Business graphics icon

I started to create a number of business graphics and icons, please find an example here:

circled@

I also saw on some blog a nice play on annual numbers which I replicated for adding in some blog posts and presentations. As this one is using shadows, it is quite hard to render in Cycles with “shadow only” to a shadowless plane (in Blender internal this is easy with one click, in Cycles you have to composit it out and use different scenes to do that – using the Cycles shadow pass also gives you the full AO shadows which you need to tune down – this is diluting the image). I found at least 4 different approaches, but last used the AO and shadow pass compositing.

annual_numbers_AOshadowPass

The issue you have with this is, that you get an Alpha overlay which shows (very subtly) if you use this in presentations against pure white background, because all the ambient occlusion against the initial plane is used as well. What you can do is to use an image program to cut the picture around the edges of the intended visible shadows. Also, the shadows are pretty grainy. The reason I assume is that what you get in the real picture is a mixture of reflections, especially in colours, even for diffuse materials. I will try tone the reflection down to zero on the ground plane. Maybe that helps.

This is the node set up in the Blender compositor:

annual_numbers_compisiting_AOshadow

You will note that the first mix node is using a factor of 1.2 to mix the AO over the shadow pass. The reason for this are artifacts from the plane edges you would also be able to get out by using an erode node, but this set up is easier (alternative you can make the plane very large, but then you have AO all over the picture to the borders).

Another method to get a shadowless plane is to render one scene of the same objects with shadow casting from the object to the plane and one w/o shadow casting from the plane. Then you can divide the two renders to get the difference and use invert node and set alpha node to composit this over. This was introduced on the blenderartists.org community.

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