Lego scenes with KeyShot
Daniele Boldi Cotti breaks down the KeyShot rendering techniques behind his fun
First of all I would like to say thanks to the 3D Total Team to give me a chance to write this
‘making of' article.
The inspiration for this personal project emerged when, after a day googling lego mini-figures, I found out this really interesting page on flickr.com made by Vesa Lehtimaki. She creates wonderful pictures of Lego mini-figures - so I thought, why don't do something similar in 3D? The day after I started to play with
First of all I downloaded and installed the free software Leocad that allows you to create and customize scenes with Lego bricks. The layout of the software is pretty easy to learn, on the right hand side you have a big library where you can drag what you want and drop in your scene.
Once all the Legos were in the scene, I just exported a 3DS format (I know it's not the best format in the world but for now it doesn't allow to export a better format) and imported it into 3ds Max.
The plan was to render out the scene in KeyShot, which is great for design products and it permits you to create photorealistic 4000 renders in just few minutes. A requisite to render in KeyShot is that the geometry has to be nice (I.e. quads), otherwise you will have some nasty artefacts. For this reason, once I imported the mesh from Leocad to 3ds max I quickly remodeled more or less any singular piece starting from primitive geometry like Box, Cylinder, sphere
Once the mesh was done I was ready to reassemble my mini-figures and create my own scene. Just to be sure about the position of the geometry I imported the photo I took in Wimbledon Park as background, into 3ds Max.
Once I was satisfied with everything I exported my scene straight to KeyShot using a useful plug-in you can download. This plug-in permits you to export and open immediately your 3D model in KeyShot and keep the objects separated, which isn't possible when you export, for example, an OBJ.
Once the 3D model was in KeyShot I imported the photo I took in Wimbledon park as the background and I more or less matched it with the same view I created previously in 3ds Max.
For the lighting I used a standard exterior HDR from the KeyShot Library because the atmosphere and background were pretty similar to my photo. Once in the scene I just played with Brighten and Rotation for a bit to get the
KeyShot has a good photorealistic material library. This time I just customized different type of plastics by changing colors and the Specular levels.
Once satisfied with the scene (lighting, materials and camera angle) I rendered out two different passes, beauty and AO. The beauty pass was saved, including the alpha channel to help me later with the compositing. Obviously if you have background and foreground separated, it is much easier to compose them in After Effects or Photoshop.
To render out the image at 3000 resolution, I used the default rendering setting. It's almost never necessary to set it up differently because the standard setting is already pretty nice and fast.
The post-production phase was pretty simple as when I use KeyShot as rendering engine I usually don't need to do much post-work. Here below you can see the AE comp. When the render was complete I merged the backplate, AO and beauty passes together and played in AE with level and curves just to give a bit more contrast and reality to the image. As a final effect I imported a bokeh photo effect I previously downloaded from Google, desaturated it, and changed the blending mode to screen by playing with the opacity.
And that's it! Here is the final image.