The Last of Us 2: The eyes took a lot of work for Naughty Dog

The Last of Us 2: The eyes took a lot of work for Naughty Dog

The Last of Us 2

The Last of Us 2 is one of the most impressive games seen in recent years from a graphic point of view, especially with regard to character modeling and animations, and there is a detail that can make it clear how much time has also been invested. in the realization of small details such as the eyes of the characters.

New details on the development by Naughty Dog were revealed at SIGGRAPH 2020 last March, but have now emerged for the publication of the various presentation slides. During the event, technical art director Waylon Brinck and technical artist Steven Tang illustrated some specific features of the development of The Last of Us 2 in particular on the processing of the eyes and gaze of the various characters.

In The Last of Us 2, the creation of the characters' eyes required extra work Apparently, it was a longer process than expected: according to the two developers, initially it was possible to obtain optimal results only in presence of certain lighting conditions and framing, which led Naughty Dog to evolve the entire rendering process in order to specifically improve the eye area.

The idea was to be able to create something with "longer life" than the original models. After a period of research, new techniques such as "screen space shadow" have been introduced in correspondence of the lashes and eyelids, in order to better render the depth.

As a derivation of this work on the eyes, the particular effect of the reflecting eyes on the various creatures present in The Last of Us 2, such as the infected, has also been inserted. It all started from the study of some stuffed wolves present in the scenario, but the final effect was so positive that it was also extended to other creatures: in essence, the developers created new pieces of code in order to apply the iridescent effect of the pupils that reflect light like those of nocturnal animals, and have also used it for the infected.

The Last of Us 2 celebrated its first anniversary in recent days, while we await news on the next work of Naughty Dog, which could be a stand alone multiplayer game.

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The Last of Us 2 is so detailed, Naughty Dog had to overhaul their rendering to get character’s eyes perfect

a person standing in the grass: The Last of Us 2 © Provided by GamesRadar The Last of Us 2

The level of detail found in The Last of Us 2 also extends to its character’s eyes as a recent presentation from Naughty Dog reveals. 

Two of the studio’s artists, technical art director Waylon Brinck and technical artist Steven Tang did a presentation earlier this year at SIGGRAPH 2020, a global graphics technology conference where they gave an extensive look into how the technical art of the game was created (via Kotaku).

During the presentation, the artists discussed how much work went on behind the scenes of The Last of Us 2 with some of the focus falling on how realistic the character’s eyes looked in the game. The presentation took place in March however the slides from the presentation have only just been uploaded online for public viewing.

In the slides, Waylon Brinck explains how Ellie’s eyes in The Last of Us 2’s reveal trailer were impressive, but only in certain lighting scenarios and camera angles. This led the team to overhaul their eye rendering process as they “wanted something with a lot more life.”

This overhaul began with a photoshoot to gain more eye reference photos for the artists to use when designing Ellie and co’s peepers. Once they had their research done, Waylon explains that they implemented some ‘screen space shadows’ to the character’s eyelashes and eyelids - to create depth.

It doesn’t end there either, once the team at Naughty Dog had got the human character’s eyes down, they went on to focus on other creatures eyes, as the duo explains: “We had a moment in the game where we wanted some taxidermied wolves to have retro-reflective eyes, like many nocturnal animals do.” This real-life eye feature can mostly be found in cats and dogs whose eyes glow differently depending on the light they’re exposed to.

To do this, Naughty Dog wrote a short piece of code that calculates the reflection of the pupil and gives the eyes an iridescent look. The team liked this effect so much that they then added it to all the infected enemies found in the game, to give them even more of a creepy look. 

This presentation gives us just a small insight into the technical wizardry that went on behind the scenes of Naughty Dog’s 2021 hit. However, this isn’t the first time The Last of Us 2’s level of detail has been noticed as it was recently discovered that the character models in the game have fingerprints, as well as several other hidden design tricks that have been uncovered via exploring the game out of bounds. 

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