Non-photorealistic rendering

Following a lecture on Tuesday I and most of the MProf students now have a much clearer idea why we’ve been doing activities for the past few weeks and what we’re expected to submit come December. As such I’ve a great deal of reading to do and a blog to write. I’d best make a start.

I enkoy 3D modelling and animation – it’s what I’d like to be involved in when I finish this course – but I’m most interested in how it can be used to replicate the visual style of 2D animation techniques. The goal is to produce a 3D animation that is indistinguishable from a 2D animation, and in doing so reaping the benefits of working in 3D.

It’s little surprise then that I begin my search for research material looking into this field. I found a great deal of work looking into a broad range of topics. I shall begin with something most P.C. gamers should be familiar with, “Illustrative Rendering in Team Fortress 2.”

Abstract:
“We present a set of artistic choices and novel real-time shading techniques which support each other to enable the unique rendering style of the game Team Fortress 2.  Grounded in the conventionsof early 20th century commercial illustration, the look of Team Fortress 2 is the result of tight collaboration between artists and engineers.In this paper, we will discuss the way in which the art direction and technology choices combine to support artistic goals and gameplay constraints. In addition to achieving a compelling style, the shading techniques are designed to quickly convey geometric information using rim highlights as well as variation in luminance and hue, so that game players are consistently able to visually “read” the scene and identify other players in a variety of lighting conditions.” [Mitchell et al. 2007]

One of the reasons I found this so interesting, besides being a big fan of Team Fortress 2, is that although it discusses how the style of style of the game was achieved it also discusses in some detail why the style was chosen and how these choices impact on gameplay.

Mitchell also introduces to my blog the term “Non Photorealistic Rendering,” used to describe the myriad render styles that strive for something other than photorealism. In adopting an NPR approach 3D artists would “ideally draw from some real-world artistic techniques under the assumption that such techniques developed by humans have inherent value due to the evolutionary nature of art.” [Mitchell et al, 2007] Illustrating this Mitchell references the work of J. C. Leyendecker, Dean Cornwell and Norman Rockwell.

Weapons for Liverty by J. C. Leyendecker
Weapons for Liverty by J. C. Leyendecker

Mitchell notes the key techniques used by these early 20th centurt illisytrators and descusses how these were achieved the game space, covering first the implications for characters and archictecture design then the technical challenges involved in realising these designs.

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