Creating a Braid-like game characters


I wasn’ t sure where I should start a topic about this here, but I have a question about creating a paper2D game in UE4 and I need opinion of some smarter and more experienced people so I could start making my game right from the beginning.

I wanted to create some Braid-like characters for my game, but I was wondering whether it can be done using Blender (rendering character animation as transparent pictures after I’ve finished the modelling and animation part of the 3D character).

I know it’s possible to create 3D characters in Blender and later on render the animations as transparent pictures (I’ve done some really messy test characters already, but I think I can’ t understand this until I’ve made a really detailed character). With my experience I only seem to be able to create model animations that look quite much like 3D. When you look the character of Braid (his name is Tim), it can be seen that he really doesn’ t look like a 3D character. He’s more than a 2D character, his left foot is much more ahead than his right foot. Could this be achieved in Blender?
Should I start modelling those characters in Blender or draw the animations of the characters frame by frame for example in Photoshop?

Thanks in advance!

I come from a Unity background, which I know lets you integrate this 3D to 2D workflow directly in the engine rather than through your 3D modelling program. I’ll explain the concepts behind it, and then either you will find a way to do the same thing in Unreal, switch engines, or understand what to look for in Blender.

In Unity, 2D games are rendered in the same 3D engine with a few simple tweaks, like creating separate APIs for physics which locks the z plane and layers and stuff. But what is unique is that 3D elements can actually be rendered in a 2D game and still look 2D. The first trick is that in Unity’s 2D preset, the camera is actually set to orthographic mode rather than perspective mode. That’s very likely where your foot depth issue can be resolved. The other factor is toon/cel shading. This “flattens” the sense of depth caused by rendering lighting and emulates the shades of color an artist would apply. The concept is that you calculate how “illuminated” each pixel is using normal techniques, but then quantize or round this “illumination” to one of several predefined values, or map it to a nonlinear curve such as a color ramp (especially useful to emulate artists that “smear” their shadowing). You also can add outlines to these characters using outline shading passes (implemented in many cel shaders I’ve come across). If your models are light enough, these shaders can be quite cheap compared to more realistic shaders and work well on mobile. The benefit of this approach is that now your characters have animation curve data rather than sprite frames, which allows smoother frame animations and possibly things like IK in game.

However, if you are stuck baking sprites in Blender, you aren’t totally out of luck. You can set your camera to orthographic or use a perspective camera at a distance with a powerful lens zoomed in if it doesn’t match the look quite right. There is a toon shader in Blender, but I also recommend you play with Freestyle, because that’s where you’re going to get your artist outlines from giving you more of that hand-drawn look.

I personally prefer the 3D route, but that is because I’m more of a techie than an artist. Ultimately, you’ll have to evaluate yourself and your team’s skills and decide what is the best workflow and art-style that will make you the most productive.

And best of luck!

Thanks alot for your reply!
I will definitely try out the ways you provided me to create my game.
I have no team covering my back… I’m on my own right now, that’s why I think I will have problem creating 3D, but trying different things is a part of the learning process, so I’ll look through those options. :slight_smile:

Thanks, once again.