Is Zelda Wii U cel-shaded? I've never seen cel-shading look like this.

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by sbLora, Nov 14, 2015.

  1. sbLora

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    Reference:

    Screenshot: http://www.zeldadungeon.net/wiki/images/d/d7/Zelda-wii-u-link-720.jpg
    Video 1:
    Video 2:


    Is this cel-shading? How did they do this?

    If you look at the character's shirt, skin, gloves, hair, the leather straps, and the horse's fur and mane/tail... it's all awesome, I just don't understand what's going on! Are those textures essentially solid colors, and all the shading on them coming from in-game light sources?

    The folds in the clothing, and the shaded parts of the horse's frame, are those shapes carved into the 3D model itself? How does that work?

    I've never seen a cel-shaded game that looked like this... it's like, semi-realistic cel-shading. Some of the lines made by the shading in that screenshot look hand-drawn (like the jagged lines on the belt that goes across the chest), but I know it's essentially a still frame taken out of that video, all of which was rendered in the game engine. I also can't tell if these models are really low-poly or really high-poly and that's boggling my mind.
     
  2. orangpelupa

    orangpelupa Elite Bug Hunter
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    Probably complemented with baked texture
     
  3. Rikimaru

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    They are overdoing bloom again. And cel shading. Skyward sword style was very good.
     
  4. tongue_of_colicab

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    I liked TP style much better than the cell shading of SS. Zelda on a console shouldn't be cell shaded IMO.
     
  5. Rikimaru

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    SS was not cel shaded. It had similar lighting to TP but had bright textures.
     
  6. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    Yes
    Yes.

    Geometry and/or normal mapping.

    Cel shading is an 'artificial' lighting model. Ordinarily you have a falloff of bright through dark based on surface angle to the light source. In computer graphics this can be due to the surface geometry or with a normal map applied to fake surface detail. In cell shading, you create a binary (or more in some implementations like the above) threshold between light and dark.* Onto this you can add a secondary illumination that isn't cell shaded. In your screenshot there's a five-way cel shader, very visible by five shades of blue on the shirt, but there's also some softer shading very clear in the folds, and secondary illumination giving it depth. Overall it's very pretty and being achieved in the surface shaders.

    Goes to show what Nintendo can achieve with decent programmable hardware, and how much more awesome Wii would have been if it didn't have outdated fixed-function HW!

    I can't believe Nintendo are the first to do this although it's true that most cel shaded games go with the traditional binary look because they are recreating the style achieved by artists having to churn out thousands of frames and so can't dedicate time to subtle shading in the painting. Just Googled and this came up for PS3 - Atelier-Escha-Logy-Alchemist-of-Dusk-Sky. Has nice painted textures alongside the ramped (cel shaded) lighting.

    http://smartfim.com/games/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Atelier-Escha-Logy-Alchemist-of-Dusk-Sky-32.jpg



    * Actually, you can map input to output via a lookup, and it's just the number and type of bands/gradients you use that defines the look. Here's a Team Fortress 2 ramp shader for Unity. Look at the ramp texture and how it maps to the lighting.
    http://wiki.unity3d.com/index.php?title=TeamFortress2Shader

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. sbLora

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    Thanks so much for that response, Shifty Geezer. Clearly I have a lot to learn about shaders, but everything you said makes sense (even if I don't fully understand it yet). I think what blew me away was exactly the things you pointed out: A five-way cel-shader combined with another softer shader, and the secondary illumination on top. My knowledge of cel-shading before was limited to "Oh yeah, it's that thing that makes stuff look cartoony," so I just didn't understand how it could be used to achieve a result that looks this pretty.

    One thing I'm still confused about, the textures... It doesn't look like this uses a lot of hand-painted details like the anime game you linked to. Watching the video, I can't see a single detail in the shading that doesn't change based on the character's position relative to the light (which would mean all the work is being done by the shaders). Are the textures really just essentially solid colors? Like, the character's shirt, is it really just a paint-bucket filled blue (aside from the white trim)? If so, then this is magic, and I need to enroll at Hogwarts post-haste.

    Thanks again so much for illuminating this for me! :) I'm in your debt.
     
