SCIENCE FICTION ARTIST IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS
THE FUTURE OCEANS ISSUE
SAMUEL DE CRUZ
TWENTY-EIGHT APRIL 2018
VUE ● TERRAGEN ● POSER ● DAZ STUDIO ● REAL-TIME 3D ● 2D DIGITAL PAINTING ● 2D/3D COMBINATIONS
INTO THE DISTANCE By Chris Hecker (Tigaer) Learn how to Professionally Compose and Postwork 3D Scenes with Chris Hecker (Tigaer) FREE two set webinar
In this webinar set we are giving away a full version of VUE xStream (excludes maintenance) If you attend both live sessions and be the first to answer a question on the webinar content revealed at the end of session 2, then you’ll receive the prize!
Curious on how to create a quick yet breathtaking and detailed scene for VUE? Want to learn a new heightfield tool? Want the chance to get expert advice for outstanding composition?
Session 1 SATURDAY APRIL 21st 20:00 BST (London)/12:00 PDT (Los Angeles)/15:00 EDT (New York)
SUNDAY APRIL 22nd 20:00 BST (London)/12:00 PDT (Los Angeles)/15:00 EDT (New York)
Tools used: JSplacement, Vue, DAZ Studio, Photoshop
JSplacement : explore the tool and create heightfields – fast! VUE: Work with heightfields, models, materials, ecosystems, render for post-work. DAZ: Efficiently export assets for importing into VUE.
Photoshop: Explore quick post-work options and exploit hidden detail in your render
Presented by Chris Hecker 3
GRAPHIC NOVELS Can’t make the live webinar? Register and we’ll send you the HD quality recording SATURDAY APRIL 28TH 20:00 BST (London)/12:00 PDT (Los Angeles)/15:00 EDT (New York) If you’re looking for some advanced techniques in creating graphic novel/comic book artwork with Poser and 2D art tools, then don’t miss this special opportunity to learn from professional comic book artist Tasos Anastasiades. Curious about creating a comic? Join us on a quest to discover what makes comic artwork and visual narratives really work and see artwork created in a live setting. Speed up your understanding with opportunities to pose questions through the whole session, getting results and better mastery over your workflow. This session will be using Poser Pro 11 and Photoshop. Deep composition – success points for attractive artwork Live inking demonstration – key techniques to make your artwork pop! Five expert tips for better speech bubble placement with your visuals Three essential lighting techniques for atmospheric storytelling. The Comic Book Filter in Poser – don’t miss these top usage tips! Five essential methods in Photoshop for comic postwork The Traveller comic : deconstructing a page – going from script to final outcome. Bring along your questions on comic book and graphic novel artwork.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE SHARE YOUR CREATIVE STORY
We are actively looking for artists or content creators who 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 “Three Degrees of Freedom” (2018) by Artur Rosa. Vue and Photoshop. The picture references the myth of the ancient star-deity Venus (Aphrodite, born of sea-foam) and the aspect of Venus that is associated with the sea and fertility. She holds a Halcyon bird, closely associated with Venus.
THE FUTURE OCEANS ISSUE
CONTENTS OUR LIVE WEBINARS! ―― 02
EDITORIAL ―― 09
MEETUP ―― 10
BACK ISSUES INDEX ―― 52
SAMUEL DE CRUZ
We talk with Artur about his amazing recent work with Vue, and his love of using ocean and coastal themes in his artwork.
Matt is one of the world’s leading videogame creatives, the artist behind the best-selling titles Journey and Abzu.
Samuel started making Quake mods, then learned 3DS Max. He now makes all the elements in his epic story of a robot girl.
VUE | PHOTOSHOP
3D GAME DEVELOPER
3DS MAX | PAINTSHOP
“Lighting, and realism, are just tools in my toolbox. I twist and bend them to suit my needs — the pursuit of beauty. I search for that narrow place where real, unreal and surreal briefly meet.”
“A giant manta ray would be pushing through the kelp — pushing through 350,000 leaves in the scene, and this scene also has a ton of fish! But we can do that, using the ‘static mesh instancing’ methods we invented.”
“For me, robotics will be more than a tool, it can become alive in the future. This is why I do science fiction, because studying Computer Science gave me this idea that we will need an emotional robot.”
EVOLO ―― 30
CONTESTS ―― 56
IMAGINARIUM ―― 98
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LIVE Join our live webinar-based workshops for digital artists. digitalartlive.com Credits for pictures, from top left: Detail from “Moses”, an oceanic submission for the Evolo competition by Darko Markovic and team; detail from “New Sounds of Europa” by Redkidone; “Seaweed farm”, by Willem Brandenburg.
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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 ‘Future Oceans’ issue! Curious alien beings, extreme environments, exploration and adventure — the ocean offers all these, and much closer to us than in outer space. For the price of a modest cruise and scuba diving holiday you, dear reader, can actually go there! Yet, culturally, the oceans remain a place of vague fear for most people — when they bother to think of the oceans at all. Most people prefer to imagine Godzilla-like monsters rising from radioactive waters, the discovery of un-nameable things that lurk down in the bubbling abyss, or to see stories of giant ships feebly battling terrifying storms or encountering hull-splitting icebergs. The Ancients coped with such primal fears by visualising sea-gods (Poseidon) and river-deities (Nodens), and then appeased these deities with the occasional sacrificial horse. Sadly our modern cultural productions on the oceans have proved to be been far less iconic than the old gods were. It’s difficult to recall many science-fiction TV series or movies that seem worthy of the ocean and its future possibilities. James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) was certainly watchable. Cocoon (1985) was fun. But such films tend to present the ocean as just a hiding place for ancient aliens — a fairly predictable idea which has been mined by everyone from H. P. Lovecraft (“The Call of Cthulhu”) through the series Surface, to del Toro’s Pacific Rim. On the surface of the ocean, sci-fi movies seem to fare even worse. Waterworld (1995) is often held up as one of the classic examples of a dire sci-fi failure (although it turns out to be surprisingly watchable in its radically re-cut ‘Ulysses’ unofficial fan-edit). But generally any science-fiction ocean story can almost be guaranteed to be a ‘voyage to the bottom of the ratings’ on the screen, just as pirate themes are in videogames. Few major screen productions have tried to explore the human colonisation aspect of the oceans.
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Of these, the SeaQuest DSV TV series (1993-1996) should take the most credit for trying to be positive, aiming to be a 21st century underwater Star Trek (at least in seasons one and three). But SeaQuest was mediocre, even when at its best. In this issue we sidestep the predictable ‘ocean horrors’ angle, so beloved of B-movie makers, and take more of a SeaQuest DSV approach — it’s increasingly obvious that humanity has an ocean future, so what might it look like? A recent article by Jyotika Virmani, for the Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, usefully sums up the changes in approach that creatives and the media will need to make. “Space stories are generally positive”, Virmani observes, and ocean stories need to become similarly positive. Future ocean depictions will need to “trigger the imagination” in the same way space travel does, perhaps with the same sort of “specific risk to the mission” structure that space stories use to build drama. This would avoid presenting the entire ocean and everything in it as being “the danger” to the characters. Future ocean stories, says Virmani, need to borrow from space exploration the stance of “exceptionalism, patriotism, exploration, and the collective human achievement” — rather than using the oceans as an excuse to pummel us with gloomy visions of warring militaries, or depicting an Ahab-like doomed hero facing the ‘existential’ watery deeps. Ocean research should be boldly marketed as being fascinating and of interest to the public. The vision of the ocean should be, says Virmani, much like that of outer space — forward-looking and open, featuring ‘cool’ new tech and travel craft. Good advice for artists and designers, I’d suggest.
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TOLKIEN Use new Charpentier fon
Picture: with thanks to Tejvan Pettinger.
MEET THE TEAM, AND YOUR FELLOW ARTISTS! We have a splendid opportunity to meet the Digital Art Live team, our magazine readers and digital artists, at the New Bodleian (Weston) Library of the University of Oxford.
Starting in June, this venue will host the major free exhibition: Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth. The world's foremost Tolkien archive is being matched with rare items and art from other collections, to present a ‘once in a generation’ show of original Tolkien items in the city where Tolkien wrote The Hobbit andThe Lord of the Rings. A wealth of Tolkien’s own artwork and original designs will be on show. OUR SCHEDULE 11.30am meet outside the venue. We will be carrying seven spare printed tickets for 1pm entry — but you should not rely on these, and you should first try to book your own personal 1pm or 1.30pm tickets. 11.50pm we go for a quick light lunch and chat in one of the nearby cafés, or inside the venue if they have a suitable café (purchase your own snack and drinks). 12.50pm we assemble at the exhibition entrance ready to start our 1pm tour of the Tolkien exhibition. We anticipate that a full appreciation of this large exhibition may take about an hour or slightly more. 2.30pm informal break. 3pm informal chats continue. We will try to book a 3.30pm group tour of Exeter College, Tolkien's ancient Oxford college (very nearby, in Turl Street). 5.30pm. Depart for the train station (about a half mile walk from the venues).
