SCIENCE FICTION ARTIST IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS
LIGHTING FOR CHARACTER
ISSUE TWENTY-TWO SEPTEMBER 2017
VUE ● TERRAGEN ● POSER ● DAZ STUDIO ● REAL-TIME 3D ● 2D DIGITAL PAINTING ● 2D/3D COMBINATIONS
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We are actively looking for artists or content creators that would enjoy the opportunity of teaching other artists in a live setting. Would you like to work with Digital Art Live as a partner in presenting some of our live webinars? Weâ€™re particularly looking for artists and content creators with DAZ Studio and/or Poser in mind. Use the link below to submit your application and weâ€™ll get in touch!
Front Cover: Detail from “Claustrophobia” by ‘Conlaodh’, who is interviewed in this use of the magazine. The picture illustrates an early scene in the famous book Alice in Wonderland.
‘LIGHTING FOR CHARACTER’ ISSUE
CONTENTS EDITORIAL ―― 05
BACK ISSUES INDEX ―― 20
CONTEST ―― 36
SURVEY OF PUBLIC DOMAIN CHARACTERS ―― 38
GALLERY ―― 54
IMAGINARIUM ―― 70
LEE (aka ‘CONLAODH’)
Joe is a prolific producer of 3D pictures with DAZ and Carrara, and is well known for his animal renders and large scenes.
Davide is the creator of the BOSS lighting system for DAZ Studio, and a leading DAZ Store content developer.
Lee is a Canadan user of DAZ Studio, who is fast gaining a reputation as an excellent imaginative portraitist.
DAZ STUDIO | CARARRA
DAZ STUDIO | PS
DAZ STUDIO | PS
“The eyes are the key to adding character in an animal. They have to feel alive. Even a slight squint can change the mood. In animals, I find that the brows also help to convey
“… portraits are the most fun but challenging kind of art. As any classicallytrained artist will tell you, painting the human is the epitome of art. You are not truly a good artist until you have mastered the human figure.”
“... a brilliant concept and composition can be ruined by poor lighting. I usually spend quite a bit of time fussing over the lighting of a scene. Sometimes over 90% of the time is just trying to tweak the lighting."
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LIVE Join our live webinar-based workshops for digital artists. digitalartlive.com Credits for pictures, from top left: "Anthrographer" (detail) by Joe Pingleton; God Rays promo picture by Davide Bianchini; "Music when soft voices die" (detail), by Lee ('Conlaodh').
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Copyright ÂŠ 2017 Digital Art LIVE. Published in the United Kingdom. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. No copyright claim is made by the publisher regarding any artworks made by the artists featured in this magazine.
WELCOME to this issue on “lighting for character”. It seems appropriate for an issue on the face to introduce... a new face as your Editor! I've been crafting the bulk of each issue since issue one of Digital Art Live, but Paul has now made it official with my new title of Editor, while Paul becomes Editor-in-Chief. In this issue we consider the importance of lighting to establish and convey character in your 3D portraiture. We talk with a variety of artists and content developers, all of whom also make science-fiction, fantasy and/or steampunk art. Joe Pingleton delights in making fast daily renders, and needs to quickly set up his lighting for speed but he also demands top-notch realism. Davide Bianchini slowly and painstaking crafts his high-quality lighting-based content for DAZ Studio — such as the well-known BOSS Lights, the Epic Sykdomes, and his GodRays. Lee is rapidly emerging as a fine portraitist in DAZ Studio, with a beautifully restrained and coherent use of colour and consistently high-quality lighting. We hope you'll learn a lot from reading their indepth interviews and seeing their art.
What else is happening in the world of 3D faces? Far to much to cover here. But we’re pleased to see that markerless real-time facial motion capture continues to evolve toward maturity, pushed along by demand from: the videogame industry; pre-vis for quality TV; animation and advertising; and even from
makers of graphic novels and science researchers. Fast facial mo-cap now seems set for a mid-budget breakthrough with the new Faceware RT for iClone, which works via a consumer Webcab. This should be easy to use and fast due to the real-time nature of iClone. Reliable, too, as Faceware is an industry leader and iClone is mature software. Last we heard Faceware RT for iClone 7 Pro had been showcased to rave reviews at SIGGRAPH and is set to ship in September 2017 at around $1,400 for a complete bundle. True, that’s still rather costly — but the price is definitely moving down into the budget range of a small studio using 3D for storytelling animation, previs, or big multi-character graphic novels. We should also mention the new Genesis 8 from DAZ, which has interestingly enhanced and realistic facial musculature. Both the Male and Female G8 bases are now available, along with their V8 and M8 base characters. We should also give a big thanks to all the makers of the quality and imaginative DAZ and Poser characters which appear in the stores each month! Of course, all of these fine characters need careful lighting to make them ‘come alive’ — and that’s what this issue is about. DAVID HADEN Editor of Digital Art Live magazine. firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Art Live talks with Joe Pingleton about the early days of 3D, the technical aspects of the various hair options in 3D, his love of DAZ Carrara, and how to add character to animals.
DAL: Hi Joe, welcome to Digital Art Live magazine’s in-depth interview. You have such a large gallery, with such a fine range of work, that it was really difficult to focus it down only onto this issue’s “Lighting for Character” theme — but you have a series of excellent portraits which really fit that billing. JP: Thank you for your kind words and the honour of being included with so many great artists who have been featured here. DAL: How did you first ‘get into’ being creative, and expressing yourself visually? Did anyone help you along the way, with that? Or was it a struggle? JP: I had wanted to be a cartoonist since I was very young and I always had pencil and paper in my hand. My mother’s hobby was oil and watercolor painting, so she encouraged my interests in all types of art. My father ran his own direct mail advertising business and encouraged me to look into commercial art as a career. There have been so many people who helped me along the way — from my teacher, my co-workers, to clients — that it’s hard to name them all. I’ve been very lucky. DAL: That sounds like a great set of backers. How did you then first get into 3D art? Was it the usual route, encountering a copy of Bryce in the 1990s? 6
Picture: “Solar Flare”.
JOE PINGLETON USA DAZ STUDIO | DAZ CARRARA | ADOBE PHOTOSHOP |
JP: It was Poser, actually. I stumbled into 3D art with Poser version 1 in 1995. DAL: Wow, version 1. That was raw stuff. JP: At first it was just for reference to hand drawing human figures. I soon discovered that it produced results I could never achieve by hand. Then, yes, I found Bryce 2.0 in 1996 and it rocked my world. The unique interface redefined how I looked at user interfaces. Then the amazing landscapes it created made me fall in love with how nature actually creates things. DAL: Yes, those Kai Krause interfaces still have a great deal of appeal. I can’t remember if he also worked on the early Poser or not, but there’s an obvious crossover from his Bryce UI. JP: The other milestone was the discovery of Ray Dream Designer (later to become Infini-D and finally DAZ Carrara). This introduced me to creative power of 3D. All three programs were at a price point which allowed hobbyists to dip their toes in 3D without having to buy the very expensive options at the time. It really revolutionized the industry by bringing 3D to the masses. DAL: Yes, the big beasts of 3D were — and still are in many cases — thousands of dollars. And often had hardware locks, where you had to have a special big of hardware or it wouldn’t run. Were there any initial barriers as you started out with the learning curve in digital art? How did you overcome these difficulties? And what were some of the “breakthrough” images that started to get you a lot more attention?
JP: When I went to college for a Graphic Design course, desktop publishing was just beginning. Most commercial art was still created using exacto-knives and Rubylith. The instructors were learning the software right along with the students. It was a great time to start because we all learned together and the excitement for the possibilities where infectious. This kickstarted a lifelong love of learning new things and sharing knowledge with friends.
I found that I had a knack for digital photoediting and this allowed me to get a job with a service bureau which supported many large advertising companies. The day-to-day production of digital artwork taught me more than I ever learned in school. I worked in all aspects of digital graphic design from print to presentation to ultimately Web development. That was when I found 3D. It was the huge trend at the time. Poser, Bryce and Ray Dream Designer allowed us to do things that we could only dream of producing before. I also discovered Macromedia Director at this time.
DAL: Yes, I remember that. It was a nice multimedia authoring tool, in which you could make point-and-click adventure games and also those early retail touchscreen kiosk players. It was extremely powerful but kind of swept away by the Flash craze. And now there are better options for making point-and-click games. And the latest Keyshot has just added tools that look perfect for making self-running kiosk and tablet touchscreen packages. It all comes around again, if you wait long enough. /Laughter/. JP: Director led to me finally being able to create and distribute animation. As you say, Flash followed soon after and the creative floodgates burst open. The combination of 3D and animation skills got me noticed enough to start a business with some friends. When we did the 2000 North American Auto Show website and kiosks for Ford Motor Company, using a Poser figure as the main theme, things really started to take off professionally. So much so that 3D started to take a back seat to the technical site of Web design and development. This led me to freelancing fill-time. DAL: Yes, the whole Web development thing of the 1990s was a crazy five-year ride, once the first decent Web browsers emerged in late 1995, along with the new multimedia Windows. And then it spat us all out in the great crash, around the year 2000, I seem to remember. When did you discover DAZ Studio?
Picture: “Sabertooth Mountain”.
JP: Years later while working with one of my elearning clients, they needed some 3D work done. That is when I discovered DAZ Studio and their then brand new Genesis figures. The quality of the figures had improved so much that it rekindled my passion for 3D. I also learned that DAZ had acquired Carrara and that they worked seamlessly together. That is when I decided to try to create a 3D image-a-day for just fun. The idea was to create an image with no real idea on what it would be when I started it. I put a personal restriction on it so that it shouldn’t take more than about an hour or two. It also was to have nothing to do with my business. The creative freedom this brought changed my life. DAL: That’s a brilliant idea. Kind of like the speedpainting that 2D artists do.
JP: Not all these experiments worked out as great works of art, but I was able to find something about each one that propelled me to learn more and get better. Eventually others started liking the results and I started to get noticed. DAL: How did you find ‘the ride’ through DAZ Studio’s development, over the last few years? JP: ‘The ride’ has had its high and lows. Thankfully more highs than lows. At first I used Carrara more than DAZ Studio, since I was familiar with it. Carrara has everything. Its animation tools are so simple and powerful. It modelling is very versatile allowing for the creation of landscapes, mechanical and organic objects. Basically anything you can dream of.
Interesting. I’ve always assumed Hexagon is a good tool for straightforward DAZ and Poser modelling, although it’s a little old now. I’d forgotten Carrara’s modelling capabilities. DAL: There’s more, too. That doesn't even touch on the dynamic hair and physics and my favourite feature the Surface Replicator [for replicate and scatter, e.g. rapidly throwing out a forest across a landscape]. DAZ Studio focuses more on using pre-made assets. But with plugins it can reach beyond these limitations. When they dropped native lip-sync from DAZ Studio I was ready to give up on it. Then the Reality LUXbased rendering plug-in showed up and I fell in love again. The results where amazing. Then iRay stepped onto the stage and I found myself using Carrara less and less.
DAL: Is the DAZ software in a good place now? What would you like to see in a future version? JP: I would love to see some of the elements from Carrara make their way over to DAZ Studio. This may be wishing for too much since DAZ Studio is free and Carrara isn’t. The thing I would most like to see is an improvement in the dynamic cloth system. Something like what Poser has for cloth is really needed. A physics system would also be a very useful feature for animators. DAL: What new developments would you like to see in terms of the store content that’s available now, on DAZ, Renderosity, Hivewire and suchlike? What would you like to see content makers making, that they’re not at present?
Pictures: “System 46” and “Observatory”.
JP: The large range of content is the major selling point for me in using DAZ. There are so many great content creators that allow nonmodellers like me to create what we do. I am constantly amazed at the quality and creativity of the products offered. DAL: Yes, once does to rather hunt for the best these days, but there’s still a good deal of quality being made for both Poser and DAZ each month. Even Vue still manages to add a musthave to the Cornucopia store roughly each month, although that’s mostly own to one veteran content maker.
JP: Dogs. I would love to see some updated dog models. The old Millennium Dog is great, but it is showing its age. With the release of “HiveWire House Cat” it’s become clear that we need something more modern. It would be great if it handled more breeds and the LAMH hair plugin in its new form of the LAMH 2 iRay Catalyzer. DAL: I see that you were quick to get and test the new Genesis 8 Male. What are your thoughts on the Genesis 8 line? Especially the improvements in the facial muscles, in terms of adding more expressive character to the face. JP: The Genesis 8 line seems very interesting. The biggest improvement to me is the ability to use assets from all the other generation figures. I only have the Genesis 8 basic male and female essentials and was able to use stuff I already owned to get working with them right away. DAL: That’s great to hear. I think it’s probably a bit offputting for many when a new figure comes out and suddenly there’s a dozen scripts and plugins to “make it work with the old stuff”. Many casual users must think from that, that it’s going to be all fiddly and frustrating. You’re very knowledgeable about the technical and plugin aspects of working in DAZ Studio. What would you say are the top three must-have add-ons for the software, especially for those who want to make science fiction art?
JP: My new favorite is “LAMH 2 Iray Catalyzer”. Look at My Hair was always great, but to get it to work with iRay was a too complicated. LAMH 2 Iray Catalyzer changes all that. It is simple to use and amazingly powerful. Hopefully it works with more figures in the future, but it’s off to an impressive start. DAL: Yes, that’s only just appeared, and I think there are updated LAMH presets for people who purchased LAMH animals, waiting for download on their DAZ store. JP: The other plug-in I use all the time is “Animate 2”. It is also deceptively simple to use and more powerful than I ever realized. Not only is it a must-have for animation in DAZ Studio, it also works well in giving variety to posing for static images. I just used it to create a group of soldiers and all I had to do was move the frames to give them each unique poses. Hopefully it will be updated to work better with the newer generation figures. The other must have is “UltraScatter Advanced Instancing for DAZ Studio”. It is the closest thing I have found to Carrara’s Surface Replicator feature. Say you need a forest, UltraScatter can do it. Need an army of thousands? UltraScatter can do it without blowing up your machine. I have only scratched the surface of its capabilities and need to play with it more often. DAL: Do you use a render farm? Or do you have one under your desk? Because, looking at your Gallery, I just think: “wow, his PC must be red hot, with all of that rendering...”.
JP: I only have an Intel i7 Core 3770k PC, with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX970. It gets the job done for most things, but I could always use a better machine and graphics card. Thankfully the latest version of iRay renders much faster and takes less resources than earlier versions. DAL: That’s good to hear. I think I’m still running on 4.8, and just need to find the time to upgrade and tour the new features and figures. Perhaps 5.0 will be out by that time! /Laughter/ 12
“Thankfully the latest version of iRay renders much faster and takes less resources than earlier versions.” Picture: “Pesticide”.
DAL: What is your overall studio setup today, in terms of both hardware and software? JP: My studio hardware setup consists of the PC I mentioned above, but also an old Mac tower. I use the PC for most things and my Mac is slowly becoming just a coding machine. I use Adobe Creative Cloud for all my graphic design and video work. I use DAZ Studio and Carrara for most of my 3D work. Lately I have been using “Element 3D v2” to get my DAZ assets into Adobe After Effects so that I can animate them quicker. DAL: Interesting. And what’s the view from the studio window like? I understand you’re in Phoenix Arizona. And does the landscape in that part of the world inspire your art? JP: The skies in Arizona are amazing, though the view from my studio window only looks out on my backyard garden. Our sunsets have an amazing array of colors in them. Also the desert landscape is a lot more varied than most people think it would be. There’s a wide variety of plants and when it does rain everything turns green. There is also a surprising amount of wildlife, even in the city. DAL: Tell us more about DAZ Carrara and its possibilities, please. I think readers will be curious about that. Obviously it has the ability to import all the DAZ characters, even Genesis 3 I think? And I know it now has a new Lux-based render plugin, akin to Reality, so it can compete with iRay and Poser’s SuperFly. JP: DAZ Carrara is still my favourite program. It has the power of many higher end programs but at a much lower price. Plus it can use most of the DAZ/Poser assets natively. Additionally it has that great modeller, which I mentioned earlier, that handles most of all my everyday needs. It has a marvellous landscape, sky and environment creator. I have to mention the built-in ‘element primitives’ like fog, clouds, fire and oceans. Then there are the modifiers that you can apply to any object to animate, constraint and morph to your hearts content.
Its animation capabilities are amazing. The physics based animation is some of the best I have ever used. Its ability to use Nonlinear Animation (NLA) clips is so versatile. Add Mimic Pro for Carrara to this and the lip-syncing capabilities are amazing. It allows for finetuning of the phonemes [lip shapes made when speaking] and does a great job out-of-the-box too. Its lighting capabilities are fantastic. Not only do you have all the basics, but every light has effects such as volumetrics and flares built in. Its built in renderer creates gorgeous results without the need anything extra. But yes, you can add the “LuxusCore Carrara” plug-in to get super fast LUX PBR rendering. It’s even fast enough to make LUX rendering a viable solution for animation. DAL: Wow. I’m burned out on the idea of animation these days — way too time-consuming if you’re trying to tell a story — but that sound interesting for demo clips. JP: With products like “CarrarActors, Janette and Johnathon for Genesis 3 in Carrara 8.5” by MistyLaraPrincess, we can now use Genesis 3 figures in Carrara. It also looks like the great Carrara community is working in getting Genesis 8 figures to work too. DAL: That’s great to hear. The community does a great job adding the wanted interoperability. For instance, Poser 11 can import Genesis 1 and 2 with no problems via the free DSON plugin, but with community support Genesis 3 and 8 also have a viable workflow to get them in. JP: I am disappointed in DAZ in that they haven’t yet updated Carrara to work with these figures natively or added iRay support. There are a lot of loyal users out there and they would have a lot more if they updated it to use the latest assets and technology DAZ is developing. DAL: So would you recommend DAZ Carrara, as a step up for someone who tried DAZ Studio but wants more? A copy of Carrara 8.5 is $150 at present, though I think it occasionally has a discount in the sales periods. 14
JP: I would definitely recommend DAZ Carrara to someone who tried DAZ Studio but wants more. DAL: Great. You have a great love of animals, as seen in your gallery. Where does this love come from? JP: I have just always loved animals. The animal products available now just let me share this love.
“DAZ Carrara has the best option for adding fur to animals. It has an actual dynamic hair system.” DAL: I see. Could you tell us more about your opinions of the various options that people have for adding fur to animals. Is DAZ Studio + Look at My Hair (LAMH) the best option? What are your opinions on other possibilities too, such as Poser’s hair capabilities, and of course simply Photoshopping on the hair afterwards with fur brushes? JP: DAZ Carrara has the best option for adding fur to animals. It has an actual dynamic hair system. I have only used Look at My Hair in DAZ Studio, so I can’t say much about the other options. As I said before the LAMH 2 Iray Catalyzer is a major improvement for adding fur to animals with Iray. It’s simple, fast and the results are gorgeous. It’s still in early development and only works with Alessandro_AM’s models. Hopefully this aspect will improve soon. DAL: There certainly seems to be enough of sales and user base to justify other vendors staring to offer LAMH presets. What’s your own step-by-step workflow, on a character portrait, with advanced lighting and postwork? JP: I tend to stay with the basics. I usually start with a three-point light setup (key light, fill light and back light). Then I like to add an eye light to give the figure some life if it is needed. 15
Sometimes I use coloured lights to change the mood. It’s a lot like how a portrait photographer works. I tend to make all my lights using emitter materials on a plane. I always colour correct in Photoshop by applying a black and white adjustment layer and then adjusting the curves and levels adjustment layers until they look the way I want them. This allows me to look at the value levels without color getting in the way. Then I adjust the curves layers RGB channels with the black and white layer turned off for colour correction. I always use an adjustment layer to keep things non-destructive and to have the ability to change them later. Things always change later. The best thing I could suggest for a beginner is to get a light product made by a professional, from whichever store, that you like. Then rip it apart to see what they did and experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. DAL: What are the three most important aspects of “lighting for character” to a newcomer learn, would you say?
