Luxology brings non-photorealistic rendering to Modo

Product and architectural models can get a quick artistic makeover with a variety of effects. Not every rendering needs to look like a Kodak moment.

Sometimes, photorealistic is just too realistic. Architects learn early on that initial designs for the customer should always follow a “less is more” process of clean lines and minimal visual description. At Siggraph Luxology was showing off non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) as its latest add-on to Modo, the 3D modeler popular with the makers of both real and imaginary models.

The NPR Kit for Modo 601 can render in a variety of technical and artistic illustration styles. (Source: Luxology)

The new NPR Kit for Modo is now shipping; it provides for expressive, hand-drawn looks and animations for rendering 3D models. Everything from product visualizations to architectural mock-ups to anime all become possible.

The eight shaders included in the NPR Kit offer a high degree of artistic control. For example, the SketchTone shader uses hand-sketched hatching examples to map an artist’s personal drawing style to any 3D surface. High priority strokes appear even where there is little shading; while lower priority strokes are filled in later, as the shading grows darker. Luxology says this technique not only reproduces the hand-drawn quality of the strokes used, but also the artist’s own interpretation of the surface.

“Pushing the boundaries of 3D rendering back to a traditional look delivers an organic feel that resonates with people,” says Yazan Malkosh, beta tester and founder of 9b Studios. “The NPR Kit cleverly juxtaposes the 3D medium with a 2D look, so you can show your audience something that is both new and familiar.”

Hatch patterns in the NPR Kit can take their cue from lighting descriptions. (Source: Luxology)

The kit comes with material options for ‘toon’ shading, stippling, halftones, and edge rendering. The built-in ability to mimic traditional styles like blueprints, sketches and chalk drawings will make it a resource for technical illustration, where edges and other important features are emphasized at the expense of detailed visual accuracy.

Our take

When the only tool you have is photorealism, everything looks like a new car waiting to be rendered under a tropical sky. Luxology’s NPR Kit for Modo brings familiar 2D styles that allow for visually stunning yet totally non-realistic representation. The ability to emphasize edges, colors and create pattern details on 3D models should be a welcome addition to many who are called upon to work visual commercial magic.