SCIENCE FICTION ARTIST IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS
THE GIANT MONSTERS ISSUE
TWENTY-SEVEN MARCH 2018
VUE ● TERRAGEN ● POSER ● DAZ STUDIO ● REAL-TIME 3D ● 2D DIGITAL PAINTING ● 2D/3D COMBINATIONS
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Two Live Tutorials This two-part set of webinars will dig into deeper layers of PlantFactory. It is a continuation of the introductory webinars from last year, which are still available for download here. There will also be a brief introductory segment in the first session for newcomers about the basics of the software. The first session will focus on advanced modelling techniques. We will explore the autogrowth node, the creation of roots, how to grow plants on objects, how to create smart procedural materials that automatically adapt to plant properties and how you can utilize advanced dependencies for plant modelling. You will also learn how to create custom interfaces and top-level editors for quick plant customization.
The second session will focus on light-weight plant creation, on how to make plant properties depend on level of detail and on various meshing techniques.
Presented by Daniel Seebacher 3
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Front Cover: “Gas Walker” by Neil Blevins.
THE GIANT MONSTERS ISSUE
CONTENTS OUR LIVE WEBINARS! ―― 02
EDITORIAL ―― 07
BACK ISSUES INDEX ―― 24
We talk with Sans, from Kerala in India, about the importance of tapping into childhood nightmares when making monsters!
John has been working in 3D since digital artists used MS-DOS! Today his passion is for combining Zbrush and painterly art.
Simon is a leading Poser artist, creating beautifully lit compositions featuring the monstrous and the macabre!
PHOTOSHOP | PAINTER
ZBRUSH | 3DS MAX | PS
POSER PRO | PHOTOSHOP
“I remember that when I was young, I dreamed about creatures, monsters and UFO-like objects descending from sky toward me. My paintings of giant creatures are reflections of these dreams.”
“If you're doing a dragon, where’s your [real-life] reference? You have to know how the skull works, how the bones work, how the muscles attach to those bones … Knowing that will free you to be able to create.”
“Sometimes I ‘just try stuff’ and do not have a particular picture envisioned in my mind, and I find this can be a real pain. With a clear vision, though, I need two to seven hours for a picture.”
COMIC STRIP ―― 34
IMAGINARIUM ―― 78
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LIVE Join our live webinar-based workshops for digital artists. digitalartlive.com Credits for pictures, from top left: Detail from “Alien World” by Sansakrans; detail from “Strange Encounter” by Sanskarans; “Legend of the Beast” by Simon Beer, with Sixus1 model. Both artists are interviewed this issue. .
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Copyright © 2018 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 ‘Giant Monsters’ issue! Giant monsters have been around for a long time, even if you don't count the dinosaurs. The most ancient epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest known work of literature, has the hero fight a giant spiritboar in the cedar forests of Lebanon. But that's just an appetiser, as later in the story Gilgamesh tackles the very Bull of Heaven — a city-sized fiery bull who is usually the night-sky constellation of the Bull, but who comes to earth to rampage across the world’s first cities. Later epics from Greek and Egyptian culture abound with giant water-dragons, fearsome underworld snakes, one-eyed cyclops, and many more. Even today we all know famous names such as the Minotaur of the Cretan maze, or Cerberus the giant guard-dog of the door to the Underworld. The Ancients thrilled to their giant monsters just as we do today, and they may well have pointed to dinosaur bones as proof that such things had been real. As they sailed to new places, new monsters emerged. Most notably the sea serpents which used to adorn ocean maps, possibly inspired by real-life giant squid. Such sailors may have met Northmen from the frozen north, who told them tales of Fenrir the giant wolf or the nicor sea-hags found in Beowulf. Here in England all our deep-time epics have been lost, but our ancestors did leave us immense chalkings of giant ogres and strange horses on green hillsides — and possibly the snakelike coils of our prehistoric earthworks and the great slabs which make up our stone circles were once imagined to ‘come alive’ at certain times. J.R.R. Tolkien thus did England a service in the 1920s, by recovering forgotten monster names from old mouldering manuscripts. Such as from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, where he rediscovered wodwos (wudu-wasa, meaning ‘wood-trolls’) and etaynez (eten, ettin, meaning ‘ogre-giant’). He later slipped these names into The Lord of the Rings, as the troll-haunted Ettenmoors and the tribes of moss -tangled Woses or Wild Men of the Woods.
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Today artists have all these historical giants to choose from — often lovingly recreated in 3D for use in DAZ and Poser — alongside more recent creatures that emerged in early modernity. For instance, other than the giant robots and floating super-brains of early science-fiction, the 1920s pulps and 30s movies gave us Cthulhu and King Kong. In the 1950s the post-war atom panics gave rise to a string of B-movies in which ants and other bugs become giants after being exposed to radiation. In Japan the giant monster genre became more enduring and mainstream, with the famous Godzilla flanked by giant moths and crabs. Then there are all the giant creatures found in offplanet science fiction, where imaginations can get really wild. Perhaps the most interesting of these are grounded in hard science, emerging logically from the first principles of their alien ecosystem. There’s now a thriving sub-genre of ‘xenobiology’ art, devoted to lovingly depicting such sciencebased creatures, and it’s flanked by artists who ponder the shapes of far-future evolution on our own planet. Because evolution isn’t over yet. Recent research has found the emergence of new species is speeding up — as the world re-greens, as temperate wildlife population sizes grow by around 3% per decade overall (WWF), and as wildlife habitats become somewhat more nichelike. That process is not going to lead to new giants evolving in our lifetimes, but there are serious DNA based scientific moves to revive and restore great beasts — such as Ice Age mammoths. All of which demonstrates that artists now have a wealth of choice when it comes to depicting giant monsters. Pick your monster and dive in!
DAVID HADEN Editor of Digital Art Live magazine. email@example.com
We visit Kerala in southern India, to meet one of the most dynamic monster painters working in digital 2D. Sandeep Karumakaran draws inspiration from his childhood nightmares, and depicts these using Photoshop and Corel Painter.
DAL: Sans, welcome to Digital Art Live. When we saw your series of amazing ‘giant creatures’ pictures, we knew you’d be a fine choice of artist for this themed issue of the magazine. Firstly could you explain a little about the method by which you make your pictures, please? SK: You are very welcome. Thank you very much for the invitation It is quite a honour to be part of Digital Art Live magazine.
The way I work is that, instead of working over line-art, l usually start my paintings directly with the choice of essential colours needed for the painting. For the picture I use a large canvas on Photoshop, set to 300 dpi in case I want to get a print. Photoshop has a huge advantage over other software, in terms of being able to work with a large canvas, while still using less machine power and memory usage. 10
SANDEEP KARUNAKARAN INDIA 2D DIGITAL PAINT | PHOTOSHOP | COREL PAINTER |
Picture: “The Unnamable”.