JP: The eye light is the thing I wish I learned about earlier. An eye light — also called the catch light — is a light source that causes a specular highlight in a subject's eye in an image. We take it for granted since every movie and photograph uses it, but not a lot of people notice it until its missing. I don’t know exactly why, but it gives the character the illusion of life. I like to just make a torus-shaped 3D primitive prop with an emitter material and attach it to the camera front. This allows the light to always get reflected in the eye no matter where the camera is positioned. DAL: A fine tip, thanks. As well as science-fiction you obviously have a great love of the fantasy genre and fantasy worlds. Apart from Game of Thrones, what’s inspiring for you in the fantasy genre? JP: I am a science fiction nerd at heart. Star Wars and Star Trek shaped my youth. I also love the fantasy genre. Maybe it’s my love for
Star Wars that puts me squarely in the scifantasy or fanta-sci camp. I read and watch a lot of things, so inspiration comes from everywhere. In the fantasy genre I and very influenced by Robert E. Howard’s Conan, H.P Lovecraft’s works and lately I have been reading a lot of Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files”. Of course there are also the grandfathers of the genre such as the Brothers Grimm, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
DAL: Who are you favourite science-fiction, space and fantasy artists? JP: Frank Frazetta is my absolute favourite. I saw his work when I was young and it made a big impression on me. This also means that Boris Vallejo’s work is another favourite. Being a fan of 80’s movies also means Drew Struzan is a major influence. Wayne Barlowe’s work with alien and fantasy creatures blew my mind. Brian Froud is another master. I obtained the Art of the Dark Crystal book at a kid and tried to copy everything in it. I also had a copy of the Art of Star Wars by Ralph McQuarrie and devoured everything he ever did afterwards. There are so many others, but these are the giants to me.
The biggest inspiration to me lately is all the great art being created on DeviantArt and indeed all over the Internet. So many creative people and communities have influence now, thanks to the Internet. It’s nice to talk to other artists and see what they are thinking and doing. DAL: Your recent picture “Hall of Heroes” is amazing. Could you talk readers through the making of that picture, please?
JP: It was one of my daily experiments. I found the awesome free 3D model "Summoner’s Cathedral Of Sorrow" and had to try it out. First I used the “Architectural Lighting Rig for iRay” to try and light the large space. It was a lot harder than I anticipated. I gave up and picked a camera angle that showed most of the model and just tried to light that section. Once that was done I thought “How am I going to fill this large space?”. I had been playing with “UltraScatter Advanced Instancing for Daz Studio” and thought a bunch of medieval knights might do the trick. I thought that I needed to use an M4 figure to try to keep the poly-count down and so I decided to use Xurge3D’s “Lord of Darkness Armor for M4”. 16
Pictures: “Hall of Heroes” and “Self Reflection”.
I then posed four figures in different poses and used UltraScatter to distribute them on a plane with a distribution map. Since this was just a test and wasn’t going to be rendered too big, all the repeats wouldn’t be as noticeable. After the crowd was in the scene I needed some characters for the stage. I used every piece of “Fantasy clothes for Genesis” to populate the stage. I used the Genesis figures because I had more clothes for them and the poly-count wasn’t too bad. I tried to vary the characters, poses and clothing, since they were the showpieces. Then I just rendered it in DAZ with iRay. I was hoping that that it wouldn’t burn up my machine — thank goodness for instancing! It only took a little over an hour to render at 960×540px. Finally I colour corrected everything on Photoshop. I was surprised that it became one of my most popular images. It just goes to show you can never tell what people will like. DAL: I see. And since you have so many animal pictures, I should probably also ask about your favourite animal artists. JP: My grandma wouldn’t have a painting in her house unless it was of either Jesus or an animal — preferably a horse. So I grew up with a love of animal artwork. The funny thing is I couldn’t name any of the artists. DAL: Do you think there’s a knack to getting an animal to ‘have character’ in a picture? What tips would you give someone who’s got a LAMH animal and the preset, and is now wondering what on earth to do to give it a sense of character? JP: The eyes are the key to character in an animal. They have to feel alive. Even a slight squint can change the mood. Brows also help convey emotion. Body language also plays a big part. Thankfully most of the animal models come with preset poses to use as a starting point. I find posing animals harder than posing humans. DAL: Are there any new sorts of animals you might like to work with?
JP: I really want a good dog model with hair. The dog is the most popular animal as a pet, today. There are so many possibilities for dog pictures. The sheer number of breeds increases this even more. Plus, puppies are so darn cute! DAL: Where do you see your work going in the future? Do you see any new trends creeping in? JP: I’d like to take some of what I have been learning and create an animated short film. I need a story and have to learn much more on the character animation side of things. I have a bunch of ideas, but my skills haven’t caught up with them yet. The trend toward photorealism will dominate movies and games in the future. You can already see its impact. So many people play videogames and watch movies and have come to expect a high level of CGI. They dismiss anything less than perfect very quickly. The graphics of the early days of 3D that we thought were ground breaking are now laughed at. It’s amazing that the tools to do photorealistic work have reached the general public. I see it going the way that photography has evolved into since everyone now carries a camera in their pocket. It will soon be taken for granted that quality 3D just happens automatically. The nice thing is that it also means that we can focus less on the technology and more on the ideas. DAL: Yes, I think that’s true, for the mainstream audiences. But I think we’ll equally see the ability to make 3D look like hand-drawn / painted 2D. Convincingly so, which is the key. That will become just as common, though probably less used in the mainstream. Well, thanks so much for this in-depth interview. It’s been great. We’ve obviously only really shown your portrait work here, and a fraction of that, but readers can rest assured that there’s a great deal more types of art to see at your online gallery at DeviantArt. JP: Thank you for listening to my ramblings and for allowing my work to be seen by a larger audience. I hope they find something that makes them smile. 18
Picture: â€œMoonlight Rendezvousâ€?.
Joe Pingleton is online at: http://joepingleton.com/ https://joepingleton.deviantart.com/ 19
HAVE you missed out on an issue of our free magazine? Please enjoy this new handy double-page index of our past issues, and check if any are missing from your collection. Our 15,000 readers are also able to access back-issues of our previous title 3D
Art Direct. Every new issue can be sent to your email address, simply by subscribing to our mailing-list...
Issue 1 Oct 2016 Designing Future Cities ● Tarik Keskin ● Christian Hecker ● Gallery: Future Cities, a huge 32 page mega-gallery! ● The Imaginarium (regular feature, in all subsequent issues)
Issue 2 Nov 2016 Alien Plants/Creatures ● Matthew Attard ● Exidium Corporation ● Gallery: Ryzom concept illustrations ● Gallery and essay: the future bodily evolution of humans in space
Issue 3 Dec 2016 ‘A Galaxy Far Away…’ ● Neil Thacker ● Jean-Francois Liesenborghs ● Gallery: "These are not the planets you're looking for..." ● Gallery: SpaceX manned Mars mission 20
Issue 4 Jan 2016 Poser 11: special issue ● Charles Taylor (on the new Poser 11) ● Ariano di Pierro ● Paulo Ciccone (on the Reality plugin) ● Our in-depth 8,000word review of the new Poser 11 Pro
Issue 5 Feb 2016 Cosmos (space art)
Issue 6 March 2016 Cyber-humans + VR
Issue 7 April 2016 Future Female Heroes
● Dave Hardy ● Ali Ries ● Tobais Roersch ● Oyshan Green (Terragen 4) ● Gallery: The art of the cosmic.
● Tara de Vries (Second Life) ● Ludovic Celle ● Elaine Neck ● Anders Plassgard ● Gallery: Future cyber-humans
● Leandra Dawn ● Aaron Griffin ● Paul Frances ● Troy Menke ● Bob May’s collages ● Gallery and essay: Female future heroes
Issue 9 June 2016 Blender: special issue
Issue 10 July 2016 Steampunk
Issue 11 August 2016 Future Landscapes
● Colin Masson ● Thomas Piemontese ● Shane Bevin ● Tutorial: How to export a clean .OBJ from Blender ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Blender art
● Renderosity ● Suzi Amberson (‘Kachinadoll’) ● Bob May ● Sci-fi in PC pinball ● Steampunk gallery ● Imaginarium
● ‘Artifex’ ● Lewis Moorcroft ● Rob Wildenberg ● ‘Tigaer’: ‘making of’ ● Gallery: Future Oceans and Craft ● Imaginarium
Issue 8 May 2016 Our Future Frontier ● The Mars Society ● Ludovic Celle ● Gallery: Orbiting Cities in Space ● Gallery: Space Colonies and Outposts ● Gallery: Mars in the 1950s pulps
Issue 12 Sept 2016 Second Skin ● ‘Pixeluna’ ● Paolo Ciccone ● Deane Whitmore ● HiveWire: their new Big Cat for Poser ● Gallery: Second Skin ● Imaginarium
YOUR ART HERE?
Issue 13 Oct 2016 Spacewrecks (TTA) ● Vikram Mulligan ● Xistenceimaginations ● Craig Farham ● TTA series tribute ● NASA’s rescue-bot ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Space hulks wrecks, and crashes
Issue 14 Nov/Dec 2016 Cybertronic ● ‘CG Artiste’ ● ‘Keplianzar’ ● Jacques Pena ● TTA series tribute ● Ugee 1910b pen tablet—in-depth review ● Gallery: Neon and ‘cyberglow’ artists
Issue 15 Jan 2017 Mistworlds ● Chuck Carter (Myst) ● Cynthia Decker ● Cathrine Langwagen ● Ulco Glimmerveen ● Evolo competition ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Myst-like digital art
Issue 16 Feb 2017 Future vehicles ● Syd Mead interview ● Vadim Motiv ● Adam Connolly ● Mark Roosien ● The UK’s Bloodhound supersonic rocket-car ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: “Vrooom!!”
Issue 17 March 2017 Movie magic ● Greg Teegarden ● Tobias Richter ● Phil Dragash ● ESA’s Moon Temple ● Scott Richard ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: the Spirit of the Cinema
Issue 18 April 2017 Vue 2016 special issue
Issue 19 May/Jun 2017 Sci-fi comics
● Barry Marshall ● Vue 2016 R2 review ● Anaor Karim ● NASA’s tunnels ● W.P. Taub ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Nature Grows on You!
