8 Tips to Be More Efficient with KeyShot
Keyshot is a wonderful program as you know, but… it’s like Photoshop – if you don’t know what to do, the fantastic tool would be nothing. Here are some tips to create very nices images and understand how to enjoy this terrific program.
Look at the real world
First, consider this. What is your work, your passion, your way, the style of image you want to do? Automotive, engineering, flowers, shoes? …Your answer will show you the direction to go with your renderings. LOOK AT REALITY. In the real world, even a mirror or chrome will NEVER have 100% reflection. A mirror is created with a special overlay under glass. A glass bottle ALWAYS has bumps. (Look close at a real glass bottle.) It’s the same reason with movies, why you might say, “It’s done in 3D.” The result is too perfect, too mathematical. Reality is not mathematical, there are a thousand mistakes and variations in reality. A good graphic designers knows that. Photographers, graphic designers and retouchers are some of the few who understand the beauty and the complexity of our reality. We always try to copy it and we tend to see more than others – it’s a fantastic mess of mistakes. Now, to approach this situation and have a better point of view on the topic, let’s capture our scene.
The set up
Create a simple scene on a table – Some fruits? A plate, a glass of water, a cigarette, some shoes, some letters, papers and ink near a bottle of perfume, some gold part and chrome parts? Choose items you will use in the future for your job. Now, your composition, your scene is done.
Next, let’s do the lighting. Take a simple spotlight (the one you use for reading a book in an office table for example… yes, like the one in the PIXAR logo :) ) The purpose is to be alone in the dark, with a single spot lighting your scene. Try to be alone in your room, and use ONLY a single spotlight. Try lighting your scene from the front, from the side, and from the back.
Take a simple photo (with your mobile phone, with a semi-professionnal camera, all are ok for this) of all these angles. Of course, you can use a mirror to reflect the light of your spotlight (to create an amazing light reflection in the glass of water for example…) Play with the scene. Look the glass. It will have many reactions, like the gold parts of your scene, or chrome parts. Capture this in the photo.
Why are we doing this? We are doing this because KEYSHOT IS A DIGITAL CAMERA. Now, let’s get into KeyShot and re-create the same scene with the same objects and models.
Use a simple HDRI. To create a single spot HDRI, create an image in Photoshop – Black, with a lens flare in the middle and save it as 32 bits in .HDR format (radiance). Now, add this to your Environments library and double-click it to add to your scene in KeyShot. Try to create THE EXACT PHOTO you did with your single spotlight in your room. (Even better if you can create an HDRI of your room! Here is a good tutorial to create your own HDRI’s.)
Now, attribute materials. This is the trick to get really accurate images. You have to modify or create materials to be EXACTLY like the photo you did. You can create your own Materials in KeyShot. In this way you can begin to create your own material library with the materials you use the most. You have a greate example of reality to base it on – your photo. In the future, when you have to create a scene quickly, you’ll be able to just use your own gold. This speed up the process immensely!
For example, my gold is always the same. I stook a lipstick container and studied it. You know on a lipstick container, it’s not real gold. It’s plastic painted in gold. So I did a photo of the lipstick and I created a gold paint to be EXACTLY like my photo. So, when I use this material, I select “paint” as my base material in KeyShot. Now, I always use the same gold. Of course, it changes depending on which HDRI I use. There is a lot of lighting adjustment, but I know my gold paint is the best (for now.)
The materials provided with KeyShot are very accurate, but don’t forget this – a red car is never 100% red. Take a photo of a red car, go into Photoshop and analyze the color. You will be surprised. Most of the time a red car is seen by our eyes as brown in reality. That means KeyShot materials are good bases to work on, but it will never replace your own creative feeling.
So now, when a client is asks for a car render, you should have all your own materials ready and be able to work faster than if you had to create everything from scratch.
8 Tips to be more Efficient in KeyShot
EVERY material has reflection in reality (even tires of cars.) Even if it’s not a bright reflection, this little detail will bring the reality to your scene that you expect.
SEE THE REALITY BEFORE CREATING A SCENE. Search Google for images, some examples, of what you are about to do.
CREATE YOUR OWN MATERIAL LIBRARY and save every materials you make. You will win time for your next render.
UNDERSTAND PHOTOGRAPHY because KeyShot is a digital camera. If you don’t understand photography, you won’t be able to do good renders. Try at home on objects with a spotlight as seen before… read some tips on Google, there is thousand of tutorials about Photography… it can give you ideas.
CREATE YOUR OWN HDRI with Photoshop. Try some tests with a white paintbrush on a black background and see the results. Hint: start with the ones in KeyShot!
LOOK THE ADVERTISING and try to re-create the same images seen on Digital professional websites.
BE ABLE TO GUESS what HDRI is used when you see a scene with a chrome or a reflective model (like a car.) Practice a lot of HDRI’s to know what to do when a client is asking for a quick result.
EVERY MATERIAL HAS BUMPS (even chrome, glass, carpaint and mirrors.) Even if it’s only 0.000000000001% bump, it will bring reality to your render.
Last Bit of Advice
Do reality, not what you think reality is (I mean the exemple of the lipstick : it’s not real gold, it’s plastic painted in gold, so do the same for all what you will work on )Keyshot will bring you a photo. Of course, like a real camera, sometimes you will decide to enhance this photo on photoshop. It’s what I do most of the time to have this « advertising » feeling, but it’s because it’s my job ;-) So, practice in real before going on your laptop, look carefully the reality… this is the best I can tell… And I did 14 years of still life photography to be able to tell you all these things. ;-)