Non-Photographic Rendering

Pixar's technical development team recently unveiled a new set of tools to offer CG animation the potential of a more painterly look. The idea is to give art directors more stylistic options, so that they're not always stuck with the hard plastic look that tends to come by default in CG animation software.

The new process begins by having a stylist hand-paint a few keyframes. The tools then extend the style of those keyframes throughout the whole sequence, keeping the strokes and textures stable. One of the options is to extract outlines and give the output a hand-drawn look.

The initial demo that they showed gives the feeling that the painterly style is just stuck on the surface of smooth digital animation, and it's been criticized for that reason. But this is just an early test, and the full promise of the tools haven't been seen yet.

In order to make the style seem more organic, it might help to introduce some randomness into the timing and the arcs of the animation, or perhaps even to use a completely different technique for rigging and animation, perhaps with a waldo armature, like the DID (Digital Input Device) developed by Phil Tippett. 

I believe one thing we'll see in coming years are all sorts of unexpected combinations between handmade and digital techniques, such as the 3-D printing-enabled stop-motion of Laika's recent Paranorman.

From Cartoon Brew
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