Photorealistic rendering of a drone with Keyshot and Photoshop

In this article, we are going to briefly explain the essential steps undertaken towards the goal of creating a photo-realistic rendering of one of our products. To realise this goal, we used the programs Keyshot and Photoshop as well as our smartphone cameras. Additionally, the entire process was recorded on video which you can see in the following timelapse.

As the first step, our aircraft was photographed with the smartphone camera in our conference room. This photo served as a reference for further work on the computer. A second picture of the glass-top table was taken – this time without an airplane – which later served as the background for the 3D rendering.

Original photo

An exact 3D model of our aircraft, available to us from its original design process, was then accentuated with real world irregularities. Digital approximations of glue, light asymmetries, alignment errors and rounded edges were added to help give the model an imperfect, realistic appearance.

The build material of our aircrafts are unique, therefore, the wing was scanned in order to digitally recreate its textures. For good photorealism, we require the surface roughness (“bump map”) and the surface gloss (“specular map”) in addition to the surface colour (“diffuse map”) to be produced as textures. In Adobe Photoshop, it was relatively easy to produce these textures from the scanned images.

Naturalness before perfection

The textures were then placed on the model in the rendering program Keyshot. Additionally, textures of dust, fingerprints and scratches were placed on all parts of the aircraft model in order to achieve a more natural and less perfect result.

Once the textures arrived at a satisfactorily realistic look and feel, the second major challenge was to create a realistic lighting of the 3D objects. Keyshot uses 360° ball panoramas to illuminate the models (“Image-based Lighting”). A suitable panorama or our meeting room was quickly and easily created with the use of our smartphone cameras and the “Google Streetview” app.

At this point, with the availability of the textures and lighting, the aircraft was ready to be rendered. The reflections on glass as well as the shadows were separately produced and exported.

Fine-tuning with Photoshop

The different layers created in the preceding steps were then merged with the initial background image using Photoshop. Moreover, the colour temperature, contrast and brightness were adjusted. Finally, background noise was added and then reduced (as is the case when taking a picture using a smartphone camera) to give it a more authentic look.

The biggest hurdle to overcome in creating a photo-realistic rendering, similar to any other creative project, is your own subjectivity. The longer you work on the picture and the longer you look at it, you start to lose perspective and it becomes easy to overlook the details that make the picture look real. In most cases, it is very helpful to leave the picture alone for a day and to continue working on it again with a fresh mindset.

We hope we could give you some insights on photorealistic renderings using Photoshop and Keyshot. Let us know your comments on this article.

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