DAL: Yes, that’s one of the problems with software like ArtRage. Which is very nice software, and highly polished in version 5, but large canvases and big brushes are still not handled as well as with Photoshop or Sketchbook Pro. It’s a key factor to consider when starting out, when choosing the software to learn. SK: Yes. As a first step in a painting I use single 11 layer to work with. Using basic Photoshop
brushes, I ‘block in’ shapes and areas of colour while also considering the light source. Here I will work on mood, the focal point, etc, etc… and then I refine it until I start to become satisfied. Once I find ‘the composition’, I work on details. Here I use custom brushes. Like lot of digital artist out there, I believe that creating one’s own set of custom brushes is the pinnacle step in digital painting. I use these custom
brushes to add the texture to the painting. Then I finalize the work integrating with other software. Such as Corel Painter, to add that traditional touch to the painting. DAL: Are there other software packages might you like to explore in the future? 3D software, such as Vue, perhaps? SK: I certainly like to use multiple software for finalizing my works. But for now I’m happy to use Painter to help me attain a solid ‘classic traditional’ feel. I often work with both Photoshop and Painter, in most of my works. I don’t use 3D software , but I tried 3D Studio Max , Maya and Zbrush once, for my 3D projects. So I know that I would like to explore more of Zbrush in future. Zbrush obviously has a lot to offer. I have seen some stunning images done with this wonderful software. I will surely like to try it someday. I haven’t tried Vue, as I
have hardware limitations. And some of that sort of software is currently beyond of my reach. DAL: I see. And when did you first start exploring that method of making pictures, and what was it that inspired you to start? SK: My inspiration to become an artist arose in my childhood. As with every artist, I started drawing at a very early age. I always had a keen interest in paintings, animation, comics, story writing and watching movies /documentaries. Especially horror, science fiction and creature stuff! I guess this has influenced me a lot for developing my creativity. I was an extremely introvert kind of person who stayed away from social functions, and I spent most of the spare time watching TV shows, VHS video cassettes. Imagining things that don't exist. I lived in the world of fantasies and fiction. I believe my inspiration to create these pieces, today, arise
mainly through these memories of watching movies, other media of entertainment and also some crazy dreams / nightmares that I had when I was young.
DAL: So you mentioned that TV inspired you a lot. Your work certainly has a cinematic feel…
DAL: When did you make the move to digital? SK: My first step in to the world of digital art was on early 2002. This was the time I bought my first computer. It started with the humble MS Paint, actually! Then 3ds Max, and of course Photoshop... the list goes on and on, until I arrive at what I am doing now. DAL: What was your first “breakthrough” picture, would you say? The one that first gained you a lot of attention? SK: My first breakthrough was “Fallen”. “Fallen” gained a lot of attention in the creative industries, and was the picture that first gifted me the designation of “science fiction artist”.
SK: Yes, I have always thought of my painting as being something very cinematic. For instance, inspired from things like the Tripods in The War of the Worlds, I thought of creating something similar, but different in structure and appearance. By adding a more organic feel to the alien beings that were invading the planet. Thus the concept of “Fallen” emerged, and it was a success. I am planning to develop a series based on “Fallen” concept . DAL: Wonderful. I see that you live in India. Which part of India? I wonder if some aspect of the landscape there that influences your work? Or perhaps the sky-scapes? Do you see sweeping “big skies”, where you are? SK: I am from Calicut (Kerala), a city that is in
Picture: “Alien World”.
the southern part of India. My paintings have nothing to do with place I live in now, though. Most of my works are reflections of my childhood memories, dreams, nightmares. Although it’s true that when I was young I use to spend hours gazing at skies, especially in the evenings and into the nights. The place I used live at that time had a great view at the sky. A wide view I could say. While gazing at these skies, I used have some wild crazy flights of imagination! I am actually recalling these old beautiful imaginations in my paintings now. But these kind of things are really missing, nowadays.
DAL: I see. What is the current view from your studio windows like? For instance, I wonder if your picture “Bullstorm” reflects your experience of the Indian monsoon rains, when you see the great dark clouds moving towards you?
Picture: “The Nemesis”.
SK: Yes… I have a weakness for the monsoon rains, for thunderstorms. Especially when the dark clouds gather, I find that the ‘raining situation’ enhances my creativity a lot. The concept of “Bullstorm” came from such a situation. But, to be frank, I had never yet experienced such a massive storm as is depicted
in “Bullstorm”. It’s a bit of an exaggerated situation, which I created from memories of TV shows I watched, and indeed from the wild imaginations that I used have — when the dark clouds gathered above me. I wish that today I had such a view from my studio window. DAL: Tell us a little about your education courses, please. Did you go to art school, and if so what was your experience there? SK: Actually I never took any art courses and even had any computer education. I am a self taught artist. I don’t come from an artistic family
background, either. My parents didn't have much knowledge about art and its opportunities. We were a living as a small family of four members. My father, mother, brother and I. For all those years I tried to learn from watching and understanding the techniques of artists who inspired me a lot. Actually by training I am a B.com (Bachelor of Commerce) graduate, but my passion for art took precedence over anything else. So I chose art as my career. DAL: I see. Is it possible for a digital artist of your outstanding calibre to earn a good Indian
wage, via the Internet? Or is that level of income something that you are still aspiring to reach?
SK: Yes, I am working as a freelance artist. As
you will know, being a freelancer has lots of limitations, especially when it comes to working and getting paid through the Internet. It all depends upon our clients. An artist like me, who only handles particular genres, is perhaps really
hard to move out from â€˜the comfort zoneâ€™. Yet recently I have been getting lots of clients from various parts of the entertainment industry. Some of my artworks are now getting exclusively licensed. But I have to admit that
there are still some limitations to overcome. DAL: India seems to have a bright future ahead of it, in terms of its growing economy and new stability. Is there equal progress being made in
‘the creative industries’ and the arts, would you say? SK: Yes, of course. There is been a drastic progress made by our country just within the last eight years. I could say that India had reached to ‘its complete state’ within the space of these few years. Without a doubt, the growth in the economy has been mirrored by an equal progress to be seen in the creative industries and the arts. I can see that lot of job opportunities have now opened up, and these will provide us with the ‘door steps’ into this field so that we can be a part of a part the global creative industries. People who work in 3D, visual effects department, and suchlike, have now started to become an integral part of Hollywood and other global entertainment industry centres. It surely is something that never thought would attain in such a short period time! DAL: That sounds very encouraging. What fresh new artists and storytellers from India should we be looking out for, in fantasy, horror and science fiction? SK: I believe that India is a country of the fantasy/epic, rather than science fiction and horror subjects. It a strong cultural pillar, one that helps to balance the overall equilibrium of the country, maintaining its history and culture. So I know that most of the new artists and storytellers from India are the people who have ‘the fantasy spirit’ in them. And I believe these people have great opportunities ahead, in the coming years. The Indian creative industries are going to flourish and success will even more deeply establish the appeal of fantasy / epic subjects. So if you are an Indian fantasy artist or a writer, I guess this is the right time for you. DAL: Thanks. To return to your pictures… what is the attraction, for you, of painting giant creatures and people engaging with them? SK: As I said before, it is something from which I see when I close my eyes or from dreams and nightmares that I used to have. Or I can say that I really had some wild imaginations on these subjects! I remember that when I was young, I dreamed about creatures, monsters
and UFO-like objects descending from sky toward me. I guess my paintings of giant creatures are mere reflections of these dreams. I used to enjoy that dream a lot. One thing that I could never forget is, when I saw the movie Jurassic Park when it was first released in cinemas. The movie made a great impact on me. After the show, the shadows of towering giant trees in my surroundings, the dark lowering clouds... everything felt like it was forming the shape of dinosaurs! To me it was a remarkable experience. So I could say that the people on the screen, who engaged with these giant creatures, were replicated in myself. DAL: Wow, that sounds like a very vivid experience! Possibly quite scary too! Talking of ‘scary’, I noticed that your most recent picture show a strong trend toward horror, and away from science fiction? Is that because you’re being influenced by the media you’re tending to view and read, these days? Or is it because there are more book and magazine cover commissions and album covers in the horror genre? SK: Horror is the genre that I love the most. But I like it to balance it with science fiction. Moreover I believe that they kind of relate to each other, especially when it comes to aliens, creatures, monsters... etc... etc. So, yes, the love comes — in the same way — from the tons of horror stuff I also saw and read, and from the nightmares that I had, when I was young. I guess this influenced me lot in my horror paintings! I wouldn’t agree that horror is a more celebrated genre than sci-fi. It is a limited, or I should say a ‘cult’, subject. And there are some people who love this kind of stuff and they have an intense obsession with the horror genre. I am one of them, too. But this doesn’t mean that I am going to stray away from science fiction, instead I am fusing these genres together. You can see this, for instance, in my most recent conceptual works. Moreover, I see lot of repetitiousness in the science fiction genre nowadays. For this reason I am trying to swerve away from this tangle of cliches, and I am searching for ways to bring something new to my pictures. 18
â€˜Sansâ€™ has recently found his more macabre artworks in demand for use on the front covers of novels and anthologies, and for album covers for metal bands. Top: cover for the The Dark anthology of stories, issue 31, December 2017. Cover for the novel For a Gimpse Beyond the Terminus by Jordan R. Anderson. Bottom: Cover for the Numbered Days heavy rock album by metal band Break the Earth. 19
DAL: That sounds like a great ambition. What is the hardest challenge you have faced, in making your creative work? And how did you overcome that challenge? SK: Maintaining ‘the style’, I guess. Yes ‘the style’. This is were the worst things happen. This is where an artist’s identity is questioned. I had a hard time maintaining ‘the style’, when handling both science fiction and horror genres together. As you can see, both have different ways of presenting the content. I cannot yet say that I have fully overcome this difficulty, as yet. I am still working on it. DAL: What’s your own personal favourite picture from your portfolio and why? SK: Ha ha… that’s a very tough question to answer. For me each and every work is the favourite. But sometimes I feel that ‘I could have worked more’ on the painting and that doing so would have produced some good results. DAL: You put much of your work under a Creative Commons licence. That’s certainly been useful for you — as that’s how we found you, by first occasionally adding some of that work to our magazine’s Gallery feature. Have you had any other positive feedback or experience from using the Creative Commons licence? SK: Yes, of course. I have been getting lots of positive feedback, through various entertainment channels like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest... etc… etc. And from magazines like Digital Art Live! I always love to see others’ presentations of my works and thus putting my works under Creative Commons has helped me to gain lots of attention and publicity. This is definitely a good thing for me.
DAL: When you write short back-stories for your artworks, are these in advance of making the artwork, or are they written afterwards? SK: Most of the back stories and poetry are written afterwards. But the picture’s content are already preplanned. I want the viewers to understand what the artwork really represents. Through these stories I want my viewers to have the feeling as if they were watching a movie, playing a game — or some other medium of visual entertainment — that would launch their
imagination to its uttermost state. In short, I want the picture to be understood in a visual narrative manner.
DAL: Right. Yes, that’s how it used to be done. Before modernism, painting used to be far more tightly connected with poetry, literature, mythic epic, than it is today. What aspect of your artwork would you like to improve upon next? SK: I want to take this to next level. I want to attain perfection, by which I mean a life like realism, a feel of looking at something which that actually exists. I am working on it! DAL: Are there any themes you would like to explore in your art? Or will explore further? SK: Science fiction and horror based themes are my soul interest. For now, I would just like to explore further in these subjects. DAL: What are you working on at the moment? SK: Currently I am working on a personal science fiction concept, but ‘spiced up’ with horror content. I hope that it will produce some good results. DAL: Finally, what three tips would you have for those who want to make a start on learning 2D digital painting? Learning that new way of working is ‘a bit of a jump’ for 3D people — who are the majority of our readers — I think. Is a ‘pen monitor’ (Ugee, Cintiq) vital, do you think? SK: My first tip to beginners is to find your ‘Tool of Choice’, something we discussed at the start of this interview. There are tons of 2D paint software out there. Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, Smith Micro’s Clip Studio Paint (aka Manga Studio), Rebelle, Krita, GIMP... etc... etc. Find which one works best for you. Secondly, aim to make your own custom brushes. If you are working with Photoshop, Painter or any other software, then use custom brushes and use them wisely. Lastly, practice, practice, practice. As the saying goes, “Practice make perfect”. This is the most important and vital thing to do, if you want to make it in this industry. So grab your tools, and get start practicing. I wouldn't say that a Cintiq or a pen monitor is vital. I personally wouldn't recommend investing on the most expensive tablet right away. 20
Pictures: “White Noise”; “Behemoth”.
Beginners could go for a simple Wacom Bamboo or an Intuos tablet. But once you get the hold of it, whether you are a 3D or 2D creative, then if you can afford it I would really recommend you to switch to a Cintiq or a similar pen monitor where you draw and paint directly on the screen.
Such tools are going to be vital for achieving more professional output and would surely outmatch what you can achieve with an Intuos tablet. Talking about the Cintiq pen monitor, though, I should say that all my works are currently done with a Wacom Intuos! Even
Picture: â€œThe Abductoidâ€?.
though I am professional, I have not yet had a chance to use a Cintiq. I am saving to buy one myself, at the moment.
you a few new commissions that will help you to save up for the Cintiq purchase!
DAL: Great, well thanks very much for this indepth interview. We wish you all the best with your art, and hopefully the interview may bring
SK: Thank you. Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to be the part of Digital Art Live magazine.
Sandeep Karunakaran, known as ‘Sans’, is online as ‘Sanskarans’ at: https://sanskarans.deviantart.com/
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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 24
Issue 4 Jan 2016 Poser 11: special issue ● Charles Taylor (on the new Poser 11) ● Ariano di Pierro ● Paulo Ciccone (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
● The Mars Society ● Ludovic Celle ● Gallery: Orbiting Cities in Space ● Gallery: Space Colonies/Outposts ● Gallery: Mars in 1950s pulps
Issue 9 June 2016 Blender: special issue
Issue 10 July 2016 Steampunk
Issue 11 August 2016 Future Landscapes
Issue 12 Sept 2016 Second Skin (tattoos)
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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
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‘Pixeluna’ Paolo Ciccone Deane Whitmore HiveWire: 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, 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 UK’s Bloodhound supersonic rocket-car ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: “Vrooom!!”
A FREE MAGAZINE
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 ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Barry Marshall Vue 2016 R2 review Anaor Karim NASA’s tunnels W.P. Taub Index of past issues Gallery: Nature Grows on You!
Issue 19 May/Jun 2017 Sci-fi comics ● Patrick Gyger (leading sci-fi museum curator) ● Georges Peters ● Arne Cooper ● RoboSimian ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: comic-book 26
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 ● Joe Pingleton ● Davide Bianchini ● Characters in the public domain ● Lee (aka ‘Conlaodh’) ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: characters ● Imaginarium
Issue 23 Oct 2017 Gateway to space ● Neil Blevins (assets artist at Pixar) ● GrahamTG ● Arthur C. Clarke ● Oshyan Greene ● Gallery: Arthur C. Clarke tribute ● Imaginarium
Issue 24 Nov 2017 Abstracts in sci-fi ● Andy Lomas (The Matrix, Avatar) ● Erwin Kho ● Alastair Temple ● Gallery: ‘At the borders of abstraction’ in science fiction art ● Imaginarium
Interested in being interviewed in a future issue? Please send us the Web address of your gallery, and we’ll visit! firstname.lastname@example.org
Issue 25 Dec 2017 Dynamic posing ● ● ● ● ● ●
Jaki Blue Tasos Anastasiades Brian Armieri Sugary Ashes Index of past issues Gallery: World of Wearable Art ● Imaginarium
Issue 26 January 2018 To the skies!
Issue 27 Feb/Mar 2018 Giant Monsters
● Kevin Conran (Sky Captain movie) ● Alois Reiss ● Airships over Venus ● Vladimir Yaremchuk ● Index of past issues ● Gallery ● Imaginarium
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‘Sanskarans’ Simon Beer Jean-Marie Marbach John Haverkamp Index of past issues Comic strip Gallery Imaginarium
Issue 28 April 2018 Future oceans
Interview and layout kindly supplied by E-on, makers of Vue. 30
In collaboration with NASA and Boeing, SciArt Exchange presents the major Project Mars Competition: your chance to tell the story of human exploration of deep space. Make a video film or poster showing the next step in human exploration beyond Earth orbit, and have it judged by a mix of top movie-industry talent and NASA astronauts. Over $20,000 of prizes. Enter by 31st August 2018.
Boeing is calling on all inventors and doers to make personal human flight a reality, by building the worldâ€™s first personal flying device for anyone, anywhere. Over the next two years, teams will compete to win $2,000,000 from the Go Fly Prize, by creating revolutionary technology and accessing the top minds in aerospace design.