● Patrick Gyger ● Georges Peters ● Arne Cooper ● RoboSimian ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: comic-book style characters
Issue 20 July 2017 Digital clothing ● Kim Schneider (‘Arki’) ● Melissa Moraitis (‘BlackTalonArts’) ● Marvelous Designer 6.5—in-depth review ● Jepe ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Future Fashion
Issue 21 August 2017 Ecofutures ● ● ● ● ● ●
Hal Tenny Frank Little Organics in pulp art Linda Granqvist Index of past issues Gallery: visions of the ‘ecofuture’ ● Imaginarium
Issue 22 Sept 2017 Lighting for effect
Issue 23 Oct 2017 Arthur C. Clarke tribute
● Joe Pingleton ● Davide Bianchini ● Characters in the public domain ● Lee (aka ‘Conlaodh’) ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: characters ● Imaginarium
Interested in being interviewed in a future issue? Please send us the Web address of your gallery, and we’ll visit! email@example.com
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Issue 24 Nov 2017 Abstracts in sci-fi
Picture: Demo picture forâ€?Peeled Orange Skin Shader for Genesis 8 Femaleâ€?.
Digital Art Live unwinds with Davide Bianchini, a leading content developer for DAZ Studio, and maker of the well-known BOSS lights.
DAL: Davide, welcome to Digital Art Live magazine. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. The start of September is often busy for many as people gear up for ‘back-to-school’ and ‘back-towork’. You’re one of the most interesting new content developers on the DAZ content store, and have developed a range of high-quality lighting based packages. Such as ‘Epic Skydome: Cloud Haven’, the BOSS lights system, and ‘Epic Props: Godrays’. But let’s step back a bit from the store content, first. How did you first encounter DAZ Studio, and what were your thoughts on it back then? DB: I am fairly new to DAZ Studio, and to 3D in general. I’ve always had a passion for graphic design and music. But it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I first began experimenting with mixing the two passions together, which first led me to 3D and animation. My first encounter with DAZ Studio was the result of much research. Having a background in mechanical engineering, I tend to be very studious — to a fault — about which software I use. I downloaded as many trial versions of 3D software as I could find, and scoured their forums for Q&As. They all have their unique strengths and weaknesses of course. But at that time none of them really had what I wanted, except for DAZ Studio. When it comes to realistic character creation and content availability, DAZ has this segment nailed down. In fact, I have yet to encounter another software that is able to provide such a vast selection of quality characters and assets at a click of the mouse. What would take weeks to design in Maya, is available for a few dollars from DAZ or the other stores that serve DAZ and Poser users. So it was an obvious choice for me.
DAVIDE BIANCHINI USA DAZ STUDIO | CONTENT DEVELOPER
DAL: Were you equally as pleased by the community?
DAL: I see. Tell us about your experience when you first began to develop and sell content?
DB: Yes, I was also very impressed with the DAZ community. There is a strong bond between PAs [content makers] that I didn’t necessarily find elsewhere, and everyone is willing to help each other — even though we are all technically in competition. I think we all help push each other to make better and better work; it is a healthy competition.
DB: Selling content wasn’t initially on my radar. I was just following a dream of mine to marry images and music together to create uplifting animations. But then I realized that I could do both: I could do what I love and also make money at the same time. So I thought “Why not give it a try?” That’s when I tried my hand at my first product, ‘Marble Shaders for iRay’. It
Picture: “Flying steamer airship”, a demo picture for the light and cloudscape capabilities of the “Epic Skydomes” pack for DAZ Studio.
seemed to sell well, so I decided to stick with it and try creating more products. The rest is history. Selling content through DAZ has been quite fulfilling over the past couple years, and has helped me grow as a budding 3D artist and begin to hone my craft. DAL: Where does your interest in 3D lighting come from? Is it a long-standing interest? DB: I always heard that lighting was important in 3D â€” as any animation studio worth its weight
in salt will have a dedicated lighting department. But I never knew just how important it was until I started in 3D myself. In the beginning, I thought I could just add my characters to a scene, throw in a couple lights, and whoosh: Instant Professional Render. Needless to say, for a long time my renders looked quite dull and lifeless to me. It wasnâ€™t until I began experimenting with light that I began to realize just how critical lighting really is to a picture.
Learning about lighting also helped give me a new appreciation for great artists who harness light well, like Rembrandt for example, or even some modern artists like Akiane Kramarik. Today, I find myself judging all art now based on the artist’s mastery of light. Maybe I am wrong — I am far from an expert on art — but I tend to think that the best artists have not only mastered the technical reproduction of the subject, but also how to present the subject well, through the good use of light. Light has this uncanny ability to not only help tell a story, but also make a thing seem greater than it is. It is light (mostly) that provides that “hook,” that finishing touch that turns a good render into a spectacular render. This has always been my goal when designing products. Though, admittedly, I often struggle to achieve my own goal. They have to ‘pop’, to have that ‘eyecandy’ appeal that people love so much. One of the classical definitions of beauty is: that which pleases the eye when seen. From a marketing standpoint, this is essential. You have to please people’s eyes — so good lighting is so critical. DAL: What have been your favourite uses for your BOSS lights pack, that you’ve known about? Or the Godrays or Cloud Haven? DB: As a DAZ PA, I get notified every time someone uploads a render with my product to their gallery. So I am constantly seeing how artists have been using my content. And it is quite impressive, some of the work I’ve seen. I think what has stood out to me the most, about the BOSS light set, are the portraits I’ve seen. It is humbling to me that the artists seem so excited about it — how a simple light set can inject new life into old characters. I think this is why my BOSS light set has a special place in my heart. To me, portraits are the most fun but challenging kind of art, since it is centred on the human person. As any classically-trained artist will tell you, painting the human is the epitome of art. You are not truly a good artist until you have mastered the human figure. And I have come to believe this as well. Maybe this is why I like DAZ Studio so much, because it is also
focussed on recreating that which is most difficult and complex to recreate by hand, the human person.
DAL: Is DAZ Studio + iRay doing all it can in relation to lighting? Or could more capabilities be added, for the next version of DAZ Studio? DB: DAZ Studio is easy software to boast about. It does what it does, and as it stands it does it well. But like all software, there are of course things it could do better. DAZ really made a huge leap forward by incorporating iRay into its base package. But there are other competing GPU render engines, like Octane, which have been in the game longer and are a little more refined. It would be nice to see more realistic post-processing light effects built in to these render engines — similar to those available in the Unreal Engine 4’s real-time videogame engine. Obviously, volumetric light is a big one. Real big. In additional, it would be nice to see other lighting effects like lens artefacts, chromatic aberrations, and flares. I also really like the UE4’s ability to limit bloom inside a bounding box. That is huge. There is a reason why UE4 has become an industry standard for games development and surpassed Unity in popularity. It provides all these beautiful post-processing effects out-of-the-box. This is what people want. Eye-candy and instant realism sells. I hate to say it, but if iRay is going to stay competitive, it needs to step up its game in these areas. DAL: Yes, and when the long-touted UE4 frontend for less able movie-makers makes an appearance, that could certainly change things. ‘Unreal for real-time movie makers’, with a vastly simplified and easier front-end and realtime compositing. Although I haven’t heard updates from that project since mid 2015. It seems to have turned into something called Composure, apparently aimed at cut-scene makers in the games industry. So not the same thing as an easy mass-market front-end for making machinima with UE4. There’s also the fairly mature Muvizu, of course — which made the older Unreal 3 into a real-time toon video production platform — though that’s currently in a holding pattern at www.anizu.uk. 28
Picture: Preview render for the BOSS Lights pack.
But, back to lighting... DB: I can add one more point on lighting. While good lighting is critical, it can only take a base mesh so far. Bump, normal, and subsurface scattering can only go so far. You need detail in the polygons — especially in the upper subdivision levels. This is why 3D scans are among the most realistic models to date — as an example, see the “Male Portrait” promo for my BOSS light set. In order for DAZ to stay ahead of the curve, they will need this level of detail at upper subdivision levels. They simply don’t have it right now. Subdivision level 3 is — for the
most part — simply a smoother version of level 2. This will need to change, in time. Ultrarealism is where it’s at.
DAL: Yes, one of our other interviewees in this issue says the same. That’s true of the mainstream, but I think we’re going to get an equally powerful set of tools to make 3D look like convincing 2D drawn/painted artwork. But yes…. realism and high-detail is what most hobbyists and the movie-going general public expect. It’s where the money goes. DB: And realism starts and ends in the polygons, and of course good diffuse maps. The better the
Picture: Previews for the “Peach Fuzz! Facial Vellus Hair for Genesis 3 Female” content pack for DAZ Studio.
base mesh and diffuse maps, the less time will be wasted tweaking lights and skin MATs.
think the peach fuzz required the most iterations and experimentation to get just right.
DAL: Talking of tweaking the fine details, let’s turn now to characters. Specifically to several of your remarkable character add-ons, such as ‘Peach Fuzz! Facial Vellus Hair for Genesis 3 Female’ and the popular new Peeled Orange Skin Shader which speedily enables a Dali-esque look for characters. The technical aspects of making Peach Fuzz! must have been quite formidable, I imagine. Can you tell us about the challenges you overcame to make that pack, please?
I lost count how many times I went back and forth between Zbrush and DAZ Studio making minor tweaks and adjustments. It is probably into the hundreds. But once I got a result I was happy with, it was one of the most rewarding products I’ve created thus far. I would even say, it is probably the one product I am most proud of, since it adds a level of professionalism and realism to characters that otherwise was not available to DAZ Studio artists, or to most 3D artists for that matter.
