09 Feb KeyShot for ZBrush: Pros & Cons Review
Are you thinking about buying the KeyShot for ZBrush bridge but want to know if it’s going to be worth it?
If so, this is the post for you. I’ve made a review of each part as well as a list of pros and cons based in my experience to help you make an informed decision.
After testing the KeyShot to ZBrush bundle (see my review of the trial in this post) I purchased the bridge and a license of KeyShot for ZBrush, and tried it more in depth.
I have written this review of Pros & Cons based in my own experience with the software.
Right after purchasing the bundle, I received an email from Pixologic with my serials and download links.
The installation process was easy, and the activation was very similar to the activation of any regular ZBrush license.
After following the steps instructed in their email, I could very quickly start using my new acquisition.
During the installation/activation process however, there were two points that were a little confusing:
- The first one is that in order to get the bonus content offered by Pixologic one has to install the content manager.
It is impossible to get this contents any other way. So be sure to install the manager to get the free materials, HDRI images and backplates!! (limited edition, so hurry up!)
- The second point (and this one gave me a little headache till I figured it out) is that the serial for your ZBrush bridge is not the same as the one for KeyShot for ZBrush. The serial for KeyShot is actually provided at the bottom, with the download links.
Once purchased, you can set it up to activate KeyShot as your external rendered instead of the default Best Preview Render.
You should be aware that the bridge does not include KeyShot, it is only a bridge between the two programs, very much like the GoZ plugin only not free.
Be careful because the bridge by itself is useless.
To be able to use this new feature of external renderer you need to have an installation of KeyShot in your computer.
This installation can either be any of the available KeyShot 5 releases (KeyShot HD or KeyShot Pro) or the new version KeyShot for ZBrush, that is available for sale at Luxion’s website and at Pixologic’s store.
The price of this special ZBrush version of KeyShot is 200$ (150$ during the launching promotion)
- The launching price of 99$ is very reasonable.
- Activates the new feature of rendering in KeyShot 5 introduced in the ZBrush 4R7 version.
- Very easy to set up and use.
- The regular price of 149$ can be a little high, considering it is a kind of “GoZ” plugin.
This list of pros and cons is for the “KeyShot to ZBrush Bridge” only.
To see more information check out the “KeyShot to ZBrush” review below.
Keyshot for ZBrush is a new solution offered by Luxion that allows hobbyists, freelance professionals and small studios to purchase the otherwise expensive license of their star product KeyShot 5 for a very affordable price.
KeyShot 5 licenses vary from the cheapest most basic version at 995$ to the fullest version at a price of 3.995$. Now, thanks to this new release meant only for ZBrush, we can afford to get a license for a price as low as 150 – 200$.
But what exactly is this ZBrush version of KeyShot, and why is it so cheap?
The main reason for this attractive price is the limitation of the software to be used with ZBrush only.
The software does not recognize any file format other that its native file format .bip, and in order to get geometry inside KeyShot’s virtual world we have to do it through ZBrush.
This limitation has to be taken into account before deciding to purchase this license, for it represents in my opinion one of the biggest drawbacks of the software.
Not being able to import OBJ files is a big con.
True; we can import the desired OBJ into ZBrush and send it to KeyShot by just clicking render. But if we want to import more that one object the task can get very tiring.
Another limitation you might want to consider is the fact that every subtool you import into KeyShot will be merged in KeyShot into one object.
This creates a problem when it comes to setting up materials.
In order to separate the parts you want to shade with different materials, you must first assign materials in ZBrush before importing the tools.
This means that you are going to have to manually set up each subtool part’s specific material in ZBrush, and then, exchange those materials for the ones you want in KeyShot.
A way around this is to separate the objects that share a specific material into one subtool. When imported into KeyShot from ZBrush, this will create a material for each subtool.
To illustrate the features and limitations of KeyShot for Zbrush, I have prepared an example of the workflow needed to render a relatively simple object using the KeyShot Bridge.
I have reported all the problems I encountered during this test, as well as the high points.
1.- Importing OBJs into ZBrush:
Thanks to this, we can import all the OBJs into the document with one click.
2.- Assigning KeyShot as external render:
3.- New KeyShot Scene
4.- Making Polygroups:
Tip.- Using ZBrush’s Merge Similar Groups can help save a lot of time!
Tip 2.- For objects with UVs, the “Auto Group with UV” option can be a fast way to do this.
5.- Adding materials in ZBrush:
Still is a lot of work, and we must isolate each Polygroup, activate polypaint and paint a different material for each part.
5.b.- Alternative – Split to similar parts
6.- Material assignment
For the stalks I used a Velvet material. The Water and Glass materials were applied directly to the vase and the water objects without modifications.
Warning! – Don’t forget to save your KeyShot materials as soon as they are ready. Refreshing the Render from ZBrush can delete your materials if you have made any changes in your ZBrush document. The undo feature will not recover them, because every time we press render in ZBrush the history in KeyShot is deleted.
After much work we finally obtain our rendered image!
Here is the list of Pros & Cons I could find after using the software. Anyone is welcome to add or suggest any changes for better reference.
- Affordable price (150 – 200$)
- Amazing rendering quality with very easy setup.
- Helps visualize the ZBrush model we are working on from a fixed camera with a quasi final render quality on the fly.
- Helps save time on detailing only the parts of the model that will be seen in the final image, focusing in the result rather than the full sculpture.
- Easy to update, the bridge imports textures, materials and polypaint from the ZBrush document.
- We can save the KeyShot project in a .bip file for later rendering.
- No OBJ import – BIG DRAWBACK!
- Need to divide model in polygroups and set up ZBrush materials for every different part of the model.
- No undo history after refreshing from ZBrush. Easy to loose materials that haven’t been saved!!
- Doesn’t include Pro feature of HDRI edition.
- Doesn’t include VR feature of turntable rendering.
As you can see, the set-up was easy enough but the limitations presented in the ZBrush edition of KeyShot made the workflow a little slower than if we had just imported the files directly.
The high points?
- We just obtained an amazing KeyShot result, spending less than half the cost of a regular license.
Is it worth it?
- If you are a freelance artist, a hobbyist or a small studio like me I would say: TOTALLY.
- If you can afford a full version of KeyShot HD-Pro, then maybe that would be a better choice.
In any case, the ZBrush to Keyshot Bridge is a must have, and even at the full price of 149$ I would recommend anyone to get it.
That’s all for this week’s review!
I will keep posting more interesting things I find about this and other 3D softwares as I use them, so stay tuned for more news!
As a token of our friendship I have included in this post the KeyShot plant materials I did for this review.
You can download them from SMS Keyshot Plant Materials.rar
Use them in your renders and let me know how it went!
See you around the cloud~
Join the discussion
Are you a Keyshot lover? Or a hater?
What kind of features would you highlight from your experience?
Questions, comments and any other thought about this products is welcome!
hank you for reading this post! If you liked the contents, don’t keep it to yourself… Tell your friends! Thanks to your support I can create amazing projects. Check them out on my web/social media and tell me what you think!
See you there!