Picture: Successful NACA (NASA in â€˜58) manned test flight of a Stand-on Flying Platform, 1956. 32
Artwork: the 2016 winner, Francesca Pirrone of Italy.
Key Colours Competition 2018. Submit an original unpublished illustrated book for children 2-7 years old, told in exactly 24 pages (or 12 double pages). Entry is open to all, and is free. Prize is 7,500 Euros and publication by Clavis Publishing. Deadline: 16th July 2018. https://www.keycolours.com/
International Award for the best Picture book concept
We talk with John Haverkamp about his long-standing love of Zbrush, the clear importance of knowing anatomy when creating new monsters, and his memories of ‘the early years’ of 3D art when digital artists still used MS-DOS!
Picture: “Baueresque Swedish Troll”.
“If the artist knows anatomy... then it’s like the artist has this map that they've built over time, and that map makes them extremely efficient. Their eye is informed. Their eye is educated.” JOHN HAVERKAMP USA ZBRUSH | 3DS MAX PHOTOSHOP |
John Haverkamp was born in Ohio and then moved to the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia at a young age. There he spent a semi-isolated childhood re-enacting The Lord of the Rings and being corrupted by the fun of Dungeons and Dragons. Always with the fondness for the fantastical and medieval, art school drove him deeper into Luddite territory by granting him the skills of a traditional metal-smith. This meant post-college jobs making copper fountains, welding and steel fabricating, casting and finishing bronze sculptures, and working for an architectural blacksmith throughout his twenties. When sick of being an exploited artisan — read ‘starving artist’ — John got sucked into cyberspace and the arcane mysteries of 3D Studio Max. It was a long road climbing out of the dark-ages, but the light at the end of the tunnel was discovering Zbrush about a decade ago. Now he teaches digital arts part time, and constantly endeavours to improve his craft as a digitalsculptor and visualiser through personal work, illustration and indie game projects. DAL: I've noted that with some of the artists we've interviewed, Dungeons and Dragons has been a springboard for them for being artists. In a way, wouldn't it be nice to have a career just based on Dungeons and Dragons? But in the real world it’s difficult to do that! It does provide a bit of grist for the mill, doesn't it though, for imagination and for creativity? JH: Yeah. It encouraged world-building at an early age. Actually I have a good friend who programs for Valve, one of the game companies. He's in Seattle nowadays. He was an art school buddy of mine and that's what he wanted to be when he was a kid. He wanted to be a professional dungeon master and I'm pretty sure he actually is now. He worked on that Portal game. 41
DAL: So you play Dungeons and Dragons and are paid for it too? JH: I guess so. I'm not sure I'm quite to that point, but one can aim that way. DAL: Where did your artistic roots come from and what drew you into sculpting specifically? JH: I guess I always sort of sculpted at an early age, you know, messed about with clay in art classes. I was always making things. My childhood, there was lots of role playing and strutting about in costumes. So of course you needed swords and bows and crossbows, so I made that sort of thing, just fashioning things out of bits of junk. You don't really have a lot skills when you're young. I certainly didn't have any tools. But I tried. Then I was in hog heaven when I got to art school and was like, “Wow, they have a blacksmith forge and they have a welder and a drill press.” I just went crazy. I just went crazy. DAL: So was that particular corner of the art room attractive to you straight away, the welding and the steel working and the metal working? JH: I sort of had to build myself up to it. The first degree I did was jewellery, so I made little tiny intricate metal sculptures and made some jewellery too, but it really wasn't my thing. The welding was tricky stuff, and I didn't really take to it when I was in the first round of art school. Actually had to ease my way into it in the professional realm. I've actually taught art school welding as a TA, a teaching assistant, and taught welding and it's just like, art school welders are horrible. So of course I pride myself, I was a professional welder. I know how to actually do it properly. You can spot the art school welders because they make awful messes, you know? I don't. DAL: So is there a difference between industrial welding and art school welding? JH: Oh yeah, absolutely, yeah, yeah. It's painfully obvious. It can be to the point of, yeah, the artist guy here didn't even bother to turn on the gas that keeps the weld clean and proper when he did it. Ugh! Pet peeve territory.
DAL: Right through your sculpting career and through learning sculpting, have you always had a favorite material or medium, as in metal, clay, or something else? JH: I guess I would have to say metal. Metal obeys. It's malleable. It's predictable. Once you sort of get on the inside of its mysteries, it's difficult. It sort of bites you back, but it does what it's supposed to do. Whereas wood, I took a lot of woodworking classes, and wood just doesn't listen. It's alive, it moves around, responds to the atmosphere. I'd say I could carve wood, but I'm a horrible woodworker. If I was to make a cabinet it wouldn't necessarily look very good. DAL: I suppose that metal has a sort of greater permanency about it, so whatever you create you know is going to last maybe 200 years instead of being burned down or shattered if it was pottery or something like that. JH: The bronze is graded 2,000 at least. That's what my old boss at the foundry used to say. When I had that job we would make lots of art and we would just laugh and go, “That thing doesn't deserve to be made but I guess it is.”
DAL: So what were some of your early successes as you got into the working world with sculpting, and you mentioned about bronze sculptures? JH: I wouldn't necessarily rate it very successful, but I had a job where I worked at this foundry and we did all the grunt labor from the ground up and basically made other peoples' art for them. The best way to describe it would be almost as a vanity press. People that had money and had the art drive could bring us stuff and we'd make it into bronze for them. We did things from small statues all the way up to double life size figures. I did a couple of those. That was fun. It was heroic to lie on your back all night and run a TIG welder and a grinder and be like, “Wow, yeah, I made that thing happen.” It didn't pay terribly well when you're just an employee. That's sort of what I was alluding to in my bio where I sort of got sick of it all at a certain point. It just becomes a job. DAL: And where did it go from there once you got past the employee stage? 42
Picture: “Forest Lord”, Zbrush, Artrage, Photoshop.
JH: The 3D sort of happened to me. I saw this magical world sort of open up. I guess this is early to mid-90s, I dropped that word "cyberspace", which isn't a common word nowadays, but that was the big hype back then, in the pre-2000s, ‘90s. And virtual reality, which is another thing which seems to be kind of blasé, but this is before the Matrix movie happened and I was already writing fictional things that were very similar… and I was sort of envisioning this magical world. I always loved science fiction and fantasy so I saw a way into that type of world, which is very counter to the fine art vibe that I had gotten into, or been forced into in art school. DAL: Yeah. Because the early ‘90s were kind of the beginning of the 3D industry, where processing power and the software was beginning to shape where it could do something useful for industry, and it was becoming a bit more reachable for hobbyists slowly.
JH: Yeah, yeah. To illustrate that, let me tell you, the first 3D class that I walked into in college, they had a room full of these silicon graphics reality engines. That was the second Terminator movie that had the CGI. It'd just been released and those were the type of machines that they had done all that in. When I got into that classroom, the PC I had bought myself from working had more RAM in it than those machines. It was this sort of dead end on the evolutionary tree of computing. The school had probably spent a million dollars on these machines and you could have spent $60,000 and bought PCs that would have been better. It was kind of this weird cul-de-sac, I guess. So, yeah, that illustrates what you were saying there, definitely. DAL: So with your PC, is that where you started, with 3D Studio Max. JH: It was actually the DOS version of 3D Studio
Max. So yeah, definitely on the PC. I certainly couldn't have afforded a Macintosh back in those days.
