Set in a land, where common physics apply but everything else looks different. You are Tiny, a little, technophile guy with a ray cutter, a gripping device, a bad habit and a fine attitude towards the world. But now your nemesis Big stole the only heritage your grandpa left you: A fine pair of white, fine rib underpants and he‘s surely up to no good. Why else should he climb that haunted, ancient mountain in the desert. Where noone goes… So load up that raygun and rope device and take your annoying and jabbering backpack to accompany you. It‘s always been good use to your gramps. Run, jump, drag, shove and laser your way up that mountain, get back those underpants!

RSS The guys behind Tiny and Big: Johannes Spohr (engine programmer)

Today Johannes gives you a short insight into the renderer used in Tiny & Big.

Posted by on

Cheers fellow indie friends,

welcome to the second issue of our “The guys behind Tiny and Big” series, introducing Johannes Spohr - engine programmer.

Johannes got into graphics programming at the age of 14, when he started coding graphics demos on a 486 with 25 MHz and a whole megabyte of RAM. When a company called 3DFX brought graphics acceleration to consumer PCs around 1997, he switched from writing software rasterizers to a 3D graphics API still used by the Scape Engine today: OpenGL.

He recently presented the renderer used in Tiny & Big during a small graphics convention at the University of Kassel. For those interested in graphics and 3D, here is an excerpt from that presentation: A Single Frame of Tiny & Big.

1. Shadowmap
This is an image of the level as seen from the light source, basically a bird’s eye view. It’s used to check which areas are in shadow (the dark ones).

2. Shadow buffer
In this texture, the shadows are projected into the world, so black pixels are those that are in shadow.

This texture is processed with a small blur filter to achieve fake soft shadows:

3. View space normals

This fancy texture contains the normal vectors for each pixel. Here, these 3D vectors are represented as RGB colors.

This texture is used to detect where cartoon crease lines must be placed.
To do this, an edge detection pass is performed, which results in a grayscale image containing object silhouettes:

4. View space depth
Similar to the colorful image above, this one stores the distance from the camera for each pixel. Bright pixels are further away than dark pixels. This information is needed to determine which pixels are in the focus area of the camera. Pixels that are very far away or very close to the camera appear out-of-focus (also called depth-of-field, we’ll get to that in a second).

5. The actual scene with textures
After all those strange intermediary buffers, the actual scene is rendered:

Now this is where it gets interesting! To achieve our distinctive, comic-style rendering, we apply a bunch of effects which use the buffers generated previously.

6. Hatching
This uses hand-drawn hatch textures and a pixel shader to generate pencil strokes based on light and shadow.

7. Outlines and crease lines
Based on the edges from the texture generated earlier.

8. Depth-of-field
This post-processing effect uses a blurred version of the scene to simulate the focus of a camera lens. It also applies a slight color shift to simulate “sfumato”.

9. Color grading
Another post-processing pass to ensure that the colors of the final image match those that the artist has in mind. In this case, it makes the scene look more bleak and desert-like.


10. Anti-aliasing
This (optional) pass applies a soft anti-aliasing filter. This implementation was contributed by Timothy Lottes of NVIDIA to the public domain, and is used by a lot of games lately, as it’s fast and easy to use.
So this is what the finished frame looks like:

Now, the job of Johannes is convincing your graphics card to do all that 60 times per second...

In the next issue of “The guys behind Tiny and Big” we’ll introduce to you Mr. Florian Grolig, game-designer.

Regards from Black Pants headquarters! Feel free to vote for Tiny and Big in the Indie of the Year 2011 competition.

Indie of the Year Awards

For more ramblings on rendering, feel free to follow Johannes Spohr on:

If you wanna follow Tiny and Big, you can do so on:


I wanna kiss this man on his forehead.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes

Wow, Awesome development presentation! I love seeing all the stages of creating real-time environment and assets. You guys have a lot of talent and a very unique game. I'm definitely buying Tiny Big when the final edition is release.
Great Job

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
Post a comment
Sign in or join with:

Only registered members can share their thoughts. So come on! Join the community today (totally free - or sign in with your social account on the right) and join in the conversation.

Follow Profile
Tiny & Big: Grandpa's Leftovers
Windows, Mac, Linux
Developer & Publisher
Black Pants Studio
Scape Engine
Send Message
Release date
Game watch
Related Games
Related Engines
Scape Engine
Scape Engine Proprietary
Related Groups
Black Pants Studio
Black Pants Studio Developer & Publisher