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A Brief Introduction to Toon Shaders in DAZ Studio

Author: AlmightyQUEST

Tools Needed

  • DAZ|Studio
  • Optional: Photoshop

Support Files

Introduction

“Toon” style renders, comic book style renders, and cel shaded styled anime renders are something a lot of people are interested in, but have difficulty getting started with in DAZ Studio. Often people find the “Toon Render” option in Studio, but then when the results aren’t quite what they would like, they become confused or frustrated that there are no additional control settings for the Toon Render engine. I hope to help get people comfortable to start using the “toon” styled shaders that are available for Studio, from the developers at DAZ.

The first thing to do is obtain the shaders. Easiest source is in the DAZ free stuff archives, here:
DS Basic Shaders
I would also recommend the Toon Noir kit available through Eustace Scrubb available in the forums. While optional, and operating based on the DAZ toon shaders, these are useful as presets to refer to and offer some additional line options in the case of the silhouette. I will briefly refer to some of the presets he has made later on. They are currently available here:
Toon Noir Shader Presets

Building the Scene

Now that you have the shaders installed and in an area of your Studio content directory you are comfortable with, we can begin. If you are unsure how to set up a Studio content directory, please refer to any of the starter tutorials for Studio available on the website or in the forums. So, to get started, we need a scene with objects to work with. For the scene I’m using as an example, I’ve got a guy in a pseudo urban-cowboy style outfit standing in a grungy, run-down urban interior. Why? Because I can. And because it happens to help me illustrate a few common issues we will address later. But fear not I will take it one step at a time. The first thing you will want is a figure. It can be any figure; shaders work the same on any surface. And to start with we will apply a texture to it.

screencap_01.jpg

Preparing the Scene

Lighting is very important for toon renders, but for now we’ll just use a single distant light at a bit of an angle, enough to light the visible areas of the figure well. Don’t worry about the color or shadows now, we just want to learn the shader’s basics for the time being.

screencap_02.jpg

This next step I’m going to give you applies to all shaders in Studio, so it’s important to remember and very useful. First we want to select the surfaces we are going to apply the shader to, and then the figure or all the objects in the scene we want to apply the shader to as well. I will give some tips on speeding this up shortly, but for now, just select all the surfaces of your figure.

screencap_03.jpg

Applying the Shaders

Now go to where the shader is located in your content directory. Press crtl (command on a Mac, keep in mind throughout tutorial) and double click with your left mouse button on the “dzToonSkin” preset. In a moment a window will pop up, there may be a slight delay if you have many surfaces or objects selected. In the window that appears, click on the “Map Settings” drop down menu and select “Ignore”. Click Accept. Again, if this is being applied to many surfaces or objects, there may be a slight to significant delay as it applies the shader.

screencap_05.jpg

screencap_04.jpg

Now that this is done, switch back over to the Surfaces tab in Studio and (making sure you are in the “Advanced” view) take a look at our new settings, the ones under the “Toon” heading.

screencap_06.jpg

Shader Feature Basics

So, to keep things simple and render times minimal, this is a very quick and basic look at what these parameters mean and what they do. We will return to our cowboy shortly, you can follow the images for now and let your scene sit.

First is “Color Divisions”. This is how many sections of different color tones the surface is separated into. This, along with all of the properties, will affect each surface independently. So if you have an object with several surfaces and a value of 3 for color divisions for each of them, each surface will break into 3 divisions, even if the colors vary between the different surfaces. Some things to note are that specular settings also get their own pass for this setting, so three divisions will actually result in highlights divided into three colors, and diffuse value in three colors. Sometimes the highlights will not have the whole division number visible as well, depending on the settings. Using the “dzToonMatte” will remove highlights entirely from the surfaces, and in the case of toon renders this may be something that will end up giving you better results. Also, a black shadow area will usually apply, not counting towards your set color divisions. Values less than 1 will give results that appear to be the basic shader of that type with the toon outline. Values set too high may be too close together an give the appearance of a fuzzy surface, but not the separation expected of a toon shader.

