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A collection of articles and design explorations I’ve created since 2013. Visit the archive for the most popular articles.

In addition to my portfolio and gallery, I sometimes feel inspired to share the process of learning new software or techniques. Here you'll find a combination of tutorials, news and image/scene breakdowns. 

Breakdown: Whiskey Tumbler

Recently, I read an article about creating product photography for whiskey. Inspired by the final image, I wanted to try re-creating it on my own using only digital tools. I decided to model a whiskey tumbler, complete with ice cubes in Fusion 360, and use KeyShot as my digital studio and camera.

Modeling the ice cubes could have been a potential challenge to do in a traditional CAD application, so I was excited to have a practical use for Fusion 360's sculpting environment. Here's what the model looked like in Fusion 360. 

Materials have been applied in order for proper material setup in KeyShot. Green surfaces represent where ice meets air, red represents where glass meets whiskey, blue represents where whiskey meets ice and yellow represents where whiskey meets air.

Color coding faces where different materials meet is crucial as KeyShot has materials that allow you to set independent IoR (index of refraction) values for either side of each of these surfaces. An IoR affects how light behaves as it moves through a material, and with transparent materials, having accurate IoR values is vital to achieving realism.

Once in KeyShot, I had to decide how to set up the scene. This meant considering the light sources to be used, how to treat the ground plane and backdrop. I took a couple different approaches. I used a ground plane to help improve caustics as well as bounce light through the glass and scene as a whole. I also used a plane with an emissive material applied along with an abstract bokeh graphic to simulate the effects of a dimly-lit bar shot with a very short depth of field. This means that the plane acted as a nice backdrop as well as contributed colored light to the scene for a great effect. See how I set some of my scene and materials up below. 

To add further detail, I used textures to bring the scene to life. I used both a rain droplets overlay texture along with KeyShot's built-in Spots Procedural texture, then composited them to have condensation in select areas. I used a noise procedural on the ice to add more surface imperfection and extreme refraction. I also used the spots procedural to add air bubbles to the ice cubes. I used a few more textures that were downloaded from Poliigon.com, which included a wood texture, wiping residue and a dust overlay texture as well. 

Download links below for the project files used to create this image.

I wanted to share this 3D model, KeyShot Scene and Photoshop file with you so you could dissect it and create your own renderings with it and see how it all comes together as well as learn about my process. Unfortunately, I can't redistribute the textures from Poliigon.com, so I deleted those and have created a package you can download for free and use in any way you wish! If you do create some renderings with it, I'd love to have you share your work with me on social media, or just send me a link via email.

Download Project Files