Art effects filters for iClone renders

While we’re waiting for Poser-style toon-ish cel shading and pencil-sketch effects in iClone, I was wondering which sketch plugins could offer batch processing of a series of images rendered from iClone. I was thinking that iClone’s clean and relatively “noiseless” 3D look might convert fairly well — better than a grainy/noisy and shaky camcorder video would.

Over the past few years I’ve tried many of the sketch filters, including Photoshop filters and the rather-good-but-fiddly Poser addon Art Materials Vol 2: Dry Shaders. The only sketch filters that remain in my current installation of Photoshop are Redfield Sketchmaster 2 and Virtual Painter 5 (which looks like a toy, but which can actually produce some nice results with a bit of care). I’m also considering adding AKVIS Sketch.

I’ve found that conversion times are often an issue in Photoshop, and the initial results are often far from ideal. Finely-tweaked custom presets are needed, to avoid the horrid “HEY! it’s a Photoshop filter!” look that will creep out all the graphics pros in the audience. Most of the time the conversion of a still image needs additional complex Photoshopping, including a layer blend mode used to apply it over the original photo. It is possible to get some nice effects but it takes some work and sometimes has to involve Painter. But doing all that by hand is not a viable solution for converting the 18,000 HD frames in a 10 minutes x 30 FPS iClone video.

AKVIS Sketch‘s tutorial suggests that their 500 frames (see video below) took three hours. I’d assume their test video was perhaps 800px x 600px, and that 500 x 1280px HD frames might take perhaps eight hours on a decent PC. So that means about one frame per minute. Or 300 hours for a ten minute movie (about 12 days, assuming the PC doesn’t crash and the CPU doesn’t start burning up)! Yowch! Then you have to add on the time it’ll take to compile all those frames into a video. Now I understand why we don’t see many art-filtered iClone videos.