Doug Didia, a 3D artist who currently works in the automotive industry, is a graduate of College for Creative Studies (1980 BFA Advertising) Detroit, MI, with 35 years of experience. To create photorealistic 3D images of vehicles for his clients, he uses a mix of Autodesk Maya, Luxion KeyShot, and Adobe Photoshop. So when he heard about the (announced in October 2014), he knew he had a pretty good shot at the prizes. In November, when the winners were announced, Didia’s entry topped the list. Here, he shares his workflow and approach to rendering, using as example a rendering he did of a Storm Trooper truck on a mud-slicked road. His secret, as it turns out, is in the care with which he puts together the background image.
DE: Most of our readers work with CAD data, and many found it to be too rich, too detailed for a rendering program. Any tips on how to treat it so it can easily be managed in KeyShot?
Didia: The challenge to effectively reduce hundreds of Gigs of data down to three or four is huge. There are software available that will tessellate the geometry, but a lot of time and effort goes into manually cleaning and prepping many of the pieces where you just leave the bare minimum visible shell of the objects — A-sides only, B-sides removed. There is no “easy-button” way to end up with a manageable “vehicle data set.”
Speaking of managing large data, updates in KeyShot5 will allow “Instancing.” Imported vehicles can be duplicated and each one altered, within the same file, without slowing down my computing performance. I can now create a whole dealership parking lot of vehicles in every color and trim level with ease. Pretty cool! (For more on KeyShot instancing, read DE‘s previous blog post and watch a video review here.)
DE: What’s the difference between using a professional rendering and animation program like 3dx Max or Maya and using KeyShot?
Didia: It’s interesting to me that there is a misconception that KeyShot is somehow unprofessional. As an artist, complexity of the interface within 3D software scares the hell out of me. I want something fast, easy to use, that produces instant real-time high-quality results and allows me to play creatively without getting bogged down with a tsunami of menu calculations. If a piece of software takes five steps to do something vs. one step in another program and you achieve the same result, why would you want more steps?
Programs like Maya have a tremendous amount of capability and variables, but 95% of the time these variables are never touched. It’s overly complex if you’re just trying to do something simple and creative. Not only does KeyShot give me all of that, its stability and cost effectiveness are great too. I don’t need to remortgage my house to buy expensive video cards to make things move quicker. (KeyShot is CPU-driven, not GNU-dependent).