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Is there a tool out there that you can give a 3D model file, and it will output 2D renders of it from various angles? For example if you were making a 2D RPG but you want to make your character look nice, you might make the character in 3D and then just render the character from 8 or more angles into images which then are used by the 2D engine to give a pseudo-3D look.

Does such a tool exist or will it need to be custom-written or done manually?

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Couldn't you just fix the camera to a plane, and have 3D models in a 2d game? But interesting, +1 –  The Communist Duck Jun 18 '11 at 16:27
    
I was trying to avoid 3D as it's going to be a mobile game. I'm still weighing the pros and cons though. –  Ricket Jun 18 '11 at 18:38
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Here's a tool that does that for flash games: blog.seantcooper.com/?p=194 –  Tetrad Jun 18 '11 at 20:28
    
@Tetrad♦ Good link! –  Jonathan Connell Jun 20 '11 at 12:40
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@The Communist Duck, generally people want to do this so they can have 3d models that are much more detailed than their target platform can handle, while still looking really nice. –  AttackingHobo Jun 20 '11 at 16:20
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I guess you can use 3dmax/maya or other modeling tools and just render you objects there. you can render your object with very high quality and with complex rendering tools like raycasting. if you want you can also create orthographic camera in modeling tools to create a real 2d image for you.

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+1. Just use the modelling tool. Most of these tools are also scriptable (Maya, Blender, etc.) so you could probably automate a lot. –  bummzack Jun 20 '11 at 12:18
    
Yeah, scripting multiple renders from known angles and popping the results out into a folder would seem to be the way to go. That way you can modify any render parameters you like in a single place, and get good reproducability of results with a single click export. Another (ImageMagick perhaps) script on the outside to combine the single images into a sprite-sheet of sorts is also a good idea. –  MrCranky Jun 20 '11 at 13:06
    
One example of that: forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=4307.0 –  Adam Jun 20 '11 at 20:46
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In your question you make rendering a 3d model to a 2d texture sound like it's so trivial that there are tools that do that, but as big feature (which actually is trivial) do it multiple times and append them in a spritesheet.

In practice, you and your artist decide on a good renderer (many good ones exist, some cost a lot of money, some come with the artists 3d modelling tool). These renderers are scriptable, so your artist can define all the positions of your model, and then you can script the renderer to render each of the poses.

On the internet you can find tools that append multiple images into a single spritesheet like this one: http://spritesheetpacker.codeplex.com/

So in short, the tools to create the parts are out there, but you need to glue them together yourself.

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