A Journey of Artistic Fusion: Bringing 2D Illustration into 3D

A Journey of Artistic Fusion: Bringing 2D Illustration into 3D

In this article Joan Godoy, Animum Creativity Advanced School graduate, explores the process, software tools, and creative decisions that led to his delightful cel-shaded 3D Render, breathing new life into the original artwork.

Animum Creativity Advanced School graduate, Joan Godoy, shares details of one of his student projects, in collaboration with 2D Illustrator, Lara Sanchez, which aimed to blend the charm of a mesmerising 2D illustration with the vibrant world of 3D art. This article explores the step-by-step process, the software tools used, and the creative decisions that resulted in a delightful cel-shaded outcome. Read on for more project inspiration!

My aim with this scene was to create a lively environment filled with a myriad of cartoon objects, seamlessly integrating a captivating 2D illustration at its centre. To achieve this, I collaborated with my talented friend and illustrator, Lara Sanchez, who had crafted an exceptional illustration portraying the creative chaos surrounding an artist. I believed it would be an ideal reference to bring into the realm of 3D.

For this project, I utilised a combination of powerful software tools, including Maya for modeling and lighting, Adobe Substance 3D Painter for texturing, Arnold for rendering, and Nuke for compositing.

The process was both enjoyable and challenging, as I meticulously modeled over 80 objects, using instances where appropriate to streamline the work. Since the original illustration played with perspective to achieve its cartoon charm, I had to carefully align certain objects with the camera to maintain the same delightful perspective seen in the 2D version.

The illustration's watercolour aesthetics presented an intriguing challenge. I conducted extensive research using Substance Painter to craft a similar shader. Ultimately, I arrived at a rather simple yet effective solution. I based the shader on a grunge texture, which I contrasted and blurred before applying it to all the objects. By adjusting the colours and making some tweaks on a case-by-case basis, I achieved the desired effect. Additionally, I introduced a pencil line texture to certain surfaces and edges, further enhancing the visual appeal. To create a convincing relief effect for the background wall's paintings, I cleverly employed a height map.

The integration of the artist, the dog, and the 3D environment required careful handling. I carefully cut out the characters and pasted them in Maya, utilizing planes as a reference to ensure their precise positioning. Satisfied with their integration, I proceeded to render the scene, already featuring the 2D characters. To enhance realism, I included a dummy object to project a plausible shadow for the main character.

One of the key distinctions between the original illustration and its 3D counterpart lies in the lighting. I took some artistic liberties, emphasising the flexo lamp above the table to draw attention to the character and infuse the scene with a warm, inviting glow.

For the final composition, I made minor adjustments to brightness, contrast, and overall saturation, culminating in a delightful cel shading pass. This touch contributed to the illusion that the objects were beautifully hand-drawn.

In summary, this project was incredibly rewarding, and Lara, the original artist, was astonished by the striking similarity between her 2D masterpiece and the immersive 3D rendition. It was an inspiring and enjoyable journey, resulting in a fantastic collaboration that breathed new life into her artwork.

You can reach out to Joan via his Rookies profile here.