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Non-photorealistic rendering: Painting with Polygons


teapot1Artists over at are experimenting with a new technique called 'Painting with Polygons'. It's based on a paper that will be presented by Isaac Botkin at SIGGRAPH 2009 later this week. It uses standard Blender tools and gives some pretty amazing results.

PaulHart2 writes:

This just showed up on, (A Lightwave centric news site) for "Painting with Polygons," a paper being presented at Siggraph 2009. While it uses techniques that are not in themselves wildly new and are Lightwave centric, but it does it in an excellent way that looks wonderful. The most important aspect is that most of the aesthetic parameters seem adjustable, and the results maintain "temporal coherence" over the course of multiple frames. This means that the surface texture does not "crawl" or "flash" frame-to-frame. I would welcome having someone with Blender skills beyond mine, see if this can be implemented in Blender. Combined with some of the line work of the Freestyle branch, wowie!! A simple step tutorial would be crucial. I will try to translate it myself by watching the video repeatedly, but having it "distilled" for simple creation by someone with great Blender "chops" would be excellent. Great work, wonderful animations, check out the other links.


About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. @n-pigeon:Eh nothing interesting :|

    We should burn down his home!!! Sorry, coudn t resist! ...had to much coffee :)

    I found painting with polygons on blendpolis yesterday. Intresting technic - i like this sort of experiments!

  2. @Benjy, Thanks for that last link. That really showed the effect well. I like it and think it would be a wonderful addition to the tool set for rendering.
    @Bart, thanks for all your work keeping us up to date on this kind of stuff.

  3. I know another guy who was trying to replicate this after watching Isaac's video. I posted about this on another thread in Blender Artists which didn't get a lot of feeback, but it's good to see another thread on the same topic did. Oh, and here is the thread that PaulHart2 started.

    Oh, and I know Isaac Botkin too. He and his siblings did a really awesome short film of 3D Lego characters, it's on his blog under MEN O' WAR.

  4. Wow... I feel like a kid with building blocks suddenly being exposed to an architectural marvel. Nothing I've managed with nodes even comes close! It's... it's... amazing!

  5. @Bart
    Why you are so angry? :)

    It even don't looks too good, it can be cool in some VFX but as an artistic visual manipulation it don't impact me in positive way.

    Nooo not my home where I will be siting and posting that polygon painting is not very beautiful for me xD ^^

  6. @Benjy : Seriously, thanks for he link. It got the concept across to me really quickly.

    This is a pretty cool visual effect. I don't think that I personally would use it it any of my works, but I would not mind seeing it used tastefully in someone else's works. It looks pretty cool, from the description and examples shown in the video that Benjy posted the link to.

  7. The effect and especially Benjy's link, is most interesting but personally the look doesn't appeal to me at all. I wonder how the look would appeal to a general audience ?

  8. Very Interesting effect. Blender has so many drawers and hidden possibilities !

    I don't know if you remember the kind of images that could be rendered with very ancient Blender versions, when we stopped the rendering during the preparation stage.

    I have downloaded the 2.34 release, loaded one of my old models and rendered this image with it :

    The left image is the full render, and the right image is a mix of the full render and the color pattern generated by Blender while preparing to render. You can use different mixing process (Add, Multiply, Substract, darken...) as well as some filters, and get very interesting colors. It can be useful to create abstract paintings, as well as textures for exotic fabrics...

  9. Tom (not Ton) on

    Wow, I can just imagine one VERY cool looking kids movie using this. I say kids because of the comments above that seem to be more limited to what they see or want to see.

    I get a hint of "twilight princess" meets "phantom hourglass" for some reason.

    I'd love to see something BBB like done in this kind of style.

  10. Click Jeremiah's linky. The forum, I think on page 2 has a blend file for you to play with. "Painting with Polygons" reminds alot of ZBrush's 2.5D brushes. But at least you can simulate the technique in Blender. :)

  11. Hey there guys,

    this looks great. I'm trying this in Maya but im havint trouble at the stage where have to get the mesh to ocsillate once per frame to get the layered opacity look. Any help?

    Cheers x

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