Some hints on the usage of Celulight:
First of all, remember to create a light source in After Effects - without that, it won’t work at all. For now leave it at its default position, you can move it around later.
Note that this is an early Beta version and there are red lines rendered over the frame - sorry, no production use for now!
Now that that’s out of the way… import your outline layer and apply the Celulight plug-in. This can be a simple line-art drawing or even an already colored cel. As long as there’s a reasonable amount of contrast between the fill and the contour, Celulight can handle it.
Also note that it works best if the layer has a transparent background. However, the artwork itself should have a fill color, even if it’s only white.
Immediately, you should see some rough shading. Play with the Threshold to adjust the areas that get shaded. To smooth the shading, adjust the Filter parameter to your liking. The higher the filter value, the smoother your shading becomes… at the expense of longer render times. I’ve had good results with the Medium and High settings.
It may help to disable the Shading Engine at this point while you adjust the normal map. The normal map is created internally by Celulight to approximate the height of the surface - no, it’s not perfect and there may be cases where it simply doesn’t look right… but for Cel shading on cartoon characters I’ve had excellent results so far.
If your outline has colors besides black, enable the Colored Outlines switch - this allows you to control the shade and shape in specific areas, e.g. you can set them to be convex, concave or simply flat. (I’m currently adding controls to simply ignore a specific color.)
To control the shading, there are a bunch of parameters that are probably self explanatory; if not, play around with them to see what they do.
Then there’s the Toon Engine: Switching this on changes the shading from the standard diffuse to a cel shaded look. Use the Toon Threshold to control the shadowing. If you have Gloss enabled, you can add a third color to the base and shadow.
The Gradient parameter is a bit experimental but gives a very modern cartoon look similar to the game Kingdom Hearts. I like it!
Another experimental feature is the Bump/Normal mapping. Not quite sure why you’d want to use this, but perhaps it can help with a sort of paper cut out or less than pristine cartoon look. Play with it - you’ll see what I mean. :shrug:
Well, that pretty much sums it up and should get you started with Celulight. I’ll post a more detailed tutorial on my website in the coming days.
If you have any questions please post them here; that way, other users may have their questions answered as well.
Have fun and cheers!