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Three NPR shader guides; Visual Novel, Manga Screentone, and Painterly.

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    Three NPR shader guides; Visual Novel, Manga Screentone, and Painterly.

    Hey guys. A very long while ago (on my old account), I posted some screenshots of a couple of Anime/Manga inspired shaders I was working on (here). Unfortunately though I couldn't share too much info about how they were made back then as they were part of my Master's Thesis, and I really wanted to wait until my Master's course was complete before sharing out all of the work I made for it.

    Well, a couple of revisions and some incredibly long examination periods later, i've finally got my Master's Degree, and the entire thesis is now available to download for free from my University's website (it even appears on Google Scholar!).

    Photorealism versus Non-Photorealism: Art styles in computer games and the default bias.

    The thesis mainly looks into the differences between photorealism and non-photorealism that could impact the way such games are produced. However, the stuff you'll want can be found in sections 7.0.0, 8.0.0, and 9.0.0 (unfortunately it seems the Uni completely broke the pdf bookmarks when adding their own opening page, so you'll have to use the contents page to find them). Those three sections contain the practical experiments I did in UDK trying to recreate three specific art styles using shaders, describing every step of the process complete with pictures (including some of the problems I encountered and how I worked around them).

    The first is an anime Visual Novel style shader; a simplistic toon shader with warm, vibrant colours typical of Japanese visual novel artwork. This section (7.0.0) basically contains everything you'd need to know about producing a basic toon shader (including how to get coloured dynamic shadows), as well as a little bit on optimisation (to avoid going over the texture limit).

    The second shader (8.0.0) is a Manga screentone shader. It basically builds upon everything discussed in section 7.0.0, implementing a dynamic black and white dot-screentone affect over the top. This is actually directly based off a shader I produced for Daz Studio 4.5 (available for sale on Daz 3D as "Manga Style"); it works by using a tiling gradient texture to generate the necessary pattern based on how bright or dark a surface is. Because it's based off a texture, you're not limited to dot patterns; you can use any tiling pattern you want so long as it's set up in the correct way.

    The third and final shader (9.0.0) is a painterly shader that is directly inspired by the concept art for Fable 2. This takes most of the things discussed in sections 7.0.0 and 8.0.0 to create a slightly messy and grungy painterly shader, complete with subtle pencil sketching in the darkest areas.

    I'm so glad that I can finally share this work out. I really want to help encourage the creation of more non-photorealistic games, and I do hope that this proves to be useful to some of you out there. If you do use this work in your projects I would love to see them.

    Looks great! Thank you for sharing it with us.