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Understanding Volume Surfaces


This video explains how Tecplot 360 handles rendering of volume data with surfaces to plot. The Surfaces to Plot default is “None” for volume zones and “N/A” for surface zones.

For this tutorial, we will be using the duct flow example which can be found in the examples folder shipped with the product. Download a free trial of Tecplot 360 »

In the first frame, the duct flow data set is already loaded in. At this point all we see are these orange dashed lines. These lines represent the bounding boxes of the volume zones that have no style applied.

Before we turn on any style, let’s first take a look at the Zone Style dialog and go to the Surfaces tab. The heading Surfaces to Plot shows us “none” for the volume zones. This is the default because less is data loaded which means the data will load faster. This is generally a good default for external aero where users are looking inside their volume but not necessarily what users want if they are looking at the outside of the volume. (Note that by default surface zones, if they exist, would be shown in the Zone Style dialog as N/A.)

So now, let’s turn on Contour. To show contours, Tecplot 360 needs to show surface data. Since this data only has volume zones, a Question dialog asks to display the surfaces of the volume zones. Turning on surfaces of volume zones can be an expensive operation as it requires loading the entire volume zone and calculating which cells represent the surface.

Answering “Yes” changes the Surfaces to Plot setting for the active volume zones so surface data are displayed.

Lastly, let’s take a look at our Zone Style dialog. Surfaces to Plot has changed to “Boundary cell faces” which allows us to see the contour of the surfaces of the exposed boundary cells.

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