Following is an example of a sphere with color divisions of 3, 9, and 1, respectively, using the dzToonMatte shader.

colordivisions.jpg

Next is the “Blend Amount”. This value is how much one color division blurs into the next. Lower values, as low as zero, will give crisper outlines between areas. Higher values will give less distinct separation between areas. Values of zero and near zero amounts may sometimes cause issues with transparency maps, but this will be discussed later.

Following are examples with a Blend Amount value of 10%, 0%, and 100%. (Note the grey in the darkest area with a blend amount value of “0%”. Depending on lighting conditions and the surfaces involved, this can sometimes occur, while a value above zero but sometimes even lower than 1% can correct the issue without giving more blending than desired.)

blendamounts.jpg

“Outline Color” is fairly self explanatory. It will change the color of the outline of the surface. Black is the default and is what is most often used, but occasionally a colored outline may help to emphasize an object in a scene, or make a dark object visible against a dark background without having to lighten the surface of the object.

Following are examples using black, white, and blue outlines.

outlinecolor.jpg

The last option we have is “Outline Threshold”. This one is not so obvious, and can be a little tricky to work with. In general, the idea is that a lower threshold will result in thinner lines, and a higher threshold will result in thicker lines. Basically explained, lines in these shaders in Studio are based on geometry, surfaces curving or tilting away from the camera define where the lines are, and after the threshold is reached any geometry beyond that is black. A settings of zero will result in no lines (useful for surfaces near perpendicular to the camera and some specific come effects), and a setting of the maximum, ten, will result in almost a complete silhouette. If you are using Eustace’s Toon Noir kit, there is an option to be able to get a full silhouette from lines.

Following are examples with an Outline Threshold of 3, 1, and 7.

outlinethreshold.jpg

Working With the Scene Part 1

Now you have the basics of the Toon shaders, what the settings are, and generally what they do. That already is enough to then go and experiment on your own, and I do highly encourage that. However, for the sake of moving things along a bit quicker and possibly helping out on the way, I’m going to continue with a figure and a scene, with advice and tips that will hopefully be useful as you work with these shaders.

Let’s return now to our figure from before. We’ve already applied the basic skin shader, and we have some idea of what the settings do. So the first thing we are going to want to do, this being our “first time” using the shaders, is to render and see how it looks.

(I’ve switched to a white background since it’s a single figure and it helps to see the lines more clearly)

figure_01.jpg

So, this is using the default settings. Something to keep in mind is that between any object and any image, the results may vary due to any number of variables, including simply, how do you want it to look? Now, looking at this, the first and possibly easiest thing to decide on is the lines. Things to look for are patches where there is too much black, either an entire area black or lines being too thick in areas. Then you will want to lower the Outline Threshold for those surfaces. Also, check for areas where you don’t see lines you want, you may want to raise the threshold. Sometimes internal lines, such as along the nose or mouth, won’t show up until the threshold is higher than you want for the outside surface, and this is a limitation of lines rendered in 3D programs. Possible solutions would be multiple renders, using one for the internal lines and one for the external lines, or adjusting lines by hand. Also keep in mind that there is no smoothing on lines between surfaces, so if you lower or raise the settings for one surface, you may need to lower or raise surrounding surfaces too to prevent stepping in lines.

In this particular case, there aren’t areas that are blacked out, and I’m getting good detail in the shoulders, around the nose, and along the muscles on the sides of the chest. So in this case I’m going to leave the outline threshold. The default tends to be good within about +/-.2 for human figures.

The next thing I typically look at is color divisions. Since we are using a texture for this surface, there is more color variability, and as such, I think to get the detail I want I need to raise this value. I went with a value of seven here, which is typical for what I use in my projects, but this is where personal taste plays a big role. For something to look more like cel shading you will likely want fewer divisions, for certain effects you may want more. Values of less than three will typically only be useful in cases where you aren’t using a diffuse texture, and where you want a special effect to your render, such as sharp black and white contrast. While color divisions also do not blend between surfaces, it often is not as noticeable, particularly if you wanted to have more divisions on, for example, the face of a figure, and fewer divisions on the body.

