Blender A.E.

Developed in 1998, Titan A.E. was ahead of it’s time in animation. It was a hybrid of 2D characters in a 3D environment. You wouldn’t think it would work back then but it did and is still praised for how seamless it all interacted. But the budget required to pull it off caused the studio to go bankrupted and shut down as they were unable to make back the money in the box office.

Titan A.E. wasn’t the only one of it’s kind but it certainly was the most notable alongside Treasure Planet two years later. 2D in 3D and vice versa was prominent in the late 90s and early 2000s but died down later in the decade in America. Most were more in an attempt to blend certain complex elements within a 2D world. However, it still often came off as conspicuous CG due to budget reasons. The Iron Gaint was rare exception to this rule. It used the strength of the technology’s flexibility to seemlessly create and integrate the 3D robot into the 2D world. Unfortunately, it still suffered financially due to poor marketing by their publisher who saw Pixar as a threat. This is also why Titan A.E. and Treasure Planet failed too. But with release of version 2.8 in 2017, Blender aims to break down those barriers and make something that use to seem like financial suicide to accessible to all with Grease Pencil.

Grease Pencil made it’s preliminarily debut in 2.79 as a digital version of the real world thing meant for modelers to make quick notes and changes. It was expanded upon by a dedicated team that worked to make the feature a legit 2D artistic tool that works in tandem with it’s 3D counterparts for 2.8. As a result, grease pencil drawings can be drawn in 3D space and behave like 3D objects but can be edited like traditionally drawn art from Adobe Animate or Inkscape.

Despite this vector-like approach, you can still create pencil-like drawings that look no different then those found in traditional art programs, such as Krita. And that’s the point. It’s meant to respect traditional artists style and workflow while still giving them the power to use tools that the industry left them behind for. This merger of 2D in a 3D landscape make traditional artists a lot more relevant again outside of the indie space.

My strength is in 2D but I want to get into 3D. I’ve set my goal make 3D environments first because I’m better at 2D characters. Grease Pencil accomplishes another goal by letting artists, such as myself, use 3D to offset what they can’t do in 2D. And to that I say thank you.

Written on July 5, 2020