DB: Yes it was quite technical, so true! In fact, I
DAL: Very true. When the a pro next sneers at DAZ, just show them a high-quality peach fuzz render! /Laughter/ And you also have a fine character for sale, just the one so far. Tell us about how you went about making your own Princess Leila character, please? DB: Princess Leila was probably my most timeconsuming product so far, as she evolved slowly over the course of many months and many intermediate products. She was also my first character, so there was a huge learning curve involved in getting everything right. From the skin, to the eyes, to the facial features, to the figure… there are so many challenges involved in making a saleable human character; it is really quite daunting. But making Leila was also quite eye-opening for me. I think what surprised me the most, is how specific our standards of beauty are when it comes to people. The difference between a beautiful face and an ugly face, to most people, is the difference between one or two centimetres. There is nothing else on earth that we judge with such a narrow window of measure. We don’t mull over the beauty of a tree, for example, based on the angle of a few branches, nor do we judge the cuteness of a dog based on the length of its nose. A dog with a long or short nose is still a cute dog. Well…all dogs are basically cute. But when it comes to the human face, we are hypersensitive to the tiniest details — even down to the millimetre. So creating a youthful, modest, and unique character like Leila was a long and arduous process. But at the same time, it was also quite rewarding. I felt like I really grew as an artist in creating her. And I look forward to creating more characters in the future. DAL: Do you have other characters in the pipeline? DB: Yes, I do have a couple characters I am working on. But they are not nearly at a level I am happy with yet. I will not release something that I am not 100% happy with. So my characters, as most of my products, have gone through numerous iterations over an extended period of time. Sometimes I will shelve a character for a number of months, and then
suddenly I will get an idea for an improvement which takes it to the next level. Once they have been taken to the next level a couple times, then I will begin considering it for release. This is generally how I work. Needless to say, it may be a while before my next character is released. But you never know. Creative juices flow as they please! DAL: Do you find there’s an ebb and flow in sales, and do you see any patterns in that? I’m curious, as I hear online vendors from many different areas – from Fivver sellers to vintage postcard eBay sellers — say that there’s often big fluctuations but that they can’t really see a pattern in there. DB: Overall, I would say sales are generally consistent at DAZ. As long as I put in the work, then the sales are there. But as soon as I begin to slack off, sales begin to dip. What I found is important as a PA, is releasing products on a regular basis. New releases and special discounts seem to drive most sales. So I find that I cannot rely solely on back catalogue sales alone, at least not as much as I initially thought. Releasing new products regularly seems to be key with DAZ store success. DAL: Right, that’s good advice. You’ve also made a science-fiction pack, ‘Planet Earth ULTRA HD 32K for iRay’, offering a vast hi-res orbital space vista (overleaf). Talk us though the making of that please, as I’m sure our readers will be interested. DB: I like to do things that no one else has done before. Or, if they have done it, I will try to improve upon it to make it even better. This is how I came to create the Earth product. I saw that a realistic earth was not yet available for iRay, and I had access to high resolution textures. So I figured, why not release it in full 32k resolution? I always try to push the limits of DAZ Studio to new levels. And 32k textures certainly qualified. From there, it was really quite easy to make — just a sphere inside a skydome. I quickly figured out, however, I needed multiple “layers” — spheres of slightly differing radii — to give more depth to the earth. The trickiest part, however, was making the halo into a usable prop. 32
Picture: Preview render for the â€œTeen Princess Leilaâ€? character.
As I alluded to above, atmospheric effects are difficult for GPU render engines. So I had to find a workaround for that. A flat plane was the best I could come up with! DAL: As a DAZ content developer, where do you see subject gaps in the ranges on the store? Obviously you’ll only want to talk about the gaps that you’re not likely to fill yourself! But do you see areas where there are still creative needs among makers of 3D pictures and animations, that are not yet being met? DB: Yes. As I noted above, some of the gaps have to do with the limitations of physicallybased GPU render engines. Although they render
hundreds of times faster than a single CPU could ever hope for, they nonetheless depend mostly on geometry to calculate how light bounces through a scene, which can be somewhat limiting when it comes to lighting and visual effects. It forces us as PA’s to come up with inventive uses of geometry and polygons in order to simulate light effects. Take my Godrays product, for example. Other software like Vue does not have this problem. DAL: Yes, for the benefit of readers… Vue does its final renders on the CPU, not the GPU (graphics card) — readers should see our indepth Vue 2016 review in issue 18 for details.
Pictures: Preview renders for the “Epic Skydome” cloudscapes pack, and “Planet Earth Ultra HD”.
Although a graphics card does help Vue run the OpenGL preview views and real-time preview window.
DB: Vue can reproduce fog, clouds, and volumetric atmospheres fairly simply, albeit slowly when only running on a single 4-core CPU. But with GPU rendering, on the graphics card, it is very tricky to pull this kind of stuff off — at least realistically. This is why postprocessing effects are so desperately needed in iRay. DAL: I see. And I guess that would perhaps also enable things like realistic 2D-style toon renders. Perhaps matching Poser 11’s Comic Book mode.
DB: Another gap I see is a slow-down in the amount of scripts and plugins being developed. These, I think, are critical to the overall improvement of DAZ Studio. In my mind, helping programmers and would-be script writers should be a top priority. And this begins, I think, with good documentation and tutorials, especially for wannabe script-writes like me. Not everyone has degrees in computer science; we can’t just look at a list of variables and functions and begin coding. We need hand-holding in order to make something useful. There is only so much pestering poor Richard Haseltine can take! As a former business owner — a very small
business, just me — I also tend to think in terms of big-picture, of what will help DAZ as a company. So I try to notice where the demand is in 3D overall—not just within DAZ, but worldwide. Obviously ultra-realism, the gaming industry, and cross-software compatibility are big ones, though animation and VR is also quickly growing. I think Daz has some room to grow in these areas. It doesn’t have to be big things like collaborating with the gaming industry, but simple things too, like FBX export presets for 3ds Max, Unreal, Unity, etc., or the ability to import the free BVH animation sets into DAZ without hours of rework. The more 3D artists around the globe can use DAZ content, the better off DAZ will be. The world outside of DAZ is big. And if DAZ just opened its doors a little wider, it could help propel it into the mainstream. DAZ can take tips from Reallusion (iClone) in this regard. DAL: Indeed. Yes, Reallusion is certainly a good case-study in how to liase and communicate with the users, for the most part. What’s your studio setup like, these days, and what’s the view from the window like? Which part of the USA are you in, by the way? DB: My studio setup is really quite simple, just my computer in a corner of our condominium. My old rig was a quad 780 Ti system on water cooling, which I was very happy with. I recently sold my 780’s and upgraded to 1080 Ti cards (only two at the moment), which I am even more happy with. Having an ultra-wide 34” monitor is also a huge benefit to my workflow. There is plenty of space for graphically intensive windows like Graphmate, Keymate, and Animate2. DAL: Wow, 34 inches, plus a whole lot graphics horsepower. That sounds nice.
travels and the rural homes of his friends in the Amateur Journalism movement. I know more about his home place of Providence, though. Is there a creative scene there today? Or do you mostly network online? DB: To be honest, I haven’t really explored the creative scene in this area, as this field is still very new to me. But I am hoping to get more plugged in at some point. Most of my networking is indeed online, as most of my time is spent in front of my computer screen. But I don’t mind. I am just thankful to have found something I love to do, something that feels more like play than work. I feel blessed in this regard, as I don’t think many people can say that. DAL: Very true. Which artists inspire you? DB: Oh wow, there are so many amazing artists out there that inspire me on a daily basis, I would not be able to name them all. Actually, I could not do what I do without the inspiration of other artists, as much of my work is based on ideas that already existed prior. Take my Peach Fuzz store product for DAZ Studio for example. Obviously, this is not a new idea. All I did was recreate it for DAZ Studio. But without the original renders for inspiration, it would not have even occurred to me to attempt it. So I have them to thank, in part, for the success of my work. They are the true artists — you know, the ones who went to school for this and know Maya and Houdini like the back of their hand. DAL: Indeed. Well we appreciate that you’re busy at this point in the year, so we’ll leave it there. Many thanks for talking with Digital Art Live magazine. DB: Thanks for this opportunity to share a bit about myself. I am honoured that some people think my work is worth talking about. Hopefully I didn’t bore your readers too much!
DB: As for my view from the window, it is nothing grandiose like a vast cityscape or a beautiful mountain line. It is just quaint and homey scenery, peppered with a few trees and bushes. I currently live in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Davide Bianchini is online at:
DAL: Ah, Connecticut. Yes, I know a little about the sort of terrain there, through reading H.P. Lovecraft’s accounts of his annual summer
On the DAZ Store as ‘thephilosopher’.
Pictures: Preview renders for the “God Rays” pack.
eVolo's annual skyscraper competition invites creatives from around the world to enter the 2018 Skyscraper Competition, one of the world's most prestigious and eagerly-viewed design awards. The competition seeks to redefine what skyscrapers can be in the future, with the aid of novel technologies, materials, inspirational aesthetics, and more rational methods of spatial and digital organization. Contestants are encouraged to ambitiously explore the relationship between skycrapers and nature, in the wider context of our cities and their resources, people and territories. You don’t need to be an architect to enter, and individual entries are accepted. But it seems that winners will most likely have multidisciplinary teams, as eVolo expects not only visuals but also future‘buildable’ structures and a good deal of serious background thinking and research. They’re looking for future-feasible building science that will stay up, basically — not a fantasy that will fall down. Early Bird registration for the competition is just $95 until 14th November 2017, which — if spread among a team of maybe four creatives — makes entry quite affordable. This is a digital competition and no hardcopy submissions are necessary. Winners and special mentions will be published by eVolo in book form and in many international print publications, so make sure your final artwork is large and 300dpi or higher.
Picture: 2016 entry for the eVolo competition, by Malaysia's Quah Zheng Wei and Jethro Koi Lik Wai. Their Aquarium Trinity skyscraper features three Coral Towers built around a Harvesting Hub with research lab. Geothermal energy moves the hub up and down the towers using â€˜freeâ€™ energy, allowing the easy harvesting of different coral species growing at differing depths. Once the Hub is full of corals, it launches itself as a powered submarine from the top of the Aquarium Trinity, and then transports its cargo to where new coral reefs are wanted.
Digital Art Live surveys the characters from the public domain and ‘open source’ who you should be able to freely re-use in your art or storytelling — without infringing copyright in the USA and UK.