DAL: And what were some of your early creations with 3D Studio Max? Was it just experimenting back then and seeing where it could take you? JH: Always making things. I dug up something the other day to post. I made an animated machine, almost like a trip hammer or something like that. I don't know why I made that. Of course I tried to make characters but I was horrible at it. It was really difficult back in those days. The tools were just horrible and it was hard to get info. Basically I had to stick to mechanical- type things for a very long time, and terrain, I got very interested in making terrain, architecture, of course, yeah. DAL: Yeah, because back in those days the forums were pretty few and far between, weren’t Pictures: “He Likes Jazz” and “Laurel”. Zbrush.
they? They were not very well populated, but it's how people learned. There wasn't that much training around, I think, for that many of the applications, so it was a case of hanging onto every word of whoever was in the forum at the time and making the most of those communities as they grew. JH: For sure. And if you could find a friend who had a book, you would take it to the copy shop and copy the entire book — it was like a gold brick to you. DAL: And then came Zbrush into your universe, which is a digital artist sculpting tool. JH: Yeah, it's a dream. It's an absolute dream. It just opens the whole thing up. I went, “Oh, I feel like an artist again.” It's sort of like being in exile for, I don’t know, it was probably almost a decade where I just slowly tried to climb into this 3D world. It's kind of like trying to be an artist with your hands cut off and then all of a
sudden Zbrush comes along and you have a Wacom tablet, which was starting to be affordable then and... Boom! And it simulated the exact experience I had had sculpting in wax and clay. I mean, they really went out of their way to do that. Yeah, it's great stuff, it’s great stuff. DAL: So being one of the artists that's done real-world sculpting and now experiencing Zbrush, what are some of the things that just translate really well between real world and sculpting with Zbrush? JH: I think they've tried to build the tools to be very similar. There's a rake tool in Zbrush that sort of simulates these kind of serrated-edged spatulas or knives that you use. There's of course these polishing tools, these trimming tools. There's brushes called "clay buildup", which they're just like taking little dollops of clay and dropping them on the surface. But it's definitely a simulation. It's not the same thing. They're trying to make it very similar, but it's its own animal. I guess the biggest thing is you're dealing with a mathematical construct. It's a manifold of points. In Zbrush you don't have to think about those points anymore, thank God, but they're there and you need to know the limitations of them. They've got that new tool Dynamesh, which is sort of a way around that, which is a way to dynamically update this mesh manifold that you've got. If you start sculpting and you sort of carve too far or pull too far, you lose the tightly packed quads and you get into where you see the faces and you see the points starting to be jagged and messy and coming out at you, and you've reached the limit. This Dynamesh allows you to be able to automatically recreate a mesh that updates to the changes that you made. So you sort of restore your pristine quads that you had before you started distorting it. DAL: So it kind of regenerates the resolution? JH: Yes, yes. I was teaching a friend of mine, who’s a very good traditional sculptor, he's an amazing guy, Brush. And before this Dynamesh tool, he would reach that point and he would go, “I hate this. Now I see these nasty bits, these nasty points and I don't know how to make them go away.” And I'm like, “Well, you shouldn't
have done that. There are strategies.” There was all this thinking ahead that had to be done prior to that. Now that that exists, a lot of the problems go away, which is very cool. So that would probably have to be my favourite feature of it. DAL: Now are there some things that don't translate very well between what you've learned in the real world sculpting and then trying to translate that across to Zbrush?
[In the old days of 3D] "it was kind of like trying to be an artist with your hands cut off, and then all of a sudden Zbrush comes along and you have a Wacom tablet, which was starting to be affordable then, and... Boom!" JH: There's kind of an integrity to real materials that I'm kind of nostalgic for. I also carve some slate. So I carve some soft stone, and I carve wood. Each type of wood has its own little properties that you sort of have to work around and they're very seductive, particularly when you get to the finishing stage of it. You really have something when you're done with it that's really nice, and if it's stone or wood, you've made something that's a one-of-a- kind, and that's kind of cool too. But when I compare that with the versatility, and the ease, the not costing me anything to just muck about, I can take the trade off, I can take the trade off. DAL: Now, I think Zbrush comes with about 30 sculpting brushes, which I imagine for the firsttime user can be a little overwhelming when they're trying to first get into Zbrush. Do you think you necessarily need that quite large range of brushes when you first start or can you get away with just two or three? JH: Certainly, you can get away with two or three. I've watched whole videos for really 46
Picture: SavGaz Warlord. Zbrush. 47
serious pro guys and they'll use just a handful. They might sculpt for four or five hours with just three brushes. They certainly know all the brushes and their brushes are there for specialized tasks, but you don't necessarily have to incorporate them into your workflow right off the bat. In fact, maybe as you're learning you might be better off not to. It's kind of like going into the art supply store and going, “I want to be a painter. I want to take up oil painting,” and you look at the 60 or 70 brushes they have in the bins there and you go, “Well, what's this one?” “Oh, that's a feather brush.” “Oh, this is a cut brush.” And you think you have to have all of those things and you don't. You don't at all. It's not the tools that make the artist, it's what you do with them. Just keeping things simple sometimes can be a way to go. It really can. DAL: So what other typical traps a beginner can fall into when they first start? JH: Well, I'll tell you the ones I've got into, which most everybody does this, is you look at the resolution. Like say you're starting with a sphere and you find out about subdivide and you go, “Well, I want this thing to be as awesome as possible so I'm going to hit this subdivide as many times as I possibly can until my computer about shuts down.” I think mine will scream to a halt at about six million, but on my earlier computers if it went over two million it was starting to not have a good time. And then you go, “Okay, now I'm going to make my amazing sculpture.” I quickly learned. I started watching some videos from people. They would do a ton of work at the very lowest levels and sort of work their way up.
I must say that I've been watching some videos of some people who are pro who start out as more traditional sculptors, and they seem to be able to get away with that initial subdivide, but that's because they're such bloody good sculptors ‘from the get-go’, that they sort of don't have to play by the digital rules — because they have such a strong foundation. But if you're a novice sculptor and a novice digital sculptor, you should pay attention to the maxim of work at low poly first and build your way up.
Yes, I guess that answers that. DAL: Yes. Now there's something in Brush, I think, called “Polypaint”? JH: It just means that you're putting colour information on the polygons. Which, if you're going to stay 100 percent digital, like you're just drawing up a digital illustration for example, is a perfectly fine way to get the colour information on your model. But if you're headed to animation, pipeline, or a game, you need to do UVW unwrapping, and then you will transfer that polypaint information to the UVWs. Which, basically UVW is just a fancy way of saying, taking a 3D object's mesh, which is 3D, and flattening it out. Kind of the reverse of when you make a cube out of a piece of paper that you fold six sides together. UVW wrapping is the opposite of that basically, where you're flattening out the 3D object. DAL: Recently I think we spoke about being able to create human or animal or alien forms without a reference, which I think for many artists would be perhaps a difficult stage to get to. What can an artist apply to get to this stage, to work without reference points?
JH: If you can get the reference that's great, but if you're doing a dragon, where's your reference? Anatomy, it's anatomy, human and animal anatomy, which I kind of feel like I came lately to. That's sort of been what I've been concentrating to try to get better on the last three or four years and it takes time. But that's what frees you up to be able to create from your head. You have to know how the skull works, you have to know how the bones work, you have to know how the muscles attach to those bones, how they inter-operate, which ones are on top of each other, which ones are underneath, which ones will show up on skin, which ones might not show up on skin, depending on whether the person is thin or obese what will show, etc. It's a lot to take in, but that's what will free you to be able to create. We're in this period where we're looking at movies, everybody's familiar with these movies with just these amazing CGI creations that look 100 percent real. There's so much talent that has been thrown out of making the unreal real that you have to step up to that 48
“Forest Lord”, Zbrush, Artrage, Photoshop. 49
level if you want to participate in that sort of thing. Anatomy is the key, it's the key that opens the door.
DAL: So investing your time in learning anatomy, in the end, can be a bit of a time saver when it gets to creating something new, would you say? You just have to go to what you've learned. I suppose you end up with almost a model in your head of how it should be working, and you can just refer to that instead of just constantly trying to copy from a single reference picture or painting or something.
