I need to revamp the website gallery… in the meantime here is a collection of miscellaneous still images, mostly just personal experiments and the like, some better than others. :P
It’s wrapping up, I’ve added all the bells and whistles – Ambient Occlusion, Depth fading, Image Adjustment, etc. Highlights can now be dialated or eroded. Support for separate outlines of normals. Presets and clean menus. I think this shader is about done.
The shader allows for a pretty broad array of looks, from architectural sketches to classic toon shading. Below is an example of a more painterly rendering.
Here are some presets:
I’m continuing to refine the NonPhotoRealistic (NPR) sketch post-process in Unreal. This is using completely different methods now, I’ve changed the method of convolution edge detection for outlines, and am using world-aligned sketch texturing in the shadow and highlight regions.
The background is also given a custom color and texture. The light source is defined through any number of unreal lights.
There is now support for sketchy highlights and varying line colors, and much better response to light. Ideally the post process would support variation in outline width, although I don’t have a good method for that yet.
There are options to use procedural line, dot and crosshatching for a more comic/newsprint look.
To get a more chalk-like effect with ink outlines I take this post process and combine it with an NPR painterly process which applies brushstrokes on the image in world space. Here’s the result:
This houdini file creates an infinite number of shapes to populate blueprints or info screens, with a “pen and ink” rendering look. It was a lot of fun to make.
My harddrive barfed up these scraps. What to do with all this? Put ’em on the internet of course.
It had been a while since I wrote anything technique-specific for softimage, so I decided to come up with a rendertree setup for “lit sphere” rendering and share it on this blog. I would talk about normals and angles of incidence and it would be completely cool. Well, it’s still cool, but no need for much in the way of discussion… it turned out to be ridiculously simple.
Have you ever used mudbox or zBrush and noticed how nice their realtime clay-like materials are? That’s what we’re talking about.
A “lit sphere”, or what zBrush users might recognize as a “MatCap” material, is a technique first described (as far as I know) by Bruce and Amy Gooch, Peter Sloan and William Martin in their 2001 paper “The Lit Sphere – A model for Capturing NPR shading from Art.”
The basic idea is simple: a spherical image can act as a stand-in for the lighting of a more complex surface, by mapping the angle of the surface normal (as seen from the camera) to XY coordinates of an image, such that the center of the image relates to a surface facing the camera and every other angle of incidence maps to an X (horizontal angles) and Y (vertical) coordinate on the texture.
The result is “lighting” defined for every possible normal via a simple texture, and what’s really cool is that the result can easily approximate various painterly, sketchy or waxy surfaces. Since everything derives from a texture, it’s fast enough for realtime shaders and easy to change and edit.
Ok, so how do we get this result in realtime, and how do we get it in Mental Ray? Well, realtime requires a realtime shader. It’s easy to make a HLSL shader in Mental Mill without any shader programming expertise at all. Here’s an admittedly junky one for use in Maya, which works in Softimage as well.
But if you don’t want realtime display in your viewport, it’s just as simple to render litspheres in Mental Ray, regardless of what package you’re using. Just use the mipGrayBall shader, and feed it a “litsphere” texture. That’s it. Done.
So, while this topic didn’t prove to be a basis for a insightful tour through the rendertree, at least it’s cool in the sense that you just can’t get a more powerful shading tool any simpler than this. If you are looking for an interesting approach to NPR or “Painterly” rendering styles, you want to specifically mimic a sketchy or painterly style of a traditional artist, or you want a good realtime material to model with that has the same feel of lighting you get in mudbox, now you’re set. Enjoy.
In a recent discussion online another artist complained that metaballs have a distinctive look and that that look is never seen in nature. I get what they’re saying, “blobbies” are kind of like lensflares in that they are useful and necessary but can easily be overdone and distracting. But I would also point out that they don’t have to look “blobby.” Below are a couple of images created easily and in just a few minutes using ICE and emPolygonizer2 (and photoshop for the one, because I just had to fiddle around…)