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We visit Portugal, to talk with a master of the Vue software, Artur Rosa. Artur talks with Digital Art Live about his love of the ocean, his philosophy of beauty, and the techniques he uses to make his pictures.
Picture: â€œThe Sentinelsâ€? 12
ARTUR ROSA PORTUGAL VUE | PHOTOSHOP | POSER | ZBRUSH
DAL: Artur, welcome back to Digital Art Live magazine. We last interviewed you in our special #50 issue of the old 3D Art Direct magazine. That was back in early 2015, when we mainly focussed on your architectural series “WhiteOrange World” and your forest pictures. In this ‘Future Oceans’ themed issue of Digital Art Live we’d like to focus on some of your many ocean colony pictures and your recent sea view and sea -cave pictures. Which are superb, by the way! Some of the very best Vue work I’ve seen. Your recent work of the last six months is outstanding, even more so that the work you made in the early and mid 2010s. You must be very pleased at the level of achievement that you can now reach by using Vue and Photoshop? AR: Thank you for having me again, and thank you for the compliment and feedback. I’m humbled and honoured that my work may be of interest for your readers. To be honest, I’m never quite sure if my work is getting better or worse. Other people often say that their favourite image is their latest, but that doesn’t apply to me at all. Sometimes I look in wonder at some of my older images and doubt “would I still be able to do that now?” When I look at a newly finished image, I tend to think too much of the work behind it and too little of the image itself. Some timehas to pass before one can really appreciate an image from a neutral standpoint.
With time, the memory of the “labour” fades and only the enchantment remains. You mentioned Photoshop, but my images are 99.99% Vue and 0.01% Photoshop. I still use a very old version of Photoshop, which is enough for me. I basically use it to sign my name, sometimes correct small errors, tiny adjustments in colour and add a bit of glow in some highlights. I spend perhaps 10 to 15 minutes in Photoshop per image, sometimes less. I see this time more as a chore, not as a part of the creation process. The creation happens mostly in the shower — where most of my images are first born in my mind — and the rest in Vue. Where experiment and happy accidents may show me a different direction. DAL: I see. Have you changed your workflow or tools at all, to be able to reach that level? In 2015 you were using Vue 2015 and GeoControl 2 (now World Creator) — is that still the case? AR: I recently added WorldMachine (WM) to my toolbox. Although WM is fantastic, I actually still frequently use a very old version of GeoControl 2. For example, to create dunes or simulate rivers — it’s easy to manually create rivers in WM, but you can’t simulate them by planting water springs on some mountain top and just let the water flow and naturally carve the terrain, like GC2 can. I also use xFrog 3.5 for plants – it’s simple, reliable and fast. And, of course, now I use Vue Infinite 2016. DAL: Yes, Vue 2016 was quite a improvement — faster rendering and stability is always welcome — and we had had five good patches on top, to get to Vue 2016 R5 — which offers faster loading of saved scenes. It was great to see such a fine tool get a solid overhaul like that. And, of course, Vue 2016 still interfaces perfectly with Poser 11 — readers can find in-depth reviews of both in the free Digital Art Live back-issues. Let’s just hope that the recent troubles with the E-on website are fixed soon. Luckily I only lost a couple of license-locked Cornucopia models and ecosystems. How did those events affect you? AR: I don’t even know if I lost anything, because I don’t use content from Cornucopia nowadays. All the ecosystems I use are made by myself and the few Vue native plants I use are the stock
ones, which ship with every Vue version. I mainly use those as fillers). The “hero” plants in my pictures are usually xFrog or some models from Evermotion. Or ivy from the old IvyGenerator. By the way, you mentioned Poser 11, but in fact I still use a rather old version of Poser, not the new one. The Poser version I use is from the time when it belonged to eFrontier. DAL: Wow, yes that is old. Pre- Smith Micro. AR: I just realised this is the fifth time I mentioned I use old versions of software… Photoshop, GC2, xFrog, Poser, IvyGenerator. In fact, with the exception of Vue, all of the other software I use is very old — all of the versions I have are 10 or 15 years old. They are just accessories to my workflow and they keep on working just fine, so I don’t replace them. DAL: Ok, let’s turn to this issue’s ‘Future Oceans’ theme. You obviously have a strong interest in the ocean, sea-caves, underwater structures and ocean-world colonies. Once can see the theme coming through strongly in your early 2007 picture “The Colony” for instance. Could you outline how these various ocean themes emerged for you, how it progressed and changed over time, and what keeps you interested in it? AR: The ocean evokes in me a sense of wonder, beauty, mystery, power... ‘What secrets does it hide? How can it be so immense and powerful?’ I often take strolls by the ocean and frequently, and somewhat surprisingly, I find myself smiling while I’m doing it, for no apparent reason. It makes me feel good, it calms me, takes my mind away from mundane things. It makes everything else look small and insignificant by comparison. It restores mundane problems to its proper scale. I guess this is why I include so many oceans in my images, it somehow brings back these feelings. After all, making images is just a hobby to take my mind away from mundane things, so it fits together perfectly. DAL: Thanks for that. Your ocean structures sometimes offer accompanying texts, explaining what the structures are and how they would work. For instance, the picture “The Colony of Sigma Draconis” you talked about how these idyllic colony islands would be engaged in 14
collecting a “vast amount of mineral resources in the bottom of the ocean”, and would be mining colonies as well as being floating towns. What sort of back-stories have you been writing recently for your work, or what sort of nonfiction has been inspiring your art lately?
“I pursue beauty, not realism. The pursuit of realism is a finite road, the pursuit of beauty is an infinite freeway. When you pursue realism, once you’ve reached it, that’s it, there’s nothing beyond — end of the road.” AR: Apart from occasional scientific articles to remain updated with the latest discoveries in physics and cosmology, I don’t read non-fiction. For non-fiction I have the real world, that’s nonfiction enough for me. I do read lots of sciencefiction, though, which provides me an escape from the real world. I can’t explain this properly, but most of the times, I don’t verbalize the back-stories of my images. A back-story pops up in my head in a few seconds, but without words behind it. It’s just a concept or a sequence of concepts, but with no words or images, just pure thoughts. Sorry, I’m not that good in words to be able to verbalize a process that happens without words… DAL: That’s ok. I can understand what you mean there. I’m writing a book on Tolkien, and he talks about much the same process.
AR: In some of my recent images, I did try to verbalize a very small part of that back-story. But it’s really a very small part and I simplify it when I write it. I included them in the description of those images, in DeviantArt. In other cases, that verbalisation takes the form of a poem, which is much more fitting. Some people have called some of my images “visual poetry”. Apart from being a wonderful compliment, it’s also interesting because I see a poem as something between prose and image. A 15
common saying is that an image is worth a thousand words. I think a poem is equally powerful. In just a few verses, you can leave in the minds of the reader the seeds for a whole world of concepts, very much like an image can. DAL: “Visual poetry” is a fine description. Now, you mentioned a moment ago that you read a lot of science fiction. Have you encountered any fictional stories of the ‘future ocean’ that you’ve been especially impressed by? AR: Not specifically about ‘future oceans’ but I did recently read a book by Nathan Van Coops, titled Faster than Falling, which takes place mostly in the air. The native alien races to that world behave in the air very much like humans behave in an ocean — they live there, they float, they travel, they take their food from there. Their cities are like islands, but in the air instead of water. It may sound strange when it’s described in this simplistic way but the author did a wonderful job in making it very believable. That did impress me and inspire me a lot. DAL: Sounds great. Do you have a ‘future timeline’ in mind, along which your pictures sit? Do you, for instance, think to yourself: “Ah now, that picture is in the year 3799 on my timeline”? AR: No, I don’t often verbalize my stories, much less put a number on them. I just let my mind flow, unmoored from time and space. But I do have a concept of “before” and “after”. DAL: I see. To go back to your tools for a moment. You model your original architecture in SketchUp. And then bounce the shapes back and forth between Vue and SketchUp. Could you tell us more about the workflow on that? Is there a plugin that helps with doing that?
AR: Again, I use a really old version of SketchUp, still from the times it belonged to Google. There’s no plugin for transfer. SketchUp exports its shapes in OBJ format, I then import the OBJ directly into Vue, or into Zbrush, if it needs refinements). When I refresh the OBJ file from SketchUp or Zbrush, Vue ‘senses’ that an imported object has a new version and imports it again, to the exact same place I had it placed before. It’s a great feature. So, I go back and forth like this. It’s a really simple process.
