In a previous post, we gave an update on a product idea to use a variety of tartan textures applied to full colour sandstone. We sent a trial model off to Shapeways to test things out.
We got an update from the team at Shapeways - the texture file was not applied correctly to the model and "Sandy" had turned out looking rather peely wally.
Which was frustrating as we took great care to follow the instructions from Shapeways on preparing the model, exporting it in X3D format, and including the texture file in a .ZIP file. We also used the tools from Shapeways which showed a big green tick next to the texture file check.
What we did not realise, and want to make really clear here so you don't fall into the same mistake, is that if the Shapeways uploader recognises the texture file, it will render your preview in full colour. If your preview render is white or grey, the texture file was not picked up properly for some reason. That probably seems very obvious to folks who have ordered full color sandstone before, but was not obvious to us as a first time user of that particular material.
Tracking down the issue was not too difficult. I had been using the Cycles render engine in Blender, it seems the texture file does not get written into the .X3D file properly when exporting using Cycles. You can check this by opening up the .X3D file in a text editor and finding the section that defines the materials. Exporting the same model using the Blender Internal render engine, with a new material configured to pick up the texture image, works fine.
Now when I reload the model to Shapeways, everything looks good and the preview of the model is in colour.
Shapeways were good enough to refund my shipping costs while I have a second attempt. The simple and quick tip to take from this is that the render preview in Shapeways will be in colour if your texture file is recognised and applied properly. Otherwise, you have some investigation to do to figure out why the texture is missing.