School of Motion

Motion Design Inspiration: Cel Shading

  • By Caleb Ward
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Motion Graphic artists go bananas for the hand-drawn animation look. There’s just something about the imperfect qualities of hand-drawn animation that makes it feel authentic, calculated, and inspiring.


Cel Shading: A Render Pretender...

However, in the days of 3D modeling software and After Effects, projects are rarely exclusively hand-drawn. Instead, most modern projects mix cel-shaded CG elements and hand-drawn layers to create a pseudo hand-drawn look. The results can be pretty crazy…

Cell Shaded Donut.gif
A delicious cel-shaded example...

We love this hybrid style so we thought it’d be awesome to put together a collection of our favorite MoGraph projects that use cel shading. All of these vids used cel-shading (also called toon-shading) in a 3D software to simulate a hand-drawn look. Prepare to be amazed. 

MTV Adrenaline Rush

Creative Director: Roberto Bagatti

MTN Dew - History

Created By: Buck 

Style Frames Opening Titles

Created By: Eran Hilleli (The king of cel-shading)

The Boy Who Learned to Fly

Created By: Moonbot Studios

There’s also a really cool BTS video for this one:

How the (2D) Sausage is Made

Like any project there are a lot of steps that you have to take in order to get the the final result and cel shading is no exception. Animade actually put together a looping example of the steps it took to create this flat hotdog. It’s pretty amazing. 

Hot Dog Loop.gif

Do it Yourself

One of the most popular ways to create cel shading is to use sketch and toon in Cinema 4D and our good buddy EJ Hassenfratz has dozens of tutorials about how to achieve this look. Go try it out and share your results with us! Here’s one of our favorite EJ tuts on the subject: