Thanks go out to Craig A. Clark for this LightWave and KeyShot tutorial. You can see more of his work at www.scorpiocgi.co.uk
The first step is to set up the shot, so here I have the mechanical dragonfly modelled in LightWave (exported as OBJs) imported and all the materials assigned accordingly.
Next I check that I have all the material designations I need before going too far (especially if importing OBJs). I’ve selected an environment HDR image to be used. In this case a serene country road works well, as this subject should definitely be outdoors and the basic lighting it provides looks pretty decent.
My chosen HDRI map is quite good, but is slightly flat and cold at this stage. So let’s warm things up a bit. I open up the new Edit option of the Environments tab and add a Pin (light source). From here I can colour, intensify and position the HDRI any way I like. The new Pin light is orange to replicate the warmth of the sun and I also reduce the brightness of the underlying original image to boost the contrast.
I’ve warmed up the tone of the image and things are looking much nicer, but I still need to bring greater definition to the shadows. Back in LightWave Modeller I load up the dragonfly body and wings for reference, then create a light for boosting the Sun, a fill light, and up-and-down lighting fills. I position these as I see fit, but they can always be moved around in KeyShot.
I can now export the lights as an OBJ file from LightWave and import it into my dragonfly scene. Once imported, these are in the correct positions compared to the dragonfly. I also set the Sun up as a Diffuse Point Light to provide some crisp shadows. My fill lights are Area Lights, which you’ll notice remain visible and provide options to hide certain attributes. Point Lights are never visible physically because they only have a single point of origin.
Optimise the position of the lights and place them where you think is best for the shot. You can also model them at world zero and position after importing into KeyShot. The lights can always be selected by the name of the material and then moved as required at any time (I always use the Move tool for this, as the Transform handles make it much easier). The Sun light does actually need to be moved to get the result I’m looking for.
Now it’s finally time to render out the scene. I always opt for 32-bit TIFF files, including Alpha Transparency, as I find it provides the most flexibility with the output file. Quality options enable you to specify maximum samples, while the Advanced setting defines the individual control of depth of field, sampled, aliasing and so on. I personally find the best solution is to specify the maximum render time. This leaves KeyShot to produce the optimal render it can within the set time.
You can see more tutorials like this in issue 54 of 3D Artist. Get your copy today through the Imagine Shop, or digitally through greatdigitalmags.com. Alternatively, why not make big savings on a subscription?