Asee peer logo

Computer Based Non Photorealistic Rendering

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Graphics and Visualization

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.392.1 - 12.392.12

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Marty Fitzgerald East Tennessee State University

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Computer-Based Non-Photorealistic Rendering


Computer-Based Non-Photorealistic Rendering is a rather elaborate term for a set of 3D rendering techniques that focus on nonrealistic, or stylized, output. Specifically for this paper, the style is a type of concept sketching, done with a computer rather than markers and pens and other traditional tools. This paper will give an overview and show examples of some of the non- photorealistic rendering capabilities available with Maya. This curious set of tools and techniques gives you the ability to create the look and feel of pen, marker, and other traditional media concept drawings with the changeability, flexibility, and creative control offered by a 3D computer-based tool. The tools will also leverage your existing 3D capabilities of moveable cameras, lighting setups, animation, overnight renders, etc. to create multiple views and looks that can require significant amounts of rework for the traditional artist. The paper will compare computer-based versions of architectural drawings with professional artist renderings of the same project.


Non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) is a way to give visual form to an idea without generating the amount of detail required in a photorealistic render. This can required in the concept and funding stages of many projects where you need to show something but the details of the project are not yet complete. Using your existing modeling and texturing skills, you can generate this type of imagery in a 3D program.

There are an extremely flexible and not overly difficult set of tools for generating NPR renderings available in Maya. Using these tools and your existing 3D skills, you can generate a range of different looks and styles from your 3D program that can rival traditional artists’ concept sketches. These are a very enjoyable set of tools to work with as they are fairly easy to learn, open to lots of different styles and workflows, and fast to render. And in comparison to other rendering techniques, they are straightforward to teach as they aren’t overly dependent on other aspects of the scene (lighting, topology, UV maps, etc.).

Some of the tools were developed for 2D cartoon-style renders, but they adapt well for other uses. This paper will primarily focus on architectural renderings, but the same concepts and practices will work well in other areas of visualization.1

Why do NPR

Most of our rendering techniques are aimed at producing photorealistic results. The use of global illumination, HDRI image-based lighting, ambient occlusion, and other advanced techniques are all aimed at increasing the realism of a 3D render. Renders that are perceived to be low quality are lacking in the aspects that we consider necessary for realistic renders: shadows, reflections, sophisticated shading, etc. So why to do a render that is specifically intended to be non-photorealistic?

Fitzgerald, M. (2007, June), Computer Based Non Photorealistic Rendering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015