Photo-rendering has become an art onto itself. Sure, photorealism has been around in film and gaming for a while – but product demonstration is in growing demand. As it turns out, a lot of students have begun to turn to GrabCAD’s 60,000 file Library to practice and perfect their skills. We caught up with one such user – James Coleman – and put him under our ray-traced, gamma-corrected Engineer’s Spotlight!
James is a Senior in Product Design at the University of Brighton. His interest in photorealistic 3D/CAD rendering was sparked by the fact that most Engineers and Designers have only the basic rendering skills. His entire portfolio is filled with exquisite renders and zero 3D models. “My modeling is nothing special … My rendering is what I pride myself in and that’s why I like to share it and make a name for myself.” Take a look at what he’s done here – maybe you’ll recognize a few of the models.
So what has been your software of choice?
I prefer to use Maxwell Render. I've used it since version 1.7, and the improvements made in version 2.0 and beyond made me stick. With the introduction of an interactive preview in version 2.5 it became almost perfect.
Any more in the holster?
Before this I had experience with other render engines including VRay and Hypershot, which are very popular, but I found that they had issues, for example VRay had dozens of settings that I didn't have the time to learn, and in Hypershot it was it difficult to make anything other than very basic renders. Maxwell prioritises ease of use and quality, so you can very quickly set up an image that will be very realistic.
Big fan of Keyshot – use it much?
The version of Hypershot that I used effectively became Keyshot when Bunkspeed sold the software to Luxion and started their own Shot. In fact, I purchased Hypershot a few weeks before this happened and it caused a lot of disruption. I was upset that I'd spent such a large investment in a piece of software that was now under a completely different name. On top of that, I had a recurring issue where Keyshot would not recognise my license file, and it crashed a lot more than I was happy with, so I was left disappointed. However, Keyshot has come a long way since then, and new features such as KeyshotVR and the inclusion of DuPont paints make it very appealing now.
Okay but let’s talk about everyone who knows how to model but wants to learn how to render it. What’s the best software to start with?
If I had years of experience with product photography but no experience rendering, I would download every demo I could and play with them to see which one I liked most. I'd stay away from freeware/open-source software, they usually don't work well, and someone who's serious about getting into this business should be willing to invest.
And going serious has never been easier. GrabCAD has been a great resource for portfolio building, providing a huge number of models of the widest variety of file formats and categories. We highly recommend to take a look at James’s website, which includes a number of explanations of how he rendered it and the difficulties involved.
Thanks a lot James! Best of luck with everything.