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ST7: Embedded KeyShot 5


keyshot0.pngArguably the most exciting new feature in Solid Edge ST7 is the integration of KeyShot. This is something a whole lot of people are going to be able to take advantage of. Yes, Solid Edge already has a rendering tool, but to be fully honest, in the couple of years I’ve been using Solid Edge, I’ve only used the ERA renderer a couple of times, and I never got anything I liked out of it. As a consumer product designer type of user, I consider great looking rendered output essential, and KeyShot allows you to get that with very little in the way of formal training. Lighting, background, photography effects, and other controls inside photo-realistic CAD rendering software can be extremely complex, not just to make the settings, but to even understand what some of the settings do.


I’ve written before on how to make your Solid Edge assemblies look better just within the Solid Edge window, but KeyShot takes it all to another level. I’ve also written a little about some simple things you can do to make a better looking render. I had KeyShot mainly in mind when writing the article, even though I couldn’t say so at the time. Non-CAD users sometimes find it difficult to visualize what the somewhat abstract CAD data is going to look like as a real product. A little rendering magic can help them along.


To get started, you’ll need ST7. I realize you can’t get ST7 yet. It will be publicly available in July. But you need to start learning now so you can take advantage of everything when it does hit.


keyshot1.pngTo get your Solid Edge model into KeyShot, pick the Tools tab, and on the right you’ll find KeyShot Render. This opens the KeyShot interface on top of Solid Edge.  The first thing you need to know is that managing the view is different in KeyShot than it is in Solid Edge. If you have a 3DConnexion space ball, be prepared for it to work backwards. This takes a little getting used to. Maybe they’ll have that fixed by the time it is publicly released. Also, where you rotate the view with your middle mouse button (MMB) in Edge, in KeyShot it happens by dragging the left mouse button (LMB), while MMB pans.

Most of the functions in KeyShot are pretty easy to figure out. Drag and drop materials for your parts. Drag and drop scenes, and so forth. But if you want to delve deeper into the settings to tweak things just the way you like them, there are several video tutorials that you can even subscribe to on iTunes. Dig even deeper with the KeyShot Manual.




When I create a rendering, these are the steps I go through:

  1. Model
  2. Props (sometimes it helps to have secondary items in the image for scale or context)
  3. Materials, textures, colors
  4. Shadows, perspective, and depth of field settings
  5. Environment (HDR images set the lighting)
  6. Backplate if any (simple white backgrounds help images blend into website backgrounds)
  7. Labels
  8. Detail settings (reflectivity, image size, automatic edge rounds, ray bounces)

keyshot5.pngThe various parts of the interface all detach and move around so you can make efficient use of your screen space. You can make KeyShot as simple or as complex as you want, depending on the depth of the settings and customization you add to materials, hdr images, backplates, textures and so on.


This image took about 10 minutes to create. For something that can help promote your skills, your company, your products, that's time well spent. You don't need to hire a professional to get great results.


KeyShot could easily turn out to be the most popular addition to ST7. In a release with a lot to love, this is going to be at or near the top for a lot of folks.


Monthly rendering contest anyone?

Gears Phenom

Hi Matt,


I think this is the best thing since sliced bread Smiley Wink. I very like Solid Edge and Keyshot integration. Powerful! Smiley Wink

The best thing in this that while Keyshot is rendering a video or image I (and our customers) CAN use Solid Edge for modeling or making draft, etc... And the live linking...

Very easy to use KS while VS+ was terrible, but I had to "dig into" myself, OMG I think this was just a nightmare.


Here is a live demo (sorry for hun lang, please, mute it Smiley Happy ):


"Monthly rendering contest anyone?" Yes, why not? C'mon Solid Edge users!



Gears Honored Contributor

A glimpse of what KeyShot users have achieved:

astonishing images.


...and a more direct link tweeted by @danstaples as the most awesome photo-real renderer ever now included in Solid Edge with ST7


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi there.

Just a couple of questions.

Have been using Keyhot 4 plugin for ST6, this gives you access to Keyshot through SE with live linking. Already have the icons for Keyshot in ST6.

So does this indicate that that I will have to upgrade to Keyshot 5. to use the same features in ST7 ?

There is a mention of requires Licence I spotted somewhere.

Also Keyshot animation is an add on within Keyshot. Will we require this in order to view animation ?

