When in need to draw an illustration in 2d or even 3d, one can use a mark-up language like svg or pgf. Both produce vector based illustrations, they are good and can produce very nice results.
One shortcoming of such vector based languages is the absence of ray tracing.
And when in need to draw an object of a more complicated shape and of less "mathematical" shape, (like a cup or a mug and not to mention an airplane or a space shuttle), one needs a 3d modeling program.
I am looking for a way to include in my (LaTeX) documents a vector drawing of a 3d object that still retains the position of the lighting source and specularity of the object. Adding a perspective point-of-view would be great as well. For example, note the gray color gradient in the following image:
(It is a screenshot from SolidWorks)
So let's say that I use either SolidWorks, SkethUp, Blender, Adobe Illustrator and the like for the 3d modeling. To what format should I export it so I can include it in a vector format in my document?
My observation is that content requiring rendering methods will always be rasterized during export to (for example) pdf.
And besides, all(?) 3D modeling formats store the object as if formed by a collection of adjacent triangles, or lines and polygons (DXF, STL, X3D and more). So information about color is not there at all.
But I have seen in some e-book versions of undergraduate textbooks a few vector drawings of 3d objects (like a figure describing an apparatus of the discussed experiment).
Then how can I do it?
I want to include a "3d engineering drawing" of the objects with gray-to-white color gradients that give the perception of the light source position, so the reader can tell which surface is at the front and which one is rather at the back; Something more colorful than the last drawing in this answer.
Let me know if this is do-able at all. Perhaps it is do-able only for "not-too-complicated" objects so one can work-out the color gradients manually?