What Is Non-Photorealistic Rendering?

When it comes to computer graphics, there are many methods to create specific styles.  In contrast to traditional computer graphics that put their focus on photorealism, non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) focuses on enabling a variety of expressive styles.

The emergence of NPR over the previous decade has expanded an intriguing new field of expressing emotion, abstraction, and even stylization. Today, there’s a long list of non-photorealistic rendering techniques that can help you make photos look like drawings or turn photos into art.

The Role of Non-Photorealistic Rendering

NPR is essentially a procedure through which computer engineers attempt to create and animate art inspired by paintings, drawings, cartoons, or other sources not directly connected with photorealism.

Today, NPR is utilised to create distinctive styles in industries such as video games and movies in the form of cel-shaded animation—also referred to as toon shading.

1. Differences Between Photorealistic and Non-Photorealistic Rendering

Many early computer graphics put their main focus on photorealism, attempting to animate and simulate characters that were similar to their real life counterparts. In contrast, non-realistic photo rendering methods take objects and imaginary characters and aim to give them their own life.

2. Applications for Non-Photorealistic Rendering

Throughout the past few decades, NPR has found itself in a lot of industries. Most often, it has been utilised in comics and animation, which are industries that have benefited greatly from the tool’s flexibility and precision. Disney and Pixar, for example, have heavily utilised non-photorealistic rendering in creating their blockbuster movies.

NPR is also used in commercial products where photorealistic rendering cannot be utilised, typically aimed at creating user manuals for parts where direct imaging isn’t efficient. It has also seen a lot of usage in gaming, the metaverse, and in the design of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

3. Various Non-Photorealistic Rendering Categories

There are numerous categories relevant to non-photorealistic rendering, including pen and ink illustrations, painterly rendering, cartoon rendering, technical illustration, and scientific visualisation. This style of rendering improves with technology as we get access to quicker and more efficient hardware and software. Illustrations also have multiple categories of description, including textures, tones, outlines, strokes, scaling, and indicators.

Moving Forward With Non-Photorealistic Rendering

Today, there are many tools that can leverage the power of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to turn any set of words or images into a non-photorealistic image. Tools such as NightCafe Creator were specifically developed to fill this role.

In any case, the development of this technology has revealed that there is genuine interest in this type of rendering, as it has been utilised by some of the biggest corporations on a global scale to create movies, games, and products that have captivated millions.