PSOFT ships Pencil+ 4
Japanese developer P Softhouse – more commonly known as PSOFT – has released Pencil+ 4, the latest version of its non-photorealistic rendering plugin for 3ds Max.
The update adds support for material transparency, a new Light Intensity Control and new edge detection settings, and makes the plugin compatible with 3ds Max’s Nitrous viewport.
A cel-shading tool used in production on major Japanese animations
Used in Japanese animated features like the Rebuild of Evangelion series and Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, Pencil+ has also been used in production by Western studios, notably by Rooster Teeth on RWBY.
The plugin generates 3D renders that reproduce the look of pen-and-ink and coloured pencil drawings, with a range of cel-shading and edge outlining options, shadow blending, and stroke maps for hatching effects.
New in Pencil+ 4: new material and lighting options
To that, Pencil+ 4 adds support for material transparency, as shown in the (Japanese-language) video above. Transparency can follow a gradient, enabling it to generate effects suitable for hair, for example.
There is also a new Light Intensity Control, which can be used to adjust the area of a surface illuminated by a light interactively, along with the illumination intensity.
In addition, the update adds a new Nitrous Shader, which enables scenes to be cel-shaded directly in 3ds Max’s Nitrous viewport and edited in real time.
Extended line rendering controls
When it comes to line rendering, there are a couple of new options for edge detection, including the option to outline open edges in geometry.
A new Merge Groups option enables users to generate only a single outline for a set of 3D objects; while self-intersection is handled automatically, as shown in the video above.
Outlining of instanced objects can be set to take account of the distance of an instance from the camera.
Support for multithreading and XRefs, new scene converter and Spreadsheet view
Under the hood, Pencil+ 4 also now supports multithreading, which results in a render speed boost of around 15x in the demo scene shown in the video above.
The plugin also now supports 3ds Max’s XRefs for referencing objects from external files within a scene.
There are also new utilities for converting a standard 3ds Max scene to Pencil+ materials and a Spreadsheet view for editing the material and edge properties of large numbers of objects within a scene.
Pricing and availability
Pencil+ 4 is available for 3ds Max 2015 and above. It costs 60,480 Yen (around $540).