NPR plugin for Maya: first output

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Old 03 March 2003   #1
NPR plugin for Maya: first output

As some of you know, I'm currently working on a non-photorealistic rendering plug-in for Maya. After being sidelined due to other commitments, I'm now back on it (actually there's something else I need to get out of the way first, but that's another story). As you can see, development hasn't got very far yet, it only does very simple cel-rendering at the moment, and up until yesterday it wouldn't render animations, but thanks to a dirty windows hack it now does!

It's provisionally entitled "NPR for Maya". Not very jazzy I know, but as a programmer one's motto should be "KISS". (Thanks to everyone who suggested names!)

If I was going to be pedantic this should probably go in WIP, but I think it's a lot more relevant here. I'll keep this thread updated as I go along. Once this other project's out of the way, I'll be going full time on NPR, and I hope to have a beta (actually make that alpha) ready for download by early April.

Next up: stroke building & parameterisation, surface stroke rendering and then the real beauty: natural media effects!
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You can have your characters photoreal, fast or cheap. Pick two.
Old 03 March 2003   #2

I'd definitely be interested in giving your plugin a go.. I'm working on a short as well which necessitates a NPR type render. Unfortunately, I'm running on Mac.. any chance of a mac version, or would you be willing to allow someone else to compile it for ya?

jason schleifer
Animator -
Co-Founder -
Old 03 March 2003   #3
Argh damn Macs!

Now there's a problem... you're welcome to have a go jason, but it uses some windows-specific code to get the rendering done.

Do you know much about OpenGL extensions on windows and on mac os (and mac windowing api)? If you're comfortable with the code it shouldn't be too hard to transfer, but I don't think I could, especially not on the schedule I'm working to

You can have your characters photoreal, fast or cheap. Pick two.
Old 03 March 2003   #4
Excellent work! It'll be a great pluggin!
Old 03 March 2003   #5
Not super familiar with the code, but that's the best way to GET familiar.. force yourself to get it done.

I'd be happy to give it a shot!

I'll email ya privately about i..
jason schleifer
Animator -
Co-Founder -
Old 03 March 2003   #6
can<t wait to have a try at your plug-in!

So far, I haven found any non-photorealistic rendering plug-in for Maya that works well! Esspecialy for polygone base models!!!

later jack
Old 03 March 2003   #7
Cool i've been looking for good NPR renderers for Maya. Look forward to giving yours a try when you're done w/ it, or have a working version for testing. I remember a demo at siggraph that disney did on their inka shader/plugin back in 2001. It took into account which lines were closer to the camera and shaded them thicker than other lines, any plans for stuff like this?
Old 03 March 2003   #8
you're test render looks great!

There are a LOT of people in the maya community looking for a decent NPR'r .... The best one I've been able to find is Patrick Jean's Tomcat.

It's strength is that it uses Artisan as a post effect rather than a facing ratio utility and ramp node.

But after some rigerous testing my pals and I have found a few problems with the way it applies the Artisan brushes to edges. Namely, it tends to evaluate detailed edges by applying many short little straight strokes which results in a less than smooth line.

It also has issues with interior polygon holes which don't render without cranking everything up to the Nth degree which blows away what we wanted for an exterior line.

Simply, we couldn't get an solid even line.

I can't see either issue with your test render which makes me VERY excited !! Know that when you release this NPR'r you'll be heralded by droves of hungry Maya users!

Keep up the great work!

Old 03 March 2003   #9
Sammy, have you tried turning off strokes for the brush you're using, that will create smooth lines.

I think the Tomcat shader is great, it just needs a little mroe work, and it wouldn't hurt if he/they finished the flippin' website!

Good luck with the plugin playmesumch00ns, if you need a beta tester I'm a willing ginnea pig.
Old 03 March 2003   #10
Thanks for all the replies guys, feedback's what I'm after!

Jason - yuppity send me a pm/e-mail and we'll talk about it. Think I should mention that at the moment it will only work for polys. I had plans to make it work for NURBS too, but unfortunately that would require a very different paradigm for a lot of it, and the old deadlines are coming up fast!

Houkah - Yes, depth-cueing on the edges will be a feature, but you'll need to turn off "Auto D-map focus" from teh camera settings to stop Maya making funky depth maps.

Sammy - My stroke rendering is done through my own system. I plan to add support for paint effects too once I get to that stage of the plugin.

What do you mean by "interior polygon holes"? Please explain as it's stuff like this I really want to know so I can make my plug-in better for users!

What features would everyone like to see from a non-photorealistic renderer?

You can have your characters photoreal, fast or cheap. Pick two.
Old 03 March 2003   #11
I would like NPR which work properly with the edge line , I could not find the NPR work properly for maya even the TOMCAT, XMB could be very nice but have to composite the edge line.

i'm waiting for your good news
Old 03 March 2003   #12
as a newly converted traditional animator to 3d animation, I would REALY like a non-photorealistic renderer that is mostly concentrated on the ink (the colored outlines of the objects ) than on the shading of the objects. The reason is that I usaly mix traditional animated characters with 3d characters and I want them to both have the same 'outline' look! For the coloring I usualy use a traditional Ink and paint program!

So The one feature I would like to see on a NPR is basicaly option were I can edit the tickness and style of the ink as well as a depth recognition!

Hope I<m making some sence!

anyway from wath i<ve seen so far from your test it rocks!

later jack
Old 03 March 2003   #13
I don't know if you've seen the wysiwyg NPR video. I think it was something they showed at siggraph 2002. The best thing about it was that it let artists draw directly on the mesh. So you could draw what you want a stroke to look like and the system would try to use this stroke for the rest of the mesh. I don't know how possible that is but it's an amazing feature if possible. Here's a link to a pdf describing it.

I believe this is a standalone package so i'm not really holding my breath. Other than that I second what jackkhouri said. Lots of controls for the ink outlines would be nice. I'm personally interested in controlling the darkness/transparency of the ink outline based on its distance from the camera.
Old 03 March 2003   #14
My motivation with this is to allow an artist to create as many different effects as possible. The functions that let you draw an inked outline will also let you draw a paint-brush or stippled outline just by changing brushes and/or parameters. That includes all sorts of things such as thickness/pressure, transparency, colour (hopefully I'll get the function working where it'll pick up the colour from the mesh underneath, but I can't guarantee it'll work perfectly), effects based on depth, screen-space position and a whole load more.

With [a huge amount of] luck, I'll be able to get a simple scripting system going, so it'll open everything up to the artist; something along the lines of

thickness = smoothstep(3, 1, z);

for example, to blend the line thickness between 3 and 1 based on z-depth. This would be a lot of work, but fingers crossed...

Houkah: Yeah I've read the paper, and it's very interesting. Unfotunately it's one of the things that comes under the heading of "If only I had enough time..." on my to-do list!

Thanks all for the input!

You can have your characters photoreal, fast or cheap. Pick two.
Old 03 March 2003   #15
This looks very interesting. I have been looking at some NPR solutions...this proves very promising.

Please keep us updated.

And if you need people to test it for you and provide feedback, let me know

Best of luck getting it done!

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