Picture: A section of the Little Nemo newspaper comic-strip (1909), by Winsor McCay.
Born: 1870. Fully public domain: 1975.
Born: 1862. Public domain: 1907. See cover.
Not to be confused with Little Nemo (see previous pages) who is also public domain, Captain Nemo was the troubled genius created by Jules Verne in his adventure novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870). The character was picked up by Disney in 1954 as he fell out of copyright in the USA for their workmanlike movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Plans to revive the name died when Disney’s Tomorrowland received a poor box-office reception in summer 2015, meaning that proposed prequels (that might have offered a new historic backstory for Tomorrowland’s Plus Ultra group) could not be made. Nemo is also well known among comics readers due to his inclusion in Alan Moore’s graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which later had a lacklustre movie adaptation. Moore has Nemo as one of the League and explores his tragic backstory.
One day in July 1862 a shy mathematician took three small friends on a sedate summer boat trip through the English countryside. On punting the three miles to their destination the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson told the girls a story about a bold and curious girl named Alice who meets a White Rabbit. The famous Alice was thus born, the book version was published in 1865, and the rest is history. Since Alice fell into the public domain in 1907 she has had many adaptations and attempts at sequels, few of them successful and many dire. Perhaps the most successful adaptation is Jonathan Miller’s all-star TV-play version of 1966. But even after all the insults and distortions thrown at her the character Alice is still remarkably resilient and recognisable, as are her flanking characters such as The Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit. Dodgson also made many other lesserknown creations, such as the Jabberwocky. 42
Here are a list of the top recognisable "character brands" in science fiction, fantasy and supernatural which are now said to be in the public domain, or who soon will be, and thus should be free for use and adaptation: All fairy tale characters (e.g. Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, The Boy who Cried Wolf). Aladdin and the Genie. Alice in Wonderland and related characters. Beowulf. Captain Nemo. Cthulhu mythos, associated settings (H.P. Lovecraft). Doc. Savage (in USA only). Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Doctor Dolittle (in UK from Jan 2018). Dracula and van Helsing. Frankenstein’s monster. Fu Manchu (in USA only, 2029 in UK). Greek / Egyptian / Norse / Germanic / Arthurian myth. Historical figures such as Darwin, Tesla, Edison, Houdini. Hunchback of Notre-Dame. H.G. Wells (Invisible Man, the Time Traveller, Martian tripods. George Pal’s Time Machine movie-prop is still in copyright).
Sherlock Holmes and Watson
John Carter, Warlord of Mars (in UK from 2020).
Born:1888. Public domain: 2014.
designs of his characters).
Sherlock Holmes is universally famous and well-loved, his stories by Arthur Conan Doyle still eagerly read and re-read today. Such a valuable property attracts the most tenacious of copyright trolls, and these were only beaten off in 2014 after a valiant legal struggle by Leslie Klinger. All but a handful of the original stories are now in the public domain, as are the characters of Holmes, Watson, Moriarty and Holmes’s brother Mycroft Holmes. Modern versions of Holmes probably play best when he is paired with some public domain villain such as one of H. P. Lovecraft’s cults, Dracula, or Fu Manchu, or when there is a steampunk ‘alternate world’ spin on the setting. As a working grasp of the true late Victorian and Edwardian world slips away from us, authors and artists will have to work increasingly hard to create and tell stories that can match those of Doyle, without seeming to jar the Holmes lover.
Jungle Book characters (by Kipling, but not Disney’s visual reKing Kong. Krazy Kat. Little Nemo (by Winsor McCay — see previous page). Peter Pan, Wendy, Captain Hook. Phineas Fogg (Jules Verne’s steampunk adventurer). Philip Marlowe / Sam Spade. Phantom of the Opera. Pied Piper, The. Robinson Crusoe. Shakespeare characters (Prospero, Ariel, Caliban etc). Scarlet Pimpernel, The. Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, and Professor Moriarty. Tarzan and related characters (in UK from 2020). Three Musketeers, The. Werewolves, dragons, unicorns, boggarts, fairies, Ancient Egyptian mummies of all types, etc.
Wind in the Willows characters. Wizard Of Oz characters (first 16 books only). 43
We talk with Lee (aka ‘Conlaodh’) about lighting, the Reality plug-in for DAZ Studio, Alice, living in Canada, and his wide range of creative inspirations.
DAL: Lee, welcome to Digital Art Live. This issue’s theme is ‘lighting for character’, and your recent work certainly fits that bill. Lee: Thanks for having me! DAL: I see you use DAZ Studio with the Reality
rendering plugin. Was DAZ Studio your first taste of 3D, or were there others before it? Lee: Yes, DAZ Studio was my first foray into 3D rendering. Before that, I had occasionally done pencil or charcoal sketching and had tried a bit 44 oil painting as well. I stumbled upon DAZ of
Picture: “Music when soft voices die”.
LEE (‘CONLAODH’) CANADA DAZ STUDIO | REALITY | PHOTOSHOP
Studio quite by accident, and thought that it would be a good outlet for artistic creativity without having to do any messy cleanup afterward. More recently, I have been trying to learn the free Blender software, with the goal of expanding my 3D capabilities.
DAL: How long have you been learning digital art now? And what did you find were the main problems that needed to be overcome? Lee: I believe it’s close to six years now or thereabouts. I think one of the biggest challenges for me, moving from traditional to
digital media, was just learning to use cameras and lighting and other aspects of the program interface. It was all trial-and-error for quite a while. There were probably some good tutorials and webinars available that would have helped, but I didn’t think to look for them. Another challenge was trying to achieve the realism in my renders that I was looking for. The default 3Delight render engine that came with DAZ Studio was okay, and there are artists who have done impressive renders using it, but I was just never quite satisfied with my results with it. When the Reality plugin came out as a bridge to the Luxrender render engine, I felt that it was the answer to that problem. DAL: It certainly still has a loyal following, even after the introduction of iRay. How do you find DAZ Studio and Reality these days? Are you happy with where they have arrived at? Lee: Yes, I think so. Mind you, I don’t consider myself an expert with either DAZ Studio or Reality. There are features of both programs that I haven’t explored fully. I sometimes read through forums where users are discussing the technical aspects of those programs, and a lot of it goes over my head. In fact, with Reality, I most often work with an earlier version of it — 2.5. I have experimented with later releases, but always find myself coming back to Reality 2.5. I find the interface easier to use, and I like the results I get from it. DAL: Interesting. What would you like to see improved, or added to, DAZ and/or Reality? Lee: Well, with DAZ Studio, it would be fantastic if it gave users the ability to do sculpting of 3D objects within the program. I don’t know if we’ll ever see that, though. DAL: It’s something that’s being added to other 3DE software, where sculpting and painting are the natural extras to add. And possibly more useful for a wider range of users than, say, physics for animation. Have you tried iRay? What keeps you using Reality rather than iRay? Lee: I have tried iRay. And particularly when using surfaces and textures optimized for iRay, it does a great job. iRay also uses HDRI images a
lot better than Reality, at least when it comes to Reality 2.5. I haven’t experimented with HDRI in Reality 4. But what keeps me coming back to Reality is the control I have over lighting in Luxrender. I really like having the ability to make adjustments to the lighting, including individual lights, during the render process. With Reality and Luxrender, I don’t have to worry as much with lighting controls during scene setup. It’s mainly just positioning the lighting, and then adjusting the intensity and color – and even the film settings — while the render is progressing. I can save my render with different film settings, color adjustment, and lighting variations without having to start over for each change. DAL: In terms of your 3D lighting techniques, did you learn those ‘real world’ in photography, or have you developed those along with your other 3D skills? Lee: I’ve never done much photography, so my lighting study has been purely in the digital field. My lighting styles largely come from admiring the work of great artists — digital or otherwise — and trying to determine what it is that makes a particular work so striking. In the majority of instances, it all comes down to… the lighting. DAL: Indeed. What were the most helpful ways of learning 3D lighting, for you? Lee: In my case, it was mainly by trying to emulate what I’ve seen in the work of other amazing artists when it comes to illuminating a scene. Oftentimes I will create a scene specifically to practise a lighting style that caught my attention in another artist’s digital painting or render. By seeing how really accomplished artists use lighting, and then trying to practise that myself, I’ve come to realize how lighting really makes the scene. The right lighting can make a simple composition look amazing. On the other hand, a brilliant concept and composition can be ruined by poor lighting choices. Because of that, I usually spend quite a bit of time fussing over the lighting of a scene. Sometimes over 90% of the time I spend working on a scene is just trying to tweak the lighting and camera settings, the final touches, so to speak. 46
Picture: “Simply red”.
The composition itself generally doesn’t really take much time compared to working on that last little bit, particularly the lighting.
DAL: What’s your usual workflow for making a portrait picture? Talk us though the process, please, for your stunning new picture “Music When Soft Voices Die” for instance. Or perhaps “Bot Mechanic”. Lee: The first one you mention, “Music When Soft Voices Die” [the opening picture for this interview], was inspired by the poem by that name. And for me, the beginning of the creative process often begins with a line in a poem or a song or some other literary theme that triggers an initial concept. In this case, I envisioned a stylized image of a violin player. When creating the scene, the first step was to set up the pose and camera angle I wanted, and then determine how I wanted that framed. Once I was satisfied with those elements, the next part was adding the pieces that would give it a more stylized appearance. The element that gave me the most trouble was the violin; I was working with more realistic wood textures for a while, and it just didn’t feel right to me. It was later, after I went to bed and was just about dropping off to sleep, that suddenly the idea of an intricately textured metal violin came into my head. The next day I found the textures I wanted to use and the rest of the image composition kind of just fell into place. I had a basic lighting concept in mind when I started, and worked with that until I was generally satisfied. I added HDRI lighting to highlight the metal textures. The background was a blend of other renders I had done all put together in Photoshop with the lines from the poem included. “Bot Mechanic” [see end of interview] was a bit different. I had been working on a waif-like character for one scene when it occurred to me to try using the character in a different setting where her frail appearance would feel completely out of place. The idea of a mechanic came to mind, and then, as I started putting the scene together, it evolved into a grimy, retro-futuristic, dystopian feel, with the character as a mechanic
working with old robot parts. So for that image, I didn’t start off with a clear destination in mind when I began working. The scene ended up creating itself organically to an extent. I find that this happens quite frequently in my work. DAL: You have an excellent sense of colour and colour balancing. Do your colourist skills come from training formally at a college or university? Lee: Thank you. No, I’ve never had any kind of formal training, although I wish I had at times. I’m sure it would have helped avoid a lot of trial and error. I just try to create a colour balance that feels right to me or that seems to accentuate the mood I’m trying to create.
