Most NPR (Non photo realistic) rendering I see in blender is done with Blender internal or GLSL, the latest Blender open movie Glass Half Full is an excellent example of this and subscribing to the blender cloud means not only do you support the team you also get access to all the materials which is awesome.
Cycles gets used more for photo realistic rendering but you can create shader less materials and other interesting effects. In the demo video below rather than using an emission shader for the material and restricting it just to camera ray's for rendering I've used the normal shaders but limited the number of bounces and most importantly I've used transparency / holdouts with the camera ray restriction to create the effect below. All the materials are procedural.
I ended up using the cloth simulator for the balls, it seems to give a much better result for me that the soft body simulator.