Style reference

In terms of style we know that we are creating a Public Safety Announcement regarding student life in general and we want this to be evident to the audience from the beginning – so it will look just like an old American PSA video, Aspect ratio, dirt and scratches on the film.. The style that we want to aim for however is that of/ similar to, the Fallout Special, the 2D toon style with an outline.

We like the juxtaposition between the old looking style with modern day topics and the conflicts that it may create between the visuals.

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The Fallout Special shorts were created by an Australian animation company known as Rubber House. Bethseda (creators of the Fallout games) gave Rubber House the task of “translating the realistic environments of Fallout into a 1950’s style animation.” – Ivan Dixon, Co-founder, Rubber House.

For research Rubber House used The Prelinger Archives to study old 1940’s and 50’s instructional videos and television advertisements, then to achieve a true sense of the 1950’s era through the character animation they looked into early black and white television shows, such as The Flintstones for reference -to recreate that floppy style of animation.

Prelinger Archive: Prelinger

Early Flintstones episodes:

–  [motiongrapher article]

Obviously Fallout is a 2D piece of work and we would be looking to work in 3D, so to achieve this 2D look we would need to consider using toon shaders.

“Toon shading creates the look of 2D cel or cartoon animation using 3D modeling and animation software. Elements of the “toon” look include profile lines (outlines), border lines, crease lines, intersection lines, and solid color shading. Combined, these elements recreate the look of traditional animation’s “ink and paint” technique, where ink refers to lines and paint refers to shading.” – Autodesk toon pdf.

Toon shading is known as a type of non-photorealistic rendering: (NPR) which is an area of computer graphics that concentrates on creating a variety of expressive styles for digital art, using painting, drawing and animated cartoons as artistic reference styles. NPR is any technique which produces images in any style other than realism, photorealistic rendering attempts to recreate a realistic artificial image.

The link below contains a thorough list of books and articles studying techniques and approaches related to non-photorealistic rendering in a variety of mediums, it may come in handy when we start to look at our rendering process. Link – Stylised depiction in computer graphics

Generally NPR has been commonly used in movies and videos games in the form of toon shading but also more recently in scientific visualizations, architectural illustration and experimental animation. NPR is designed to make 3D objects appear ‘flat’ by using less shading colour – and more block colours thereby mimicking the style of comics and 2D cartoons.

Toon shading examples:

toon-shader

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While looking at toon shader examples we came across a youtube and vimeo channel that used the toon shader within Cinema 4D, which we found very appealing:

https://vimeo.com/eyedesyn

Examples of  work by EJ Hassenfratz using the sketch and toon shader which I found interested me:

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Currently we are looking to create something of a similar style to the image above, although we are yet to nail down our story for each episode (we know that they are going to revolve around student problems) we know that if we can decide on a style now that will be a weight off our shoulders and will give us time to experiment with different shaders and possibly different software/programs. We’ll know what the final outcome will look like when we come to render.

I found the image of the shoe above particularly appealing, the colours are not restricted to the inside of the outline, they leak out. In my opinion this makes the image more interesting, it gives the object a little more life and personality to it. The image has a more fluid, hand drawn and authentic feeling – it looks a little less computerised, we want to create more of an artistic style through non-photorealistic rendering.

However, the image below is also another style I found interesting. Unlike the image above it doesn’t have an outline but it does however, a better sense of depth through using more tones and lighting. It appears to use three tone shading (particularly the mugs and headphones) – one base colour, a lighter one for the highlights and a darker for the shadows, resulting in a more 3 dimensional feel to the image, because of this it isn’t as flat as the image above, which is quite nice but it does have more of a ‘toony’ and plastic feel to it – which I’m not a big fan of.

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The campfire image is another style that can be created with cinema 4D’s toon and sketch. I can’t quite decide if I like the result or not.. I think it’s a little too flat looking, in comparison to the previous examples shown in this post, it may also be that the shapes are just too simple for my liking, there isn’t any detail in the modelling or texturing. However I do like the lighting set up of the image, it’s simple and creates an interesting effect in the shadows on the ground, adding some detail and pattern to an otherwise simple looking render.

