Testing Keyshot for ZBrush bridge

Testing KeyShot for ZBrush 4R7


Yesterday I received an email from the Pixologic support announcing their seventh release of ZBrush 4. I got really excited and  tested it right away.

One of the things that caught my eye was the new feature of rendering the scenes using Luxion’s KeyShot instead of the Best Preview Render.

I had my eye on KeyShot since I saw this image on the Pixologic forum, and at that time I even considered buying a license.

But when I saw that the price for a single license was 1.995$ I was mortified and decided to forget I ever saw it and move on in a world without KeyShot.


Fortunately for us who don’t have the coin, Pixologic and Luxion have come to an agreement and they now offer a bundle with a license of KeyShot to use exclusively with ZBrush!

This offer has a very reasonable price: 249$ if you buy the bundle of Keyshot Bridge to ZBrush with a license of KeyShot for ZBrush.

Warning! To get this price, you must but them at the same time!

This price is a limited offer, and it will expire soon. The price after the promotion will be of 349$, which is still pretty cheap if you think about what you will be getting.


In this version of Keyshot for ZBrush we can find all the features of KeyShot  HD (which costs 995$ per single license), with the added feature of unlimited render size and resolution that is available only in the version of Keyshot Pro (1.995$ per single license)


Now, where is the trick?

How is it possible that the price for this KeyShot for ZBrush version is so low compared with HD and Pro?

Well, the reason why this version is so cheap is because is limited to be used by ZBrush only, whereas the HD and Pro versions of KeyShot can import files from many of the major 3D softwares in the industry, such as 3D Max, Maya, Solidworks, etc…

In a scenario such as this, where I use mainly Blender and ZBrush, I believe that for me this bundle really is a dream come true.


Testing KeyShot

I downloaded KeyShot and tested it without hesitation.

Since I have been recently working on the models for Baby Hell, I did not have anything too complex to test it with. I started with this model of a victorian table.

I imported it into ZBrush and sent it to Keyshot. I had never used KeyShot before, and I didn’t have time to learn it, so I didn’t bother to set up good camera parameters or material properties. I used just the presets, et voila!

Testing Keyshot for ZBrush with a model of a table and a default HDRI image and texture

Testing Keyshot for ZBrush with a model of a table and a default HDRI image and texture

The image rendered in the fly and it took only seconds to look like this. I could even pan and rotate around the image, and the quality would always be like this!

I was almost convince to buy it, but I needed to try something bigger, so I imported a 3D character I made almost two years ago, and tested KeyShot’s possibilities with it.

Something that disappointed me at first was the absence of skin and cloth presets. The program comes with two skins and one cotton material, and that’s it.

There are not so many advanced materials included in Keyshot 5 HD for ZBrush

The amount of advanced materials  could be slightly increased, don’t you agree?

This is not a big drawback, since there is a community called KeyShot Cloud where you can download materials, HDRI images, and textures made by other artists.

Also, setting up materials in KeyShot is pretty easy if you know the physics of the desired material (there are plenty of wiki’s where one can find this kind of information)

But one thing I did notice as I imported my model, was that just by using the standard material I was already getting an amazing result!

For the image below, I simply used one of the default HDRI images with the default material and my textures applied. The image looked very good, taking into consideration the lack of effort on my part.

Testing Keyshot for ZBrush with a 3D Character. The default materials and HDRI look absolutely fantastic

Testing Keyshot for ZBrush with a 3D Character. The default materials and HDRI look absolutely fantastic

However, I must note that it did take some time for the render to look like this.

Nothing like with the Victorian table, where I could pan and rotate around it on the fly. This model looked blurry as I panned, and took a while to render the preview.

But again, I was rendering 20 props at full resolution. There were millions of points in the model—so if you think about it, KeyShot’s performance was outstanding.


Things I miss, and how we can fix them

Keyshot 5 HD for ZBrush has a reduced amount of HDRI settings

A reduced amount of HDRI settings

There are many things I find in this KeyShot-ZBrush version that are missing. For example, the possibility of manipulating the HDRI lights in a more advanced way.

In this version we are allowed to increase saturation and lightness, as well as rotating the light, but we can’t add new light sources to the HDRI, or move any of the existing one around.

Solution – ZBrush allows you to create environment maps from the Lightcaps. Then you can export them as an .exr file, and import them into KeyShot. So, there is no real need to be able to edit HDRI in KeyShot when we can do it elsewhere.

Another thing that bothered me is not having the turntable rendering option available in this KeyShot version. It would be really great, but I guess for 240$ it would be asking too much?

Update – With the release of the new KeyShot 6 Pro for ZBrush, the option of Turntable is added. The license fee is just 400$ (versus the almost 2,000$ of the KeyShot Pro).


The bottom line

I’m buying it. Yes I am. Yes I am. Yes I am.

It is wonderful to be able to see a rendered version of your model as you work in ZBrush, from a fixed camera or just wondering around it.

It is easy to set up. Even with a total lack of knowledge like mine the results look fantastic.

I am really looking forward to see what we can do with it! I will post my progresses, so I guess we will see in time!


Join the discussion

Will you too give this offer a chance?

If you do, how has it worked out for you?

Have you noticed anything else about the software that you want to share?

Thank 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!

Sara Martull

I like helping people, making 3D illustrations, modeling and shading characters, and my wish is to become a good writer/illustrator some day

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