This article provides detailed information on the steps needed to create stylized cartoon renders, and answers questions like:
Why is the scene setup different for VRayToonMtl?
Which camera types are best used for toon rendering?
Which light types are best used for toon rendering?
How does the Diffuse Ramp work?
How does the Toon effect work with and without GI?
How do different Background colors affect the final result?
Why are objects bluish when GI is enabled?
Which cameras and views can be used to render from?
Which render engines support VRayToonMtl?
Are there any tutorials available?
Which related effects are also included in other platforms?
The toon style is a non-photorealistic rendering effect designed for rendering cartoons, animated films, comics and similar stylized productions.
It requires a lighting approach that is different from the photorealistic rendering where Global Illumination, Environment lighting and multiple light sources are utilized to illuminate a scene evenly from various directions.
To get a typical toon render, it helps to:
- use non-physical Cameras and Lights
- disable Global Illumination, Environment Maps and additional lighting sources
- use a single key directional light, which illuminates the scene from a specific direction
Note: V-Ray Lights and Cameras are designed to be physically accurate. They could be used but
for toon rendering, but with additional adjustments, such as switching the lights’
directionality, decreasing the Intensity Multiplier and disabling the Exposure control. Using
the standard 3ds Max lights for such a scenario might ease the workflow.
To produce smoother light distribution, you can enable Global Illumination, use Environment Maps and additional light sources. However, make sure that their contribution is significantly lower than the key-light contribution, for a convincing render in a cartoon style.
Creating Cartoonish Style Renderings - Step by Step:
1. Create a 3ds Max Standard Target Camera.
2. Create a directional light source 3ds Max Standard Target Direct Light.
3. Make sure that all objects are within the light scope.
4. Apply a VRayToonMtl to the objects. The shadows and the Toon effect depend on the position and intensity of the directional light source.
5. Adjust the Diffuse Ramp with colors and maps for the desired effect.
The Diffuse Ramp (responsible for the Toon effect variation) controls the diffuse color based on the amount of light received.
6. Disable GI to achieve sharp and solid shadows for the typical contrast in cartoon renders.
If you want to keep GI enabled and receive smoother illumination, use only color for the Background by:
- disabling the Environment map from the Environment and Effects menu
- enabling GI environment override from the Environment section in the Render Setup
The result depends on the chosen color:
- Pure White - bleaches the image result
- Black - creates a softer light effect (the closest resemblance of an image without GI enabled)
In the first image, GI is disabled and black background is used. In the second image, GI is enabled and black background is used.
How to combine this Toon set up in a scene with objects with different materials applied, will be explained in the next article.
VRayToonMtl is supported for rendering with the V-Ray engine. It is currently not supported
on V-Ray GPU.
Available Tutorials from Chaos TV
V-Ray Toon Material – V-Ray Next for 3ds Max, update 2
V-Ray for 3ds Max - Toon Shader
V-Ray Next for Maya Courseware – 3.3 New Toon Shader