Create a toy-camera style render

In recent years we have witnessed a technological evolution of render engines and new lighting tools, increasingly aimed at photorealistic rendering. Even though we have these powerful tools, it is essential to have the knowledge behind them.
Knowing photography, the right proportions, having a critical eye and patience, to evaluate every little detail, to ensure that you get to the excellent result.

Very often, to make the Motion Graphics scenes realistic, use is made of post-production, for the processing of renders, often too “rough”, in the care of certain elements of the shot footage, thus creating a fairly photorealistic final result.

One of the best-known inconveniences, when we create our renderings, is that of creating a “too perfect” rendering effect, too much cleaning of the image, creating an “artificial” effect of the scene.

One of the trends, which are used to give a certain emotionality to the scene, is to use “filters” by altering the rendering, with tools such as “Instagram” or other “Toy-camera” type emulators.
Photographers, for example, often go to great lengths to eliminate strange reflections and refractions, sometimes spending thousands of dollars on lenses that produce the least amount of optical distortion or aberration. However, you can use these elements to make your shots much more photographic and believable.
Some of these can be done directly in 3D and others in 2D in post production.

You can start with the reflex “lens flares”. Most of the time it is avoided, but in reality, using this phenomenon skillfully can improve an image. Start by drawing a series of hexagons, coloring them differently. Depending on the aperture of the lens you are replicating, the regular hexagons that appear on the photograph are the reflection of the aperture off the lenses; photographers call them “phantom apertures”. When framing an intense point light source or one that comes from a single point, it is probable that hexagons are created the more it is decentralized. The greater the number of lenses that make up the lens, the more numerous there will be “ghost apertures”.

For the color of the hexagons, I looked into a loupe to see what colors there were, they all leaned toward oily greens, blues, and purples. You can play with the blending modes that you think are the most suitable, in my case I applied Overlay, with a transparency between 15% and 50% it should be fine, the important thing is not to make it too obvious. You can do a very similar thing with dust, as if it were in the air or on the lens. Keeping the same shape but with various dimensions, the result will be excellent.

Let’s apply a blur filter on the hexagon layers, taking care to give more blur to the bigger and closer objects.
I prepare the main layer image, duplicating it and applying a blend filter Overlay, working with low opacity values. For the color correction I improved the contrast with the “curves” adjustment layer.

I then created a second “curves” adjustment layer to work on the color. In this scene I prefer to boost the blues for the highlights and the greens and reds for the shadows, leaving the midtones practically intact.

Finally, I like to add some “Diffusion”. This can be accomplished in several ways, but a quick way is to duplicate the render layer and add a Gaussian Blur (the amount depends on the image size) and make this layer Overlay or Screen, depending on the image, with a transparency ranging from 12% to 15%. Make sure this level is below all the adjustments, so that color correction and lens effects work well.

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