I like simple processes. They’re reliable and fast. DAL: Fascinating. And of course SketchUp also has something to offer to those who don’t want to model, as the free 3D Warehouse website element of it has a vast amount of royalty-free
Picture: “Colony of Virgo”.
kit-bash content that can be broken apart and recombined. Not as quick as buying “off the shelf” from DAZ or Renderosity or HiveWire etc, but a more creative and unique way of getting a sci-fi model without actually modelling at the level of making one’s own shapes. Have you
considered an “Artur Primitives Pack” containing your cool modular 3D elements and sci-fi shapes, that people could then combine into their own new models? AR: It’s a fact that the ‘3D Warehouse’ is huge
and I downloaded several things from there, but I think I never used anything. Maybe parts of one or two objects, I’m not sure. I may get inspiration from it, but in the end I make my own thing. It’s much more rewarding.
Actually, yes, I’ve often thought of putting some of my assets for sale — objects, materials, even whole scenes. But then I think – would I like to see them used in other people’s work? If someone included them in images containing violence, religion or some reference to certain beliefs (astrology and the like), the answer would be a clear ‘no’. I would never want my things associated with these horrible concepts that diminish human-kind. The money is not worth it. DAL: Yes, I can see that might be a danger. You mentioned that Zbrush also feature in your workflow, I think? With Poser for the figures?
AR: Yes, like I said, I use a really old version of Poser, in a very basic manner, just for quickly creating humans or animals. I spend very little time there. I may refine their clothes a bit in Zbrush. Again, I never updated it, even though the updates are free, I still use a very old version because the old one works just fine for me. I also use MarvelousDesigner (MD), for cloth simulation. Again, it’s a very old version, I think version 2. In fact, most of the times, these three tools are part of a workflow — I pose the human in Poser, export it to MD as an ‘avatar’, dress them up there, do a cloth simulation, export it from MD into Zbrush, refine the object there and finally import it into Poser again. This can be iterated several times. In the end, I export the whole set into Vue. I’ve been doing this exact same flow for years, with the exact same tools and process. Again: simple, fast and reliable. DAL: Thanks. That all sounds very robust. And in terms of then making the scene you’re a strong believer in non-realistic lighting. To those considering making an ocean picture, that may seem counter-intuitive. “Surely”, they might think, “one needs hyper-realistic lighting for an ocean scene?” What are the reasons why you prefer non-realistic lighting? AR: I pursue beauty, not realism. The pursuit of realism is a finite road, the pursuit of beauty is an infinite freeway. When you pursue realism, once you’ve reached it, that’s it, there’s nothing beyond. You’ve reached the end of the road. You can play a bit in the end of the road, experiment
somewhat, but you can’t go much further. For me, that’s boring. If you want realism, you can just take a walk on the beach and take a photo.
The pursuit of beauty is a never-ending creative freeway – there’s always something more beautiful you can create and the path is much wider. You will never reach the absolute beauty, because it just doesn’t exist. Anyway, one must also realise that reality is often stranger than fiction. Imagine you live in a small English rural town in the 14th century and you’ve never seen or heard about Aurora Borealis, the “Northern Lights”. Imagine you are shown a realistic painting of an Aurora Borealis made by a traveller from the far North. You’d say that’s a figment of his imagination, that it can’t possibly exist in reality… DAL: Yes, that’s true. Though it used to be, before the modern period, that tribal peoples used to judge truth by character. They had little concept of evidence as an independent ‘thing’. You’d go to a village as a stranger and say: “There are lights in the sky far to the north of here”, and they’re reply: “Maybe... but you’re a stranger so we can’t believe you, even with that picture”. After a few years of getting to know you, they’d go: “Now we know for sure that you’re a truthful man, so we believe you — even though we doubt the evidence about this rather surprising claim.” I guess science fiction ‘pictures from the future’ have similar hurdles to get over. /Laughter/ AR: Reality often surprises us. So, when we talk about “non-realistic” lighting, one must be very careful about the real meaning of “non-realistic”. Lighting, and realism, are just tools in my toolbox. As with any other tool, I twist and bend them to suit my needs — the pursuit of beauty. I don’t bend them too much, just enough, because a healthy dose of realism is necessary to help ‘sell’ an image to the viewer, to make it believable. I usually say that I search for that narrow place where real, unreal and surreal briefly meet. DAL: It certainly works. And it combines well with the fact that you’re a superb colourist in your pictures, as well. What inspires you in terms of colour? 18
Pictures: “The colony of Sigma Draconis”; and “Archipelago 27”. Overleaf: “Three Degrees of Freedom”.
In our last interview you mentioned the white and orange traditional style of rural buildings in Portugal. Have you since found other colour schemes that may inspire your work in the future?
AR: Interesting you should mention that. My approach to colours has somewhat changed in the last year or so. I’ve studied colour theories, colour harmony and concepts like ‘split complementary’, ‘triadic’, ‘tetradic’, etc.
depending on what I’m after. Now I choose colours consciously for the image theme, whereas before I just went along with pure instinct. I still have a lot to learn though and instinct still plays the major part.
DAL: Could you step through the “making of” process for a recent masterpiece “Three Degrees of Freedom” [seen below, Ed.], please?
AR: It may not seem so, but such an image in a 3D environment is fairly complex to produce.
So, I usually ‘cut the elephant into slices’. I slice it in several sub-projects and then tie them together with the composition. This particular image has perhaps eleven or twelve sub-projects in it. Each sub-project requires a specific workflow of its own, specific tools, etc. For example, this image has a sub-project for the water, another for the cave, another for the vegetation, the woman, the bird, the flocks of birds, the pathway, the rocks in the distance, the water, the planet, the atmosphere. Each of these elements is made separately. And some of these even have sub-sub-projects! For example, the water has three distinct subprojects: the water in the cave, the one immediately outside it, and the one in the distance. Each one is made separately, with different methods. The water in the cave was manually modelled, the one outside was a mix of procedural noise and modelling, the one in the distance was just procedural. The woman has the pose, the skin, the hair and the clothes. The elevated pathway has four distinct parts: the curvature itself, the main element, the reddish border, and the supporting elements. Again, all made separately. Finally, all of it is part of a composition, a concept, that ties it all together. Nothing is random in the composition. For example, the curvature of the pathway is designed to go through all of the main elements of the image, so that when the eye follows it, it will go through all the image. It’s no accident that the pathway starts in the cave, occupies on the left an otherwise empty quadrant of the image, passing very near the left flock of birds, goes through the woman, the planet, and it’s positioned in a precise way to give a good feeling how it’s positioned relative to the rocky elements — notice that one supporting element is between the two rocky structures, the second one is after the distant one (this is to provide a sense of scale and relative position of everything). The pose of the woman is precisely rotated in a way that the light hitting her back will bring out the musculature in the best possible way. I tried many variations. Even the legs are positioned in
a way such that both legs are illuminated, even though the light comes from the right — which could cast a shadow on the left leg, if I wasn’t careful about it. Even the camera angle is positioned so that, combined with her pose and skirt, the front side of her skirt is visible. That, again, is not an accident. The light hitting the left cave wall is there to so as to have some light bouncing off of it and to provide a secondary illumination to the left arm and leg of the woman, and to the left side of the rocks in the centre, all of which would otherwise be in shade — which wouldn’t be very interesting. The rocky structures in the distance have a slight curvature, so that it transitions from shade to light as you go right to left, the exact opposite to the light hitting the woman. Contrasts are important. The light hitting the cave wall on the top right corner is made in a way that enhances the rim of each “wrinkle” in the rock, to contrast with the rock cavities. Again, contrasts. The ivy on the walls is not growing so heavily that it hides the rock details, and is not sparse enough to become uninteresting. I tried many variations, until I found one that highlights the rocks, making them interesting, but doesn’t hide them. DAL: Thanks, that’s a wonderfully detailed explaination. AR: I think deeply about all these things. When I’m making an image, I spend much more time thinking than doing. If you were to sit by my side while I was doing this image, you’d die of boredom! Because most of the time, you’d just see me watching and thinking… DAL: Which neatly brings me to where you live. You’re in coastal Portugal, where the strong sunlight is often very wonderful and inspiring. A great place to just sit and ponder. In contrast to here, in the British Isles — where we have to make do with being inspired by ever-changing weather effects which usually preclude sunlight. How are things there in Portugal, these days? I get the hazy impression that the country had an especially bad time in the Great Recession and 22
that compounded by some bad choices about how to deal with it. But we don’t hear much from Portugal these days. Has the nation’s digital art and animation scene survived and come through those bad times?
still the case, and could you describe the sorts of terrains and views that you enjoy from your studio window?
AR: The country is now recuperating very well from the recession. The economy is now growing at a good pace, our deficit is decreasing, exports are on a steady rise, tourism is booming like never before. In fact, millions of your fellow countrymen come here every year, although the currency exchange-rate isn’t helping. Our country was recently awarded the third most peaceful country in the world — after Iceland and New Zealand. The World Travel Awards recently recognized Portugal as the best touristic destination in the world. I’m very optimistic about the country now.