DAL: There’s quite a wry sense of humour in your work, which is somewhat rare among DAZ and Poser artists. Certainly when we recently considered doing a ‘humour in sci-fi’ issue, we came up blank with prospective artists who consistently addressed the theme as more than a jokey ‘one off’. Where does this element come from in your art, would say? Lee: Well, I’ve just always been a fan of humour. Particularly the kind of quirky, off-the-wall, ‘didn’t see that one coming’ humour like you see in old Monty Python sketches. I’ve found a few artists who have consistently used humour very effectively in their work — Jimmy Lawlor immediately comes to mind. You have to smile when you look at his work. DAL: What other aspects of your personality or interests do you see coming through, in your work? Lee: I play guitar, so I occasionally work one into a piece. Vintage cars, too, so you’ll see those show up too from time to time. DAL: You’re based in Canada. Which part, and would you say that aspects of the landscape or weather there influences your art? For instance, there are a lot if interiors in your gallery. Would you say that’s an influence from the climate, with people being indoors most of the year? Lee: I honestly don’t think that location has had a significant impact on my artwork. I think I often do interiors because I like to have clearly defined spaces for my scenes — and because 48
Picture: “The Watcher”.
“… the view out the window is great. I live in a natural, mostly rural setting, so I’m looking over trees and mountains and a stream running just below the property. Lots of birds and wildlife. I like it, but I don’t know if it’s conducive to focusing on my work.”
DAZ Studio does not, at least in my opinion, lend itself to vast, open landscapes the way that Vue does. Actually, the part of Canada where I live has a very mild climate — often winters have little or no snow other than up in the surrounding mountains. It’s a very outdoororiented area year-round. DAL: I see. I always think of Canada as cold — ice-locked until May, and then the snow falling heavily again in late August. What’s the view from your studio like? And what sort of hardware do you make your art on? Lee: Well, the view out the window is great. I live in a natural, mostly rural setting, so I’m looking over trees and mountains and a stream running just below the property. Lots of birds and wildlife. I like it, but I don’t know if it’s conducive to focusing on my work. Actually, it’s a bit distracting at times. I should probably turn my desk around so I can’t see out the window. As far as my work space goes, I have a minimalist approach. I keep my desk clear except for the computer. No pictures, papers, pens, pencils, or knick-knacks. Because digital art is mainly a hobby for me — I would love to turn it into a steadier source of income, but then, what artist wouldn’t? — I haven’t put a lot of money into hardware. I do most of my work on an HP Pavilion all-in-one, 27” screen, with a PC with an Intel Core i76700T CPU @ 2.80GHz and 12 GB RAM, although I sometimes do some initial design/ concept work on my laptop. All my renders, though, are now done on my desktop. DAL: I see you used the free GIMP software for years. What made you swap to Photoshop, in 2016? What was the major benefit you had after making the move? Lee: The GIMP is an excellent program, but in my opinion Photoshop has features that make it a more versatile and effective tool for editing and postwork. There are more settings that give me greater control over the editing process. Also, because it’s an industry-standard tool, I felt that it would be valuable to get familiar with using it. If I was to do any collaborative work, I’d want to be able to use the tools that they
were likely going to be using too. Mind you, I don’t generally do a great deal of postwork, but when I need to, Photoshop is the better tool for me. DAL: You also feature animals in your art, but humanised. There’s a surreal(ist) edge there, with elephants riding old penny farthing bicycles and alligators playing the piano and similar. Is there a particular influence at play there, or is that just your own imagination at play with the many animals available for Poser and DAZ? Lee: There’s no specific art history influence for that. The anthropomorphic elements in my artwork are just some creative whimsy at work. I do think that the animal models that are available to DAZ users are not utilized as frequently as they deserve by most DAZ or Poser artists. I’m not talking about dragons or other fantasy creatures, but basic real-life creatures. Other than tigers, lions, wolves, or horses, I don’t see very many animals make their way into renders. I think they make great subjects for artwork. And there are fantastic models available that look very realistic. DAL: Absolutely, yes. Ken’s birds and frogs and suchlike are beautifully realistic, and you get all the main species. Noggin has a good range of northern hemisphere wild animals. There are excellent farm animals, if you hunt hard enough. You’re also interested in illustrating aspects of the Alice books by the famed Rev. Dodgson [see this issue’s front cover, and opposite]. Is this something that’s been a long-standing interest, arising from reading the Alice books as a child? Or is it an influence that’s coming to you more through the art of storybook illustration?
Lee: I did enjoy those books as a child. The surreal, fantastical elements of the stories always piqued my imagination. I developed my own ‘Alice’ character some time ago, and she has served kind of as a muse at times. When I’m in a creative slump, that character has often helped provide ideas for scenes to get me started again. I believe that those books, or at least the underlying concept of encountering or interacting with the absurd and fantastical, have inspired much of my work. 50
“I developed my own ‘Alice’ character some time ago, and she has served kind of as a muse at times. When I’m in a creative slump, that character has often helped provide ideas for scenes to get me started again.”
DAL: Do you try to create small fictional back stories for each of the artwork pieces you create?
Lee: That’s an interesting question. Actually, in many cases I do, at least in my own mind. On a few occasions I’ve included a bit of backstory for a render that I’ve posted on DA, such as “Mad Science”. Particularly with character-focused renders, I find myself mentally creating a story for the characters in the scene, to give some context to the render. I don’t often include the story in the description, but there’s generally one in my head. DAL: What’s next for your art? You’re obviously progressing very strongly in your DAZ + Reality + Photoshop art, but I see a lot of fine digital painting in your Favourites. Is digital painting something that’s on the horizon for you, perhaps?
Lee: I have a tremendous admiration for skilled digital painters, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have much of a talent for it. My current goal is to learn Blender well enough to start creating my own models for scenes, instead of having to always rely on purchased content. I would say that in the vast majority of cases, the scene I end up with is a compromise from what I had envisioned it to be, simply because the kind of resources I want to include in it haven’t been created. At least not that I could find, or not for a price that I’d be prepared to pay. DAL: Yes, some of the prices are quite high these days. I wonder how many get sold when a dinosaur or a fairly generic scene or suchlike is $35 and is never discounted. But then… I’m mostly a less than $7 or less buyer! /Laughter/ Lee: I feel that to progress as a digital artist, and to truly bring to the screen what I envision,
Pictures: “Waiting for an Idea”; “The Archaeologist”; and “Time is Ticking”.
I need to learn how to build the items I want in the scene. DAL: Yes, I need to find the time to nail down a suitable modeller and speedy workflow, for that. Though it’s no use if it takes a whole day to build and texture a model just for my own use, it needs to happen in a couple of hours or less. Talking of time and energy, have you found any good ways of avoiding ‘creative burnout’, which we all encounter from time to time? Lee: I haven’t been able to avoid creative burnout. As you say, we all encounter it. Creativity seems to go in waves. I go through periods where I’m at the peak of the wave and have more ideas than I have time to work on. And then other times I’m in a deep creative trough for a while. I do find that having a go-to character can be a help, though. As mentioned
earlier, my ‘Alice’ character sometimes prompts an idea to get me out of a creative doldrums. Other times, if I just can’t seem to come up with anything creative, I just spend my time enjoying other artist’s work. I’ll browse ArtStation, or even just spend time on Pinterest. Eventually, something I see will spark an idea. I try not to get stressed if creativity lags for a while. I know it will come back eventually. Perhaps that’s one advantage to being mainly a hobbyist when it comes to art — my livelihood isn’t dependent on my being constantly creative. DAL: Which famous artists inspire you? Either in the art history field, or in illustration and visual storytelling. Lee: Another good question. While I admire the work of classical painters, I can’t say that I’m creatively inspired by them. I’m more inspired by
the work of more modern illustrators and digital artists. My interest in surrealism was inspired when I was a teenager and came across a poster with one of Hans Werner Sahm’s works. I’d never before seen anything like the impossible landscapes that he created. I love the humour and whimsy in the work of Jimmy Lawlor, who I referenced earlier, and the elegant surrealism in Kevin Sloan’s animal art. I love the work of Alejandro Burdisio and the retrofuturistic world he depicts in his illustrations, the same for Ian McQue. And the sci-fi illustrations of John Berkey and his amazing spacecraft are definitely inspiring. As I’ve been learning Blender, I’ve also discovered some amazing Blender artists who have become inspirations as well — Gleb Alexandrov and Reynante Martinez, for example. DAL: Thanks. I get these sense you’re someone with an interest in history. Which aspects of history interest you most? Lee: There’s a lot of time periods in history I find fascinating, but I think the Victorian era is one that particularly interests me. In many cases when reading history one finds a focus on traumatic things — wars, conquests, plagues, etc. The Victorian era seems different, in that it’s interesting to me for all the innovation and progress that was steadily taking place. In many ways, it was a time of optimism, when many people thought the future would only get better. That spirit of optimism and innovation appeals to me. Not that I have any desire to go back in history and live during that time, mind you. I like my modern day conveniences. Such as espresso machines and dishwashers. DAL: Yes, I recently explored 1888 in England in some detail for my book on H. G. Wells. The 1890s Victorian period and especially the subsequent high Edwardian period would have been a delight to live in, in a great many ways. But certainly not in terms of things like polio and smallpox, all the smoke in the industrial industrial districts, the class prejudice on both sides, and the simple lack of access to abundant information. And there was a deep cultural pessimism in many, arising from science’s erosion of some of the key tenets of Christian
belief and Biblical timelines. There was also a major scientific consensus at that time, which held that the the Sun only had a limited store of material to burn, and therefore the Earth would be an uninhabitable snowball before another half million years had gone by. Total hogwash, as it turned out, but it was ‘proven’ and widely believed by the late Victorian and Edwardian period. But we should praise them for showing an overall ‘plucky spirit’ in the face of such gloomy doom-ism, and carrying on regardless. As we’re a science-fiction magazine, I should also ask if science-fiction is an influence. I see a slight steampunk element across your gallery?
