Add another layer of realism with Depth of Field

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Over the years, we’ve added many features to render your art beautifully on the Web: physically based rendering, supersampling, real time shadows and more. Today, we are happy to announce a new feature that will make your models look even better: a depth of field filter!

For those who are not familiar with depth of field, the effect simulates how a professional camera blurs the background and foreground of an image. For decades, photographers and filmmakers have used this property to draw the attention on their subject for better storytelling. A shallow depth of field is often considered a major technique for making photorealistic images.

Tip: click anywhere in the viewer below to change the focus to that point.

How does it work?

Our depth of field is implemented as a post processing filter where you can adjust the intensity of the foreground and background blur. These two settings give you a lot of control on what’s in focus or not while being easier to use than camera-like settings.

The depth of field filter also comes with a unique autofocus system to make the effect work in our interactive viewer. By default, the camera focuses on the center of the screen and will do its best to stay focused on the model. Of course, you can choose to focus the camera anywhere else by clicking on the model. Finally, when you zoom all the way out, the effect is reduced.

Note that this filter is not compatible with a static background images or a transparent backgrounds. We’re also following VR best practices by turning it off in VR.

For full details, please read our new Help Center section on Depth of Field.

User videos

We invited the Sketchfab Masters to help test this new feature. In the following two videos, two of them share their experience.

Video 1: Thomas Flynn

Thomas Flynn does a lot of 3D scanning work for high-end museums like the British Museum and the Horniman Museum in London. He also recently co-founded Museum in a Box.

Video 2: Christoph Schoch

Christoph Schoch is a 3D character artist from Toronto, Canada. He works for Guru Studio and also owns his own studio, Triple Dot Games.

About the author

Maurice Svay

UX Designer at Sketchfab. Photography and 3D scanning enthusiast.


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  • down_limit says:

    Omg. Before I could only dream about it

  • WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW amazing!

  • arjen says:

    That is great!

  • JuanG3D says:

    This is great! Congrats, Sketchfab! 🙂

  • Jculley3D says:

    Thanks for using my Baymax scene guys!

  • fabrice3d says:

    The blur passes are looking awesome. However, it would be nice if the focus would be kept relative to camera position once picked. This kinda ruins the magic as you’re forced to stay still, something you rarely do with the player…

  • Matt says:

    Looks amazing! Great work. Will there be an option in the viewer settings to toggle depth of field on and off?

    • Maurice Svay says:

      We are thinking about it. Why would you need this option for?

      • Vexod14 says:

        I guess it would be appreciable for those who wants to take a look at your work but without DOF blur, for textures or wireframe and so on.

      • Matt says:

        I was thinking particularly of models of heritage/archaeological sites – the depth of field is definitely dramatic and a nice touch, but might be a little distracting in some cases of trying to see all the details of a model at once. Just an opinion.

      • Vlad says:

        DOF is great.

        But as most of your (sketchfab) latest UX/UI improvements, show the same situation like with other social networks. Shift from creators to consumers. Why? Just because consumers mean money, but creators… who care about creators?!

        How creators use your service? Upload their own works, investigate other person projects, textures, topology, technics.
        Old “player” UI/UX was for creators. Because it was required only 2 clicks for switch between Default, shadeless, matcap mode, add or disable mesh. New required 3! Damn, every time THREE clicks!
        (Marmosetco viewer is not perfect but have better solution, and made for creators)

        But creators != money. Money going from sponsors and advertisers. Them do not need other works, them want show their product or service. So them need consumers.
        How consumers use your site? Right, Just watch it. Consumers don’t care about technology. Consumers just want “Wow” or “Cool” effects (DOF is one of it :).
        And for consumers better hide all this scare “shadeless”, “matcap” hard to understanding modes, that what you did 😉

        That was my thoughts as experienced UI/UX designer.

        But as 3D designer. I want the same as Matt wrote but may be more:

        – Enable/Disable ALL effects/posteffects (DOF, aberrations, etc)
        – Switch between textures like: albedo/diffuse, Normal maps!!!, Specular, reflection, ambient occlusion, etc.
        – At least disable all this d*mn effects in matcap mode… why? Because why matcap mode need DOF, BLOOM, or other way to hide your mistakes or limitation of 3D engine.
        – at least switch between modes without d*mn syb/sub/sub/hiden sub menu…

        Ufff, to much letters 🙂
        Pardon for my english.

      • Maurice Svay says:

        Thanks Vlad for the feedback. We care about creators, and depth of field was one of the most requested features our 2015 survey. Our goal is to help you share your art with everyone, including people who don’t know anything about 3D but still like what you do.

        In the redesigned viewer, you can change quickly the rendering mode with keyboard shortcuts (see https://help.sketchfab.com/hc/en-us/articles/202509026-Navigation-and-Controls#rendering). The new viewer also adds frame-by-frame animation control to inspect animated models.

        We also have plans for more inspection tools in our roadmap. We’re still trying to find the right balance between what you are allowed to see, and what the author is willing to share.

      • Vlad says:

        Wow, keyboard shortcuts!
        Don’t thought them exist (but why?). May be because info hidden too far. 🙂

        Glad to hear that you thinking about us! Thank you so much.

        Yes, you right, authors sometime want hide some know-how.
        But them must understand if them don’t want show, better post stills or video on artstation.

        Because your service store full 3D models, and this models with all shaders are downloading to user computers. And this mean if someone want crack authors work it always possible. Not your player, not marmosetco, not any game engine is not protected to extracting full 3D data from source.

  • Douglas says:

    You folks are amazing! Thanks for this cool new feature.

  • Glenn Gunhouse says:

    I don’t understand why, in the title of this article, you equate depth-of-field effects with “realism.” As the article makes clear, it is a camera effect. It is not something that people see when they look at the world with their own eyes (which is why it makes sense not to use it in VR). I know it’s common these days for people to think that camera effects make images look real (hence the otherwise inexplicable lens flares in CGI movies), but it would be nice to see more critical awareness of what “reality” actually looks like. The article does a good job of keeping the focus on photography, but the title misleads.

    • Maurice Svay says:

      You are right, shallow depth of field is more about making images “photorealistic” than real. But even for photorealism, we’re not claiming the effect to be physically acurate.

  • Manish kumar says:

    How can i speed my mental ray renderer in maya 2014 ?i have made animation of 1min and when i do the batch render it takes over 2 min per frame.however i am not using the fg, gi or caustics.but using reflection and refraction for glass.

    • Maurice Svay says:

      I’m sorry, I have no idea how Mental Ray works. But if you have any question on how rendering works on Sketchfab, I’d be happy to help.

  • Vexod14 says:

    Nice feature, but as Matt says I think it could be nice to add an on/off toggle option. And I noticed that I’m forced to use an HDR environment map as background if I want to add some depth of field, I’d rather have the choice of what I’ll use as a background regardless of enabling or not depth of field ( but maybe the feature is still in developpment )

  • Josh Purple says:

    Nice! The DoF feature is a very cool addition, Thank You 🙂 .

    How about adding a ‘Goat Simulator’ button ( http://www.goat-simulator.com ), -along with an ‘auto ragdoll’ button for the uploaded user meshes 😀 (JK! <– just me being a dork 🙂 ).

  • Patrix says:

    Nice new feature! It would also be great if you could set specific focal point for annotations.

  • Matt Thomas says:

    I’ll echo the comments above regarding an on/off switch – absolutely vital if you wish to remain the ‘go to’ site for archaeology & heritage model creators.

    • Bart Veldhuizen says:

      Yes, we’ve had several requests for that. It’s under discussion! For the time being, I’m confident that if DoF would limit the usability of a heritage model, the owner would most likely not enable it in the first place?

  • billy says:

    I dont see any link anywhere to get this nor do I see any info what programme its for?

  • Dread Knight says:

    Sounds like a nice feature.
    Ever since I’ve upgraded to latest Ubuntu, 3d models did not work for me anymore, sigh.

  • Mateusz says:

    Hello,
    How to disable this effect?
    It is nice for landscapes or other stuff, bit persolnally I don’t like it with most models. It also makes viewing experience more complicated and disturbed because of changing focus.
    In my opinion the on/off button should be mandatory and default OFF.

    • Bart Veldhuizen says:

      Thanks Mateusz, we’re tracking this request and are keeping track of how many people want it. I’ve added your +1.

  • Octo says:

    Hi, I too would like to be able to toggle ON / OFF depth of field effect.

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