How to Create Glowing Buttons in KeyShot

by | Sep 1, 2020 | 0 comments

With KeyShot, you’re able to create a range of light effects and apply it to a scene or to a model itself. Today, we’ll show you how to create glowing, backlit buttons in KeyShot with three easy techniques using physical lights, emissive materials, or emissive labels to softly illuminate a surface.

Three Techniques for Glowing Buttons

Glowing buttons are seen across various products whether they’re completely backlit, use a translucent material to illuminate the entire button, or a mix of material to illuminate a small area of the button. These techniques are applicable to each and with them, you’ll find more ways to light your products and scenes. Let’s break it down.


The scene with glowing buttons shown in the video is set up for you to explore and available for download on the KeyShot Scenes page.

Prepare Your Model

For the first two techniques, you’ll need to do some prep work in your CAD software. Split the surfaces you would like to illuminate and make sure the bottom of the geometry is open in order to create a back splash of light. (You’ll see how this works soon.) For the best effect in KeyShot, make sure to enable Global Illumination (in the Lighting tab) and Bloom effect (in the Image tab).

Technique #1 – Use a Physical Light

For the first technique, we’ll be using a physical light, which is why it has the potential to be the most realistic. First, change the material of the part you want the light to shine through. Use something like a transparent or cloudy plastic material, and tweak the settings to your liking.

Next, go to Edit, Add Geometry, and add a Cube. This will be the light source. Move it just under the surface of your button and then go to the Material tab and switch the Material Type to a Point Light. (An Area Light or Emissive material works too, depending on your scene.) Change the color to your liking and adjust the Power to change the brightness and the Radius to give it a softer shadow. This is a great option because you’ll see light coming through this surface, as well as spilling out around the edge.

Technique #2 – Apply an Emissive Material

For the second technique, you still need to separate the surface in your CAD software that you want to illuminate in KeyShot but you won’t need to add a physical light source. Instead, just change the Material Type of the surface to Emissive. Adjust the color and intensity to your liking, maybe add a texture, and that’s about it! This is a really quick and effective option.

Technique #3 – Add an Emissive Label

For the third technique, we’re going to create that glow by applying an Emissive label to the material. This is a nice option since you don’t need to split any surfaces in your CAD software. I’ll double-click the part to activate the Material, switch to the Labels tab, then drag-and-drop my image. Adjust the label as needed then change the Label Type to Emissive. To increase the brightness, switch to the Label Properties tab and adjust the Intensity slider. With Bloom enabled, this gives a great effect with hardly any setup.

Those are the basics of three very helpful techniques to create glowing buttons and illuminating surfaces for a wide variety of KeyShot scenes. Let us know your favorite! And, if you’d like to learn more about KeyShot Lighting, check out the Lighting section in the KeyShot Manual.


What Can You Create?

We would love to see what you create with this tip. Visit the KeyShot Amazing Shots forum to see what others are creating and share your own work. And if you have a suggestion for another tip share it in the comments below.

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Written By KeyShot

The KeyShot crew fills you in with the latest KeyShot tips and tricks, insight into 3D rendering technology and the people creating the coolest visuals across the engineering, product design and entertainment industries.


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