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Setting Up Toon Renders

For use with Poser 7 as well as Posers 5 or 6

The Firefly engine in Poser can produce amazingly detailed, photorealistic renders- but it can also generate a cel-shaded look for more stylized images. Here's how-Poser's Firefly render engine can create beautiful, photorealistic images- but it can also be used to create a classic "cel-shaded" cartoon look.

In this tutorial we'll use Firefly and the Material Room to create a cel-shaded toon render.

We'll start by posing a clothed figure with a few objects. Here we have Miki and her motorcycle, from the "Miki 1020" figure pack. This scene also contains items from

Rendered using "mid-level" Firefly settings, this scene looks like this-

What we're going for, though, is a flat-shaded look with a limited color palette. To get it, we'll need to take a trip into the Advanced Material Room. The first thing to do is to use the Set Up Toon Render wacro- a wacro is midway between a macro and a wizard, in that it prompts for some information like a wizard but then does its work unattended like a macro. Click the Set Up Toon Render wacro as shown-

- and repeat this for each figure and prop in the scene. Note that we can save a lot of time by Shift-clicking the wacro button, as this will automatically apply the toon shader to all surfaces of the item.


Poser 5 users- see note at the end of this tutorial

We probably don't want to include specular highlights on the toon surfaces-

- so we click No when the dialog appears. Now, the wacro automatically sets up the Firefly render engine to provide outlines around different material groups as the last step of the render process; this can look good but can be a problem as shown.

We can turn off edges in the Render Settings; alternately we can use the Material Room to specify which groups will have edges drawn around them. Firefly determines where to draw edges by checking the Toon ID for each material group on the item. If all the material groups of an item have the same Toon ID, only the outside of the item will be outlined. In general however it's probably better to use the Render Settings to turn off outlines altogether.

The other problem with the above render is that Miki's motorcycle isn't toon-shaded. We can apply toon shading to it as easily as to Miki and her clothing; there are a couple of surfaces on the motorcycle that, when toon shading is applied to them, show up white, which isn't really what we want. Using the Material Room, we can adjust their color to a light grey, which looks much better when rendered.

Lighting also has a large impact on toon-shaded renders- turning shadows off can flatten out the scene, while using image-based lighting can create interesting effects. As with so much of Poser there's no one right way to do toon lighting- it depends largely on the effect you're looking for. However, for a flat-colored cel-shaded look it's generally better to light everything from the front with minimal shadows; if you're going for a more stark, edgy look you can put the lighting behind the figures, darken the "dark" toon-node color and use ray-traced shadows for a dramatic look.

Poser 5 Note

Poser 5 users, while they have access to toon shaders, will have to apply them individually to each surface. Right-click or Control-click in the main Material Room workspace and select New node>Lighting>Diffuse>toon to create the node; you'll need to connect the toon shader node to the Alternate Diffuse channel of the surface as shown below. You can select the toon node, click the disclosure triangle in the upper right corner of the Material Room workspace and choose Apply To All but you'll need to go through surface-by-surface and connect any image-map nodes back into the toon shader as shown; the Poser 6 wacro was created to do all of this automatically as it can be tedious to do it by hand.