Author Topic: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.  (Read 3641 times)

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Offline cbecks

Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« on: November 22, 2021, 07:16:58 pm »
I am freelance product designer using SolidWorks and Rhino. And I'm adding photo rendering to my services offered.
I will render mainly industrial designs / product designs of plastic, wood, various metals, paints, various finishes and decals.

KeyShot images look good. And it seems easy to use. But it's the most expensive of any render engines I am considering.
Vray, Blender Cycles etc. have similar or more photo realistic images (to my eye). And cost much less.

So what is advantage of KeyShot?
Is it the best option for me do you think?

I have to pay out of my own pocket, so please consider that.
I have been curious what experienced professionals would say.


Offline Anindo Ghosh

Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2021, 09:58:17 pm »
My situation mirrors yours: I am a freelance industrial engineer and also provide photorealistic renders when required - and I paid for KeyShot from my own pocket.

After evaluating several rendering options, including all that you mentioned, I selected KeyShot for these reasons:
  • For me, scene setup time saved is worth more than hardware cost or rendering time saved. KeyShot was simply the quickest to set up for excellent results that made my clients happy.
  • KeyShot handles practically any CAD or 3D model format I can throw at it. My CAD tools of choice are Inventor and OnShape, but clients sometimes provide parts or props in 3DS Max, Maya, STL, and a dozen other formats.
  • A lot of my work involves complex optics (lenses, half-phase and band-pass optics etc) using very specific materials, something KeyShot manages excellently.
  • KeyShot and Octane were the engines taking best advantage of my RTX 3090 GPU.

My KeyShot license paid for itself in the first month after purchase.

That being said, your reasons and reasoning might well be vastly different from mine. Is KeyShot perfect? FAR from it. However, those glaring gaps (e.g. soft body animation / bending, any form of complex animation, labels and stacked materials, pathetic physics features, and lack of particle capability) aren't crucial to my work, so KeyShot beats the competition for me.   

Offline RRIS

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Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2021, 04:33:40 am »
Solidworks has Photoview.. Rhino has a custom version of Cycles (Blender's render engine). You could make do with either of those. I know designers that render their work with Rhino, and get ok results (you can even import your Solidworks models into Rhino and render there). Photoview.. not so much.
Keyshot is just a lot more flexible when it comes to managing your scenes. You can keep all the lights and materials in Keyshot and keep your Rhino files nice and tidy. Things like model sets and studios make variation management relatively hassle free. You can build your own material libraries, instead of having to redo everything or importing old models in Rhino just to get a previously made material. (Although it's been a while since I've worked with Rhino, so maybe that aspect has been improved in recent versions).
You could use Blender, but you'd have to export your models to a mesh first and you can forget about live linking. Any changes to your designs and you can basically start over.
Unreal is different, you can use DataSmith to import your cad files and it has live-linking as well. However, Unreal is quite a bit more effort to become proficient in and has a lot of extra stuff built-in that you'll probably never use. However, it allows you to build realtime visualisations and VR design reviews, which can be useful. For me it would probably be interesting to try at least.

But Keyshot is just very easy to get into and get good results. It's just nice to have a dedicated app for rendering and with live-linking you can update your models whenever needed.

If I were in your situation, I'd probably start off rendering in Rhino for now, and once you build sufficient need for renders, switch to Keyshot. If Unreal isn't too daunting, that would probably be my second choice, but expect quite a heavy time-investment to get anywhere.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2021, 04:37:16 am by RRIS »

Offline cbecks

Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2021, 01:18:15 pm »
My situation mirrors yours: I am a freelance industrial engineer and also provide photorealistic renders when required - and I paid for KeyShot from my own pocket.

My KeyShot license paid for itself in the first month after purchase.

That's great news. I was curious if it would pay for itself over short time.


After evaluating several rendering options, including all that you mentioned, I selected KeyShot for these reasons:

    1. For me, scene setup time saved is worth more than hardware cost or rendering time saved. KeyShot was simply the quickest to set up for excellent results that made my clients happy.
    2. KeyShot handles practically any CAD or 3D model format I can throw at it. My CAD tools of choice are Inventor and OnShape, but clients sometimes provide parts or props in 3DS Max, Maya, STL, and a dozen other formats.
    3. A lot of my work involves complex optics (lenses, half-phase and band-pass optics etc) using very specific materials, something KeyShot manages excellently.
    4. KeyShot and Octane were the engines taking best advantage of my RTX 3090 GPU.

Ok. I'm seeing the benefits now.


That being said, your reasons and reasoning might well be vastly different from mine. Is KeyShot perfect? FAR from it. However, those glaring gaps (e.g. soft body animation / bending, any form of complex animation, labels and stacked materials, pathetic physics features, and lack of particle capability) aren't crucial to my work, so KeyShot beats the competition for me.   