AR: Yes, I live in a small town. My house is around a half mile from the seashore, just a five minute walk. It’s a really nice beach too, very wide, with clean thin white sand, some nice dunes to decorate the landscape, a lighthouse in the distance, some seagulls flying above the waves... During the Summer, it’s full of tourists. But in the rest of the year, I have it all for me. I can walk for an hour and see absolutely no one. Just perfect. DAL: Wow, sounds wonderful. And sun, too!
AR: Yes, Portugal is the country in Europe with the biggest number of sunshine hours, albeit according to Wikipedia. DAL: Ah yes, don’t we all love Wikipedia. So trustworthy... not. /Laughter/
DAL: Ah, that’s very good news. Brilliant.
AR: Still, we do enjoy lots of sun, even when the summer’s gone.
“Somehow, it seems that buried deep inside an image, there’s another one waiting to come out, I just have to find it. Many of my images are born like this — I look at an image I made and “bang!”, I see another one crying to come out.”
DAL: That sounds great. Given the quality of your body of work at 2018, and its connection with the local landscape and seascape, have you had any interest from local galleries and museums? For big 24” prints, for instance? If I were your local museum curator, I would definitely be looking at your latest work and immediately ordering a set of 24 fine-art prints for the museum archives.
AR: Though I’m not sure about the digital art and animation scene here. It was never something that was very strong here. More a bit of a niche, I’d say. There are some strong names — like Andreas Rocha — but I think they work mostly for projects abroad. I don’t think there’s a community of digital artists here per se. At least, I never met another digital artist here, to be honest. Only on DeviantArt I met some, but never physically. DAL: I see. And I think you’re based outside the cities, am I right? You’re very near water, near the sea, in where you live and work? I read in the book Vue 7: from the ground up (Focal, 2009) that “he lives near the sea”. But is that 23
AR: Unfortunately, digital art is usually frowned upon here, by normal art galleries. It’s a prejudice that is hard to vanquish. That, together with sci-fi themes — also not terribly popular here — makes it a bad combination. Although, to be honest, I have never contacted any local art galleries and so they probably don’t even know I exist. But your question made me think maybe I should do something about it, thanks for that. DAL: My pleasure. Which artists and/or writers are inspiring you, these days? AR: Interestingly, lately I’ve been going back more and more to classics like Roger Dean, Rodney Matthews and Michael Whelan, the ones whose work filled my teenage bedroom walls.
Other than that, I don’t really have preferred artists, I occasionally like to wander around Pinterest and DeviantArt, with no clear path or preference. DAL: Yes, serendipity and DeviantArt are a wonderful combination, providing one has a can of Cute Pony Repellent™ to hand. But, going back to your own work…. you have a sense of what might be termed “calm optimism for the future” in your work. Which I like. We see and hear way too much pessimism and gloom from the establishment media and also from sciencefiction dystopias, and it really isn’t justified in terms of either the recent past or the likely future. As people like Matt Ridley (The Rational Optimist) and others have ably shown with hard statistics in their non-fiction books. Where does your own optimism come from? Is it something in your upbringing, your education, your culture? Or from somewhere else? AR: Let me answer with the opposite question: why would someone like to think of the future as a horrible, dark, ugly, dirty, violent place? I don’t understand it. Where’s the joy and fun in imagining a future like this? Who would want to live in a dystopian society like the one depicted in Orwell’s novel 1984, for example? Who even feels pleasure in imagining ugly, violent, oppressive or depressing places? This is incomprehensible to me. It feels almost sick. I read many science fiction books during my life. During my teenage years some of my favourites were Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein. All of these had a positive view of the future, in general. I also enjoyed Star Trek, which had a really optimistic view of the future society. I had to see Blade Runner and read 1984, for example, as the cultural references they were and still are, but I took no pleasure from it. The lessons I took from those experiences were profound and it became really obvious that these kinds of society are exactly the ones I would never like to live in. Who would? If nobody would, why depict it in art? And who likes it?... And why?... I can’t understand it, I just can’t… Why show death and ugliness if you can show life and beauty?
Interestingly, the more I grow older, the more intense these feelings grow in me. I know I wasn’t so extreme before, looking at some of the images I made many years ago, but now I can’t even understand why I made those images. It seems I was hesitant or lost, trying to find my way. I guess I finally did. DAL: I see. Where do you see your work progressing toward in the next decade? For instance, might it come together in a big pictures + stories and timelines artbook, perhaps? So that there is a sort of unified ‘future history’ timeline along which the pictures sit, each with its own backstory?
AR: That is not out of the question, in fact. I have many series, I made many sequels and prequels. Somehow, it seems that buried deep inside an image, there’s another one waiting to come out, I just have to find it. Many of my images are born like this — I look at an image I made and “bang!”, I see another one crying to come out. So, yes, in a way, there is a hidden future-timeline buried in many of the images. And there’s definitely a back-story, even if not verbalized. Maybe it’ll come out some day, not as one story but as a collection of stories. But I really don’t know, at the moment. Regarding images, I don’t plan what I’ll do next, I just go with the flow, whatever flows from my mind. DAL: Great. Well, thanks very much for this indepth interview. We wish you well, and urge all reader to visit your DeviantArt gallery and “Follow”. AR: Thank you very much for your insightful questions, it was really interesting and while thinking about the answers I discovered a bit more about myself. I wish all the best for your magazine. DAL: Thank you. AR: I thank you. It was my pleasure.
Artur Rosa is online at: https://arthurblue.deviantart.com/
Pictures: “Layers of Impossibiity”; and “Across the Sea of Tears”.
Picture: “Colony 7” (V2).
Picture: “My Palace by the sea”. 28
Digital Art Live is pleased to present a mini-gallery of some of the amazing â€˜future oceanâ€™ structures from the annual eVolo competition, courtesy of eVolo. See the full range of structures illustrated and explained in their amazing books at: http://www.evolo.us/
Picture: Aircraft docking bay for the Moses Project by Vuk Djordjevic, Darko Darmar Markovic, Milos Vlastic, Milos Jovanovic. Moses would be made up of self-sustaining autonomous aqua-farming floating city units. Each city can rotate its tower into the wind, and tap ocean currents below, to generate power.
Picture: The Moses Project, City bay with no central tower, serving as a recreational plaza and harbour. Darko Darmar is online at https://artofdarmar.artstation.com/
Picture: Large cluster of city towers and aquaculture farms in arctic waters, concept illustration for the Moses Project by Vuk Djordjevic, Darko Darmar Markovic, Milos Vlastic and Milos Jovanovic, Serbia.
and goods. This could enable each city to establish their own form of governance and norms, in much the same way as the seasteading community has proposed. If a citizen did not like one tower, they could take out a paid contract with another tower that Each tower city is populated by approximately 25,000 offered an approach more to their personal taste. inhabitants, which potentially offers an easy way to start the transition of humanity from land to sea Each city tower is placed on the intersection of living. Moses offers towers that each function perpendicular traffic lanes, which form the grid that independently as an autonomous city-unit, as well as serves as a connection between cities and land a cluster of units which trade information, energy, through a network of ultra-fast trains (see right).
Darko Darmar is online at https://artofdarmar.artstation.com/
Picture: “Gerridae” by Joe Shi, from Canada. Inspired by the dynamic structure and properties of the common ‘water strider’ insect, the Gerridae towers are proposed as a sustainable model by which tidewater and coastal cities can expand while also providing large greenhouses. The limbs are both residential and provide vertical-wall style ecosystems. The legs act as stabilising arms and rest on air-filled
platform bouys on the ocean surface. In this way the towers stay afloat but at the same time take up only a tiny part of the ocean’s surface — enabling the nearby city to retain its shipping and port functions. The stubby pods on the underside of the dome-hub are lightweight submarines, lifted up from sea surface and “docked” at the base of the dome.
Pictures: Left: “Skylink” by Alexandre Voegele and Eric Geraud. This tower project proposes the first stage of a space elevator. The floating ocean platform acts as a tether and freeport hub in international waters on the equator. This hot location also allows a “solar tower” principle to operate, in which turbines and natural flow both push hot air up the tower. This tower could loft balloons carrying small cargo rockets toward space, via a thermal ‘slingshot’ effect. This page: "Seawer" by Sung Jin Cho of South Korea is an ocean tower that swallows and purifies waste from the ocean. On the upper decks the platform houses a floating city with a hydroelectric power plant at its edges — surface water spills over and then falls 500ft from the lip of the platform. As it falls the polluted water is forced past five stages of cleaning filters. 39
Picture: “Aquarim Trinity” by Malaysia’s Quah Zheng Wei and Jethro Koi Lik Wai. Their underwater skyscraper features three Coral Towers built around a Harvesting Hub with a research lab/craft at its centre. Geothermal energy moves the lab/craft up and down the towers using ‘free’ energy, allowing the easy harvesting of different coral species growing at differing depths. The tall vertical planes of the towers enable a maximum harvest of different coral type, and growth is aided by the warm waters. Once the Hub lab/craft is full of new and healthy corals, it
launches itself as a powered submarine from the top of the needle within the Aquarium Trinity, and then transports its cargo to wherever new coral reefs are wanted in the region. Potentially the entire “Aquarim” could eventually be run and harvested by autonomous sea-bots. The structure would be relatively affordable to build, and would be self-sustaining due to geothermal power at its base. Such structures might also be adapted for use with other forms of aquaculture.
