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8 Easy KeyShot Tricks Every User Should Know

by Will Gibbons | Last Updated: June 6, 2022 •  7 min read

Whether you’re new to KeyShot or a long-time user, there’s always room to grow. With over a decade of experience with KeyShot, I’ve picked up a ton of small but useful time-saving tactics. I want to share with you 8 easy KeyShot tricks every user should know. 

KeyShot Tricks Video Tutorial

Since I’m all about those video tutorials, grab that bowl of popcorn and kick back as I take you through my time-saving KeyShot tricks in the video below. 

8 Easy Tricks Every KeyShot User Should Know

Rounded Edges

Rounded edges are an important part of realism. In the physical world, sharp edges don’t exist. Even knives and needle tips are not perfectly sharp. They have a small radius. This might be called a fillet, chamfer, bevel, radius, round or something else. In CGI, they all refer to the same thing. In order to reflect light, a surface must have area. A ‘sharp’ edge has no surface area. Rather, it is two surfaces intersecting.

Without a transition between two surfaces, there is no surface area to reflect light. This is critical because an edge that doesn’t reflect light does not appear real. Adding rounded edges is the easiest and quickest way to enhance the realism of a rendering.

To add rounded edges, simply select a part or model from the Scene Tree. Then, below the Scene Tree, find the Properties sub-tab. Expand the Rounded Edges accordion and increase the radius until you’re happy with the result.

Move Tool Hotkey

Inevitably, you’ll need to move parts around in KeyShot. The move tool makes this easy enough. However, reduce clicks and you’ll complete that juicy rendering even faster. With an object selected, pressing ctrl+d on the keyboard will invoke the move tool. From there, a triad appears and you can drag, rotate or scale the object. The esc key on the keyboard will exit the move tool and discard any changes.

What few people know is that when nothing is selected, if you press ctrl+d, whatever part is under the cursor at the time will be selected. While not a massive time-saver, it does reduce clicking and offers a smoother experience. Pressing enter on the keyboard will accept the changes and close the move tool. 

Mirror

KeyShot trick number three is mirror. In the event that you’d like to mirror a part, or reflect it across an axis, you can do this in KeyShot as well. While not a common need, it’s something that KeyShot does with ease and it will even reflect textures as well.

To perform a mirror operation, select an item from the scene tree. Navigate to the Position sub-tab underneath the Scene Tree and add a negative (-) symbol in front of one of the scale figures. After pressing enter, you should see the model become mirrored. To return it to its position, just change the negative value to a positive. 

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Isolate Materials to Selection

This tool is handy when dealing with lots of parts. Isolate materials to selection allows you to unlink the material of a group of parts whilst keeping the materials linked within the selection. Confused yet? Right. There’s not a great way to verbalize this without an example. 

Let’s say you have 10 blue M&M’s and one material is linked across all 10 M&M’s. Now, say you wish to make 5 of the M&M’s red. You can multi-select the 5 M&M’s and right-click on one of them and choose ‘Isolate Materials To Selection’. This will keep these 5 selected M&M’s linked to one another, all while unlinking them from the remaining 5 blue M&M’s. Now, when you change one of the isolated M&M’s to red, the 4 remaining linked M&M’s will change to red too. 

Plastic for Metal

There are times when it’s difficult to achieve the right appearance of a metallic material. Most beginners will struggle with this because KeyShot’s metal starts in a pure state. This means it’s mirror-like and fully-specular. 

Most metal products we interact with are not prely mirror-like. Often, they are anodized, textured, oxidized, dirty or some combination of all of these. The result is a dulling of the mirror-like finish. Being able to control both specular and diffuse reflections makes it easier to achieve this life-like appearance in non-mirror-like metals.

My solution is to use plastic materials instead. All you need to do is increase the Index of Refraction. Most plastics will be in the range of 1.3-1.6. Increase the IoR to a value between 5 and 10 and you’ll see the plastic become hyper-reflective. Adjust the diffuse and specular values respectively to create the appearance you’re after. This also can help reduce fireflies as opposed to using metal. 

Clay

A clay rendering is achieved by applying a non-reflective matte white material to a part or assembly. This is done to show off the form of the 3D data without the distraction of materials, labels or textures.

There’s a quick and easy way to create clay renderings in your KeyShot file. Just duplicate the model set or create a new model set from a selected part or assembly. This will by default make a copy of all materials on the new model set. This is key because we don’t wish to change the materials on your original model set. Then, search the KeyShot library for a diffuse white material.

Finally, just drag the diffuse white material to the top level of the assembly within the new model set. Now, to toggle between clay and materialized renderings, just double-click on the model set you wish to activate. 

Cutaway

Cutaway or section views allow us to see the inner-workings of an assembly and the relationship between parts such as tolerances or fit. While it’s not the most robust tool, there is a cutaway material in KeyShot that lets you create section views with minimal effort. 

First, add a cube to your scene using ctrl+1 on the keyboard. Then, move and scale the cube so it encompasses the entire part you wish to create a section view of. Then, change its material type to Cutaway. In the material properties section, you can choose how the cut surfaces appear.

I typically choose inherit caps. This will use the material on the part that’s being cut and just produces the most realistic appearances. Finally, using the move tool, drag the cube around to expose a cut edge on your model.  

Settle

If you’ve ever tried to get an oddly-shaped object to lay on a surface in a convincing manner, then you know it can be tedious at best. Luckily, the Settle tool, introduced in KeyShot 10 makes this much easier. The settle tool is built into the move tool. With the move tool activated and a part or assembly selected, just expand the Advanced accordion within the move tool. Then press the Settle button. It may take a while to calculate depending on the complexity of the part.

Once this is finished, the part should fall to the ground and come to a rest in a pretty convincing manner. If you wish an assembly to fall apart into pieces, you can tick the As Parts option first. This will increase the load time of the settle function.

If you want to see a more extensive tutorial on how to use this to create a pile of things or fill a container, visit this tutorial.

Create Faster

By integrating these 8 KeyShot tricks into your workflow, you should be able to save a few minutes here and there. Working efficiently is important in overcoming technical limitations of a software. In order to be creative, you must remove any bottlenecks you can. If you’re interested in learning more about how to work efficiently, please check out my KeyShot Masterclass courses

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Will Gibbons
Will Gibbons is an industrial designer-turned rendering specialist. He's trained and worked with some of today's most recognizable brands and now is focused on creating the best product visualization content on the internet.
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