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Modern cartoon shading that's not cel shading

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My little nephew was watching that cartoon I had never heard about some time ago (Raving Rabbids) and I was thinking wow that kind of shading would be perfect for the kind of games I would like to make, especially if on mobiles.

One has to choose a niche that fits and obviously AAA-style MASSIVELY MORPG games will forever remain beyond my capabilities and resources, while puzzle/board games aren't my cup of tea and 2D isn't what I want to aim for as I have a reasonable knowledge of 3D, so small 3D adventures (small as in the size of the gameworld, not necessarily the whole scope which can be divided with gamestates in manageable chunks such as old SNES Zelda did) with a cartoonish look are exactly what I want to do. 

I've covered all Rastertek tutorials and am in the process of totally factoring that codebase into something more reusable and flexible, or in short, creating a modest, but somewhat capable 3D engine. I'm comfortable with HLSL as well.


The kind of shading I want to achieve can be seen here in case you don't know that cartoon (though it's also a game here):


Now for the actual question (TL;DR)


When I say cartoonish I don't mean cel-shading which doesn't resemble the style I'm after at all. As you can see it's far from "flat" and there aren't necessarily black outlines. Is the shading-style I want above actually a form of processing or is it just that the artists use brightly coloured textures while the shaders are still just plain good ol' bling-phong, shadow maps, point lights etc?


Maybe somewhat of a second question, some effects you see puzzle me a bit too. When one character flexes his muscles (0:32) you see a left-to right white-coloured swipe (0:37 - 0:38) that briefly highlights it. Maybe it's just a strong specular effect with the light moving left-to-right or is it something more sophisticated? And the fireball (0:19) lights its surroundings a bit, a (screen-space?) pointlight or something I guess?


Thanks fro clarifying things a bit for me.





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I'd say that it's mostly "standard" pipelines with the appearance dictated mostly by modeling and material choice. Simple textures, mostly, with all of the character modeling using round, organic shapes. The style somewhat reminds me of [url=]Blendman's[/url] style (link goes to google image search) in the use of organic character shapes and bright textures.


As for the effects, I suspect the fireball is just a 3D point light bouncing around in a box-like 3D scene. You probably could do it using a point light in screen space, but depending on your framework the former might be simpler.


The white swoosh could be a post-processing effect, or it could be a custom shader that fades the rendered material to white based on a combination of time(t) and the location of a given fragment on the horizontal axis. 


With most simple effects like this, there are usually multiple ways of accomplishing them which depend quite a bit on the actual engine you use.

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These kinds of “advanced” cartoon effects typically benefit from a 2D look-up texture similar to those shown here: (pages 14 and 15).
You can control specular fall-offs and Fresnel behavior better with these and add the sharper contrasts you want for the cartoon effect while making it just smooth enough for your tastes that it is not cel-shading. This is how at tri-Ace we have made similar graphics before.

L. Spiro

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