3D rendered pixel art

3D rendered pixel art

Postby c_xong » 07 Mar 2017, 00:11

I recently did some work replacing the walk animation sprites for C-Dogs SDL, and I set up a content pipeline for 2D animated sprites, which goes from Blender 3D models to a pixel art style. Here's the before/after:

Image

There's a full writeup of the process here: http://cxong.github.io/2017/03/3d-rendered-pixel-sprites

In a nutshell, the pipeline is fully automatic going from Blender and renders a spritesheet via scripting and some Imagemagick touch-up. I didn't use any fancy shaders; to get the right look I used Imagemagick to adjust the level curves. The result was surprisingly good given how little processing is involved in total.

Does anyone else work with 3D rendered sprites? What sort of pipeline/workflow do you use?
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Re: 3D rendered pixel art

Postby farrer » 07 Mar 2017, 12:12

The new animation looks amazing, much better than it was.

All projects I can remember that use 3d models to generate 2d sprites are isometric ones, but almost none of them are pixel-art (the only exception I can remember is this Flare mod).
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Re: 3D rendered pixel art

Postby Julius » 07 Mar 2017, 18:55

I agree looks great. Can your pipeline also render out normal maps for 2d pixel art realtime lights?
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” - Buckminster Fuller
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Re: 3D rendered pixel art

Postby rogerdv » 07 Mar 2017, 19:20

That would have been useful for a project I was working on. I couldn't find a pixel artist and I had to migrate it to 3D.
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Re: 3D rendered pixel art

Postby c_xong » 07 Mar 2017, 23:53

Julius {l Wrote}:I agree looks great. Can your pipeline also render out normal maps for 2d pixel art realtime lights?

Not yet, although it's definitely possible since it's all coming from Blender - they call it "scene normals". I haven't used it before so I don't know how much work it is to set up.

I think you'll also end up with a different look though, that's not quite like hand-drawn pixel art. Because the lighting is dynamic, you'll need to rely on real-time shaders to get a good look, so I'm not sure if you can completely avoid the cel-shaded look. It's like anime (also a style that has non-realistic lighting); you can clearly tell the difference between hand-drawn and something like the 2004 Appleseed movie. State-of-the-art uses a mixture of 3D and 2D techniques. I think that's out of reach for games, especially non-AAA ones, for now.
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