Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2D to 3D and Back Again

It’s no surprise that there is a huge irony to a story about a woman who doesn’t want to paint so many creamers which is drawn by a woman who doesn’t want to have draw and paint so many creamers. I was also still labouring under the illusion that I was going to roto this epic opening camera move. With this in mind I thought that maybe, somehow if I could work with a 3D guy and create texture map like this

And he modeled all the teapots and creamers and cups and what not maybe we could save time and make the 3D look like the 2D. The result were pants.

It was 2004 and if cel shaders were around then (which they probably were) I didn’t know about them. I returned to old school and started drawing (on paper scanned in) and painting in photoshop.

It took ages and the results were okay but nothing special given the effort. Over the years I have come to realize that I am willing to put in the effort but only if the results warrant it. I used to just attack things without much forethought and then after the sweat had crystallized I would sit back and look at the outcome and go meh. This was another one of those moments where I knew the route I started was a dead end. Hand painting like this was not only time consuming it would be an impossible task to ‘farm out’ as consistency would be too difficult to manage.

Years later when I returned to Creamers – software had improved, I had let go of my Touch of Evil opening shot and I hooked up with a new 3D guy Dave Delisle who was able to model Ester and Joy’s workspace plus a perfect creamer incredibly quickly and accurately. We then created a flat simple texture for the painted creamer and rendered the environment with a few lights and a toon shader…hmmm maybe….

Using the method of stencil painting I had been working with in TV Paint for the characters I was hopeful I could use the Maya line and tone export as paint stencils. I wouldn’t have to draw all those creamers- I would only have to run big brush over my stencil and it should match the ‘look’. Even more importantly it would be simple and easy to teach. I did a test drive before I got too excited and Dave created this

Using my photoshop mask technique for my line I grunged it up and got this

Then I started stenciling in areas of colour

Then finally I got this – there are a lot of layers but each one takes a blink to create and can be merged once done.

Stencil Painting for Creamers Background Art from Hilary Moses on Vimeo.

Then we started our production line of backgrounds and creamer variations. Dave was given a reference drawing that also showed light sources and how many creamers were on the shelf and what the pattern was (if any) – continuity has been a bit of a unexpected nightmare on this film. Are they dots are they circles? yaddayaddayadda

And he would give me an unpainted creamer and a painted creamer version of the layout

This meant I could go from this

to this

In a manageable amount of time…well relatively manageable in animation terms not any sane person’s terms.


  1. Looking fwd to the glorious fruition! Keep 'er going Hilary & Dave! :D

  2. I IIn't want to sound too negative, but have you checked the result with target output resolution? Does it have lots of spatial aliasing when the camera moves or do you have enough filtering in place control that???

    Looks Incredible.

  3. Hey Dr Harrison -
    No its ok -aliasing has been an issue - I find it totally depends on the frame rate and the image (contrast, pattern,line etc) first 3D move tests were a nightmare but the latest ones are working. I have to hand tweak as I block in the 2D. Also none of the moves goes on very long so that is helping. Thanks for the support - hope you and your brood are well.