Rendering in KeyShot
Senior visual artist Daniele Boldi Cotti explains how to create a photorealistic car render in less than an hour, using KeyShot and 3ds Max...
Hello guys, just few words about me – I'm a 3D generalist, and over the years I've learned a lot about different software products and met some amazing artists. One of the easiest and quickest softwares I have ever used is, without a doubt, KeyShot. I'm now going to explain you how create a nice photorealistic render within an hour. So, let's go!
I create this scene during my lunch time and there's no time to model anything, so I just import a nice car model into KeyShot. To do this, I just click Import and use the default setting as in the image here.
KeyShot supports a lot of 3D formats, though I prefer to export model files in an FBX or OBJ format, or use the plug-in in 3ds Max that exports the model straight to KeyShot as a BIP file.
Before we set up the camera, we have to decide where to place the car and what kind of lighting we're going to use. If you Google HDRI and backplates you can find some really nice images but mostly are pretty expensive, so for this reason I usually go to: https://hdrmaps.com where they offer a lot of HDR images with backplates completely free. Once I choose and download my HDRI and backplates I'm ready to import them.
To do that, I just need to select the files from the library and drag them into our scene. Now I have both my backplate and my HDRI in the scene so I can go forward and continue setting the camera and the lighting.
Camera and lighting
I move the cursor of my mouse onto the right hand side of the interface. I click on camera, and select camera1 (unsaved). To set up your camera you have two different ways:
1. You can play with the parameters: Distance, Azimuth, Inclination and Twist.
2. You can hold down the left mouse button in the viewport to rotate your camera.
When we are satisfied with the camera position we can lock it and go forward to the next step.
We have previously imported the HDR files into our scene by dragging it in, now we have just to play with the values. I focus on Contrast, Brightness, Size, Height and the last, but probably the most important one, the Rotation. With the rotation, we can rotate the HDR in the scene and decide where our lighting source will cast shadows.
KeyShot offers a big photorealistic material library, and we can select whatever we prefer from the library menu on the left hand side and drag and drop it on the object. We can then customize the material from the project menu under the Material panel.
Rendering the beauty pass
When I'm satisfied with the scene I just need to render out the beauty pass. To do this, just click Render, change your resolution as you want and the Format from JPG to TIFF including the alpha channel. For the quality, I usually use the default setting because it's already fine. Now we're ready to click Render.
The render will take just few minutes (of course, this will depends on your computer, but trust me – it's pretty fast). After that I render out an Occlusion pass. We'll need to keep the shadows under the car a bit darker, so to do that we need to select all the objects in our scene and click Link materials. Then select the Edit Material settings, and from Type select Diffuse to get a uniform matte material, and remember to change the color to white/ light grey.
We can go now to the Environment panel and under the background section, change it from the backplate image to Color, and from the Environment Library we can drag a total white HDR into the scene. If you have a result pretty similar to the image below it means that it's correct and we can now render out the Occlusion pass as we did previously for the beauty pass.
The post-production process is pretty simple. Once all renders are done we merge the backplate, Occlusion and Beauty passes together and play around in Photoshop with levels and curves just to give a bit more contrast and reality to the image. As a final trick I usually copy and merge all the layers, convert the layer on the top in grey scale, and change the blending from Normal to Overlay (changing the Opacity a bit otherwise you risk making it a bit too strong.)