Digital Art Live has an interview with one of the worldâ€™s leading art directors, Matt Nava. Matt was the creative force behind Sonyâ€™s major flagship Playstation games Flower and Journey, and in 2016 his own studio released the acclaimed underwater experience Abzu.
MATT NAVA USA COLOUR! | UNREAL ENGINE 4 | ART DIRECTOR FOR VIDEOGAMES |
DAL: Matt, welcome. We’re very pleased to have an interview with one of the hottest and creative Art Directors working in videogames. Could you tell us a little about your career progression so far, how you got to the underwater game Abzu (2016)?
team size. We had no dedicated animator and this was crazy, because we have tons of characters in this game, tons of fish. DAL: Wow. Just 10 at maximum. How were the team’s talents distributed?
MN: Thanks. I was the Art Director on Flower and Journey. After Journey shipped, I started a new studio to create games like that called Giant Squid, and our first project was called Abzu.
MN: Well, we had one environment artist who was helping to build 3D meshes and fish. I was also doing that. I did most of the animation, but we had one animator contractor come on late in the development to help us finish it out.
DAL: So you made Flower and Journey as flagship titles for Sony, for the Playstation. For those who have not played the game yet, could you summarise the new game Abzu please?
DAL: I see. Could you talk us through the challenges that the team solved, to make this amazing underwater environment?
MN: Yes, Abzu is underwater adventure game where you explore the ocean and there’s a very vibrant world full of fish — based on real-life fish — so the game was actually very inspired by my own experience of scuba diving. I went on a scuba diving research trip with the lead engineer on the project, Brian Balamut. The game uses Unreal Engine 4. It took three years to make 43 and we had 10 people working on it at the peak
MN: Sure. So… the underwater setting presented this technical art challenge that not a lot of games have. Firstly, we had to create huge amounts of interactive fish, plus huge amounts of interactive kelp [seaweed], and we needed to have working within terrain that was really capable of supporting rapid iteration and changes. And we also needed to have ‘art directable’ volumetric lighting and atmosphere.
So the first challenge we had to do was the fish, and as you know the game features over 200 species, all based on real species. At any one time there might be 10,000 fish swimming on your screen. DAL: Yes, I’ve played it and it’s certainly a very rich experience in an abundant environment. MN: The first attempts that we made were to create the fish using skeletal rigs. The typical way you do character animation. They have joints everywhere and that gives a nice curve as the fish swims, and that's a really really important effect for swimming. So when you have lots of fish, each one of these characters needs to have an entire skeleton of joints, there’s like 60 to 100 joints and every frame you have to update all of those joints per fish. So instead of just having 10,000 fish to update you have 10,000 x 100 joints. Per frame. DAL: Wow. Even the latest Playstation might have a slight problem getting that on the screen. MN: Which is crazy, yes, so we went with ‘static mesh instancing’. Which is a technique usually used for grass or other kinds of foliage on the ground in games. We actually wrote our own variant of this system for Abzu, that allowed us to pipe in the small amount of data per instance, and that allowed us to animate each fish individually. But we didn't know how to make a static mesh animate, because it doesn't have joints in it. But the game needs to feature a full ecosystem where fish are eating each other. So we used the vertex animation and the material of the fish. We found that to create a swim cycle all you really need are just a few basic components. The side-to-side translation is done with a sine wave, add a yaw rotation around the object’s pivot point, and some panning rotations along the spine. A few tweaks for the tails and you look at it… and all of a sudden you have a swim cycle animation that has no joints and is on a static mesh. So then you can control all this with just one parameter, a speed-variable for swim acceleration that you have to pipe in and it gives really nice flickers on the tail of the fish, as they accelerate and then coast along. That is very much more lifelike.
DAL: It’s an amazing experience, once the player leaves the training areas. To be swimming with all those fish in real-time.
MN: In a demo scene we have 11,000 fish or something, all are swimming with a unique timing of their swim cycle at the same time. Try that same scene with skeleton-rigged fish, you only could get like 30 fish on the screen. /Laughter/ DAL: 30 fish. Oh, games have come so far, in such a short time… DAL: Then we added another animation for the fish, using blend shapes and that gave us a basic ‘squash and stretch’ bite animation on their jaws, driven by some curves. Then we figured out a way to use this blend shape sequence idea to do more complex animations. For instance, the crab only had four poses for his legs but we were able to give him his really complex motions, purely with blend shapes, and we even did this little pinching thing he did when the diver comes close to the crab. They try and pinch you. Crabs are complex and we should have had 41 joints per crab, so not having those joints was a big win.
The last thing we had to do to make these fish really seem real, so we needed a turning curl animation, tight turns as they spin around and chase fish, twisting motions. So we used blend shapes. Essentially four curled poses with an inbetween pose for each one, and that allowed us to have a rotating interpolation as each blend shape is brought onto the character. We had to write that ourselves, into the Unreal engine. Seen from some directions the fish tail will get twice as long, because blend shapes are additive. So we had to actually create a third blend shape that was a negative blend space, a blend shape that would pull it back. We had to actually create a script in Maya that would automatically generate that pose, because we had no idea how to model that. But that worked and made them feel more fluid. So we got a whole lot of fish to animate with some pretty high fidelity animation, much cheaper than with using bones and joints. 44
Pictures: Screenshots from real-time gameplay in the game Abzu.
DAL: I’m learning a lot about how these things are done, thanks. What about the flocking effects on the shoals of fish?
MN: That was a big challenge to overcome. Our lead engineer Brian the guy I had done our scuba diving research with, he solved it. It was basically that each fish had awareness of all the other fish. Fish that were near each other knew about close-by fish but they ignored further away fish. But we also made sure that they were near each other in the computer’s memory so that they could ‘look up’ each other's position very quickly. So we were constantly shifting the fish’s position in memory, depending on how close they were at other fish. That let us have each fish be aware of a lot of fish around it and then align with them. Or chase them. And when you create a bunch of those kind of simple generative rules — like ‘just align’ or ‘just avoid’ — and you run it then those amazing behaviours of spiralling fish shoals in fast ocean currents and suchlike… they just emerge [from the running code]. It's a really cool phenomenon and this kind of how fish actually swim, and we were very pleased by that because we had spent a lot of time studying a lot of actual fish! It allowed us to be a bit more inspired by the truth of the ocean. The next thing that we had to solve was doing kelp — the seaweed — and kelp is crazy because we thought we had a lot of fish, but there's way more kelp leaves! But we wanted to capture what we saw when we actually went diving on our research trips, this very dynamic kind of fluid motion on leaves that is being driven by tides and flow. So what we ended up doing was reusing the ‘static mesh instancing’ system that we made for the fish, but to do these leaves. But instead of driving them with shaders we drove them with very simple rope simulations and stuck them on long rope simulations for the stalks. So we could collide every single leaf and collide with the diver and with a small subset of larger creatures — like a giant manta ray that would be pushing through the kelp. And what it’s pushing through is 350,000 leaves in the scene, and this scene also has a ton of fish! So static mesh instancing is really cool.
Next thing up was the terrain and at that point in the game we really didn't know what the overall design of the game was, as we were making it, and we had to figure out how big these levels were going to be. DAL: I see. New innovative tech elements first, then create the game around those. The main character, the diver, is also very simple, and masked. There’s no talking. But the eyes are there. Did something carry over from Journey there, in terms of the character design? MN: In Journey we initially had this idea of characters that could communicate without language, and so one of our first ideas was to have them communicate with their eyes only… so I drew this character with big eyes. That didn’t work out so we had this idea of cloth moving in the world, so I drew these a lot of drawings of these characters who had cloth all over them. One of the first characters that we built in 3D and animated for the game, you could actually run around in the game as this guy he had like 25 animations or something. So he could fly around and jump around and do all sorts of silly stuff. I was like: “Oh my god, what if we put like a hundred arms on him.” And actually he had completely animated fingers and everything and it was really crazy. He was in the game for one day… and then I was told it was “too hard to make actually work!” Oh, and “128 by 64 pixel textures, please”. I started to think about removing everything that really wasn't necessary for the gameplay. DAL: I see, so you learned something there, and the approach carried over well to Abzu. MN: And of course I learned within Abzu too. What I quickly learned on Abzu was that the sculpting and painting paradigm for authoring landscapes was not really ideal for iteration. DAL: You had used that approach for Journey, as Art Director on that title, I think? So that was another lesson that you ported over from Journey? MN: Yes. Everything in Journey started from about a million drawings, actually.
