M Hudon, R Pagés, M Grogan, and A Smolić at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) published last September a beautiful paper: "Deep Normal Estimation for Automatic Shading of Hand-Drawn Characters" and they decided to use the hand-drawn sources of Pepper&Carrot to run their test and illustrate the paper. I was very flattered to see Pepper and Carrot featured in this well-made study! This research made me think of the 'Illuminate 2D shape' GMIC filter we have already in the FLOSS community since May (something I never really played with).
While this new auto-shading method might not be useful for me for shading characters (I prefer to do it myself), it might be super useful for a large scene with crowd, particles (stones, drop of water, magical effect, clouds), or many small objects (like my episode with hundreds of flying potions). In the conclusion, the authors wish to see their method (with more training of the neural network to reach a higher quality) being incorporated into the animation pipelines to increase productivity of high quality series and movies. For sure, these types of tools have a lot of potential.
You can read the full paper as PDF, watch a demo video and see the code (open-source but proprietary license) at this address:
Link to the full publication: