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Forums Adobe After Effects Question about how the makers of Cuphead blended/composited their hand drawn animations against a hand painted background

  • Question about how the makers of Cuphead blended/composited their hand drawn animations against a hand painted background

  • Harry Mason

    November 6, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Hi there,

    I have a question about how were the makers of the video game Cuphead able to blend/composite hand drawn animation that has been digitally painted in Photoshop against a water coloured background without the digitally painted animation looking out of place.

    The image shown below will further explain what I mean:

    As you can see in the image where I have traced and painted over the Big Flower character, the Flower looks out of place with the background. This must have been what the animations would have looked like initially when they imported them in the game engine with the background art.
    My gut instinct is that they may have used compositing software such as After Effects or something along those lines in order to blend the animations against the background but I’m not sure how exactly they went about doing it.
    Here is a video of the animation process for Cuphead if anyone is interested which shows how the hand drawn animations are imported into Photoshop for the colouring process:

    Just wondering could anyone kindly provide advice on how to go about doing this in After Effects or any other software?
    Any helpful information would be much appreciated!

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  • Mag Souh

    November 6, 2019 at 5:35 pm


    In AE, if you want to put grass, flowers… in front of the flower’s foot. You have to duplicate the background layer, place it above the flower layer and mask the part you want to put in front.

    In order to better blend the flower, I think you have to blur it a little.

  • Blaise Douros

    November 6, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    It certainly makes a difference that Cuphead is not being composited in AE. All compositing is happening in realtime, via the game engine. There are a number of rendering tricks that game engines can do in order to sell the blending–one of them would be the slight blur, as though it’s transferred from film, and the noise, which would help unify the image. It’s also possible that the assets were created clean, and then run through a process that would automatically apply some of these changes in saturation, sharpness, etc.

    In AE, it’s just a matter of picking apart what it is about the image that you want to duplicate, and then figuring out how. A slight blur, a little color work, and maybe some film grain overlays?

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