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PSOFT Pencil+ Plugin: How ‘Your Name’ Made Its CG Elements Look Like 2D Artwork

What do Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, Hideaki Anno’s Rebuild of Evangelion movie series, and the latest season of Rooster Teeth’s RWBY have in common?

All of those productions, not to mention a lot of others, have used the 3ds Max plugin PSOFT Pencil+.

The non-photorealistic rendering plugin is designed to serve a specific purpose: making 3D cg animation look like traditional media, whether it’s a flat cel-shaded look or a textured pencil sketch style. In a film like Your Name, although the characters were drawn, there were around 180 shots that incorporated cg elements including vehicles and birds, for which Pencil+ was used.

A few days ago, Japanese software maker P Softhouse released the first major upgrade to the software in seven years, PSOFT Pencil+ 4. The upgrade of the software offers speed increases, Nitrous viewport display, material penetration, and new edge detection settings, among other features.

Here’s a video that shows the new features:

A full feature list can be found on PSOFT’s website. Pencil+ 4 is priced at 60,480 yen (approximately $540 USD).

  • Ayal Jones

    Once they can figure out how to differentiate the line thickness as it goes around contours I don’t think anyone would be able to tell if it’s CG at all.

  • minkiu

    So I guess this company is the one to blame for having such an awful cgi Berserk series.?

    Seems weird that they don’t do it for Maya as well.

  • Tom Thumb

    CG is ALWAYS noticeable and does NOT look like traditional animation!

    The Berserk film you posted pictures of looked awful in motion, the cel animated 90’s Series looked a TON better, even with a lower budget!

    • alt animation podcast

      Its getting closer and closer every year. If an artist is talented enough and dedicated enough they can make it look close. The question is when does it become more work to make it look like 2d than it is to just do it in 2d. There were many scenes in Red Turtle that I wasnt sure how they did it

      • Tom Thumb

        They just look so distinct from eachother, I don’t know how anyone could be confused.

        I doubt there could be anything to close the ravine between them, there will be something “good enough” for people who don’t care, like flash for 2D animation.

        • alt animation podcast

          Have you seen the Red Turtle? Many 2d movies and shows have been successfully blending in 3d elements for almost decades now

    • Minh Thành Nguyễn

      How many CG anime/film has you watched. Pointing out the worst example that is Berserk made me chuckle, a lot of anime use CG nowadays, and when it is good, not like Berserk, you won’t be able to differentiate them.

  • Steve Babb

    I really like that look, but Blender does the technique way better:

  • Marie

    Is there a reason why this isn’t just drawn by hand? Is there an argument to be made that doing this in 3D then making it look 2D is faster and/or cheaper than drawing it? Part of me can’t help but feel that there’s a movement to simply not learn to draw.

    • while I myself prefer 2D animation (the spontaneity cannot be transfered to 3D) I still think you can do a lot with 3D that you can’t do with 2D. you could make a platformer or any 3D game with a 2D look without having any limitations.
      that’s just one example

    • Chris Hatfield

      3D allows for the possibility of faster production cycle, depending on how you approach the animation style.

    • J

      Try drawing a bunch of armored characters moving around by hand. With a director that wants the ability to play with camera angles and experiment with framing a shot while the animation is still in progress.
      That’s the kind of thing you can do in CG.