Picture: Mattâ€™s artbook The Art of Journey, and sketches from his book.
I spent a week straight scanning drawings to make The Art of Journey book! There were also a lot of storyboard drawings. So for Journey I was painting on the Nintendo DS with the Colors! app — it's really good — my favourite mobile painting app. I was doing these paintings and I was told to “try to make these work in 3D” and so I tried to recreate the paintings in 3d and I kind of failed miserably. I really learned that we had to approach the graphics completely differently. We couldn't use like regular kinds of Lambert shaders and things for these objects. We need to really think about the 3D in a different way and think about how we can make it more like an illustration and less like a 3d graphic look. We did a lot of things where… we would take screenshots of the game as it was, and I would paint over them — actually ‘a paint over’ of the screenshot. So I would add these towers and these rocks and all sorts of things and then we tried to change the game to actually look like that. In the very early days of the project I was exploring this idea of having a very highly textured paint really kind of watercolor look to the game. We eventually realized that would be really hard to do well. So I later had an idea: “Well, what if we removed all texture”. So I did this 3D mock-up of the game’s iconic ‘distant mountain’. I tried to emphasize flat shapes and actually make the 3D space look as flat as I could, to give it more of an illustration look. Then when we finished up the game a little bit of that texture started to creep back in, and it became kind of this blend between my ideas
about making this kind of flat 3D and also this idea of bringing in textural elements. Throughout the game you can see some details here and there, and it kind of tells you that we started with a lot of drawings and then we did a lot of prototypes and after a lot of iteration we finally came to the final artwork of Journey. DAL: Right. So that was a time-intensive process, and it had to change for Abzu? MN: In making Abzu, I found that if you paint a landscape to say… make it be higher or lower… say you make a mountain and then you realize the mountain’s too big or too small. Or needs to rotate or needs to translate in the world… that's really hard. Because you have to erase it and repaint it somewhere else, and that's really slow. So what we wanted to do was to keep using the move / scale / rotate paradigm that we use for moving and rotating things like rocks and other objects. What we came up with this was this idea of terrain height patches. So we created a library of static meshes that look like bits of a terrain and then we just kind of bash them together and then you can just duplicate it around create a little terrain as individual meshes but… then we have a tool that projects a height map onto them! And when you look at that wireframe now it’s become a height map with LOD and everything like that. So what's really nice, it means you can create features of the landscape, duplicate them, rotate them, scale them and really quickly build out your landscape. And you can do so using the same tools that you use to move every other object in the scene.
So this really helped us create the landscapes quickly and to change the terrain design as we needed. You can also basically keep features like rocks and terrain grouped together and you don't ever have to switch to overpainting. So on Abzu there was no switch in paradigms when authoring. Doing it the old way — as we did on Journey — was a very slow thing, it really slows down your development process. So this technical fix turned out to be a good optimization for our creative pipeline. Then we extended the existing approaches we had built, to painting the colour on the terrain too. So we had this idea of ‘stamps’ that would put down colour and then you can move them rotate them as well. We even had splines that would drop stamps on the terrain, kind of like a Photoshop brush. So you’re not thinking about placing paint strokes anymore, but rather about whole features. That really is a good distinction to make when you're creating game levels. DAL: You also had a lot of subtle colour shading on the seabed, in the sands, which also added to the effects. MN: Yes, we had soft areas where we just had colour that was affecting like just one material type. So that was ‘kind of’ texturing that type, such that within sand there might be a soft transition of colour, so there might be blue sand that smoothly transitions to white sand. DAL: And that interacted beautifully with the lighting. How did you use light to create the feeling of being underwater. The volumetrics, the falloff of light and far-sight in the environment? And did it so efficiently that a player can run the game well on even a simple domestic PC with a humble graphics card? MN: The atmospherics we did last. We ended up with simple linear fog, and the reason for that was this was much easier to control. We just had a tune-able falloff curve for this fog and we stored this curve. So in one room in a level, you might have a different falloff than in another, and to make this change what we did was we stored this variable. As the fog goes away from the camera we stored this ‘far distance’ number, which is where the fog becomes completely opaque, and we stored a ‘transition distance’
number where we could set the fog transparency. In between those two distances we created what we call the ‘silhouette range’, where we actually dim what is very simple directional and ambient lighting. When you dim these lights it kind of creates this murky feeling. So we dim the lights as the player enters a transition area, but then you start to see these murky silhouettes. It really sold the idea of being underwater. And we could tune how wide that area was and the visibility distance, and you felt that you could see further than the fog — because you were seeing these silhouettes beyond.
DAL: Very clever. But how did you then add glow and lights within that fog? MN: Ah, well… the one thing that saved us there was making what we called ‘portal cards’. We used these to highlight specific silhouettes in the game, and it's a really simple concept. It just a plane that has a material on it that fades out when you get close to it. The camera gets close to it and we have some fall-off on it, so that we can control it. And what we do is we scale these cards to intersect with some of the level geometry. So for instance we can cover a door with it and the magic starts to happen when you start to tune the depth-fade parameter, which essentially fades out as it gets closer to objects. It brightens an area and highlights what’s important. Without it you can’t even see the way to go forward in the fog, and when you turn it on you can actually see where you're going. So we actually use these cards to direct the player, and doing that was really important because that basic fog could get us only so far.
Finally we add light rays and our light ray tech was essentially the same as our ‘portal card’ tech. It was just automatically placed as very long thin portal cards that would kind of animate in terms of their simple scaling up and down. That's how we did our lighting. DAL: Amazing. So all that fog was not accumulating and hogging memory with all its computations? MN: Correct, the fog doesn’t accumulate over distance. Because every eight by eight [cell of game-space] we kind of have a volumetric voxel 50
of fog, and so it's not like the fog is a vast area of pretty coarse data [throughout the game level]. Then within each chunk of fog we’d store settings for the colour of the lighting and also the curve of the falloff. So even if something's way out far in the scene, it can have a curve that's ‘pushing it’ to show through the underwater fog. It’s a lot simpler than it actually seems on the screen. DAL: There were underwater caustics in the game. Was that difficult to do? MN: It was totally fake! DAL: Ah! /Laughter/ MN: We just used the Unreal Engine’s light function and kind of added some good ‘gobo’ effects. Just an animating texture with a couple of scrolling masks on it, and that's it. Nothing crazy. We had a ton of materials in the game, but the idea was to create materials that didn’t emphasize texture. So we used texture everywhere… but they're very subtle or low contrast. So that meant that we were able to then use the angular kind of shapes of the geometry that would really show through, and use them to give the unique design style to the game. This meant we had more iconic fish types, inspired by a real fish but they really represented kind of everyone’s idealized version of that fish species. So each species became more memorable for the player. DAL: I see. Abzu is certainly a very memorable game, and deservedly a bestseller and critically acclaimed. Matt, thanks very much for the interview. We appreciate that you’re a busy man. We wish you all the best with your next project. MN: My pleasure.
Matt Nava is online at his game company Giant Squid Studios, at: http://www.giantsquidstudios.com/ Pictures: This page and previous, screenshots from real-time gameplay in the game Abzu. 51
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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 52
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
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‘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 54
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
● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● 55
‘Sanskarans’ Simon Beer Jean-Marie Marbach John Haverkamp Index of past issues Comic strip Gallery Imaginarium
Issue 28 April 2018 Future oceans ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Artur Rosa Matt Nava Samuel de Cruz Future oceans timeline Index of past issues Evola mini-gallery Gallery Imaginarium
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. 56
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.
We’re pleased to present a mini-gallery of the latest concept illustrations for a future submarine in the British Royal Navy. The ‘Nautilus 100’ design proposes a future British defence fleet able to send a new type of streamlined submarine gliding through the ocean depths. The Royal Navy’s Nautilus 100 design envisages a manned submarine (seen right) with a sleek manta-ray like hull design capable of biomimicry and cloaking. Its outer skin is coated in a nano-thin layer of graphene scales — each scale can be turned in order to cloak the craft from potentially hostile sonar detection or to provide visual camouflage. The same nano-skin on the hull also allows the craft to enjoy highly energy-efficient forward movement through the water, as well as enhanced manouverability. The submarine is capable of launching unmanned underwater ‘robot eels’ (seen right, housed in their launch-tubes, and seen in action on later pages). The ‘eels’ are autonomous and in turn are capable of deploying underwater micro-drones or ‘flying fish’ swarm drones’ that will skip through the waves on the ocean surface above the submarine.