Lee: I’m actually a Trekkie at heart. I love the rebooted version of Star Trek that J.J. Abrams created in the last three movies. It may offend the purists, but I liked it. DAL: I very much enjoyed the early Shatner/ Nimoy movies, though I have to say that the more recent teen-friendly reboots rather left me cold. Mind you, I don’t think I’ve yet seen the most recent one. Lee: The steampunk genre does really appeal to me as well, though. It’s the combination of Victorian imagery and mechanical wizardry that I enjoy. So yes, there is a bit of that influence in some of my work. The robot characters that I like to use in some of my scenes are more the steampunk or mechanical variety. Robots should have gears and cogs, in my opinion. DAL: So true. Ok, well thanks very much for taking the time with this in-depth Digital Art Live interview. We realise that the end of August and the start of September are busy times for many, so your time is appreciated. We wish you all the best in the future. Lee: Thank you! I appreciate your interest in my art and in allowing me the privilege of being included in your magazine.
Lee, aka ‘Conlaodh’ is online at: https://conlaodh.deviantart.com/ gallery/ 54
Picture: “Bot Mechanic”.
Picture: "Infinite.simal" by Giorgio Baroni. An art print is available via inprnt.com.
Digital Art Live presents a short survey of well-lit portraits from 3D and 2D artists, to accompany and illustrate the â€˜Lighting for Characterâ€™ theme of this issue.
Picture: “Forest pixie” by Redanta. Made with Poser.
k Pictures: “Slowly creeping” by mrjb27; “Deranged” by Butteredbap (Michael Richards).
Pictures: â€œRa-nefer-u" (commission) and "Sorceress Eloena" (commission) by MLauviah (Mei Lauviah). DAZ Studio.
Picture: “Persepolis” by Carlos Quevedo.
Picture: “Epiclesis” by Carlos Quevedo.
Pictures: “Space junk racer” for Project PaperBoy by Jacobtwitchellart; “The Mad Hatter” (from Alice in Wonderland) and other monsters, by Josh Crockett at www.monsterfaces.net.
Pictures: “Enchantress Scifi” and “The Future Rodeo Rider” by Tsaber.
Star Trek: Discovery Set ten years before the USS Enterprise, this new 15-episode series tells the tale of the creation of the Neutral Zone, as the USS Discovery ventures deep into Klingon politics. The design of Discovery is reportedly based on an unused Ralph McQuarrie design, and the makers are said to have tried to emulate the look of the film
Star Trek: The Motion Picture. A backstory comicbook series will also be out in October 2017. CBS All Access/ Netflix.
Our pick of the most inspirational art, science and sci-fi. Make your imagination LIVE! 70
“Walking onto sets for the first time, you’re stunned at the money that’s gone into it, and you realize: ‘Oh, wow, Star Trek is back’, and just how big this is.” — Shazad Latif (Lieutenant Tyler), talking with Entertainment Weekly, August 2017.
Picture: Promotional pictures with thanks to CBS. 71
Artbook: Valerian The 2017Valerian film may not have tickled the fancy of American summer holiday audiences, with the Hollywood Reporter calling it an “epic box office failure” — mostly due to the unfortunate mis-casting of the male lead. Let’s hope a director’s cut or fan-edit might somehow rescue it. In the meantime Titan’s Valerian artbook is still a stunner. The 192-page Valerian and the
City of a Thousand Planets: The Art of the Film offers shows a wide range of development material, from pencilled storyboards to 3D renders. In the text we get a lot of detail about how the comic was adapated as a big-budget studio movie. Also note the companion Titan book Valerian: The Illustrated Treasury, in which the original comic-book series creators serve up an illustrated encyclopedia of information about the worlds, creatures and timelines of their famous series. Available from all good booksellers.
Artbook: Vinyl.Album.Cover.Art: the Complete Hipgnosis Catalogue This £25 Thames & Hudson artbook offers the definitive catalogue to the output of British record sleeve designers Hipgnosis. Even if you never listened to the ponderous prog-rock bands that Hipgnosis usually serviced, the studio’s imaginative Dali-like album covers are still very familar to record shop rack-flippers of a certain age. The look of their work was surely a formative influence on those who later made software such as the famous Bryce and various fractal generators. Hipgnosis also featured strongly in books such as the 1970s art-school favorite The Album Cover Album. This sort of artwork was made long before Photoshop, in darkrooms, with scissors and paint, and often to a feverish deadline. Every Hipgnosis cover is beautifully reproduced in this 320-page doorstopper of a book, so for £25 this is a bargain slab of inspiration for today’s digital artists. Picture: cover of Uno (1974) by Uno.
Available from all good booksellers. 72
Non-fiction book: Stan Lee
Golden-age sci-fi pulp writer Nathan Arkwright, along with a select group of collaborators, has a dream of sending humanity to colonise the far reaches of space. This well-reviewed hard sci-fi novel is a rare thing in the often gloomy world of print and screen science fiction, as it evokes a sense of wonder and hope about the future of mankind. Hugo Award-winning author Allen Steele recently told Factor Daily... “I had a certain sense of purpose in writing Arkwright in that I’m tired of dystopian SF, particularly the sort that poses no solutions but just turns the demise of human civilization into a form of entertainment.” Despite being lumbered with a cliched cover by publisher Tor, it has been praised by reviewers who love grand ‘can-do’ space scifi in the Asimov and Clarke tradition. An unabridged audiobook was quietly slipped out in summer 2017, available on Audible.
If pure influence is a measure of greatness then Marvel’s Stan Lee is FOOM-tastically great! He has surely deeply touched more imaginative people than almost any person in the history of popular culture. To date we've had Stan's own memoir, and his ghost-written official autobiography, and several snoozetastic academic slabs. Now from respected non -fiction writer Bob Bachelor comes the first indepth critical biography of the man, carefully set in historical context. The book takes the reader on a very well-written ride through the early years to Timely Comics, work with Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, to the birthing of Spider -Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and beyond. The book is aimed a popular audience but also has scholarly footnotes — the early reviews state it provides a solid foundation stone for future comics historians. The book is set for publication from Rowman & Littlefield in September 2017.
Available at all good booksellers.
Nanotech: the invisible revolution
Future / Mind
Until 15th October 2017, Quebec.
18th September 2017, London.
The technology of the infinitely small is already part of our everyday lives, in everything from scrub gels to air fresheners. This rise of nanotechnology opens important new horizons, derived from its extraordinary potential. But recently we nearly ruined the planet by adding CFCs to deodorant cans, and we very nearly didn’t fix that problem in time — so we need to be especially careful about chemistry we can’t see. This Museum of Civilisation exhibition explores both the alarmism and the optimism on the topic.
Goldsmiths Computing in London will host an international one-day symposium ‘Future Mind’ in collaboration with Kyoto University of Japan. The Future Mind conference is open to academics, professionals and research students. It covers the themes of art, science, future technology, VR and psychology, with sessions on: the Art of Future, the Future City and Looking for Japan; Communication of the Future, Vision and Mind; VR Art and Imaging of the Future; AI, Art Critic of the Future? Opened by the Japanese Ambassador; Patrick Loughrey (Goldsmiths’ Warden); and Dr. Juichi Yamagiwa (President, Kyoto University) and the Japan, the conference will initiate longer term sci-art collaboration between Goldsmiths and Kyoto University. The event will be followed by a Social Gathering offering the opportunity to talk informally about the topics of the day, and VR Artworks and VR Science Work by Goldsmiths Mutators Research Group will be on show. Including Mutator VR — http://mutatorvr.com/
https://www.mcq.org/ Pictures, from left, across double-page spread: CSIRO Science image / Wikipedia. Goldsmiths Mutators Research Group showing their work in Nottingham, England. Interior of the London Design Museum. Detail from a still from the animated feature film My Neighbour Totoro, with thanks to Studio Ghibli.
California : Designing Freedom
Until 15th October 2017, London.
Until May 2018, Mitaka, Japan.
London's Design Museum offers the major exhibition “Designed in California”, the first exhibition to examine the global reach of California's tech design influences. Picking up the story in the 1960s, the exhibition charts the journey from the more productive and 'individual liberation' elements of the counterculture (exemplified by Stewart Brand and the tools of his Whole Earth Catalogue) to Silicon Valley's modern tech culture. Press reviewers who were not already aware of these historical links were not entirely convinced by the claims made by this exhibition. But the links are there, and if you read up beforehand on people like Stewart Brand then you may enjoy the exhibition more. But with over 300 items of ‘California cool’ to view, you’re sure to find something to interest. The exhibition also explores how the user interface designers of the San Francisco Bay are still shaping some of our most common daily experiences today. Original Blade Runner artwork is also on show.
The animated films of the famous Studio Ghibi are known for depicting daily life in great detail, including food, eating, and daily meals. Often small emotional plot points are linked with these moments. Sometimes not so small plot points — for instance, who can forget the transformation scenes in Spirited Away! Curated by Goro Miyazaki, and spread over two rooms, this exhibition at the official Ghibi museum surveys the uses to which Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibi have put food and meals, and links these with Japanese customs and traditional culture.
For those visiting Japan in 2018, another must-see show will be ‘Brueghel: 150 Years of an Artistic Dynasty’. At the Tokyo Metropolitian Art Museum, this major show brings together 100 works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his sons. An excellent chance to view Bruegel’s monsters and grotesques in their original paintings and drawings. http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/
Are you interested in being interviewed in a future issue of the magazine? Or presenting a webinar for our series? Please send the Web address of your gallery or store, and we’ll visit! firstname.lastname@example.org
Back cover: “Space Colonization: Interior view of colony from overhead.” NASA,1975. 76