  8. orangpelupa

    orangpelupa Elite Bug Hunter
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    There's also the awesome tales of vesperia

    Btw eternal sonata is cell shaded or not?
     
  9. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    Yes that's all it'd need be. You don't need lots of detailed painted surfaces to create a nice image.

    It is, but has quite a lot of baked texture/lighting detail.
     
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  10. sbLora

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    Thanks, Shifty! :) I can't wait til I get good enough with shaders to experiment with this kind of style!
     
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  11. Shifty Geezer

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  12. milk

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    I recall someone form nintendo said in some interview the wind waker HD remaster was the result of their experimentation for the rendering for this new zelda. If you compare the original gamecube version with the resmaster, the diference is in the adition of the soft ambient lighting. The way wind-waker worked, is that it had one dominant light per-object. When more than one light source were present, the game would elect the strongest one for every object and use just that. That is very stylistic, not very realistic, but interestingly, Unreal Engine 3 games do something somewhat similar, but UE3 doesn't use the same harsh binary falloff (almost binary, there is a small gradation on Wind Waker, which avoids aliasing) which is responsible fro most of the cartoony look. Wind waker still had very cartoony textures, full of large areas of solid colors. That helped with the look a lot as well, even though it has nothing to do with the rendering tech.
    On Wii U's Wind Waker HD, there's an aditional ambient term to lighting, which is very soft, and I'd guess, based on baked spherical harmonics probes all over the levels, because that's what many games from ps360 era did. Also, Wind Waker HD had global shadowing. It means the same shadowing system affected both the static environment geometry and dynamic objects. So characters could recieve detailed shadows from their environment, other characters and themselves (self-shadowing).
    Then there's SS, which went for a painterly look. It had a lot more texture to its art style, so look less cartoony. There, they still used the per-object dominant light system but with a more natural looking soft fallof (much like TP) but on top of that they added a cell-like rim light. Rim lights give that extra shine at object's silhouettes. Its also not very physically based, but it looks visually similar to something we get from specular highlights at oblique surfaces. Its essentially simulating what objects would look like if they had a large area light behind them. It's camera dependent, so when the camera moves, it moves with it, keeping the lighting at the object's silhouettes all the time. This rim light can be done with a soft falloff as well, look at mario galaxy for an exemple of that.
    On this new gen Zelda, they seem to have combined the dominant lighting system of Wind Waker HD, with the Rim Lighting of SS. Basically, two lighting terms that use both the harsh fallof. The dominant light is not camera dependent, so it will stay consistent as long as neither the object nor the lightsource move, while the rim light moves around as you spin the camera. Like WindWaker, this zelda uses the more cartoony textures, with a lot of flat colors. Again, a art-production side change, independent of tech. Unlike Wind Waker though, it uses normal maps, which allow surfaces to look more detailed without having to be too high poly, that is very comon on games with realistic rendering, not so much on cell-shaded games, but it's perfectly possible much like shown here. The wrinkles on link's clothing is a result of that. Global shadowing is also in, allowing self shadowing. And that seems to be it. They might have the soft ambient lighting on top of all that, but it's hard to tell with this little footage (and pretty low quality as well).

    This is all very simplified, there is a lot of math behind all those parts of the lighting, and how they are combined, and there is a lot of room for diferent implementations of every single one of them which are very hard to determine by pure examination of the end results. Check Valve's talk about TF2 to get an idea of how much different stuff can be done with non-realistic rendering aproaches:

    http://www.valvesoftware.com/public...lustrativeRenderingInTeamFortress2_Slides.pdf

     
  13. sbLora

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    Thanks for that explanation, Milk. Definitely going to watch this Valve presentation now. I've always thought of Normal Maps in relation to the details of the texture/diffuse, so it's interesting to think about applying normals to a model with basically no detail in the textures. It makes sense though, as a lot of those folds look way too small to be part of the model itself (but that's just my extremely uneducated guess, given that there's sharp corners visible in other areas of the model implying a lower polycount). And I always love learning about tech limitations leading to creative style decisions (like the spots Crash Bandicoot's back, so you could actually tell what direction he was facing at a glance). It's surprising just how much of a game's aesthetic is determined by the lighting systems alone. I've got a lot to learn but you've given me a lot of new things to study. :)
     
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