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I'm making a 2D game and I'm starting to think about graphics. I'm pretty good at 3D modelling, but I'm not very good at drawing or painting. I was wondering if there were settings, or even a renderer that someone could recommend that could achieve the nice painted look found in Aquaria.


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Could you add some example pictures of the look you're trying to achieve? – bummzack Jul 18 '11 at 18:34
Chances are it is achieved by shaders. – The Communist Duck Jul 18 '11 at 19:42
Judging from the images I found on Google, this could be almost flat (or very simple) shading, but just beautifully painted textures. – bummzack Jul 18 '11 at 20:23
The asker wants to know how to create 2D drawn graphics in a 3D modelling tool. That doesn't make sense, and the best answer is really that you shouldn't try to. Pick a better tool for the job. – Olhovsky Jul 18 '11 at 20:39
I am pretty sure the game's textures are all hand painted. Hence the use or reference to shaders seems a bit off. Effects maybe for rendering 2d images with subtle effects, but not your typical hardcore 3D rendering shaders. – Tim Holt Jul 18 '11 at 21:27
up vote 2 down vote accepted

What you're looking for is something along the lines of "painterly rendering" or "cel shading," probably. Both of these are subsets of the space of non-photorealistic rendering techniques. The majority of the information on these rendering techniques can be found in academic papers or books. There doesn't appear to be a wealth of Max plugins that provide NPR effects:

You can find more information by searching for "nonphotorealistic rendering," "painterly rendering," and "cel shading," although you're more likely to find academic papers discussing the techniques. There are a few threads on various CG forums talking about ways to use Max to do NPR, and Autodesk appears to have a few classes on the subject (behind paywalls, so you'll have to browse their site directly). There's also this YouTube video of a SIGGRAPH class from 2009 on the subject.

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I think "painterly painting" was the technique used - by a human :) – Tim Holt Jul 18 '11 at 21:28
Almost certainly in Aquaria's case. But the way the question was worded implied a lack of actual painting skill (or lack of desire to actually hand-paint everything), and thus a need to have a renderer help out with achieving the effect. – Josh Petrie Jul 18 '11 at 22:17

Unless you really want to have real 3D models, just convert them to 2D images. You could use an art pipeline something like this...

  1. Create 3D models of desired objects
  2. Take screenshots (save renders)
  3. Post process via filters and other FX in Photoshop to create desired effect
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