The new underwater concepts were developed at the UK Naval Engineering Science and Technology Forum (UKNEST), which is focused on developing the intellectual base of future naval design and engineering in the UK. UKNEST annually provides undergraduate scholarships to talented aspiring naval designers and roboticists.
“Smart materials such as graphene and the future of autonomous and artificial intelligence is allowing us to get ever closer to those efficient and effective designs that nature has shown us.” — Commander Peter Pipkin, Royal Navy Fleet Robotics Officer.
Overall concept: The main Nautilus 100 craft is one a number of British ‘future submarine’ concepts, looking forward to 2050 and beyond, which marked the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear powered submarine. The concepts were developed as part of a challenge by the British Royal Navy to some of the UK's brightest and most talented young engineers, who were tasked with radically reenvisioning what a submarine might look like.
The oceans are still one of the world’s great mysteries and untapped resources, and there will be growing competition between nations and to work and farm and live at sea or under it. There may also be autonomous seasteaders, and more scientific missions and underwater research bases. As a result the Nautilus 100 concepts envisage the Royal Navy operating a family of submarines, of varying sizes and shapes, manned and unmanned, to fulfil the various tasks they are asked to perform in a 60
wide range of environments. The 2050 scenario assumed a wealth of maturing technologies that will make submarines easier to construct, more effective and cheaper to run. The flagship submarine was designed with a whale-shark styled mouth and manta-ray body, allowing a combination of speed and stealth. The 3D printed hull would be a combination strong acrylic bonded to superstrong alloys — capable of withstanding the extreme pressure at ocean depths of 3,200ft or more. 61
The craft’s command system would be thoughtcontrolled, and powered in cruise mode by hybrid algae-electric propulsion with Dyson bladeless fans — sucking water in through the bow then expelling it smoothly from the stern, to minimise noise pollution of the ocean. Precise control of depth and direction would be achieved by flexible wing tips which use bio-mimicing deflection to alter their shape. The larger craft in the fleet would dock with underwater ‘space stations’ located at strategic points around the world.
The manta-ray craft: The craft would be capable of using two propulsion systems — one for silent and efficient cruising for thousands of miles at up to 30 knots, and the other for short bursts of high speed in a ‘fight or flight’ scenario at up to 120 knots. Manned by a crew of 20, the craft would require roles such as Specialist Sonar officers, Marine Engineer officers, and a range of Engineering crew. There would also be new roles in 3D Printing and Robotics management. Cargo handlers would man a recovery bay in the underside which would act as a docking station for the transfer of people and general stores.
The design is one of a range produced by students each year at the UK Naval Engineering Science and Technology Forum (UKNEST), which is constantly devising and iterating new ideas for the Navy. Commander Peter Pipkin, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Robotics Officer, said: “Today’s Royal Navy is one of the most technologically advanced forces in the world, and that's because we have always sought to think differently and come up with ideas that challenge traditional thinking. If only 10 per cent of these ideas become reality, it will put us at the cutting edge of future defence operations.” 62
“The Eels”: The Nautilus would carry a consignment of unmanned underwater vehicles shaped like eels, and would be similarly flexible. Each ‘eel’ would carry within it pods packed with sensors specifically tailored for each individual missions. These pods could track or record an enemy vessel, act as decoys, or dissolve on demand to evade detection.
FUTURE OCEANS: A TIMELINE FROM 2020 to 2100 Digital Art Live straps on the psychohistory goggles and envisions the probable timeline for ‘future oceans’, out to the 2050s. After that it all becomes a bit more murky, as we surf out toward 2100! 2020: Large-scale efficient desalination of sea-water, with new types of salt filters and extraction processes. 2025: New types of sonar and other new locative technologies in fishing. These drastically reduce the accidental catching of non-food fish (the ‘bycatch’). 2025: The preteen ‘Generation Zup!’ demographic eagerly adopts a new 3D-printable breakfast cereal — made from a flavoured mix of ocean algae and eco-friendly protein paste from coastal mussel farms. 2026: New hull materials, ship cavity shapes and marine engines all begin to cut Navy noise pollution of the oceans. The technologies then start to be widely adoped in merchant shipping — and this helps out big whales, which need quiet oceans to communicate.
2028: Introduction of a new type of effective and very safe anti-sea-sickness pill and skinpatch. As a result, people become far more willing to stay at sea for long periods of time. 2028: There is a sustained global effort to make the new ‘blue’ ocean economy into a ‘sexy’ career choice for intelligent young people.
2028: Launch of the first costeffective and subsidy-free ‘floating solar farm’, able to withstand ocean abrasion and corrosion for ten years. 2030: Start of a major global programme to totally eradicate rats and other invasive species from oceanic islands. This is made effective and costefficient by new pest-control and tracking technologies including robot micro-drones. 2030: The first ocean-durable ‘bio-cyborg’ octopus robot prototype. This has an eel-like solar-powered bio-skin, on a 3D printed armature, and it is driven by a simple ‘digital copy’ of a nematode brain. 2030: Undisturbed near-shore underwater habitats in the northern hemisphere are shown to be continuing to increase the richness and volume of their ecosystems, by an average of 3% per decade. This is part of the global carbon-fertilisation process, ongoing on land and coasts since the mid 1980s. 2030: Tidal-wave –generating sub-sea nuclear weapons are outlawed by a major international legal convention. 2030: Faced with a growing obesity problem among its 64
ageing population, China mandates that all chocolate be replaced by a cocoa-flavoured ‘Krill paste’ product. These bars of ‘Kroc’ are made from abundant ocean krill and are sweetened with ‘safe’ sugars made from GMO seaweeds. 2035: The new ‘blue’ ocean economy now supports around 120 million jobs in the UK, Canada and the USA. 2035: Completion of the first 3D high-resolution map of the entire ocean seabed. 2035: Establishment of a global framework to regulate the possible future development of seabed mineral mining. 2035: Sustainable coastal aquaculture and mariculture is now well-established. Advanced farms are especially widespread along the south Australian coast, the western coast of Japan, between Israel and south Italy, and in Alaska. 2035: As predicted, the world’s wild fish catch remains at 94 to 96 Mt per year. The world's fisheries are stable, even in the face of a global population that is rising by 2 billion people. 2038: Humanity now has a far better understanding of the
ocean microorganisms that drive the massive natural biodegradation of oil-based microparticles in the ocean. The discoveries are applied to new cheap forms of waste disposal on land — which leads to a big reduction in the amount of long-term waste entering the oceans from developing nations. 2038: India leads a worldwide three-year multi-nation mission of exploration — using a vast fleet of autonomous longduration robot submarines. 2040: Worldwide fast Internet access is now available from any point on the ocean surface. 2040: Sustainable coastal aquaculture and mariculture is now well-established and widespread along much of the west African coast. Most of the farms are robot-run franchises which were pre-fabricated in Chile and then towed across the Atlantic. 2040: A new breed of ‘blue’ cowboy emerges — rough tough young men who work on ‘the new ocean frontier’. 2040: Some major coastal resorts expand into the sea, 3D -printing large new stretches of artificial coastline, strings of new islands and reefs, and tidewater ‘tripod’ hotels. 2040s: Old-fashioned ‘ocean painting’ — in oil paints and watercolour — undergoes a surprising renaissance, with the artform becoming very popular among collectors and artists in the 30-something ‘Generation Zup!’ demographic. A nostalgic
sail-era ‘seapunk’ genre becomes immensely popular in holo-media games and stories. 2042: Establishment of the first full-scale self-sustaining robotic ‘ocean farm’ that is located more than ten miles off-shore, in the open ocean. 2045: Discovery of a deep sea organism that becomes an amazing boon to all humanity. 2048: A team of geneticallyenhanced Chinese ‘IQ 200’ scientists announce a major A.I.-aided breakthrough in dolphin language and communication. 2050: The world’s oceans are formally closed to all deep-sea trawling for seafood, by a 20year international treaty. Coastal aquaculture farms can now provide equivalents for such food, in abundance.