Also, If Keyshot runs as a limited free version within ST7 ( As has been used before by other CAD software) you will be unable to render in the size's shown in the demo, nor I believe, will you be able to run Animation.

Hoping that I am exposed as a complete idiot, and have the whole thing wrong.




Imics, Great stuff... Now please show me how to make my IGUS Cable Carrier move like that. And everyone should be thrilled about Keyshot 5 being part of Solid Edge. And GEO, this will install with your existing KS V4. No need to ever "upgrade" KeyShot again. You will receive the FULL package and all the updates automatically.
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor


Thanks for clearing that up.

Well that sounds really good. As I hinted I thought I was looking at the picture from the wrong angle !!!!

BTW. My first post here, and already well impressed.






Community Manager

@geo  -- Bob is right, but to be a bit more specific:


1. KeyShot for Solid Edge comes in every seat of Solid Edge Classic and Solid Edge Premium with ST7. If you have something less (like Foundation) you will need to upgrade to Classic, which provides other goodies as well.

2. It has unlimited resolution.

3. Animation is supported in a really cool way -- see Imi's video. Basically the animation controls in SE are more advanced -- they use the constraints and motors and all that. But then you just hit a button and it transfers ALL THAT to KeyShot, where you set final materials and lights and render all the frames at high quality. 


PS> Not only do we LOVE KeyShot as a product, they are brilliant guys to work with. We exchange email and code on a daily basis and I can't say I've had a better partner any time working on Solid Edge over the last 18 years!

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Thanks for info.

Yes running Premium, and have been using KS for number of years.

My concern was maybe not able to run animation without KS animation.

But now understand you controll in SE.

Also, As you say the guys at KS are fantastic always willing to help.

And their forum is full of guys willing to give help and assistance.

Can't wait for it !



Gears Phenom

Hi Bob,


If I have a free time I'll share my knowledge and make a video about this. Smiley Wink






Thanks Imics... I look forward to seeing that.

Gears Honored Contributor

While I am still some time away from ST7, tried to get a feel of the original product as a trial download with watermarked images. Solid Edge import is readily available for both part and assembly files.


Here's a not so great looking image but quite impressive rendering that could be produced in flat 60 seconds without prior experience with the product.


Commands and options appeared right under the mouse cursor as and when needed. I was not required to pan my sight 1024 pix across or 768 up-down the screen to locate the stuff I needed - this is a key to faster acceptance for any new product. Radial or Quad menus do not fill in this requirement  if  a new user still has to go through too many options to choose from at the mouse cursor.


Even with the riot of settings available at each step of material assignment, lighting and camera setup, the ease of use is the 'key' and hope it has percolated down to its integration in ST7 as well.







Keyshot makes presentations incredibly easy... Here's a Rendering done about 4 months ago, which took about 30 minutes... most of the time was selecting materials and working on the LED Lights to shed light. But even making the lights work was easy as pie!


Things such as the LABEL on the HMI touchscreen came in directly from Solid edge. And look at how real the Plexiglass Guard comes off.


GID Collar Sealer-18.142.jpg

Gears Honored Contributor

Bob, the assembly looks remarkably realistic. If some background is added, it would appear like a photograph.


Thanks Tushar... here's the real Machine. Funny thing when the Customer came for the FAT, they all said it looked just like what I presented in the Design Review.


I think the KeyShot rendering looks better then the real thing!


GI Dynamics CS1.png

Community Manager



I think your rendering is great. I think Tushar's point was just having a background makes it all the more real. Like just having those cinder blocks in the background of the real picture tells you its a real picture. :-)

Gears Esteemed Contributor

Dan, you don't have a cornerless all white room you place your stuff in to take pictures?  Smiley Tongue

Gears Honored Contributor

Bob, now it is difficult to tell the real pic from the Keyshot image - unless one reads the adjoining text in the comments Smiley Happy


Also your customer comment leads me into thinking that from now on one must be extra careful when presenting a computer rendered image for it becomes an obligation on his part to produce the actual tangible stuff that closely represents the initial rendering Smiley Tongue


Siemens Genius

Great to see this discussion and feedback on the KeyShot capabilities included with Solid Edge ST7. We just added a new 3 minute overview of these capabilities to our public website. This is more of a marketing resource but may be useful to our community as a quick overview...