Tools at the forefront: KeyShot 7

Having just watched a promotional video of the new features in KeyShot 7 there was one in particular that caught my eye

Configurator/Presentation Mode (2:23 in video)

(Luxion, 2017)

With my own workflow incorporating a lot more 3D elements, and one of the core aspects of my job is to provide variation, the ability to create these variations quickly using PBR render qualities is going to be a huge time saver vs taking screenshots of each element and manually compositing them together to scrutinise them.

So, that’s one of the new features that I’m excited about, and can easily see me using it in my own work – for example, if I continued work on the Plague Wraith and sculpted x10 different masks and x10 different texture patterns to go on the cloak, then this tool could be utilised to quickly showcase a presentation sheet of those variations in 3D format.

This brings me on to an evaluation of Keyshot, as I’ve recently (with the last renders for the Plague Wraith) opted for the in-programme BPR render that comes with ZBrush, for reasons that I’ll detail in another post. I think I can summarise fairly bluntly in a list of pros/cons:

PROS:

  • Unarguably fantastic looking results (thanks to some advanced ray-tracing), picks up information from HDRi spheres so you can preview model in a set environment (e.g. if you imported an HDRi sphere from game, then it would be a more accurate result of what something would look like in game)
  • Comes with a library of physically accurate pre-made materials (I’m not a technical artist, so this is a huge aid)
  • Fairly intuitive and easy to learn
  • Works with a wide range of 3D formats

CONS:

  • Time! This is a pretty big one – it takes a while to create good quality images, especially as the resolution gets higher. May affect deadlines.
  • CPU intensive – rendering takes a lot of horsepower, so it’s not really suitable for laptops/working on the go. Even with an i7 5960x (8 core, 16 thread) processor I find it to be slightly too slow for my liking.
  • Laziness – I noticed that my tendency to rely on the huge library of pre-made materials was limiting my options, and although I made some efforts to learn and tweak settings (see earlier post on the wraith skin translucency), I don’t quite feel the same ‘tactile’ sense of creation as when painting.
  • Not game engine – despite the ‘cheat’ workaround of importing an HDRi from a game, it still doesn’t represent the same materials/qualities that you’d get from an in-engine screenshot.

There are a few other minor pros/cons that aren’t really worth mentioning, but ultimately it comes down to a suitability score, it’s down to the artist to take on board this information and learn about new tools, at which point they can make an educated decision as to what works best in their workflow.


Image Bibliography

Luxion (2017). KeyShot 7 Top 5 New Features. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hnTRR7OkWw [Accessed 15 Aug. 2017].

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