figure_02.jpg

After color divisions, the next thing to look at is the blend amount. This is very particular based on how you want the final results to look as well. I frequently like a bit of a grungier look to my comic renders, so between the texture map and the amount of color divisions, I usually use a blend amount of zero or near zero. By contrast, a more painted comic effect could be achieved with similar line, diffuse, and color division settings but with a blend amount near 50%. A more anime styled look may be achieved with brighter diffuse colors, not texture maps or texture maps with few colors and lacking small details, and texture divisions around three or four, and a blend amount of 10% or less. Definitely not bump or displacement maps, these will disrupt the smooth blend between colors, which is something I do intentionally in my renders, but will not give the smooth results that one would want in a cel-style image.

figure_03

Now, using a value of zero on all surfaces, I run into an issue I briefly mentioned earlier. Here, the eyelashes and eyebrows use a transparency map. With a blend amount of zero, extra lines appear around the geometry of the surface, which is obviously not something I want in the final results. The solution is to select just the eyelash and eyebrow surfaces, and raise the blend amount on just those surfaces. Once more, it can be changed for each surface, but there won’t usually be a distinct divisions with the blend settings, and in this case the nature of the materials allows us to do this without any odd looking surface divisions. Shown below are the initial results, and the same thing with a blend amount of five instead of zero. It doesn’t take much to get rid of the extra color, in fact sometimes as little as 1%, but a bit extra usually doesn’t hurt, particularly with small areas. Transparency maps in hair tend to take a bit more work to adjust.

figure_03a.jpg figure_03b.jpg

Following is an example of the color divisions as I have them set, and also an example with the color divisions at four and blend amount at 80% so you can see the sort of difference you can get just by changing a few settings.

figure_03c.jpg

figure_03d.jpg

The last thing to look at is outline color. I’m leaving it black. An effect that isn’t too uncommon is using a grey or white line when you have a black or dark object against a black or dark background, so help build up contrast and still keep the form somewhat unclear. Also effects such as a red line on black to give the effect of a deep red velvet or similar surface is also something you may want to try. But for the current image I am leaving it black. I don’t need particular emphasis on the figure, and contrast will be built into the scene.

And, now we have the figure taken care of. Not too difficult, right? So keep this in mind, because now I’m going to take you through the rest of the scene, giving you tips along the way for issues to watch out for and ideas to try to build your scenes using these shaders.

Working With the Scene Part 2

First, finish clothing the figure. Typically you will have a few articles of clothing on a given figure, sometimes many depending on how much goes into the outfit. This is where we can use some features of D|S shaders to our advantage to save us time. First, you would be able to select all objects you want to apply the toon shader to, select all of their surfaces you want to apply the shader to, then crtl+double click the shader and set it to ignore texture map settings. However, since we are working with a lot of surfaces and we want to apply the shader to all surfaces, we can save some time by selecting all the objects, crtl+double clicking the shader, and then after setting it to ignore textures, change “Surfaces: Selected” to “Surfaces: All”.

screencap_07.jpg

Note that if you have set any surfaces to 0% opacity, they will revert to 100% opacity if you are using the DAZ standard presets, so surfaces such as body handles and surfaces you have hidden may appear again, and you will need to set them invisible again. This will still happen if you select surfaces, but since body handles are more often in clothing and aren’t in many figures, this is the time where you will most likely see this happening. (I have used the dzToonMatte preset for the clothing here, again you may want to use the glossy or metal surface presets for some surfaces if you want highlights on the surface, for the clothing in this scene it was not going to be necessary, and helps to simplify settings).

figure_04_01.jpg

Now, the process for working with the clothing is going to be the same as working with the skin. Look at the line thickness and watch for blackened areas. Make decisions about color divisions and blend amounts. Sometimes I set the clothing to fewer color divisions and slightly more blending than the figure it is on, but this again is a step that is very much variable based on the appearance you want it to have. The same issues that the skin have apply here, to watch out for missing details at too few divisions, lines on transparency maps at too low a blend amount, and bump or displacement maps affecting the smoothness of division. In this case, after a few test renders, I have gone with the same settings as I had for the skin, a color division amount of seven, blending at zero, and the default outline threshold of three. I’m also including an image with the clothes having a color division of 3 and a blend amount of 90 against the skin settings I am using so you can get an idea of how changing settings for parts of a scene can change the effect of the objects and emphasis of figures.

