Studio 9to3 animation

9to3animation is founded by Ernst Janssen Groesbeek, an architect by training. After five years of lecturing architectural animation at the Technical University of Delft, Ernst decided to start his own animation studio with the focus on animation films for children. 9to3animation stands for creativity, new techniques, unique ideas, family and family values, passion and perfection.

9to3 animation creates short animation films for children. Our inspiration is the collection of fairy tales by the Dutch author Annie M.G. Schmidt.

Currently we are animating her story Tom and Nonna. Although Annie M.G. Schmidt brings a certain Dutchness to her writing, her fairy tales can be placed anywhere in the world.

9to3animation has moved the action for this story to Venice, Italy because of its particular atmosphere and architectural environment.
For 9to3animation, a location and its architecture are characters in itself: they are important contributors to the atmosphere of the story.





Look development

The Netherlands has a long tradition of children’s illustrators who provide atmosphere without limiting children’s imagination. Our goal is to do the same in our animations. The style was inspired by a number of Dutch illustrators, e.g. Carl Hollander and Helen van Vliet. We want to create the same hand-drawn look and feel; squiggly lines going off the geometry, shadows made through placing different intensity hatches on top of each other. But the biggest challenge would be that this all has to work in 3D.

We started to analyse different types and styles of illustrations in order to learn which components are needed to recreate them. There are outlines, but also the original sketch lines, and of course the colours and shading. We discovered that most styles have the same components, but used in different ways. Would it be possible to create a shader that could recreate all these styles, just by changing the settings?

To recreate the visual art style of our film, we started a collaboration with Christos Obretenov of LollipopShaders from Vancouver, Canada. Together we developed, after extensive experimentation, a unique shader. Now, RenderMan rendering software in co-operation with this NonPhotoRealistic (NPR) shader gives us the freedom to experiment and create the style we had in mind.

Besides making animation we have another great love: Lego. We started to analyse the classic lego look used in the instruction manuals; would it be possible to create the same style with our NPR Shader? And with that satisfying result a whole world of possibilities came to mind. We’ve taken a look at Manga, Pop Art and many other interesting styles.

If you are interested in the Illustration Shader and would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Send your email to

Before roomAfter room


Renderman Challenge 2: Rolling Teapot

For this second Renderman Challenge “The Rolling Teapot”, we got to work with a model developed by Brice Laville Saint-Martin, and designed by Tom Robinson, which providing us with a production-quality scene to showcase our shading, lighting, rendering and compositing skills. Using RenderMan’s holdout workflow in order to create a realistic and compelling composite of […]