The Animation Pipeline

Highlights and Shadows

You may have noticed that I keep saying highlighting and shadows, highlighting and shadows, this is what really makes a film come alive.

This is true of not just a film, but also 2-dimensional images. If you ever surf the Internet for art, you will find that a lot of it looks pretty flat, and that is because they have not added the highlights or the shadows.

What really makes a character or scene look alive is the idea that it is in a real 3-dimensional space that has light. So if I have this thing that is in a space that has light, if it is lit from above, then it would probably have some highlights on the top half.

Then of course if it has shadows, if that is where the light is coming from then the shadows would probably be back here somewhere.

Highlights and shadows are difficult. It takes a long time to get them right, and they also take a long time to render. Sometimes bad things happen to the art while you are working on the rendering of whatever makes the thing look real.

Back up early, back up often.

After the work is rendered, the whole thing just takes on a serious, extra dimension to it. Previous to that, or while the work is in process, art that does not have all the highlights and shadows is probably good enough for a draft.

After the game concept is sold to a producer, or is worth including in more than the demo trailer, then the studio will add these effects. They will add the highlighting, which is effect of the lights, and then they add the shadows which are these, like the opposites of the lights.