Probably for me too. Good to know what the weaknesses are too, so I can plan around them. Also I realize now they are not a deal-breaker. I can learn other programs later if I need great physics or complex animations.

Thanks a lot Anindo. Really appreciate your insights.


Offline cbecks

Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2021, 06:15:40 pm »
Solidworks has Photoview..
Rhino has a custom version of Cycles (Blender's render engine).
You could make do with either of those.

You could use Blender, but you'd have to export your models to a mesh first and you can forget about live linking. Any changes to your designs and you can basically start over.

Unreal is different, you can use DataSmith to import your cad files and it has live-linking as well. However, Unreal is quite a bit more effort to become proficient in and has a lot of extra stuff built-in that you'll probably never use.

If I were in your situation, I'd probably start off rendering in Rhino for now, and once you build sufficient need for renders, switch to Keyshot. If Unreal isn't too daunting, that would probably be my second choice, but expect quite a heavy time-investment to get anywhere.

Hey thanks RRIS. I only have Rhino 5 so no Cycles there. Don't like rendering in that at all.

I used Blender for a rendering project once and man, that was COMPLICATED. I literally paid a tutor hundreds of dollars to help me get up to speed. I rendered the project quite well, but afterwards (a month later) I had no idea how to render in Blender again. It's just too complex. (for me)

Photoview is not great. Don't ever want to use that again.  I don't even have it in my base SolidWorks license. lol

Even SolidWorks Visualize fell short of KeyShot's quality and usability for my taste.

Thanks for the input on Unreal. I think that will have to wait, as it looks quite complicated as well.
Free isn't always free.

Thanks for seconding Anindo's comments about using Studios in KeyShot. I'm seeing that now as a big advantage for my workflow.


But Keyshot is just very easy to get into and get good results. It's just nice to have a dedicated app for rendering and with live-linking you can update your models whenever needed.

Yeah, a lot to be said for getting up to speed quickly here.
Dedicated (and simple) app is nice.

I should have mentioned... I hope and plan to do more rendering than actual design. So render engine workflow speed and ease of use is important. 100% photo real quality is probably not. <shrug>

Thanks for the comments. Are you using Unreal yourself?

Any other freelance renderers out there have any other feedback?


Offline RRIS

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Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2021, 07:38:17 am »
Hey thanks RRIS. I only have Rhino 5 so no Cycles there. Don't like rendering in that at all.

I used Blender for a rendering project once and man, that was COMPLICATED. I literally paid a tutor hundreds of dollars to help me get up to speed. I rendered the project quite well, but afterwards (a month later) I had no idea how to render in Blender again. It's just too complex. (for me)

...

Thanks for the input on Unreal. I think that will have to wait, as it looks quite complicated as well.
Free isn't always free.

Thanks for seconding Anindo's comments about using Studios in KeyShot. I'm seeing that now as a big advantage for my workflow.
...

Yeah, a lot to be said for getting up to speed quickly here.
Dedicated (and simple) app is nice.

I should have mentioned... I hope and plan to do more rendering than actual design. So render engine workflow speed and ease of use is important. 100% photo real quality is probably not. <shrug>

Thanks for the comments. Are you using Unreal yourself?

Any other freelance renderers out there have any other feedback?

I'm a designer first and foremost, but I took on a lot of the responsibilities for the visuals at my current job. So I would say I'm more experienced than most designers when it comes to visualisation.
I think you already know that Keyshot is probably your best option at the moment. It requires the least time investment to get going and there's a few designers on youtube offering very useful tutorials to help you get along, specifically for product viz.
If you thought Blender was complex, then I won't recommend Unreal. It's even less intuitive and you really need to sit down and dedicate yourself to it to get the most out of it. Yes it has its benefits, but if you're just concerned about making renders, then Keyshot is by far YOUR best option. I myself am at times a little worried about it losing focus a bit too much and it adding 'fluff features' vs. optimizing workflow, but at least it doesn't require you to get comfortable in fully fledged 3D suites where you could argue the 'fluff' far outweighs the stuff you need right now.
Get Keyshot, get some books on product photography (you can literally copy the same techniques in CG and it will massively boost your lighting skills), learn about materials and you'll have a great time.

Offline sleby

Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2021, 01:45:27 am »
If your budget allows then go for Keyshot. You'd still need to put some effort in to get your renders to stand out, but it's the easiest to learn and master by far. Don't even think of getting Unreal, Vray and so on, if Blender seemed too complex.
On the other hand, Blender is free, offers practically everything that you can imagine, is also fast (with recent 3.0 release Cycles also became much faster than before) and renders come out great. Being more and more popular among viz people I think it's also good to be up to date with more than just one render engine.

