Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Magic is in the Texturing

When you are designing characters or scenes for 2D or 3D animation, texturing is not a necessity, but a choice. There are a lot popular 2D projects that don’t texture many of their elements and focus on a minimalist approach. This is how it was done in early age cartoons, like the Looney Tunes shows.

Bugs Bunny - Image Source

As you can see, the character is outlined in a black line and filled in with solid colors at full opacity. There is no texturing applied to the character at all, but instead the outline implies texture. For example, the leaf on the carrot was softly drawn to show that the leaf itself is soft. Another example is Bugs Bunny’s face. There are lines drawn to signal fur without actually having to add texture to the character. There are still shows today that take this minimalist approach, like Family Guy or South Park.

Another variation of 2D texture is simply using texture for background elements to add depth and detail to your scene. A good example of this can be seen here in a still from the show Hey Arnold!

Hey Arnold! - Image Source

Here you can see that the characters are a little more detailed, but still take that approach we say in Bugs Bunny. There is a hard outline of the character and drawn in lines to imply texture. However, now our backgrounds are textured. The wood molding on the building looks like wood, the sky looks somewhat like an oil panting, and there is even rubble on the ground at the bottom right. While the approach still looks simplistic, you can see how much of a difference just a little texture can make.

Now, let’s dive into texturing as it applies to 3D animation. While 3D animation in general is very driven by texturing and lighting, there are still variations in how far creators will go with their texturing. Disney, for example, is known to go all out, but let’s take a look at a popular Disney show, Doc McStuffins.

Doc McStuffins - Image Source

Clearly, this show is utilizing textures in both their character and scene designs. You can see the sheep character has some light wool texturing, the girl has textured hair and a knit looking shirt, and the walls even have a little grain to them. From a 3D animation standpoint, this is somewhere in the middle in terms of texture. The artists for this show could’ve brought more detail to the scene with further texturing, but they made a stylistic choice and it works. Let’s look at a popular Disney movie, Brave, and the difference in textures between the two.

Brave - Image Source

The elephant in the room is that every single element we see in this shot is textured. Even further, it’s textured so realistically that it looks like you could reach out and touch anything in this scene. This level of detail in texturing takes a lot of time to conceptualize and apply, which in turn costs a lot of money. The budget for this movie was $185 million and it was 93 minutes long, which averages to roughly $33,150 per second of this film. Of course, that includes everything from scripting to talent acquisition and through the animation phase, but a project of any size requires those steps.

Now take a moment to scroll back up through the variations and consider what impact you think texturing adds. Is the magic of texturing the realism it can bring to a scene? The detail? Or is it simply the depth it adds? The next time you start an animation project, think about texturing before you begin and see how it sculpts the rest of your creative decisions.

Looking for your very own animation project to start? Email us at info@swagger-media.com and let us bring magic to your project.