3D World

REN­DER­MAN MEETS PHOTOSURRE­ALISM

Learn how to cre­ate il­lus­tra­tive looks in Ren­der­man with Dy­lan Sis­son

- Tech · Animation · Adobe Photoshop · Adobe · Pixar Animation Studios · Autodesk

As a ren­derer for high­end VFX, Ren­der­man can cre­ate stun­ning pho­to­re­al­is­tic images, which is fan­tas­tic… for some things, but what if the end goal is a ren­der that looks like an il­lus­tra­tion, a car­toon, anime, or even a paint­ing? What if the art di­rec­tion is Non-pho­to­re­al­is­tic Ren­der­ing (NPR)? If you haven’t been liv­ing un­der a rock (and no of­fense to un­der-a-rock in­hab­i­tants) then you’ve no­ticed over the last few years an in­creas­ing amount of styl­ized looks in fea­ture an­i­ma­tion. At Pixar, we have been ex­plor­ing new fron­tiers of NPR looks and have some up­dates for you, to pho­to­re­al­ism and be­yond! To para­phrase ev­ery­one’s favourite space ranger.

Pixar is cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing many dif­fer­ent tech­niques for cre­at­ing styl­ized looks, in­clud­ing build­ing a flex­i­ble NPR sys­tem di­rectly into the path-trac­ing ‘brains’ of Ren­der­man. A deep in­te­gra­tion in Ren­der­man prom­ises a num­ber of ben­e­fits, such as sup­port of in­ter­ac­tive ‘live ren­der­ing’ for fast styl­ized look de­vel­op­ment. This tu­to­rial is a tech­nol­ogy pre­view where you’ll see some early work­flows and po­ten­tial in­te­gra­tion of NPR into Ren­der­man. Thanks to a re­cent col­lab­o­ra­tion, these tech­niques are now be­ing tested and de­vel­oped in con­junc­tion with the NPR ex­perts at Lol­lipop­shaders, and show the pos­si­bil­i­ties of lever­ag­ing path trac­ing to cre­ate unique styl­ized looks.

For this tu­to­rial, I will be­gin with the ini­tial con­cept and take that to mod­el­ling, PBR shad­ing and light­ing, and fi­nally com­pose an il­lus­tra­tive treat­ment.

01 CHOOSE AN ARTIS­TIC STYLE

When cre­at­ing NPR im­agery, it’s im­por­tant to pick a clear artis­tic goal, oth­er­wise you might be sur­prised where you end up, lost. Non-pho­to­re­al­is­tic Ren­der­ing can be any artis­tic style be­sides pho­to­real, so there is much op­por­tu­nity, and risk too. Ren­der­man’s NPR sys­tem is de­signed to al­low the cre­ation of unique looks, and not force any spe­cific style. So un­like PBR ren­der­ing where there is a ‘ground truth’ of what is phys­i­cally cor­rect for an im­age, when work­ing in NPR it’s help­ful to iden­tify an artis­tic style and then thor­oughly dis­sect it for an NPR treat­ment, and use that as ‘NPR Truth’.

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02 DE­FINE OUR IL­LUS­TRA­TIVE LOOK

Last Oc­to­ber, I par­tic­i­pated in ‘Ink­to­ber’, a chal­lenge to cre­ate a new drawing each day of the month. Started by Jake Parker in 2009, millions of peo­ple now par­tic­i­pate in Ink­to­ber ev­ery year. For this tu­to­rial, I choose my se­ries of draw­ings from 2019 to serve as the ‘artis­tic truth’ for my styl­ized treat­ment. The il­lus­tra­tion is sim­ple, but re­quired some im­por­tant artis­tic nu­ances to pull off. So af­ter set­tling on this style, I had to tech­ni­cally dis­sect it.

03 THE EL­E­MENTS OF STYLE

This il­lus­tra­tion style can be bro­ken down into sev­eral com­po­nents. First, the foun­da­tion of the il­lus­tra­tion is black linework, notably hav­ing heav­ier thick­ness in shad­owed ar­eas. That foun­da­tion is sup­ported by Copic marker, black hatch­ing, white hatch­ing, white linework, and a back­ground. Later, you will see how each of these com­po­nents can be rep­re­sented di­rectly by us­ing cus­tom AOVS, pat­terns, and Dis­play Fil­ters. The Dis­play Fil­ters can be daisy-chained to­gether to con­struct a fi­nal look, all as­sem­bled ‘in cam­era’ with­out the need for com­posit­ing.

04 SCULPT THE MODEL IN VR

Be­cause this is a ‘car­toony’ style, I wanted the base ge­om­e­try to also have the same il­lus­tra­tive feel. So start­ing at the vir­tual drawing board, I be­gan sculpt­ing the model in VR us­ing Adobe

Medium. I’ve found cre­at­ing the sorts of shapes I might draw in 2D is quite nat­u­ral when sculpt­ing in VR. For this par­tic­u­lar model, I cre­ated over 40 lay­ers for all the ob­jects, com­bined them in six lay­ers which I then ex­ported as an FBX, with the lay­ers pre­served nicely for shader at­tach­ment later on. The fi­nal model has a ‘hand-made’ shape which will work well for an il­lus­tra­tive style.

05 CLEAN UP AND REMESH

With the model ex­ported from Medium, it’s time for a lit­tle clean up. It’s im­por­tant to point out, Medium is a voxel mod­eller, which means that the sculpts are cre­ated from 3D pix­els (vox­els) in­stead of 3D polyg­o­nal mesh ‘skins’ (like most other mod­ellers). So on ex­port, sculpts are con­verted from vox­els to polyg­o­nal meshes. Medium does a de­cent job of this, but I like to run ex­ported meshes through Au­todesk’s free tool, Meshmixer.

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 ??  ?? AU­THOR Dy­lan Sis­son
Dy­lan Sis­son has over 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in VFX and an­i­ma­tion. Af­ter join­ing Pixar in 1999, Dy­lan has worked in Ren­der­man Prod­ucts, while cre­at­ing per­sonal art­work in emerg­ing me­dia. www.dy­lan­sis­son.com
AU­THOR Dy­lan Sis­son Dy­lan Sis­son has over 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in VFX and an­i­ma­tion. Af­ter join­ing Pixar in 1999, Dy­lan has worked in Ren­der­man Prod­ucts, while cre­at­ing per­sonal art­work in emerg­ing me­dia. www.dy­lan­sis­son.com
 ??  ?? Pick a clear artis­tic goal, or you might get lost in the cre­ative block
About ‘photosurre­alism’ The ti­tle of the ar­ti­cle is a nod to a term coined by An­thony A. Apo­daca, co-creator of the Ren­der­man In­ter­face Spec­i­fi­ca­tion, in his pa­per Photosurre­alism at Euro­graph­ics 1998.
Pick a clear artis­tic goal, or you might get lost in the cre­ative block About ‘photosurre­alism’ The ti­tle of the ar­ti­cle is a nod to a term coined by An­thony A. Apo­daca, co-creator of the Ren­der­man In­ter­face Spec­i­fi­ca­tion, in his pa­per Photosurre­alism at Euro­graph­ics 1998.
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