Another 3D Anime Background

Now that I finished recreating the FLCL background using LightWave 3D, I have started working on a second background. This time, I’m using a shot from Cowboy Bebop, my favorite anime. If you haven’t seen the show, get yourself a copy (or wait until it starts airing on Adult Swim again — they have been showing Cowboy Bebop since Adult Swim first started in 2001, because the series is that good).

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LightWave 3D Super Cel Shader Replacement

If you ever wanted to render an object in LightWave 3D using a cel shaded (aka “toon shaded”) look, you probably considered using Super Cel Shader. LightWave 3D has included Super Cel Shader as part of the standard installation since version 5.5 (in the mid-1990’s).

Super Cel Shader is great because it is so easy to use. You can specify up to four brightness zones on your object based on the amount of diffuse light at each point, and specify a static color brightness to use for that zone. When the object is rendered, each zone will show up as a single color band on the object, creating a traditional cartoon-shaded effect.

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3D Anime Background – FLCL

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I am working on creating anime-style backgrounds within LightWave. I was a little delayed on this side project by a small cold but I finally finished a draft of my first basic scene, which is the main character’s room from FLCL. You can view the reference image either in my original post or directly here.

This draft is as much as I plan on doing for this particular side project. My goal was to create techniques that will aid me in creating better backgrounds for traditional-looking animations, and I accomplished that goal.

FLCL Naota's Room
LightWave 3D render of a background scene from FLCL (click for full size image).

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Simple Watercolor Texture in LightWave 3D

I’ve been working on additional models for my FLCL background recreation, so instead of showing updates to that scene I will show you the basics of my technique for creating watercolor-like textures.

Watercolors mix together in interesting ways, especially when layered. As this example image shows, the layered colors don’t just mix to form a uniform color; you can see bits of the color from underneath peaking out where the top color didn’t saturate the paper. My goal with my surface was to recreate that type of watercolor technique.

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3D Anime Backgrounds

I have been working on creating more stylized background renders from LightWave 3D using some techniques of my own design. The goal is to create backgrounds that fit better into traditional Japanese-style animation shows (anime).

I have made good progress but I still have a lot of work to perfect the new techniques. My current goal is to create a reasonable likeness of a background from the show FLCL (one of my favorite anime shows of all time, although it’s a bit surreal and probably nonsensical if you aren’t already interested in the genre). Here is the background I am trying to duplicate in LightWave:

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Book: Steal Like An Artist

Book cover of "Steal Like An Artist", by Austin Kleon.
Book cover of “Steal Like An Artist”, by Austin Kleon.

While I was on vacation earlier this year and waiting a few minutes at FedEx for my turn in line, I noticed a book on display titled “Steal Like An Artist” (by Austin Kleon). I only had time to flip through a few pages, but I was intrigued enough to jot down the title and look it up when I got home. A few weeks later I looked up the book on Amazon and bought it.

 The book is fairly short and the pages do not have much text. I was able to read the entire book in 2 short sessions over 2 days. And I have already re-read the book, which I did in one session while taking some barebones notes.

But although the book is short, it has some great ideas and suggestions for improving your creativity, as an artist or in any line of work.

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LightWave 3D Outdoor Lighting Tests

Last week I created a basic outdoor scene and created multiple lighting setups for different times of the day (and night).  You can see a simple clay render of the scene in my “LightWave 3D Clay Render Tutorial”.  Below is a simple radiosity render after I textured the objects.

A render of the scene using only Final Gather radiosity.
A render of the scene using only Final Gather radiosity.

Using this exact scene, I used different lighting setups to give the feeling of morning, noon, sunset, and night. All scenes use the same textures/surfaces.

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Week in Review – Oct 20

It’s the end of my second week tracking my goals and I am happy with the results so far.  I did not check every box on my list, but I did just as well as my first week.  I worked out twice, used Lightwave for more than four sessions, wrote in my log book each day, and meditated five times (my goal is to meditate every day; this is the only target I missed).

I finished some basic lighting setups for different times of the day, but I still need to put together the final renders into a post, which I’ll take care of soon.  You can get a sneak-peak of the scene and objects by taking a look at my clay render tutorial.  This week I want to try to focus on some cartoon/anime style textures and rendering techniques for backgrounds.

I also made some small tweaks to the site this week, like improving some style sheet settings and making the site a little wider to better display content.

LightWave 3D Clay Render Tutorial

A “clay render” is a simple lighting and surfacing combination for an object or scene that causes the objects to look like they are made out of clay. Clay renders are often used to view or show off the geometry of an object without the distractions of the various surface colors.

Directions (for a single object — if you already setup your own scene, skip to step 3):

  1. Add a “floor” object to your scene. If you don’t already have one created, use Modeler and create a large flat square named “Floor”.
  2. Add your object and arrange the object so it is resting on the floor. Continue reading “LightWave 3D Clay Render Tutorial”