7 practical ways to improve digital rendering in cartoons
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Use high-quality textures
  2. Play with lighting effects
  3. Incorporate depth of field
  4. Apply subtle animation effects
  5. Experiment with color grading
  6. Optimize rendering settings
  7. Use advanced rendering techniques

Do you want to bring your cartoon ideas to life? You're in the right place. This blog will show you how to improve digital rendering in cartoons. We'll explore seven practical ways to make your creations pop off the screen, grabbing your audience's attention and making your characters more realistic and appealing. So, let's get started!

Use high-quality textures

Textures are the unsung heroes of the cartoon world—they give that extra touch of realism to your creations. But not all textures are created equal. Using high-quality textures is one of the most effective ways to improve digital rendering in cartoons.

Think about it: textures are what make a tree bark look rough, a glass window shine, or a character's hair seem fluffy. So, it's vital to use textures that closely mimic the real world. Here are some pointers to help you choose and apply textures:

  • Choose High-Resolution Textures: The higher the resolution of a texture, the more detail it will add to your cartoon. However, remember to keep a balance between detail and performance—extremely high-resolution textures might slow down your rendering process.
  • Use Varied Textures: Don't just stick to one texture for a material. For example, a character's skin will not have the same texture all over. There might be areas that are smoother, others that are rougher, and some that are almost shiny. Use a mix of textures to capture this variety.
  • Apply Textures Correctly: Textures won't do you much good if they're applied incorrectly. Ensure the texture aligns with the geometry of the object. For instance, a brick texture should follow the shape and layout of a wall, not be slapped on randomly.

Using high-quality textures in your cartoons is a game-changer. They can take a flat, lifeless image and transform it into a three-dimensional, vibrant scene. Remember, textures are more than just a background element—they can make your cartoon world feel truly alive.

Play with lighting effects

Have you ever noticed how the right lighting can set the mood of a scene? It's true in movies, photography, and yes, even in cartoons. Playing with lighting effects is a proven method to improve digital rendering in cartoons. It's all about creating a visual atmosphere that enhances your story.

Here is how you can begin to experiment with lighting effects:

  • Understand Light Sources: The key to good lighting is understanding where your light is coming from. Is it a sunny day in your scene? Then your light source will be the sun, casting long shadows and bright highlights. Or maybe it's a spooky night with only a flickering lantern for light. Each scenario will require specific lighting settings.
  • Use Direct and Indirect Light: No scene is lit by one source alone. Even if you have a main light source like a lamp or the sun, there is also indirect light bouncing off surfaces. Incorporating this into your scene can add depth and realism.
  • Play with Colors: Light isn't always white. A sunset might cast a warm orange glow, while an overcast day would have a cooler, bluish light. Using colored lights can dramatically change the mood of your scene.

Lighting effects are a powerful tool in your cartoon rendering toolkit. They can turn a simple scene into a dramatic one, or a dull scene into a lively one. So, don't be afraid to experiment with lighting—your cartoons will only benefit from it.

Incorporate depth of field

Depth of field is a bit of a ninja when it comes to creating visually appealing cartoons. It operates in the background, often overlooked, but it packs a powerful punch in improving the quality of your digital renderings. It's like the secret sauce that makes your cartoon pop!

So, what exactly is depth of field? Simply put, it's the distance between the nearest and the farthest objects that are in focus in a scene. In a photo, a shallow depth of field could mean that only the subject is in focus while the background is blurry. This effect can make your subject stand out, drawing the viewer's attention to where you want it. And guess what? You can use the same technique in your cartoons!

Here's how you can do it:

  • Decide on Your Focal Point: This is the object or area in your scene that you want your viewers to focus on. It could be a character, an object, or a specific part of the background. Once you've decided, this will be the sharpest part of your image.
  • Adjust Your Blur: Now, it's time to make your background blurry, but not too blurry. The trick is to keep the background recognizable, but not so sharp that it distracts from your focal point.
  • Tweak as Needed: Depending on what you're trying to achieve, you might need to adjust your depth of field settings. Remember, the goal is to guide your viewer's attention, so keep tweaking until you're satisfied with the results.

By incorporating depth of field, you can add a sense of depth and realism to your cartoons. It's another tool to guide your viewer's eye and improve your digital rendering. So, why not give it a try?

Apply subtle animation effects

Subtle animation effects are like the salt and pepper of your digital cartoon rendering stew. They may seem insignificant, but without them, your dish — or in this case, your cartoon — might come out tasting a little bland.

So, what exactly are subtle animation effects? They are the small movements or changes that add life and vibrancy to your characters and scenes. Think of a character's hair moving with the wind, or their clothes swaying as they walk. These are the little details that can make your cartoon feel alive and dynamic.