figure_04_02.jpg

figure_04_03.jpg

Working With the Scene Part 3

Now that we have the clothed figure, we can move on to the scenery. Once again, we select all elements of the scenery, and use our crtl+double click to ignore maps and apply to all surfaces. Now, when looking at the scenery once more decisions need to be made about color divisions and blending. I personally once again like to lower divisions and raise the blending value slightly relative to the main figure, just to give more emphasis to the figure by having more detail. The detail in the texture can also make a significant difference in the amount of color division you want, and how much you want the background to simplify.

So let’s take a look at the first basic render.

scene_01.jpg

Now, I’ve mentioned this before, but we’re finally seeing it now. The floor is mostly blacked out. Now, deep shadows in the corner are fine, but I don’t want the floor to look like this (Or at least, we’ll say that, there are cases where if you have a dark scene it can work to your advantage, but fixing it is more important). A brief note, despite what some people will say, this is not necessarily a bug in the shader. This behavior is correct for a surface tilted this far away from the camera, since lines are based on geometry. In this case it simply happens to be an unwanted result of intended behavior.

To fix it, we have some options. If it were important to have lines somewhere on a surface where this is happening, you would want to do several test renders using outline threshold values of less than one until you get the right balance. However, the floor is a separate surface here, and has no detail that needs lines, so setting the threshold value to zero is a quick and certain way of solving the problem, as we see here. (Note that I also lowered the line setting slightly, to 2.4, for the rest of the background. Again this is to personal taste and varies from scene and style, I use it to give more emphasis to the figure once more)

scene_02.jpg

If you remember, I mentioned earlier that lighting is tricky and very important with the toon shaders. Because of the nature of the toon effect, too many lights can result in washed out surfaces and surfaces that appear too bright. The large amount of low-strength ambient lights are typically not needed in toon renders, and in fact if you need any ambient at all, with toon shaders I would highly recommend using the ambient channel in the surface settings at low strength instead, if you even need it. In general my advice would be no more than two lights overlapping on a single space, and only one light if possible. In this scene, I used the default lights for The Ministry, because they do a good job of using a few lights to spotlight certain areas of the scene, and then added a single spotlight focusing on the figure, coming from slightly below the figure. Do to the stylized nature of the toon shaders, you can use more dramatic lighting without looking out of place. I still kept similar light colors, and made sure that the figure was not too sharply lit to look out of place in the scene. Because there was not an obvious light source in front of the figure, since it is off screen anyway, I’m able to change the angle and intensity slightly from what I might use in a more naturally lit scene to keep the figure well lit in the scene. Typical issues such as brightly lit figures not casting shadows and multiple light sources only hitting single figures (so all objects in the scene appear to have different light sources) are still things to watch out for when lighting your scene here, but also keep the final effect in mind when choosing how to light your scene. After doing a test render (no shadows) with the lighting I have decided on, this is another time where I would look to see if I want to make any more changes to a surface, since lighting can have a significant effect in how the surface looks, especially with color divisions and blending in particular.

scene_03.jpg

In this case, I am satisfied with how it looks, so I am going to turn shadow casting on for my light pointing at the figure. In a case like this I may also consider some lights on the background to cast shadows as well, but again depending on color divisions shadows can have a significant affect on the scene, and too many shadows can have unwanted dulling effects on surfaces sometimes. Again, this varies greatly based on taste and the scene itself. For a cel-styled image, for instance, you may use a single distant light, possibly with no cast shadows, for the entire scene. For now, to save time, I’m only using the one shadow casting light.

Working With the Scene Postwork

Now I’m briefly going to give some postwork/composition tips. I’m going to be showing these in Photoshop, but the functions will be similar in most 2D image editors, and the reasoning behind it is more important than the name of a given function. My first tip is going to be to render this out in sections or to use layer masks. This is typical advice for any render, and I think in the case of toon style renders it is particularly useful. In this case I rendered the full scene once, so that the shadow cast by the figure is in the background, and then I rendered just the figure so I could edit him separately. I brought first the full render and then just the figure into Photoshop and put the figure on a separate layer above the full render.