I am using Keyshot for product renderings and Blender Cycles for interiors.

Offline cbecks

Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2021, 03:20:15 pm »

I'm a designer first and foremost, but I took on a lot of the responsibilities for the visuals at my current job. So I would say I'm more experienced than most designers when it comes to visualisation.
I think you already know that Keyshot is probably your best option at the moment. It requires the least time investment to get going and there's a few designers on youtube offering very useful tutorials to help you get along, specifically for product viz.
If you thought Blender was complex, then I won't recommend Unreal. It's even less intuitive and you really need to sit down and dedicate yourself to it to get the most out of it. Yes it has its benefits, but if you're just concerned about making renders, then Keyshot is by far YOUR best option. I myself am at times a little worried about it losing focus a bit too much and it adding 'fluff features' vs. optimizing workflow, but at least it doesn't require you to get comfortable in fully fledged 3D suites where you could argue the 'fluff' far outweighs the stuff you need right now.
Get Keyshot, get some books on product photography (you can literally copy the same techniques in CG and it will massively boost your lighting skills), learn about materials and you'll have a great time.

Yeah I believe KeyShot will be the best tool overall.
I will learn another program later which will ultimately give the more realistic look I crave.

I will also look for some product photography books. Thank you for sharing your insights.

Offline KristofDeHulsters

Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2021, 08:45:32 am »
First of all, I think this forum might show you a one sided discussion because most people (including me) bought Keyshot. Try to get advice as well on other forums to make sure to get a good overview. That said, a lot of good points have been made so far. Considering the photorealism, I thought in the beginning that it's the software that doesn't let me get where I need to go. It turns out it is mainly the ability of the designer and not the software to create good photorealism. I got better over time to a point now where I know how to tweak the renders to get to photorealism. If you look up comparisons of different engines on youtube, you'll see that the difference is not great.

For me it boils down to how much time I spend learning a software (which have to be taken into account when billing). If I can perfect my Keyshot funnel in 50 hours but it takes me 200 hours to properly learn Unreal, that 150 hours is expensive. I would say, if you focus just on rendering, it might be worth looking into Unreal, Blender, ... if your main offering is Industrial Design, Keyshot will probably be your best bet.

Offline davetwo

Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2022, 11:50:44 am »
If you are primarily an industrial designer - then by all means use Keyshot. However if you want the renders to be the main thing - look elsewhere. By comparison to mainstream render engines (Vray, Corona etc.) Keyshot is very expensive and is its 'simple' approach can be rather frustrating/limiting when you get into more expansive shots and material creation.   

Unreal is a game engine and Blender is a full scale DCC and have a million things that KS can't do. I dont think they are really comparable.

Vray will work directly in Rhino etc. And I think thats probably a more streamlined workflow TBH.

(I'm primarily a visualiser by-the-way)   

Offline RRIS

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Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2022, 12:53:33 am »
If you are primarily an industrial designer - then by all means use Keyshot. However if you want the renders to be the main thing - look elsewhere. By comparison to mainstream render engines (Vray, Corona etc.) Keyshot is very expensive and is its 'simple' approach can be rather frustrating/limiting when you get into more expansive shots and material creation.   

Unreal is a game engine and Blender is a full scale DCC and have a million things that KS can't do. I dont think they are really comparable.

Vray will work directly in Rhino etc. And I think thats probably a more streamlined workflow TBH.

(I'm primarily a visualiser by-the-way)

Unreal can do proper path traced rendering, it's just not the focus of most of its users. Check: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5zVhc5ahl0
But that's more me making a point, I remain with my view that if Blender is too complex, then Unreal isn't an option.

I agree that for Rhino users, Vray is a very attractive alternative and it's quite cheap compared to Keyshot. But I would say that it's probably also more complex to learn (though I haven't touched Vray in years).

In the end it's a matter of workflow that really becomes the most important. What software lets you get to a satisfactory result for your clients in the least amount of time, and with the least amount of headache along the way. In that respect, I don't see learning software as a barrier. If you end up doing product-viz professionally, then you just need to swallow that pill and get cracking. Once you use software day in, day out, the complexity of software becomes kind of irrelevant.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2022, 01:19:00 am by RRIS »

Offline hve

Re: Why KeyShot? vs. Vray, Blender Cycles, Unreal Etc.
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2022, 01:01:20 pm »
From my point of view is Kesyhot is the fastest to work with ... but I was very impressed with Maverick Studio's render quality and for some reason found that more realistic looking then Keyshot's render. I did some more research lately and maybe iRay is going to be something to watch out (btw would be cool to have that render option inside Kesyhot), seems to be included in more and more products so next year might be interesting for real time GPU renders. But for now KS still is best.