Here's how you can apply subtle animation effects to improve your digital rendering:

  • Observe and Imitate Life: The beauty of animation is that it can mimic real life. Watch how leaves sway in the wind or how people's expressions change when they talk. Then try to incorporate these movements into your animation.
  • Keep it Subtle: Remember, these effects should be subtle. They should enhance your animation, not distract from it. Think of them as the finishing touches that bring your whole cartoon together.
  • Experiment and Have Fun: Animation is all about creativity and imagination. So, don't be afraid to try new things and see what works for your cartoon.

By applying subtle animation effects, you can bring your cartoons to life and captivate your viewers. So, next time you're wondering how to improve digital rendering in cartoons, remember: sometimes, it's the little things that make the biggest difference.

Experiment with color grading

Imagine watching a cartoon where everything has the same color tone. It would be pretty dull, wouldn't it? That's where color grading comes into play. It's like the artist's magic wand, transforming a dull scene into a vibrant spectacle.

Color grading is the process of adjusting the colors in your digital rendering to create a specific look or mood. It's like adding a dash of personality to your cartoon. But how can you experiment with color grading to improve your digital rendering in cartoons?

  • Set the Mood: Colors can evoke certain emotions in your viewers. Warm colors like red and yellow can create a sense of excitement or joy, while cool colors like blue and green can evoke calmness or tranquility. Use color grading to set the mood of your scene.
  • Create Contrast: Contrast can make your scenes more visually appealing. Use color grading to create a contrast between your characters and their surroundings, or to highlight important elements in your scene.
  • Consistency is Key: While it's important to experiment, it's also vital to maintain consistency. Your color grading should tie your scenes together and create a cohesive look for your cartoon.

Color grading is like the flavor enhancer in your cartoon soup. With a pinch of experimentation and a dash of creativity, you can create a visual feast that leaves your audience hungry for more. So why not give it a try? You might just find the perfect recipe to improve digital rendering in your cartoons.

Optimize rendering settings

Imagine you're baking a cake. You mix all the ingredients, pour the batter into the pan, put it in the oven, and then... you realize you forgot to preheat the oven. The result? A flat, undercooked cake. The same principle applies to digital rendering in cartoons. If you don't optimize your rendering settings, your final output might not look as good as you hoped.

Optimizing rendering settings is like setting the right temperature and timing for your oven. It ensures your cartoon bakes to perfection. But how exactly can you optimize your rendering settings? Let's find out.

  1. Understand Your Tools: Different software have different settings. Whether you're using Maya, Blender, or Adobe Animate, take some time to understand the rendering settings available to you.
  2. Set Your Resolution: Higher resolution offers better detail, but it also requires more processing power. Find the balance that works for you.
  3. Choose the Right Format: Different formats offer different levels of quality and file size. Some formats are better for internet sharing, others are better for high-quality prints. Choose the format that suits your needs.
  4. Check Your Lighting and Shadows: These settings can dramatically affect the look of your cartoon. Make sure they're set to enhance your artwork, not detract from it.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one project might not work for another. Experiment, adjust, and optimize until you find the sweet spot. And just like that, you're a step closer to improving your digital rendering in cartoons.

Use advanced rendering techniques

Ever watched a cartoon and thought, "Wow, how did they do that?" Chances are, they used advanced rendering techniques. These techniques can give your cartoons a level of realism and detail that sets them apart. But beware, with great power comes great responsibility. You need to know what you're doing. So, how to improve digital rendering in cartoons with advanced techniques?

  1. Ray Tracing: This is a technique that simulates the way light interacts with objects. It can create stunningly realistic lighting and shadows. But, it can also be quite resource-intensive, so use it wisely.
  2. Global Illumination: Ever noticed how light bounces off walls and objects in the real world? That's what global illumination simulates. It can add a sense of depth and realism to your scenes.
  3. Ambient Occlusion: This is a shading method that can help objects look more three-dimensional. It works by darkening areas that light can't reach easily, like corners and crevices.
  4. Motion Blur: This technique can make fast-moving objects look more realistic by blurring them slightly. It mimics the way our eyes perceive movement in the real world.

These advanced techniques can take your cartoons to the next level. But remember, each one comes with its own challenges. So, take the time to learn and master them. And remember, the best chefs don't just follow recipes - they add their own unique twist. So don't be afraid to experiment and create your own rendering recipes.

If you're interested in taking your digital rendering skills to the next level, be sure to check out the workshop 'Transforming Sketchbook Drawings From Analog To Digital' by Darren Shaddick. In this workshop, you'll learn valuable techniques and tips on how to effectively transform your traditional sketches into stunning digital illustrations. Don't miss this opportunity to enhance your cartoon rendering skills!