The steps taken here are going to vary greatly from one image to another, and since the focus of this tutorial is centered on the Studio shaders I’m just going to very briefly cover some commonly used functions that I think will be helpful in your toon renders.

First thing, after separating into layers, is levels adjustment. Take each of these functions on a per-layer basis. You may want to remember settings to use on several pieces of a composition, but it is important to look at each one individually, and how it fits in the scene as a whole. For the levels adjustment, dragging the black slider to the right will lower the threshold of solid black in the image. In general you want it to be at the lowest peak in the histogram shown, but make sure you have your preview showing so you can watch the adjustment being made. This will darken the overall image by adding black. Dragging the white slider to the left will lighten by adding white. The slider you are likely going to use most is the center gray slider. Drag it towards black, and it will lighten the layer, drag it towards the right, and it will darken. The closer it moves towards either slider the strong the effect and variation in color will potentially be lost (moving towards a black with only the lightest points showing, or white with the darkest points showing). This can greatly help correct issues with lighting that lower contrast in the image, and help lighten surfaces that have gotten too grey in the render. In this case, the figure was well lit enough before that he is brighter than I would like, so I have moved the black slider in, and then moved the center slider towards the white slider enough to darken the figure and add contrast, without getting too much black in the shadows that causes detail to be lost. This, as with everything else, can vary greatly depending on the render and the style you are trying to achieve. Cel style renderings that have shading turn out too dark is one particular style that benefits greatly from a levels adjustment, while keeping dark outlines. Following is an example of settings used and the view with and without the preview showing.

levels_01.jpg

levels_02.jpg

In general, level adjustments will likely be similar on like objects, such as several figures in a scene having similar settings, with the background having different settings. In this case I kept the background slightly lighter, with a little more black in the shadows. You may also want to make contrast adjustments to layers after making level adjustments with just the simple “brightness/contrast” settings. I recommend starting with level adjustments, but a quick and slight increase in contrast can be helpful as well. In this case I made a minor increase in contrast in the figure.

After levels adjustments, the thing that most toon renders need in my experience is increased saturation of the colors. This is something that is difficult to do in Studio, but can be done quickly and simply in postwork. Don’t be too concerned about oversaturated colors not looking “realistic”, as long as you are consistent in coloring it makes sense for a comic or anime styled image to have bold colors. Following is an example of the saturation adjustment for the figure.

saturation.jpg

Because I already had strong colors, I didn’t need to make as strong an adjustment to the saturation, but don’t worry about values higher than you might expect to see in more realistic renders you have had, the appearance and not the changes are what matter. Make sure to make use of the “preview” checkbox option if you are using Photoshop or another program that has that option to make comparisons as you go.

After adjusting saturation of the background (I increased it by about 10% in this case) I decided that, since this is a portrait focusing on the figure, I wanted to make him stand out a bit more. There are many ways to do this, and while none of these are unique to toon renders, I find it is something that comes up for me more in highly stylized images than in more realistic ones. Some ideas to keep in mind are giving the object of interest a higher contrast, higher saturation, or a lighter overall color in levels adjustment, or by doing the opposite of all to the background. Another is by adjusting the coloration of the figure or background to give one warmer tones and the other cooler tones. In this case, since the figure had warm tones already, I decided to add a layer between the figure and the background filled with a solid blue-green, set the layer to overlay and at a low transparency. This is the resulting image:

final_01.jpg

Now, some of this may seem very specific to the image, and the image is definitely of a particular gritty, comic style. What is important is to keep in mind the steps along the way. With a different figure, different textures, and different decisions on lighting and post work, this could have had any final outcome. The process is going to be the same in most any image; it’s the options along the way that decide the final style.

comparison.jpg

Working With the Shaders: Colors

So, the image I walked you through used textures for most of the surfaces. I wanted to give you some examples and advice on using these shaders without texture maps.

