Art Spotlight: Headache

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In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.

Hi everyone! My name is Andrés Cuccaro and I’m a 2D and 3D animation student from Argentina. I’m also available for freelance jobs.

I knew about Blender in 2008 and I love every bit of it because it’s open source, the community is fantastic, and it has so many features! I started using it back then, but never going too far with it until recently.

I always liked the idea behind NPR (non-photorealistic rendering). There’s something liberating when you are not forced to make a 3d model to look like a real 3D object. I even wrote a webcomic that I plan to publish this year that I will make using this technique.

The Inspiration

image11Recently there was a post in the XKCD subreddit, where someone published this strip that has a bit of 3D in it, but not enough. Being a XKCD fan for years and having experimented before on making 3D models looking like 2D drawings I thought that it was the perfect idea to make to further improve my skills.

The Models

Before starting I had to make the decision of staying true to Randall’s drawing style or simplifying the work and making the models more “geometrically perfect”. I chose the easier route (sorry, Randall!).

Since it’s a stick figure comic, it’s fairly easy to make; all the shapes are somewhat simple. Everything is done inside Blender, since is the tool I’m most familiar with, and it provides a lot of flexibility and features (it being free doesn’t hurt 😉 ). The bodies of Cueball and Megan (those are their names) are extruded cubes, and the heads are just deformed cubes with a Subdivision Surface modifier.

The mesh is as simple as possible, but with enough polys to rig it without much problem.

For the bike frame, the desk, the laptop and the chair I just modeled some simple meshes.

For the bike chain, the wheels, the spokes, the gears and the speech bubble’s tails I used bezier curves and then I converted them to meshes.

The text is a simple text object that uses the “xkcd regular” font as a source (thanks to Randall and the xkcd subreddit for the font!). It’s converted to mesh then.

image10The Materials

The core of the trick for the scene to look always 3D, no matter the angle, came from an Art Spotlight post: Elbriga’s Calvin & Hobbes 3D strip and from the “Tutorial: Creating 3D Blueprints post. The first step is creating all the materials needed and making them flat or shadeless (they also have to be transparent if you want to render them in Blender Internal).

Then you have to add both materials, the outline and the “diffuse”, to every object that needs them.

White diffuse and black outline for the notebook.

White diffuse and black outline for the laptop.

Thanks to Blender’s modifiers it’s very easy to make the comic outline without extra steps (like duplicating, resizing and parenting objects). To the objects that need a comic outline, one has to add a Solidify Modifier, set the Thickness value at will (it depends on the size of the model and scene mostly), set the offset value all the way to 1, tick the “Flip Normals” option and select the Material Index Offset corresponding to the one to be used in the border (in this case the white material is at “position 0” and the black material is at “position 1”).

Solidify Modifier on Cueball's head.

Solidify Modifier on Cueball’s head.

Note: for rendering in Blender Internal, it's needed this node setup on the materials.

Note: for rendering in Blender Internal, it’s needed this node setup on the materials.

Importing to Sketchfab

Sketchfab settings are a walk in the park. I only modified the camera angle, so the models don’t look too deformed, and the rest is quite easy: classic renderer, shadeless shading and single-sided rendering for the outlines. Since there are no textures, there are no complications either.

Next Step

I plan to update the model to make it animated, since Sketchfab now supports animations. Stay tuned for it!

Thanks to Sketchfab I was able to share the model without requiring people to download the model, a specific software or anything tedious. And a render wouldn’t have been anything interesting to look at. It also contributed a lot to its popularity, otherwise, if I’d just offered a download link almost no one would have seen it.

Thanks for reading!

I hope this was helpful and not too confusing. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Happy New Year!

Thanks, Andrés! Anyone inspired to bring a 2D comic to 3D life? Leave comments and questions below!

About the author

Seori Sachs

Community Person!

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