Transparency Reveals Hidden CFD Secrets

Do you find that visual elements in your Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations sometimes obscure the areas where you would like to see your results? If so, then let transparency reveal the hidden secrets within your results.

CFD Simulation Results Revealed by TransparencyCFD Simulation Results Revealed by Transparency

I define transparency as a level somewhere between totally transparent and totally opaque. The level of transparency you choose is something you will want to experiment with for best effect. There are three main categories where transparency can help you better reveal your CFD results.


Often you will want to retain some surfaces to give context for the flow path through a CFD simulation. By making these 'context' surfaces transparent you can retain them in a ghost-like outline and reveal the otherwise hidden details of the fluid visualization within. Transparent surfaces are often useful for enhancing internal flow visualization.

Opaque SurfacesOpaque SurfacesBefore transparency

50% Transparent Surfaces50% Transparent SurfacesAfter transparency


Densely packed streamlines can sometimes appear like an impenetrable melee of spaghetti. By making the streamlines transparent you can provide an effective visualization that obscures neither the streamlines nor the underlying geometry. Transparent streamlines are particularly useful for external aerodynamics visualizations.

Opaque StreamlinesOpaque StreamlinesBefore transparency

50% Transparent Streamlines50% Transparent StreamlinesAfter transparency


Iso-surfacing is a volume visualization technique (analogous to contours on a surface) that typically produces layers within layers that are difficult to see without using transparency. Both internal and external flows can be enhanced with transparent iso-surfaces.

Opaque Iso-SurfacesOpaque Iso-SurfacesBefore transparency

50% Transparent Iso-Surfaces50% Transparent Iso-SurfacesAfter transparency