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The image below is of a similar style to the image of a shoe posted earlier, it’s a lot tidier looking – the colour leaks are much more controlled and less noticeable. In my opinion it might be a little too tidy, it’s not got that hand drawn feeling to it, like the first example but overall it would be a nice style to aim for.

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With the image below there is a lot more depth created, it’s not a flat image, there are visible textures in the grass, light reflections on the window and the colours aren’t as ‘in your face’ vibrant like the previous examples, they’re a lot more placid because of the colour scheme. However what I enjoy most about this image is the texture of the outline, it’s not a solid black line but broken and rough. As a result of this the line adds a sense of movement to the overall image, it gives the car a little more personality – it’s easy to imagine it chugging along with a slight bounce as it moves.

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An example of toon shading without an outline and I do prefer this result to the image of the computer and mugs. It doesn’t appear to have that typical shiny toon style to it and although it doesn’t have an outline the shape of the objects are still well defined.  There is a good sense of depth created within this image despite the fact it’s of 2D style, the use of tones has been well thought out and applied however it might be still a little too 3D looking for us.

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The bird was also created using Cinema 4D’s sketch and toon shader however it has a strong sense of a more painterly style than the rest of the examples as the artist has created their own shader similar to the art shader found within the toon shader. This reminds me of a technique I used on placement where we applied real world textures to cartoon stylised objects, giving them more depth and a more hand drawn feel – eg. we applied a crepe paper texture to any grass within the scene. It added a texture to an other wise flat plane of green without making it too realistic that it would no longer appeal to it’s audience (under 5’s)

Using the style of the bird would allow us to add depth to the scenes without losing the flatness and going too 3D while managing to add an artistic, painterly look to the project.

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Below are some tutorials that will come in handy when we start to test out the style, if we choose to use cinema 4D:

Creating Line art animations : resulting in the spinning vinyl example from above

Casting shadows within toon shader: using cel shader to cast shadows

Creating toon lines: drawing on sketch and toon lines

Creating stylised sketch cartoons : resulting in the bird above

Different approaches to creating a toon style render : 5 ways to create cel shading

Popeye the Sailor Man is another excellent example of the style that we really admire, that old classic 2D cartoon with the black outline, even the fact it’s in black and white is actually rather appealing.

Get A Horse: is a 2D/ 3D hybrid animation that is very similar to the style that we as a group are aiming for, it’s filled with gags and has that golden age years looks to it even though it was released alongside Frozen, definitely a reference to bring to our attention.

Another Style that we came across and found particularly interesting is that of artist Eran Hilleli, who also uses Cinema 4D to give his 3D creation a 2D style. These visuals were created for a music video. Overall we liked the flatness of the short, it’s could easily be mistaken for a 2D piece of work. What caught my attention was the shadows throughout, they aren’t the usual toon shader shadows that are harsh and rather in your face, but instead they blend nicely into the textures… something to keep in mind and to look out for later.

Bill Block: A 1950’s stylised animated short. A reference for a 1950’s inspired environment, animation and frame rate. The old style animation is actually very appealing, that slight lack in physics and the noodling limbs is a huge throwback to our childhood memories of animation.

Paperman: Disney’s groundbreaking technique that has seamlessly merged hand drawn and computer generated animation. This short is a great reference for the black and white, 2D, 1950’s style of animation we want to recreate.

Making of Paperman:

An interview with director John Kahrs and producer Kristina Reed: Paperman development

I really admire the animation within this short, the characters personalities have been beautifully created through their design and use of animation principles. I particularly love the animation at 6.47 – as she follows the paper airplane around the pole, there is a slight pause just before she follows up the stairs – I just think that this is a very well crafted piece of animation, especially the secondary action of the hair, it adds more personality and life to the sequence.

Overall with our project we are aiming for a 2D style similar to that of the Fallout shorts, along with a few attributes from the early PSA videos. Our next steps as a group will be to create the stories for our episodes along with characters and the world they live in.

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