Non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) is not new, it has been in practice since the 1990s. A number of famous Hollywood films have seen the application of this new method. Such films are Tarzan (1999), A Scanner Darkly (2006), etc.

The animation of A Scanner Darkly (2006) was so close to reality that critics and audiences alike were taken aback; they attributed the stunning quality of the animation to 3D NPR. However, the technology used in the film was simpler than that; it was called Rotoscoping. The whole film was first shot by a digital camera and then transformed into an animated form.

Rotoscoping is different from 3D. A major point of difference between the two is 3D is not stuck in the digital art industry, it has plenty other areas of application. Another important difference is while techniques such as rotoscoping consider reality as the standard, 3D NPR does exactly the opposite; it brings close technology and art and produces a non-realistic rendering through their nexus.

What is the future of 3D NPR?

3D NPR seems to have a bright future. It might appear contra-intuitive because photorealism is what the industry strives for, and non-photorealism is 180° opposite to that. However, once the benefits of 3D NPR are conceived of, it becomes easy to understand why it is a prodigious child.

Smooth illustration of 3D objects

The biggest benefit of 3D NPR is smooth illustration. The illustrator doesn’t have to pay minute attention to each and every aspect of the illustration such as precision, allegiance and perfection. In other words, the illustrations are not supposed to have a strict coherence with the reality.

This particular aspect of NPR could benefit a number of industries such as architecture, real estate, architecture and automobile; the illustration will not mimic every bit and end of the reality, but only convey the idea of an actual object. A realtor might want to see a simplistic representation of a building site. 3D NPR could come in real handy in rendering such a representation.

Similarly, an automobile company might want to introduce a new auto model and ask for a schematic representation. The representation could be as simple as a prototype. Since companies know final drafts are rendered after a series of prototypes, they invest less in the rendition of prototypes.

Just like the real estate industry, 3D NPR could aid the automobile industry as well by providing cost effective and simplistic representations.

The style quotient

The recent trends in the tech industry indicate style is becoming an essential part of it alongside usability. Users these days are not content by simply being able to lay their hands on something useful, they also want it to carry some stylistic appeals.

3D conceptual design is not an exception to this rule. When not used for serious purposes, it could be a style statements. It could be digital art or online comics for kids, a remarkable style statement could be added to it with the help of 3D NPR.

3D NPR could help a new generation of painters to emerge, who would identify their flaws, overcome them and produce remarkable paintings. They’d also think outside the box and work freely without any kind of technical restriction.

3D Virtual environments

3D NPR could help meet some challenges of virtual environments. For example, it can render simple geometric objects in a scene real-time. Such objects could be as simple as a wardrobe or a chair. The same could be done by the photorealism too, but the sense of immersion many not be as enhanced as in non-photorealism.

There are psychological factors that play a key role when a 3D virtual environment is observed. One such factor is view-dependent rendering. Certain lighting and geometric effects depend upon the viewer; photorealism has failed to mask them whereas non-photorealism succeeded in doing that.

Mobile GIS

Mobile GIS developers are interested lately in working on 3D maps. 3D maps are more user-friendly than non-3D maps, they are interactive and allow users to harness the benefits of non-photorealistic imagery.

Mobile GIS developers have a predilection for non-photorealism because NPR makes silhouette drawing and feature-edge drawing super easy – the two techniques are essential in preserving the important details of a particular environment.

There are other advantages of non-photorealism for mobile GIS, one of which is the rendition of a complex 3D GIS model. Rendering such models through photorealistic techniques is difficult.

The discussion above forces us to acknowledge the significance of 3D non-photorealism. It also explains why NPR shouldn’t be restricted only to digital art and applied to other niche-specific domains such as interior decoration and Smartphone GIS development.