The thing that makes a cartoon fun to read is that they are reality*20. Cartoons are full of oversized characters that move in oversized ways, and that's what makes them interesting. Another thing that's important when creating cartoons, is making them easy to read/look at, with clear colors and sharp shadows. This tutorial will teach you how to create a little cartoony animation, using those guidelines. Happy cartooning!
Part One (Animation setup and Animation)
NOTE: if you just want to apply the cartoon effect to a scene you've already created, you can skip to Part Two.
The reason I've put 'animation setup' instead of 'modeling' or 'rigging' is that, to keep it simple, we'll be animating a simple sphere, though the principles of animating this sphere can be used whatever you are animating. Start by deleting the default cube and go to top view. Create a UVSphere and go to the Edit tab and select 'Set Smooth'. Then go to Front View and put the sphere just above the red line(the x-axis).
We will use the red line as a guideline, to show where the floor is, when we are in front view. Create a cube, scale it down a lot, and put it on top of the sphere. The cube will be our 'rig'. Select the sphere, and go to the 'Object' tab and clik 'Add Constraint' and then 'Stretch To'. Write 'Cube' in the 'Target' field. Try moving the cube.
The sphere should now stretch towards the cube, while maintaining its volume (if you move the cube far away, the sphere will get thin, etc.). Go to top view and create a plane. Move it around so that it's just below the sphere. Go to camera view and scale it up until just before it exceeds the clipping. Split the 3D view near the top, and change the new area to a timeline.
Select the camera and press [ALT-R]. Rotate the camera 90 degrees by the x axis, and move it, so that it's just in front of the sphere. Go to frame 0, and clik the red circle button in the Timeline area (this will 'record' the places you put the ball). Go to camera view, select both the sphere and the cube, and move them, by the x axis, to a place just outside the camera's border. Move them both up a little. Now we're ready to go! Move the ball up and down for every tenth frame, like shown in the picture (the first ball being frame 0, the next frame 10, and so on), and use the cube to 'smash' the ball when it hits the ground, by moving it towards the ball.
Remember to move both the ball and the cube! In the frames in between (5,15,25 and so on) stretch the ball, so that one end is pointing at the previous key-pose, and the other is pointing at the next, like shown in the picture. That's actually the basic principles of squash and stretch! Objects that move, stretch; objects that collide with something, squash.
NOTE: Don't expect perfect results the first time you try this! It may take some practice to get good at it!
Part Two (Materials, Lighting and Node Setup)
Firstly, go to the Scene tab, and clik the 'Edge' button. Then clik 'Render Layers' and select 'Col' and 'Sha'. Those are the 'Color' and 'Shadow' passes (we'll need them for the node setup). Secondly, clik the button below the word 'Scene:', and select 'ADD NEW'. This will create a new RenderLayer. Then disable the buttons: 'Solid', 'Halo', 'Ztra' and 'Sky'. We will need that for using 'Edge' in the node setup.
The materials should simply be clear colored, and without specularity (if you can do without it). I have chosen a clear red color for the sphere. Also, avoid 'Ray-Mirror', as it just doesn't mix with the cartoon style. The cube should have a completely transparent material, which shouldn't be traceable or specular.
The lighting should consist of a single sun lamp, 'shining' from the top right of the image. NOTE: This is just for this specific project. You can use any lighting setup you want to.
As I mentioned before, we're going to have a separate RenderLayer for the toon edge. This is actually a workaround for a Node problem I ran into, which wouldn't show the edge in some parts of the image (the ones that were in front of the ground, to be exact). This is the complete node setup:
It consists of two RenderLayers (the default one, and the one we created). We 'add' the color and shadow passes from the first RenderLayer, creating the cartoony shading ('Fac' should be around 0.35). Then we 'mix' the output from that, and the image (with alpha) to get the sky displayed too ('Fac' around 0.74). At last we mix the output from that, with the image from the second layer (with alpha) creating the toon edge ('Fac' around 1). You can play around with the fac settings to get just the effect you want, however, I found that this worked best for me. Make sure that you connected the different Node's the same way I did. Now all you have to do is to select 'AVI Raw' (or whatever movie format you like) under 'Format', and clik 'Anim'. That's it! Your cartoon animation is complete!
You can watch an extended versión of the animation made in this tutorial here
. If you have any trouble or comments, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Tobias Dahl Nielsen