First, I removed the diffuse map on the shirt, changed the color to a yellow similar to what was on the texture, and rendered. Well, that wasn’t initially what I expected, but was a happy accident which allows me to bring up a useful point. Here, the bump map still applies. So now I can get a clean looking surface with relatively flat colors, in any color I want, but I can still have a bump or displacement map apply to give it textures. This can particularly be useful for displacement on surfaces such as rough concrete, grass, or other organic surfaces.(1)

Now, I remove the bump map and render again. And we get a nice smooth surface, much more like we would expect in a toon shader.(2)

As an example, I took the shirt surfaces and applied the dzToonPlastic shader so I could get highlights again. I took the shirt color but set it to have strong, light blue highlights (Glossiness 40, Specular Strength 80). You can sometimes get interesting effects by combining different diffuse and specularity colors for certain, shinier surfaces.(3)

Using flat colors without textures also makes it easy for you to change the color of surfaces, just adjust the diffuse color, no texture conversions and other applications to worry about. (4)

color_01.jpg

I mentioned earlier using colored outlines on black surfaces for certain effects, and I would like to briefly address that again now. For these I am using some of the presets that come in the Toon Noir kit, but the effects can be achieved by hand as well.

First, I apply the “Black>Blood” preset. What this sets is a black diffuse color, medium red specular color with a medium high glossiness and full specular strength. In this case color division is also reduced and blending is high. The outline is red. The effect is similar to a dark red velvet material, which is good for dark surfaces that you still want to have stand out in the scene, and don’t want to be a complete black. A highlight color of gray could also be used on a dark surface against a dark background to simply make it visible in the scene.(1)

Using the same settings I reduced the specular strength to zero. This gives me a black surface with bold red outlines. This serves to be an even more dramatic version of the previous preset, good for black surfaces that you want to have stand out dramatically in the scene. Alternately, having the outline be white or grey against a black background would allow to simply make it visible, or even give the effect of an invisible object, possibly.(2)

color_02.jpg

Keep in mind that most surface options from the standard shaders are available, and function the same as in the standard shaders, from setting up bump maps to filling in ambient light in the surface channel. Don’t be afraid to mix different shader settings to see what effects you can get.

Working With the Shaders: Special Effects

Finally, now that I have given you the basics of what the shader options are, a look at building a scene, and additional advice and examples on how to work with basic surfaces, I want to take a look at a few special effects that you may find useful in your work.

1) Skin and Toon Noir Kit Skin Shaders

Eustace put in several very good and very interesting skin presets in his toon kit. They can be used with textures, but are most effective with no texture maps or only bump/diffuse maps applied. What is important, in addition to being useful presets, is that they use the subsurface settings of the skin shader. Using the dzToonSkin shader, you also get the subsurface settings that you do with the standard dzSkin shader. While the toon effect may not show the typical scattering effect you use in realistic skin due to its simplifying nature, you can still achieve interesting effects that give an appearance of skin or other similar soft surfaces by using the Toon Skin shader and subsurface settings or the Toon Noir Kit presets.

skinnoir.jpg

2) Tips for Anime Effects

In general, the first thing is to use no texture maps, or texture maps that are more or less designed for anime effects. On people in particular, skin detail will typically only hurt, as will fine makeup detail. Skin details will have to be simple, bold marks on the skin, makeup might be something like a single color blush or single color bold eyeliner, shadow, or lipstick, something with a lot of contrast to the skin. Bump and displacement maps are almost never recommended for skin or cloth materials, the only exception might be for other surfaces that have larger or regular texture created by the displacement map, such as a fuzzy/furry surface or possibly something like grass in the background. It frequently helps on these surfaces to give an outline threshold of zero. Eyes also fare better with simplified colors. Transparency maps with fine details can also cause problems, fine lines such as lace or hair especially can cause unwanted detail effects or stray lines. For hair, something with no transparency maps or maps that do not have fine hair detail but rather break it into rounded or tapered shapes work best.