“The serious pro guys, they'll use just a handful of brushes. They might sculpt for four or five hours with just three brushes … you don't necessarily have to incorporate all the brushes right off the bat.” JH: I see a lot of young people who haven't been to art school do this. They'll take a photograph of a famous person that they like and they'll do a very meticulous, painstaking pencil or ballpoint pen copy of that photo. They might generate a lot of “likes” on a social media platform. “Oh, that looks just like such-and-such.” But to my trained eye, I just go, “ugh”, because I know that they're copying the photograph. Even if I don't know it for a fact, I can tell because they don't have a sense of the anatomy underneath that's informing how they're doing their piece.
It's just ugly. And the distortion of the photograph... when you take a photograph you're dealing with perspective and distortion and focus, and that's not how we see in real life. When you try to literally copy that photograph, you can end up with something that's quite distorted and strange-looking. It's just the wrong way to go about it, I think, and I think it's very clear. The stuff that's at the top of the list, the thing there is that they all know their anatomy. They've done a lot of work from life
and of course they use reference. They use reference as much as they can, but they sort of have this map that they've built over time, and that map makes them extremely efficient. Their eye is informed. Their eye is educated. DAL: Do you have a couple of favourite artists that have used that, and who you've followed over the years, perhaps in sci-fi or fantasy? JH: Top of the list would be Alan Lee. I discovered his Faeries book when I was very young. He's amazing. Obviously he does a lot of life drawing, but obviously he knows his perspective and his anatomy extremely well. He doesn't even have to think about it. It's obviously effortless now. I've seen some direct watercolours for some Tolkien art — it just blows my mind how somebody could do that sort of extemporaneously. DAL: What are you working on at the moment? Or experimenting on at the moment with? JH: I started a ghoul a couple days ago. He's kind of a hulking green-skin, rotting flesh monster. Maybe make the flesh a little more convincing. I've got several aliens. Always trying new things. A lot of times I just open Zbrush in the morning when I've got some time and with no preconceived notions, just start sculpting. And that's so much fun. It's so liberating. You don't always make something amazing, but it's just so much fun. DAL: I think that says it all then. Well, thank you so much for your time today, and I enjoy Zbrush. It sounds like you're having a ball with it ever since you've discovered it, and I think that goes with many other artists that I've spoken to as well. They find it just liberating and it's just a great product that gives a lot of freedom to artists that especially have crossed over from the real world, from doing sculpting from there. So thanks again for your time. JH: Thanks so much Paul. It's been fun.
John Haverkamp is online at: http://magbhitu.deviantart.com/ 50
Picture: Mupwiggle. Zbrush.
We catch up with Simon Beer, an expert Poser user, to learn about creating depth in a picture, the worth of sticking with software for the long-term, and the value of taking a complete creative break to avoid burnout.
DAL: Simon, welcome back to Digital Art Live magazine, and to our “giant creatures”-themed issue. We last interviewed you in the old 3D Art Direct, way back in 2011. This time we’re focussing on your magnificent ‘large and giant creatures’ pictures, the theme of this issue. SB: Wow, 7 years ago… time is running fast! It’s great to be back, and it sounds like an interesting theme. DAL: We hope so. How have the last six years been, for you? SB: Very good, very busy doin’ different stuff.
DAL: Like many artists in 3D you first became involved via the Bryce software beck when it was popular, and then moved on to Poser. SB: Yes, I saw something that was made with Bryce and that was the start of my becoming involved in 3D art. It’s such an easy but very good application. DAL: And I know that Bryce is still available free in its Pro version, from DAZ, last time I looked. It’s nice that they’re continuing to offer it. It’s a masterclass in interface design, if nothing else! /Laughter/ 52
SIMON BEER SWITZERLAND POSER PRO | PHOTOSHOP |
Picture: “Worm Cave”
SB: And it’s a very good way to start to understand how 3D programs work in general. But, you know, you can’t pose people in Bryce. Then I read something about Poser and I tried it. And I really liked Poser. DAL: And you still using Poser Pro 2010 today, of have you moved up to the excellent new Poser 11? SB: Yes, I’m still with 2010. I haven’t felt the need to buy new software. I have always felt comfortable with Poser 10. I think it is not necessary to buy the newest version of a software package. After all, it’s the creativity that is important, not what you are working with.
“A good light is more important than all the rest of the scene. I like hard shadows, extreme bright and dark parts. That makes a picture interesting. I think it is important to learn to exaggerate a little bit.” DAL: I see. Though it’s an easy leap to make, as they haven’t changed the Poser user interface — thank goodness. And you get much better stability, along with all the new features. Let’s talk about your latest pictures. How much time do you tend to spend on making a picture, from start to finish, these days?
SB: That depends on the amount of items I include in a picture, the theme and so on. Of course I’m faster when I have a clear vision of what I will do. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Sometimes I ‘just try stuff’ and do not have a particular picture envisioned in my mind, this can be a real pain. With a clear vision, though, I need 2 – 7 hours. DAL: That’s fairly reasonable, considering the quality of the results. And does that include
your preliminary sketches, or do you go tend to go ‘straight to 3D’? SB: Sometimes, if I have no opportunity to start directly, I draw sketches to ‘keep the idea’! DAL: I see. You mentioned the number of items in a scene as a factor in the time spent. Who have been your favourite store vendors of items, over the years? SB: DM Products for poses and environment, RawArt for character textures and Luthbel, Xurge3d and AerySoul for clothing. That’s what I used most in my latest pix. DAL: Yes, Xurge3d is excellent for armour, both medieval and science fiction. People will need to go to his own store to get it though, I seem to remember, because he doesn’t sell it via the larger Poser and DAZ stores. SB: And never forget the late Joanna (‘Studioartvartanian’), a great character / texture artist. She gave me some of her textures to try out. It is really sad this beautiful soul passed away last year… Render in peace girl! DAL: I’m sorry to hear about that. It’s always sad when a cherished member of the community passes away. For your pictures, how much of the time is spent in Photoshop postwork? SB: The main Photoshop work is mostly done very fast, it’s more a matter of trying out different colours and all the little extras and effects on which I spend the most time. But that’s the real fun part, as sometimes it looks better in another colour than I had planned it. I like to surprise myself! DAL: What’s your favourite feature of Photoshop, and are you enjoying any of the new features introduced in the recent versions of Photoshop? SB: I still have Photoshop 7, can’t tell you a lot about the newer versions. DAL: Wow, that’s old. That’s what… early 2000s? About the same time as Windows XP was released? SB: Yes, I can’t even install PS7 properly on my PC, because it doesn’t know about terrabytes! So I have to run it from an external hard-drive… You know, I’m a bit old school. 54
Picture: “Graveyard Groover”.
DAL: Indeed. Well, it’s certainly been worth the effort of sticking with the old school approach, if it works for you. Your portfolio of work has some of the finest examples of Poser artwork I’ve seen, and I’ve seen quite a lot over the years. Your sense for lighting and composition is superb. Does your lighting skill come to you naturally, or did you train in it somehow — or do you perhaps work in theatre lighting or similar? SB: Thank you. Yes, I tried a lot with lighting. A
good light is more important than all the rest of the scene. I like hard shadows, extreme bright and dark parts. That makes a picture interesting. I think it is important to learn to exaggerate a little bit. Push it to the limit, but don’t overdo it. That’s the same as the approach in movies, they don’t accept just the natural sunlight. A little excess is what a fantasy-themed picture needs. DAL: Your work reflects your strong interest in the macabre and in metal music. I’m vaguely
aware that Switzerland has a ‘small but surprising’ reputation for such things. Not in large numbers, but I remember the Swiss have produced number of serious metal bands and collectors and heavy rock scholars and historians. And there’s H. R. Giger of course, and artists like Henry Fuseli. Do you see other aspects of Switzerland’s culture in your work? SB: Yes, it is weird… we have Samael and Celtic Frost, two of the most important and influential
Black Metal bands ever. And this in a small and picturesque country like Switzerland. And thank you for letting me know of Henry Fuseli, as I had never heard of that artist. I’ll really have to dig into his work. But there are a lot of people doing great things and who never get the attention they deserve, especially in their own country. I don’t think there are any particular aspects of Switzerland I can use… except on one picture I made which shows the Devil’s Bridge.
That’s an old Swiss story about people asking the Devil to build a bridge. The Devil agreed but only if he was allowed to take the first soul that crossed over the bridge… so they sent him a goat or sheep as the first pedestrian! After that he departed and they never heard that the Devil was coming back to Switzerland again, as he didn’t want to get fooled again! DAL: A good story. But in terms of the influence of the landscape I was thinking that there’s a strong use of ‘mist and silhouette’ in your work. I wonder if that’s something that comes from experiencing the Swiss mountains and those sudden upland mists that often happen in Switzerland?
Lots of violence and blood and well-proportioned women. I was always fascinated by fantasy movies like King Kong, Godzilla or the old Hammer studio horror movies when younger. The movies of Conan and Red Sonja, based on Robert E. Howard’s famous characters. DAL: Ah, yes. About 18 months I ‘re-read’ all the Robert E. Howard Conan stories in order, via the excellent Trantor unabridged audiobooks. He’s still as fresh and vivid as I remembered him. Such a powerful writer, when on top form and not just ‘gunning the typewriter’ for the money.
“It’s more about evoking the mystical, the hidden, when playing with lights and shadows. That helps to make the “actor” pop right out of the picture..”
SB: No, I’m not that much in the mountains. It’s more about evoking the mystical, the hidden, when playing with lights and shadows. That helps to make the “actor” pop right out of the picture. DAL: Yes, it certainly adds to the sense of depth in a picture. In terms of themes your artwork is heavy on ‘the macabre’, but also very strong in ‘sword and sorcery’. Given that you have such a strong and focussed portfolio, have you had interest in licensing some of the artwork for book covers in that genre? SB: Yes, but I never really tried it… is there still a paying market foir that? DAL: Many talented people seem to do well with commissions on the likes of DeviantArt. Frazetta-like commission might do well, at a guess. There’s Patreon, too, now. SB: A couple of pictures are in the Exposé book series from Ballistic Publishing. It was like an Oscar for me. I was very happy that they even took two pictures by me! But if someone wants one of my pictures as a cover, please just get in touch. The same with posters or whatever. DAL: Do you create small back-stories for your artwork? SB: No, not really. DAL: Ah, I see. What sort of stories do you enjoy hearing? SB: Well, I liked the old Bible movies when I was a kid, kind of sword and sorcery as well.
SB: I have to admit that I never read a book of Robert E. Howard, shame on me! DAL: Ah, well... I can recommend those new Trantor audiobooks I mentioned. They’re a great way in to the original Conan, for those who might be daunted by a big stack of printed paperbacks. Ideally they’d be listened to in chronological order. World chronology order, so you’d start with “The Tower of the Elephant” when Conan is a teenage burglar and then work through to the final Conan novel. SB: Thanks. We did have a very successful writer in Germany called Jason Dark. He wrote novels about a ghostbuster called John Sinclair. I think it is one of the most successful novels worldwide, they sold millions over decades. That was and still is a huge influence for me, especially the fantastic cover artwork really impressed me. Most of them were painted by Spanish artist Vicente B. Ballestar. He could tell you the story with one picture. Another huge influence! Ah... ‘J-Art’ (on Renderosity) made covers for John Sinclair as well, love that guy! DAL: Who are you other artistic influences?
Picture: “Mammoth Rider”.
SB: I like the art of the all-time greatest such as Frank Frazetta and Ken Kelly, but also some of the fantastic art of other people that you can find on CGSociety and other websites. Another influence is the great Joachim Luetke. There are also some newer fantastic artists like Neil Blevins, Travis Smith, Philip Straub. There are huge talents out there, and a lot of them make me feel like a bloody amateur… DAL: Is there much of a 3D art scene in Switzerland, these days? I know that you implied in your previous interview that there wasn’t, but I wonder if that has changed in recent years as digital art has come more to the fore? SB: I have really no idea, but sure there are some great talents in Switzerland. But I don’t know if you can call these a 3D art scene. We don’t have a big movie production scene here, or the developer studios who make videogames or whatever. I think the really talented people move in another country where the possibilities and opportunities are wide open. DAL: Ah, that seems a pity. Although many of my favorite games of recent years have been made from similar places in Europe. I’m thinking of theHunter: Call of the Wild from Sweden. The Witcher from Poland. The first Risen game, and Nehrim, from the former East Germany. But talking of studios, what’s your own home studio setup like, in 2018? SB: The same, as it was in 2011. My PC, Poser 2010, Photoshop 7 and a Wacom tablet. DAL: Ah. What are you working on at present? SB: Nothing that has to do with art, because I am being creative in other ways. DAL: Ah, I see. Yes, I had noticed that your gallery had stopped posting new work after May 2017. You’ve been taking a creative break? SB: Yes, I reactivated my interest in model railways. I built two small track layouts and I will build another two this year, but somehow that is a kind of art as well. Working with metal, wood, painting, soldering and so on… it’s something you can touch, feel and even smell. These are
the things that I missed a little bit when doing 3D art. DAL: Yes, our other interviewee in this issue — John Haverkamp — feels the same. SB: But who knows, there are other opportunities to create something for both needs. For instance, I probably will create a train shed for one layout with DAZ Hexagon. Using Hexagon to make an item for 3D printing, so then there is the possibility to sell that on the Shapeways store — which offers 3D printing of models and print/delivery services. There are a lot of possibilities today! By the way, there is really cool stuff you can find on Shapeways, for a lot of needs. DAL: Yes, I think such services will become increasingly important, especially now that it’s much easier to get a parcel of non- letterbox size delivered, by picking it up at a local food shop or similar. Although I must say that Shapeways prices seem rather high at present. Do you think you’ll be able to return to making new Poser artwork again? Or will you move into some other area of creativity? SB: Of course, if I have a good idea then I will go on and create some more pictures. Probably I tried to do too much in a short time, then as a result I felt a bit burned out, followed by lack of creativity… so it’s better to learn how to stop before you are starting to hate it! DAL: Yes, it’s important not to try to ‘force things’ if you feel there could a chance it will induce burnout. OK, well thanks for taking time out of your schedule for this interview. It’s much appreciated. SB: Thank you, it’s always a pleasure for me!
Simon Beer (aka ‘tiff666’) is online at: https://www.renderosity.com/ and http://motorcrue.cgsociety.org/ 60
Picture: “Bull Rider”.
Picture: “Woorgam Breakout”.
Picture: “Hunt” by Alejowar (Alejandro Arevalo), Columbia. 64
Weâ€™ve rounded up some of the finest art-monsters â€” and contained them in a terrific gallery of gigantic gnashers, striding stompers, barmy bots, and eldritch elementals!
Picture: “Secrets of the Dust” by Georgio Baroni, Italy.
Picture: “Gas Walker” by Neil Blevins, USA. 67
Pictures: “The Old Ones shall be…” by Arvalis (R.J. Palmer), USA. “Robot speedpainting” by Nachoyague (Nacho Yague), Canada.
Picture: “Hunter hunting” by Stephane Wootha Richard, France.
Picture: “D.O.G. days: Forest Crawler” by MRjb27 (Jakub Bazyluk), Poland.
Pictures: this page: “Forest skull” by Butteredbap; “Mother of Dragons” by Stephane Wootha Richard, France. Opposite: “The Quest for the Lost Time-Egg” by Mike Azevedo, Brazil; “When the stars are right…” by Samize.
Pictures: opposite: “Arriving home” by James Zapata, USA; “Molle” by FAIA-Fractals (Jonas), Sweden. This page: “Here be dragons” by Danarogon; “D.O.G. days 1” by MRjb27 (Jakub Bazyluk), Poland.
Videogame: Subnautica (final retail release now available on Steam) Steam now has the final retail version of the sci-fi / underwater survival videogame Subnautica (Unknown Worlds). We’ve played the first part of the game and it’s highly recommended. The player roams an amazingly believable ‘open world’ seascape full of curious sea creatures and sea-plants. The game has been in development and early access since 2014 and is now very polished, supporting the two leading VR headsets. The game was very lucky to have had a superb sound designer and soundtrack album guy, Simon Chylinski — Chylinski’s outstanding soundtrack album is available and is seen opposite. http://store.steampowered.com/
Our pick of the most inspirational art, science and sci-fi. Make your imagination LIVE! 78
“Subnautica achieves a rare feat for survival games by weaving together the usual exploration and base building with an absorbing sci-fi story. ... Subnautica ’s hands-off approach to storytelling is brilliant.”
PC Gamer magazine, Feb 2018.
Picture: Original concept for the Subnautica game, by concept illustrator Jengineer of Finland. 79
Audiobook: Dr. Moreau
Text game: Anchorhead
The acclaimed Big Finish full-cast drama adapatations of H.G. Wells continue with The Island of Dr. Moreau. Having established his reputation with his breakthrough novel The Time Machine (1895), Wells felt free to unleash his full talent for horror in The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896). On a remote island a driven scientist creates human-like hybrid beings, seeking to bring the beasts of the earth to a higher level of intelligence. The novel is not simply a ‘shocker’, it also explores the philosophical ramifications of the new medical technologies available to the late Victorians, as well as their fears of dysgenics and their hope for new types of scientific interventions that would improve the prospects of all humanity. Note that Dr. Moreau is an early youthful novel, and like The Time Machine it lacks the ponderous preaching which characterised many of Wells’s later novels.
There are hardly any ‘inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’ productions that are worth your time. But one of the most highly regarded has always been Anchorhead, a text-based adventure game. The original game is free to play online, but there's now a new illustrated edition, released at the end of January 2018 by Michael Gentry. The player travels to the mist-haunted coastal town of Anchorhead, New England, and there plunges into a Lovecraftian/Cthulhu horror scenario familiar to all acolytes of Lovecraft’s mythos. Search through musty archives and tomes of esoteric lore; dodge nefariously fishy townsfolk; combat a generation-spanning evil conspiracy that threatens your family and the entire cosmos. To mark the twentieth anniversary of its initial publication the game has been illustrated, and every aspect of the game has been rebuilt and redesigned from the ground up, with new code, new interactivity, and additional scenes and background.
Artbook: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Non-fiction: Guillermo del Toro
The $220 Edgar Rice Burroughs 100 Year Art Chronology comes in four volumes and a deluxe slipcase. Inside is a completist history of the illustrations of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs in the United States, plus the best illustrations from the U.K. Author Michael Tierney has tracked down a wealth of art that has not been seen since release, or which was buried in the vaults of publishers. Along the way Tierney discovered many “lost and unknown books and comics”. Tierney has not restricted himself only to original artwork, which means that the full scope of the visual appeal of Edgar Rice Burroughs can be explored. In close to 1,200 pages of content, the four books explore the visual representation of Tarzan, John Carter of Mars and the world of Barsoom, Pellucidar, Venus, The Land That Time Forgot, and more — all from some of the finest fantasy artists of the age.
If you couldn't attend the recent Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum, then this book-of -the-exhibition is the next best thing. Insight Editions has assembled a survey of del Toro's huge collection of beloved monsters, and also offers a deep insight into the man himself. The book also features an extensive in-depth interview with del Toro. Of his huge monster collection del Toro says: “Monsters are, to this day, true family to me. They are not effigies collected for profit or due to a completest mania. In Bleak House [his museum-house], I have built a temple to them, and within them I have built devotional shrines. I serve them — a power greater than myself — with abandon and unwavering dedication and love.”
Also note the companion volume from del Toro, titled Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions, and the new artbook Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of 81
Water: Creating a Fairy Tale.
2001 — with live orchestra
Ocean Liners — speed and style
28th April 2018, London.
Until 17th June 2018, London.
The Kubrick and Clarke classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is to have a live soundtrack performance in London on 28th April 2018. The combined forces of the London Philharmonia Orchestra and the Philharmonia Voices (the Philharmonia’s choir) will provide the soundtrack at a onenight screening at the Royal Festival Hall. The show is presented with assistance from Warner Brothers and the British Film Institute (BFI).
Before giant spaceships, our cultural imagination was inspired by the similarly gigantic ocean liners. This new exhibition in London explores the golden age of ocean travel, with focus on the design stories of the world's greatest ocean liners, including the Titanic, Normandie, the Queen Mary and the Canberra. In action, these self-contained floating palaces were some of the great achievements of the age. The shows features the abundant graphic art of the age of great liners, from posters to paintings, adding decorative mouldings, finely engineered engines, sumptious sets of luggage, original photography and vintage costumes and uniforms. As such the exhibition should interest anyone with an eye for steampunk and dieselpunk style. Despite the V&A’s shift in approach in the last year, under its controversial new Director, a review in The Telegraph newspaper reassures potential visitors that this particular V&A exhibition is… “full of fascinating moments, and animated throughout by a breezy, buoyant spirit”.
Pictures, from left, across double-page spread: Press still from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Detail from an Empress of Britain colour lithograph poster (1920) advertising cruises to Canada. Detail of a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade float design, by Bror Wikstrom. Detail of the Jewish spaceship in Mel Brooks’s space comedy Spaceballs (1987). 82
Bringing Fantasy to the Carnival
Jews in Space
Until 1st April 2018, New Orleans.
Until May 2018, New York City.
The Swedish designer Bror Anders Wikstrom (1854–1909), made a name for himself in New Orleans by decking out the emerging Mardi Gras carnival with fantasy costumes and charmingly monstrous parade floats. The New Orleans Museum of Art's major exhibition Bringing Fantasy to Carnival shows watercolor sketches for the elaborate floats and costumes that allowed otherworldly stories to come to life on the streets of New Orleans. The exhibition shows Wikstrom’s designs as early sketches, as final design plates, and as illustrated in parade bulletins. Photographs show how these creations looked rolling through the streets. The show draws on university archives and private collections, to show the roots of this community carnival through Wikstrom’s endless imagination for costumed characters within evocative scenes. Visitors will see everything from giant seamonster parade floats, to ‘Rex regalia’ — extravagant neoclassical crowns and scepters — to flower-adorned fairies that brought a whimsical eroticism to Mardi Gras day.
Yivo, the Yiddish cultural institute in New York, has a medium-sized new exhibition surveying the history of “Jews in Space”. The exhibition starts with the long-standing Hebrew and Yiddish fascination with astronomy, the stars and the associated complex mathematics. Later the Jewish culture of Eastern Europe cultivated dynamic and future-oriented writers such as the early science fiction author Rabbi Henry Iliowizi (1850-1911), among many others. This spirit later fed strongly into early 20th century American popular culture and especially into the vibrant early sciencefiction pulp scene in New York City — led by groundbreaking magazine editors such as Hugo Gernsback and major writers such as Issac Asimov. Popular science-fiction media was later turbo-charged in the 1960s and 70s by major figures such as Carl Sagan, and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, at the same time as Jewish scientific talent poured into the space programmes that took humanity to the Moon and sent probes toward the stars.
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 weâ€™ll visit! email@example.com 84
Back cover: â€œMosesâ€?, for the Evolo 2013 competition, by Vuk Djordjevic, Darko Darmar Markovic, Milos Vlastic and Milos Jovanovic. Moses would be made up of self-sustaining autonomous aqua-farming city units. Each city can swing its tower into the wind, and tap ocean currents, to generate power.
Published on Mar 9, 2018
Published on Mar 9, 2018
In depth interviews with digital artists in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. This month's theme : "Giant Monsters". Photoshop, ZBrush, Painte...