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Cartoon look in Unreal

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JValencia polycounter lvl 10
Hey guys.

Title says it all.
This is the game we are working on: http://forums.epicgames.com/showthread.php?t=727833

The thing is, I am having a hard time getting rid of the "unreal" render vibe. The screen shots of the game are within the link.

I have tried a few things to make it look more cartoony:

1) Took down the AO levels to a very LOW amount.

2) Under the World Post Process, I decreased the Scene Highlights from (1,1,1) to (0.7,0.7,0.6) respectively, and that helped out a bit.

We are handpainting the textures already, so that does SOME difference. But it still doesn't look quite right. We are using Normal Maps, so maybe that could be a reason?

Have any of you guys messed around with this before in Unreal? What techniques have you used? Do you know of any specific material set ups that help it? Or Post-Process Materials?

I have seen some cel-shading PS Materials, but I don't want to go down the cel shaded route. I want to get a look like Jak and Daxter or this: http://shurick.livejournal.com/195876.html
Another engine is not an option at this point.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :)


  • Neox
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    Neox high dynamic range
    you need to create your own shading tree and don't use the premade phongshading by unreal, here is an old tutorial i made for recreating the team fortress look, it might have some mistakes in it, but basicly you can use the same techniques to change your shading style as well


    guess it doesn't look that much like unreal, does it?

  • SanderDL
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    SanderDL polycounter lvl 7
    Neox, I've done your tutorial and it looks pretty nice. The problem is that Custom Lighting only seems to work with Directional light. How do you guys work around that for Airborn?
  • JValencia
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    JValencia polycounter lvl 10
    Thanks Neox!

    Question is, will I run into problems if I have that network for everything in the world? Since the node instruction count will get relatively high?(using MIC's, of course).

    If you could share a bit more on how you guys tackled Airborne, that would be great! :)

  • cholden
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    cholden polycounter lvl 13
    Hey juanitudev1,
    I saw your thread on UDK back when you started it, and I like the look of your project.

    The material is pretty advanced, but you don't need to have it on everything. You could limit it to characters or main characters. Additionally, because of your side scrolling style camera, you could easily get away with a simplified version of the material Neox posted, and still get a similar result.

    In the end, a lot comes down to how much effort the artist (you) are willing to tweak until it's perfect. Right now, your stuff looks too dark.
  • Neox
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    Neox high dynamic range
    since when does it only work with directional lights?
    Well basicly the last time we changed stuff on lighting is years ago and was on UT3, since then we only used one directional light for the sun as more lights ended up in possibly too high shadercosts - depending on the game and what you want to show texture/polygon wise it might work though, always more a matter of testing on the lowest specs target machine than a matter of reds in the shader complexity tree.
    At first we used skylights and spots or other light configurations but seriously for the shading you want to have, doesn't a directional light in combination with ambient cubes oder ambient colors do the job you want it to do? in combination with one directional light the shader complexity is green on airborn, so we never really thought about that much further once we learned that 2 or more lights will let the complexity go through the roof.
    Also you might not need every node and can still optimize the shading somewhat to get a better instruction count.
  • JValencia
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    JValencia polycounter lvl 10
    Cholden: Thanks! I am messing around the Neox's shader right now. I'll spend the time to tweak it. And yea, the whole overall darkness is the issue right now.

    Neox: What exactly is an Ambient Cube? Just color? Because then whats the difference if I just use a color? I am a bit confused on that part.

    So you guys didn't use many lights then, correct? From what I understand, just a directional light will get the job done?

    I am still new to this whole style, so sorry for the trouble. Thanks guys!

    EDIT: I just read what a Ambient Cube is. It's for more control. How do you turn on Composite Shadows?
  • Kuki
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    Kuki polycounter lvl 8
    Hey Neox, I've taken a look at your tutorial on the custom shader, really well made. I was just wondering if you apply this shader network to all the environment models, I mean buildings, vegetation etc.. ? Does it work well with Lightmass?
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