For the actual shader settings, you typically will want few color divisions, and either near-zero values for color blending for a cel-shading appearance, or low values for an airbrushed appearance. Frequently the colors will appear too dark for an anime style on render, so adding an ambient color and strong value (anywhere from 10-50% depending on the surface and scene) will help, particularly on skin to give it a light appearance (Just make sure to watch for unwanted highlights appearing as a result of high ambient settings). In postwork you can also use levels adjustment to lighten the mid tones if the shaded areas are still darker than you would like. You may want to use the dzToonMatte or dzToonPlastic settings so you can remove or lower specularity on skin and other similar surfaces. For eyes, using the dzToonGlossy with high glossiness, specular strength, and high sharpness can give the shiny effect eyes often have in anime, or if highlights are painted on the eyes you can remove specularity from the surface.

As mentioned previously, bold, bright lighting from a single direction is frequently the best choice to keep surface color appearing clean. Depending on the materials of the surfaces, you may want to try setting your light to “diffuse only” to remove unwanted specularity. Ambient settings for the exception surfaces that use displacement are also highly recommended. For line values, you will typically want lower outline threshold, but that can change depending on the style and the scene. Again, test renders help significantly to determine good line width.

anime.jpg

3) Reflection

Reflections can be useful in any renders, but it’s important to remember that since we are using the shaders, we can use reflective surfaces in a toon scene. One option is to use a regular, non-toon shader for a mirror surface, using all the standard setups for a mirror. This will reflect the scene exactly as it appears, using the toon shaders.

You can also use the same sort of reflection settings on a toon shader as well, useful for things such as reflective tile or other objects where you need both the reflection and the surface itself to be visible. It will also allow you to change toon settings, such as color division and blending, in just the reflected image.

In both instances, you can also use reflection maps to simulate surfaces like chrome or other metals the same way you would with a non-toon shader. Just make sure to watch out for surfaces appearing too bright at high reflection strength settings.

reflection.jpg

4) Outline Renders

For more control and flexibility with lines, you can render with color and no lines, and then render separately with all white surfaces and outlines (on a white or transparent background) and then in an image editing application use the line layer over the color layer and set it to multiply. Then you can try several line width options and even combine parts of them. For the white surfaces, after removing the diffuse maps and setting it to white, set the ambient color to white as well with a value of 100%.

outline_01.jpg

outline_02.jpg

5) Graphic Effects

You may sometimes hear this referred to as the “Sin City” style, though I think both that Frank Miller has no claim to the style as exclusive, nor is it all that goes into the style of his comics. However, what I’m talking about is the bold black and white effect that not only saves money on printing but can also look very cool in a highly stylized way. All that really goes into it is removing the diffuse maps from surfaces and setting all diffuse to white (or black in some cases, such as if you have cables in the scene that are their own surface. In general look at the default diffuse color, if it’s light make it white, if it’s very dark make it black). Bump and displacement maps can be used if you want a rougher effect, but remove them for a smoother, bolder result.

Typically you want a single distant light, or a single spotlight for interior scenes. If multiple lights are used, you will likely want them in generally opposite directions. Set color divisions to two, and blending to zero (except for transparency maps, as usual). When you render, you are going to get white and grey. Now, you can leave it as is and you still get a bold black and white look, but for the high contrast bring it into an image editor. With a levels adjustment with controls like Photoshop, bring the black and white sliders in, and then move the center one all the way to one side or the other. This will give you solid black and solid white. Make adjustments to prevent pixilation, you may have tiny amounts of grey in between zones with this, but it often is not enough to notice. Some additional things to try with this are to set the outline threshold to zero, so the entire scene is broken up into black and white shapes, with light and dark areas blending together and no outlines to break up white space. Also you can experiment with creating a mask of a certain area, then creating a solid color for that shape and overlaying it on the black and white layer, or putting it beneath the black and white layer and setting the black and white to multiply. This can give a cool effect where only one object in the scene has color, or only one color is showing, to give it particular emphasis or allow it to be more recognizable in other scenes when doing sequential art. And yes, the single color technique makes and appearance in a few “Sin City” comics.

graphic_01.jpg

And there you have it, a brief introduction to using the DAZ Toon shaders in Studio. Now that you have the basics and examples of how to work with them, the next thing to do is practice using them so you get used to the surface settings and lighting that work best for you, and to experiment to find new styles and effects that you will be able to use later.