Ink & Watercolor effects in Blender

Ink & Watercolor




Please see update at the bottom of page





Note: You can find edge nodes v1.1 from the download link on top right corner of this page. Have fun!

To ease the frustration of making the setup, I’ve prepared a template .blend.
It isn’t a straight forward solution (you can’t just swap the model out directly and render).
Please read the guide in the .blend.

PS: It took me 2 hours to prepare the blend file from scratch even at my level of understanding.
Can feel your pain starting it from scratch with your level of exposure to this technique.

Update: The original Edge Nodes (ver 1.0 and 1.1) can’t produce the effect as well as my original files did. Some parts are different in the file (which I did to enhance edge detection) on normal and Z which aren’t good for silhouette detection for the effect. This (see below) updated file will get you to produce effects similar to the Humvee, Savoia S-21, Terran Barrack SC2, SU-27/J, and Suzanne. There are slight tweak between them but overall it will work with this .blend

Download Blend file to the render below:

Drum Set

Drum Set (experimental effects)

And this is one that I did using some experimental effects but overall using the same method.

14 thoughts on “Ink & Watercolor effects in Blender

  1. You really should be more descriptive. You are using terms that I dont find in my blender version.
    You are using things that dont exists like “Egde-Detection 1.1” or nodes like “Anti-Aliasing” or “Painterly”

    Are they included in some addon or in a branch?

      • I was expecting this type of comment. I have to apologize if the post gave you a hard time. This is more like a guide than a tutorial, for the real tutorial will take hours to be done (in realtime video, step by step guide). Edge detection is a big big topic (really complex, master degree stuff), color blending is too (don’t want to bore you with too much math). So in the end, I resort to do a general guide. Showing the working concepts, by understanding how it works, you can create your own style and approach. Again, I’m really sorry.

        • Thanks for you reply!
          No problem, it was just hard to understand without reference. Now that I read the other posts I can comprehend your steps 🙂

  2. Can you post blend files with some of the models and setups you show in this post? I would love to see some of the more complex setups =)

    • How about I make one that is so complex that most PC will cry mercy. XD
      The complexity isn’t on the nodes alone but on the viewport setup.
      Give me 1 week, this will be fun.
      Also I’ll put the render on the post as an update.
      Blend file will be included.

  3. I’m actually looking at using this technique to create backgrounds for a Visual Novel. I’m basically thinking of render the whole scene in one colour, and then using photoshop/gimp with HSL adjustment layers to mask different areas and change the colour. I did try to load my scene in the example blend, but I found that the contrast of the colour was too low. Do you have any tips for adjustment on this? BTW, your technique is awesome and I am very excited about the prospect of using it.

    The other problem I saw when rending is that sometimes planes, esp on larger flat items, seem to get triangulated and a line appears from corner to corner. Any ideas?

    • The so call “color” is edge detection of a semi transparent surface with AO as noise. Then you spread the color around (Dilate/Erode) so that they merge to produce a solid color. To get high saturation, try set 1 (C) of version 1.0 (download from blendswap) for the silhouette detection part. Version 1.1 has Z depth detection all changed, not good for this as it is using real Z depth as color for depth factoring (I hope you can understand that). In the sample file I forgot that part was missing which is important for solid color. Just follow the guide in this page and you’ll be fine.

      About the triangle part, that is from edge detection. You can subtract that using “noise remove,” use small value.

      Edit: 1 more thing missing in Set 1 (C) of ver. 1.0. I’ll update a better file in the weekend. Please come back then. Also I’ll show a new render with .blend attached.

      • Yeh, I think I understand that bit. The other thing that seemed to be missing in the example was shadows, is it possible to give us an example which produces something like the GDI Power Plant (Understand if you have to change the model). Doesn’t have to be multi colour. I’ve done a reasonable amount of CG stuff but it was back in 2002/2003 using trueSpace, this AO and stuff is newer to me, so it’ll take me a little time to understand. I’ve also not done a lot of compositing. I’m hoping we can use this method to allow us to create amazing backgrounds for the Visual Novel.

        I’ll try to upload a few of my examples that I’ve worked with so you can see what I mean.

        • There is no shadow in this technique, what you see on the GDI power plant is just color directed by the lamps. The green color’s lamp was from top left, while orange-red lamp direction was from top right. Those lamp in viewport/3dView are white, you only give them color in the compositor. It is a fake shadow.

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