• This lesson will take you through using the V-Ray Toon shader in a Maya scene
  • This lesson topic is approximately 30 minutes in length
  • Lesson covers all 3 Learning Cycles for the Lesson Topic – Lecture, Demonstration, and Activity
  • Learning Outcomes: You will be able to add, adjust, and manipulate toon shading in your scenes


Available Materials
Additional resources


Goal - We will apply cel shading to a robot model

Objective – To develop the look of cell shading for a 3D model                               

Outcome – You will be able to create your own cel shading for characters as well as props and other objects



Available materials

To set up the lesson follow the links below and download all available materials.

Lesson plan download
Presentation (Lecture) download
Demonstration tutorial download                                                                         

Scenes & Assets download 



1. Terminology

Here’s some terms to be aware of when thinking about toon shading.

  • Cel shading, Toon shading
    • A type of shading originally developed for cartoons, animated films, comics, etc.
    • Characterized by shading with solid colors and dark outlines
  • Surf. Luminance
    • A standard Maya utility that can set colors based on surface luminance
    • Useful for shading of shadow areas with color



a) Approach

 Cel shading has two components:

  • Surface shading
    • Areas of solid color across the surface
    • Create effect with standard Maya tools
  • Outline
    • Dark edges of objects
    • Create with VRayToon node




2. VRayToon

 a) Solid color shading with the Surface Luminance utility

  • Pipe the Surf. Luminance output into a ramp to vary hue based on luminance
  • Pipe the ramp output into a standard material





b) VRayToon node
  • Draws the outline only, does not affect surface material
  • Technically, an atmospheric effect
  • Adjust parameters and assign to specific objects as desired
  • To use different settings for different objects, create more VRayToon nodes and assign them to those objects




c) Line Width
  • Sets thickness of outline







d) Line Color
  • Sets color of outline







e) Normal Threshold
  • Determines the angle at which lines will be drawn within an object
  • 0.0 means only  angles of 90+ degrees generate internal lines
  • 1.0 fills all curved angles








  • Cel shading is a combination of solid color shading and outlines
  • Surface Illumination utility helps make surface shade for cel shading                           
  • VRayToon node draws outlines on geometry


Time to see it work!

Watch while I demonstrate how to setup a cel shader for this toy robot.





Time to do it yourself!

Use the provided  scene file to develop your own look for the robot.
We have also provided a final scene for your reference.



Dialing in the right values

  • Line Color – black
  • Line Width – 3
  • Normal Threshold – 0.98






Additional resources

Find more training resources listed below: