Home / Rendering and Animation / Luxion KeyShot 2.2 with Improved Import Functions

Luxion KeyShot 2.2 with Improved Import Functions

Luxion KeyShot 2.2 continues its tradition as a rendering package with drag-and-drop simplicity.

Luxion KeyShot 2.2 continues its tradition as a rendering package with drag-and-drop simplicity.

Improved import functions let you retain your assembly structures from common CAD files.

Improved import functions let you retain your assembly structures from common CAD files.

With the new Label function, you can project 2D images on your 3D models easily. Afterward, you may also apply texture to your material.

With the new Label function, you can project 2D images on your 3D models easily. Afterward, you may also apply texture to your material.

Luxion KeyShot, one of the offshoots of HyperShot, is now in its second incarnation. To be exact, it’s in Version 2.2, with incremental upgrades sprinkled over the past few months to bring it to where it is now. A major improvement in the latest version is the smoother, faster import function. Now, when you import a CAD assembly, you’ll see a model tree with the same assembly structure inside KeyShot. During import, the program gives you options to place the model at the center of the scene (or not), snap the model to the ground (or not), and orient the model by a certain axis (X up, Y up, or Z up). This eliminates the work you would otherwise need to do to position and align the model in the scene before applying aesthetic treatments.

KeyShot continues its tradition, dating back to its origin as a rendering program for those with little or no experience. With robust support for common CAD file formats, KeyShot remains one of the most accessible rendering packages for those who regularly work with mechanical modeling programs.

The program retains its drag-and-drop simplicity, allowing you to apply materials, environment, backdrops, then render the visible scene in the program window into a photo-realistic image. No need to understand ray-tracing, Gama adjustment, and other technical setups. The simple slider bars and real-time feedback let you work intuitively by experimentation to compose the scene with the right brightness, camera angle, and materials.

In Version 2.2, the hierarchical assembly structure imported along with the model gives you a simpler way to sort, identify, and apply attributes to different parts of your model. Furthermore, items selected in the model tree are encircled by a yellow outline in the program window, which makes isolating them much easier. If you often deal with complex assemblies and you’re used to identifying items by name (part number, for instance), you’ll find this enhancement a huge help.

In Version 2.2, you’ll find that the Move and Scale commands are much more responsive. You’ll also notice some interface improvements: among them, an easy to way to select standard camera views (Front, Left, Right, Top, Back, and so on) from a drop-down menu; and a single-click button to center your geometry.

Though not highly publicized, it’s worth noting that KeyShot gives you the option to select a small region for test-rendering. Under Render > Render Settings > Region, if you place a checkmark in the Enable box, you’ll be able to drag a selection window to define the region you want to render. If you’re concerned about the details in a certain region in your scene, and you don’t want to wait till the entire scene has been rendered to inspect the area, the regional rendering option works well as a way to test-render the chosen area.

Previously, to project a 2D image on the model’s 3D surface, you had to load the image as a texture in the material editing window. Though it gave you the result you wanted, the method also left you without a way to apply texture once the slot was occupied by the projected 2D image. In Version 2.2, KeyShot gives you the ability to apply labels — more than one, if you want — to your material. Not only is the operation simpler, it also gives you the option to apply texture to your material in addition to labels.

Since both Luxion KeyShot and its main rival Bunkspeed SHOT claim to be descendants of HyperShot, you’ll inevitable wonder: how do I decide which one to go with? The primary distinction may be the choice of hardware. KeyShot relies primarily on CPU; SHOT uses both CPU and GPU. Rendering a model using CPU and rendering it using GPU appear to produce identical results; however, if the software code is designed for parallel processing, it tends to render at a greater speed on special GPUs designed to accommodate multi-threading (for example, professional-class NVIDIA GPUs with CUDA). The performance gap between multi-core CPUs and GPUs may also become narrower as Intel works to add on-board HD graphics to its upcoming CPUs. Therefore, your hardware configuration and preference may offer better clues on which package to go with.

For more about the history of Luxion KeyShot and Bunkspeed SHOT, read “One Scene, Two Shots,” July 2010.

For more on Bunkspeed SHOT, read a recent review by Mark Clarkson, published in January 2011.

For more on KeyShot 2.2, watch the video report below.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

About Kenneth

Kenneth Wong has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first an an editor, later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. During his nine-year tenure, he has closely followed the migration from 2D to 3D, the growth of PLM (product lifecycle management), and the impact of globalization on manufacturing. His writings have appeared in Cadalyst, Computer Graphics World, and Manufacturing Business Technology, among others.


  1. Kenneth,
    I got to know the Keyshot product and (more importantly, the visceral response to it by customers seeing it for the first time) over the last year. It is so bone simple to use, even I can drive it and create compelling images that would be appropriate for sales & marketing usage.

    Intriguing positing in the marketplace. I believe it can deliver at least 80% of the quality of the high end rendering tools used by full time specialists. (Which is damn well good enough in my opinion.)

    In practice, however, I found that most casual users generally created very simple renderings. It seems that many CAD tools are including the ability to create equivalent renderings on that low end with little or no incremental price increase.

    First, am I wrong about what’s being offered in CAD tools for rendering? (Not my field, I certainly could be wrong.) Second, if I’m right- doesn’t that destroy the market for both SHOT and Keyshot in a few years as CAD customers upgrade to newer versions?


  2. Jeff,

    Indeed! To me, it feels like KeyShot gives you 80% of what you’ll get from a high-end rendering package with 20% of the work. One might say the same of Bunkspeed SHOT too. That explains their appeal.

    You’re right about the inclusion of rendering functions in most CAD packages. It looks to me like it’ll become a standard part of CAD going forward.

    It’s hard to predict what will fall out of favor (or not) in a few years, but I think there will still be a viable market for KeyShot, SHOT, and similar renderers among those who need to produce impressive images from CAD files, but don’t necessarily need to (or want to) work with CAD programs.

    While integrated real-time rendering in CAD modeling window gives me an excellent idea on how the end product will look, I find that the CAD modeling interface often gets in the way when I just want to concentrate on rendering. (For example, PhotoView in SolidWorks 2011 works well in giving me a rendered view of my design while I’m modeling; nevertheless, if my sole purpose is to create a rendered image, I’d prefer to work without being cluttered by the CAD modeling interface.)

    At any rate, that’s my personal preference. Others may feel differently.

  3. Inclusion of rendering functions in CAD packages has been done since the mid 90’s and has failed miserably. It is mostly the complexity of the UI that gets in the way, plus the ancient rendering engines that are being used.

    A correction:
    – KeyShot is HyperShot – it is the same rendering engine, much improved of course. So no, KeyShot is not an “offspring”, it is the continuation of HyperShot.

    To just state that the GPU is faster than the CPU is also a very general statement. It may apply to certain processes, but it should not be derived from this statement that rendering on the GPU is faster.

    You also make it sound like any GPU will do. The fact is that you need a special, CUDA based NVIDIA graphics card. And you have to make sure that it is a beefy one to get any half-decent performance.

    I hope this helps.


  4. Thomas, the point about the need for a CUDA-based GPU is a good one. I should have mentioned that in the original post. I’ll revise accordingly.



  5. Another question: What is a high-end rendering package? Is KeySot not high-end because it doesn’t have in thousands of buttons and doesn’t require a specialist to drive it?

    In the end it is all about the results that you can achieve. And that’s where KeyShot is high-end.

  6. Thomas, I used “High end” to refer to high-priced packages. One reason I liked KeyShot is because it provides high-end results without the same learning curve or price.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *