, a hard time attempting to fix the failures, and a good chance of stepping on some LEGO bricks in pure frustration. 😛 That last part is not true (or is it???), but this is where the most can go wrong. Be sure to pay extra attention here. 😉
We need to set up the folder paths where LDD to POV-Ray Converter will find the LDD’s bricks and where it will store its own
includes bricks (they are higher quality brick models that replace the LDD bricks so the renders look nicer). Do that by opening LDD to POV-Ray Converter, clicking the Settings button then the Setup paths… option. Now, either look at this animated gif displaying the folder paths or copy-paste the paths from the following code boxes. Either one (both) will do. If you do not use the
%AppData% environment variable, be sure to replace
C:\Users\le717 with your user name!
db.lifis located at
%AppData%\LEGO Company\LEGO Digital Designer
LDDIncludesoutput folder is located at
%ProgramFiles%\LDD Tools\LDD To POV-Ray Converter\LDDIncludes
Next, we need to configure POV-Ray to support LDD to POV-Ray Converter. It does not work “out of the box” like you might thing. LDD to POV-Ray Converter works in a special way, so we have to tell POV-Ray to recognize the specialness.
Notice this is the same as the POV-Ray include path: field shown in the animated gif above. Also notice the periods and backslashes in the path. You cannot add a direct path to the
LDDIncludes folder, you must use these abstract paths. This is again due to LDD to POV-Ray Converter’s specialness. Skip this part, and nothing will work, period. Once you add the code, save
povray.ini and close the tab.
Rendering An Image
tv.ini in POV-Ray (it will be loaded in that built-in text editor we used earlier).
At this point, go get a book to read or do something. POV-Ray is very, very CPU intensive, and you won’t be able to use your computer until it is done. Also, as much as you would like to see the image as it renders, go ahead and close the render windows when it comes up. It makes the render take a lot longer than it needs to. 😉
Would you say our render came out beautiful? Actually, I doubt this image is the very definition of beauty (in fact, it is probably the furthest from that definition), but we will stick with that for now. 😛
Convert The Model?
The error: I use the word “convert” only for lack of a better word. A
.pov file is not a 3D model but more like a script; it contains code that defines camera and lighting location(s), environment settings, and anything else POV-Ray requires to render It does not contain any 3D mesh, rather, it refers back to your original 3D model to render the image. If you are confused, let me explain it like this using a common scenario.
Suppose you built something in LDD. You want to take your creation and convert into a 3D format for use in a 3D animation or render. LDD to POV-Ray Converter says it converts
.lxf models, plus it has “Converter” in the name, so technically it can be used to import your model into a 3D animation project, like Blender, right?
“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” – HAL 9000
The fix: LDD to POV-Ray Converter is not a way to convert your
.lxf model into a 3D model. It only lets you render an image of your model. It performs absolutely no conversion whatsoever.
While the word “Converter” in the name is somewhat a misnomer, you have to understand the context in which it is being used. Therefore, anytime the word “convert” and it’s variations is used, I am really saying to create the
.pov file which contains the camera, lighting, environment and other settings used to render the image.
Help! I am getting an “Parse Error” message!
If you are receiving the following error message:
Parse Error: cannot open include file
there are possibly two different reasons this error could occur.
- The error: LDD to POV-Ray Converter was closed. The way LDD to POV-Ray Converter works is by creating a virtual path POV-Ray uses to perform the render. It exists only while LDD to POV-Ray Converter is running, thus closing the program severs the cord, so to speak. This is the most common issue behind the error message.The fix: It means LDD to POV-Ray Converter must be left open and running while POV-Ray is rendering.
- The error: Your computer was not restarted after the installation completed. Unlike the majority of programs, LDD to POV-Ray Converter requires the computer to be restarted before rendering can begin.The fix: Restart your computer, then try rendering again.
Help! I am getting an “Access is denied” error message!
The error: This means either LDD to POV-Ray Converter or POV-Ray does not have the required permissions to access LEGO Digital Designer‘s brick library. Usually such an error occurs only on Windows Vista and higher.
- The fix: right click on both the LDD to POV-Ray Converter and POV-Ray shortcuts and click “Run As Administrator”.
- The fix: Close LDD, then rerun the conversion. If you have closed LDD already, restart LDD to POV-Ray Converter.
- The fix: This error message can also be caused by nt having the Library Path set correctly. Read the “Help! I am getting an “Parse Error” message!” question for more details on that.