Back when I was in design school my fellow students seemed to have one of two traits that were exceptional in their own right: Sketching or CAD Modeling. Ketchup or Mustard. Peanut Butter or Jelly. Alone these things are ‘okay’. Put them together and you have an unstoppable force capable of breaking the outer limits of the stratosphere with their combined awesomeness. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Somebody who can model the heck out of something can’t always duplicate that into a tshirt-ready graphic… or can they?

NPR Kit for modo 601

The latest kit to come out of Luxology’s Mountain View headquarters has nothing to do with making your renders look more lifelike, rather it’s the complete and totally intentional opposite. The NPR Kit is a surprising release from a company that spends so much time touting their ability to provide tools that enable their users to create some of the most lifelike renders both sides of the Mississippi, and the Amazon, and the Hudson, etc. If you’re one of the CAD superheros who has no problem building a kajillion-piece assembly in SolidWorks, but struggles to navigate perspective drawing with a #2 pencil, then this kit just might be your artistic calling.

While many people might consider the kit a Photoshop filter package on steroids, it’s important to note that the flexibility offered within the package is unparalleled in terms of power, capabilities, and control. Yes, you COULD bring a render into Photoshop and apply a halftone filter and some gradients, but that’s… where the bus stops unfortunately. With the NPR kit, you can have complete live previews of multiple angles, lighting adjustments, additional material layer options, and more instant gratification with your final scene appearance. Additionally, the kit allows you to create your own sketch maps and then reference them as a shader option so you don’t have to check your own style in at the door. Never before has my autograph looked so beautiful… rendered over a cheeseburger.

Is it useful?

While the kit lacks a particular applied application for product designers (unless you’re fortunate to find a market selling ‘toon’-ified images of your latest product design), it’s important to note that maybe having fun is an applied application? I had a blast running through my archive of models I sweat and bled over for days once upon a time, only to turn them into cartoons or pencil sketches. Perhaps the application belongs in the world of animators and character designers, but to say playing with the NPR kit wasn’t a kick in the pants would be a lie. Turning sharks into Sharpie sketch-turned actual swimming sharks on a crumpled piece of notebook paper was one of the more fun applications found during my testing:

Just some of the NPR Kit Render Styles are:

  • Edge Ink
  • Toon Shader
  • Gooch Shader
  • Halftone Shader
  • Stipple and Dab Shaders
  • Sketchtone Shaders

The kit also contains a slew of other assets including background paper (napkins, notebook paper, etc) to help put your renders into context. Additionally, some sample scenes and other useful materials are included.


Priced at $199 ($149 for a limited time), the kit runs a bit steep considering that the commercial value of the outputs might be limited for most people. But hey, if you can sell cool renders of your fish models to a fly fishing guide service, maybe it’ll pay for itself? Similar to how recoil was introduced as a standard feature with the release of 601, my bets are that Lux will integrate the kit into the next modo release… if you can hold out long enough.

To see Luxology’s Brad Peebler give a walkthrough, be sure to check out Luxology TV.

Also, keep an eye out for upcoming NPR tips and tricks on cadjunkie’s modo Tips and Tricks page!


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.