How To Use KeyShot Toon Material for Technical Illustration

The KeyShot Toon material makes creating Technical Illustrations quick and easy. Apply the toon material, adjust the contours to your needs and save the exact camera view you need. With the KeyShot Material Graph, available with the release of KeyShot 6 Pro, you can create an unlimited array of unique looks to set your technical illustration, line art or concept sketches apart from anyone else.

KeyShot Material Graph

The KeyShot Material Graph is an extension of the Material Editor, that allows node based control over your material. The nodes simply allow you to combine different material or effects to the base material.

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Here's what the Material Graph looks like for our example file.

Toon >Color Composite > Color Invert > Color Adjust > Occlusion

Toon is the base material applied to the part. From there different nodes are combined by connecting them to specific settings. Let's take a look at what each one does.

  • Toon
    • Purpose: Base material for illustration look. Provides the outline contour, as well as some distinct interior contours.
    • Color Composite node connects to Color input.
    • Set Contour Color.
    • Contour Width: Specifies the width of the Toon contours. For a scene in mm, a width of 1 defines a contour of 1 mm (if 'Contour width is in pixels' is unchecked).
    • Contour Angle: Set high (e.g. 150), so that the Toon interior contours do not overlap the contours from the Color Composite node.
    • Contour Quality: Increase to get sharper and more defined contours. Increasing quality will make the contours appear wider.
    • Uncheck the Contour width is in pixels option to maintain a consistent look when rendering at different resolutions.
    • Check Environment Shadows and tweak Shadow Multiplier slider to get shadows from the environment lighting on the Toon material.
  • Color Composite
    • Purpose: Blend 'edge texture' with background color.
    • Color Invert node connects to Source input.
    • Set Background color. This will be the base color for the illustration.
    • Set blend mode to Screen. This will create bright highlights for the interior edges on the background color. (For dark interior edges: remove the Color Invert node and set blend mode to Multiply.)
    • Tweak Source Alpha slider to set the desired opacity for the interior edges.
  • Color Invert
    • Purpose: Invert 'edge texture' (white edges on black background)
    • Color Invert has no control parameters.
  • Color Adjust
    • Purpose: Increase contrast for edges (make them darker).
    • Occlusion node connects to Color input.
    • Contrast: Increase until edges are black(ish).
  • Occlusion
    • Purpose: Single out hard edges in model (black edges on white background) to be used for the interior edges of illustration.
    • Set Unoccluded color to white. Set Occluded color to black.
    • Radius: Specifies the width of the 'edge contours'. For a scene in mm, a radius of 1 defines a contour of 1 mm.
    • Increasing samples can help to get more defined edges. The default value of 8 should be OK.
    • Check the Inside option. For solid (closed mesh) models, the Inside option will focus the occlusion (Occluded color) around edges.
    • All other parameters can be left at default values.

Tips & tricks

  • Materials are sensitive to scale and scene units. If the material is applied to a model of different size and/or in different units, then some parameters need to be changed to maintain the same look.
    • Parameters to change:
      • Occlusion: Radius
      • Toon: Contour Width
    • Ex: If the scene units are converted from m to mm, then Radius and Contour Width have to be multiplied by 1000.
  • The Color Composite node allows for a lot of flexibility in defining the 'interior look' of the illustration. Experimenting with different blend modes, opacities (alpha and masking) can lead to surprising and interesting results.

Of course, through the KeyShot Material Graph, you can change any of these parameters, add other nodes and adjust their setting to achieve exactly the look you need for your Technical Illustration. Watch our KeyShot 6 Advanced Material Webinar to also see how it's done.

If you haven't tried KeyShot yet, why not give it a go? You can download a free license of KeyShot here.

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