2050: Much energy is now produced by sub-sea turbines which are located far from coasts. These draw their energy from immense underwater ocean currents. 2055: Development of a new lightly-regulated consumer market in fully-fitted hospital ‘cruise ships’. These specialise in luxury stress-free healthcare and rejuvenation. Their marketing claims offer the guarantee: ‘any healthy 90 year old will live to 120’ — if residents live aboard full-time. 2065: Ramshackle floating ‘seasteader’ towns, partly made of welded-together unwanted fish trawlers and manned by unemployed Argentinian fishermen, 65
establish themselves in international waters. They sustain their new autonomous communities by mining ‘biochit’ — small fragments of unique biological DNA from the ocean, which is converted to valuable digital replicator code and then sold on for use in A.I. -assisted bio-research fabricator labs. 2070: The Dolphin Embassy informs humanity that the abundance and health of the deep oceans has greatly increased, 20 years after the global deep-sea trawler ban. 2090: After 50 years of increasingly ‘quiet oceans’, the rejuvenated study of how the great whales communicate across vast distances inadvertantly leads to a new form of communication for outer space — a development which is especially welcomed by the first colony on Mars. 2100: Mars formally adopts the long-term planetary goal of having genetically-adapted Earth whales breeding in its slowly-forming terraformed oceans, circa 2500. Elon Musk II announces he has designed a super-sized rocket capable of transporting breeding pairs of whales to the oceans of Mars. 2100: The first geneticallyadapted ‘underwater humans’ are developed for the oceans of Mars, with neck-gills, special eye lids, and bio-engineered skin — though at present they exist only as real-time ‘vodies’ — a vast A.I.-powered computer simulation of a complete human body.
We talk with Samuel de Cruz about learning 3D through mastering Quake modding tools, learning 3DS Max and designing all the elements for his epic ‘Virtuality’ story of giant ocean liners, mutant jellyfish, aquatic aliens and humanoid robots.
Picture: “Virtuality RST645 A1”.
SAMUEL DE CRUZ FRANCE 3DS MAX | PAINTSHOP PRO
DAL: Samuel, welcome to Digital Art Live magazine. You’re a fine model-maker and designer in 3D, and when we saw your oceanthemed work and other related series, we thought you would be perfect for this “Future Oceans” themed issue.
modelling, so — with time and a lot of effort — I switched over to 3DSMax. At the beginning I was very shy, I kept my entire work secret… But one day, school-mates found some of my sketches and told me I was talented. Now, here I am, proud of what I am able to do.
SC: Thank you very much for the attention paying to my work. It is an honour for me. I’m very proud to be part of this “Future Ocean” themed issue.
My first 3D works were very bad: no volumetric light, no texture, no bump effect… Then, I tried harder and harder to be more realistic, for an example: some of my works were utterly reworked ‘from the ground up’. By doing this again and again, you become very good!
DAL: How did you first begin your work in digital art? Presumably it was an interest that you developed before you went to university? What form did it take, back then? SC: When I was a young boy, I was fascinated by robots and space. So I began to work in 3D, though only using a very basic freeware called GTK RADIANT (which was used for games such as Quake 3: Arena. I fell in love with 3D 67
DAL: Was anyone helping you, at that time? SC: No, I had to learn everything alone. At that young age I had no friends who were also doing 3D art. But when you have a strong will, you can overcome all difficulties. Never give up, and just go for it.
So this is how everything began: alone, shy, a chaotic mind full of ideas, a strong will, a great imagination, also a lot of strength to always motivate myself. DAL: Were you able to go online at that point, and access the Quake modding scene? SC: I spend a lot of time looking how other artists built their world maps in various games — such as Unreal Tournament or Quake 3: Arena. This gave me a lot of help, for an example: in curves and poly edge editing.
overcome these difficulties, I had to persevere and accept some defeat. It’s like boxing fight, you get some hits in the face, when everything you build up is falling down because of a leak in your curves. I never gave up, never, no matter how bad was the result or how hard it was… I remember how it was difficult to get a good glow effect with an Omni light, sometimes the glow would be too far behind, or the occlusion wasn’t right either…
SC: It was not easy at all… I remember spending a lot of late nights trying how to bend polygons, or how to manipulate edges and vertices. To
But I have to say this: it is a good challenge. I asked myself this question: is the art I want to create worth all this pain? In my mind the answer was always: “yes, it’s worth the suffering, do it!” When you have pain because it’s a great challenge, then it’s a good pain. ‘No Pain, No gain’, as the saying goes. This kind of pain is like a fuel that will turn you stronger…
Picture: “Virtuality Patriotic Storm vessel 002”.
DAL: Were there any particularly tricky initial barriers as you started out with the learning curve? How did you overcome these difficulties?
â€œThe Patriotic Storm is an ocean/space vessel that appears in my opus, which is the fictional biography of a Special Machine Girl called CIAA. In my fictional story, the Patriotic Storm is a military ship fighting against a Hostile Robotic Empire. I always wanted to do a futuristic look of the RMS Titanic, and this is how the Patriotic Storm was born.â€?
DAL: Great. And then you took a course in Computer Science, am I right? Is that where your many project portfolios come from, on your gallery? Or were those your personal sideprojects?
instead of a single complex polygon. Because I know nothing about rendering yet, I still use the simplest rendering: scanline rendering. I never used advanced V-ray because I don’t know the ins and outs of it.
SC: Actually I had always wanted to become a psychologist or a doctor. But my family was poor, we had no money for university. So after getting my first diploma in Computer Science I went to the Army. I spent 10 years in the regiment doing a lot of military schools courses and training. I am still very good at it, I have the rank of Sergeant.
DAL: And for the models of humans?
DAL: Superb, congratulations. Good pay, too.
SC: Yes, the Army meant that I could put money toward university costs. Now I am finishing my bachelors degree in Psychology. I am still working with the Army, and doing Psychology and Computer Studies. I hope I will become a Psychologist, or die trying! DAL: That sounds like you could have a great career ahead, in… here in the English-speaking world I think our defence forces call it ‘SigInt’ – Signals Intelligence. With an obvious application, these days, in cyberdefence. And the art, was that personal…? SC: All the art was more a personal project. DAL: I see. What software tools are you using? Judging from some of your screenshots it looks like 3DSMax is your main software? Could you tell us more about your software setup, plus the plugins and render options that you find useful, please? SC: For the 2D art and textures I use Paintshop Pro 5, which I find to be a precious good tool. It is not as well-known as Photoshop, but it is a very powerful software. DAL: I started off with that myself, many years ago now. SC: For the 3D work, I use 3DSMax only. I have no plugins, no generator or suchlike, I do everything myself. Every polygon is created from my own hand. Most of the time I use simple Omni light, I love to group several polygons together — I prefer multi-polygons model
SC: 95% of the human body parts are done step -by-step too. This is the most difficult task I’ve ever had to encounter: modelling the human body. I begin with a basic poly edge polygon, then I use the function Turbosmooth, which allows one to smooth the edges and curve to a much better shape. It’s always the same step-by -step technique that I use for human body: basic polygons, then Turbosmooth. Sometimes when it gets too hard, I do go get some help from DAZ Studio. I download a body, and use it as a reference. I also get help from 3DSMax itself with some of the models is has. DAL: I see. Could you talk us through the opening picture for this interview please, with the spaceship/plane over the coastal city? SC: For this picture the spaceship was totally build with polygons in 3DSMax. The main body of this vessel is a cylinder with Turbosmooth function. The wings are circles modified with subtract — which is Boolean work. The light effect of the reactor is done with Paintshop Pro used for 2D painting after the 3D rendering was done. For the background, I first made a screen capture in Google Earth and then I tried to rebuild the same scene in 3D. I also used Paintshop Pro to add a cinematic blur. With 3DSMax I added volumetric smoke to create clouds. A bump effect was added to the global background texture. In other pictures I have done, all the background was fully 3D with trees and rocks. In a version of this picture there also other vessel and less buildings on the ground. DAL: What first impressed you about 3DSMax when you first used it? What do you believe its main strengths are? SC: The quantity of polygons. GTK RADIANT was very limited, and the world had to be closed with a skybox or a ‘no-leaked’ room. With 3DSMax you don’t have this limitation. You can build very huge world, and this what I love about it. 70
Pictures: Right: A very basic early design of an energy core, done with GTK RADIANT. Below: eight years later, the same energy core redone and redesigned with 3DSMax. Above: Sketches for the Polaris Space Station.
â€œMutated Siphonophores (colony-living jellyfish) started to become very intelligent and to evolve faster. They started to emerge from the water and went on to conquer parts of the coasts of a post-apocalyptic America. These Mutated Siphonophores are not hostile, they are violent only when it comes to defending themselves.â€?
I think the other main strength of 3DSMax is the resolution setup when you render your work. I use Vistavision with and output size 4097 x 2731px and it’s very good, you can zoom into your work and you don’t see a lot of pixels. Sometimes I go for 8097 x 5398px. DAL: I see. Could you talk us though some of your “Virtuality” projects, please? For instance, the ones relating to the ocean. Such as the Patriotic Storm super-liner, which is a very pleasing design. We often see small sleek yachts from designers, but rarely something of The Titantic size that also manages to retain its visual lines/appeal when seen from many angles.
SC: Sure. I should explain first that Virtuality is the name of my science fiction opus. It is the fictional biography of a Special Machine Girl called CIAA, and the Patriotic Storm is a space vessel that appears in my opus. In my fictional story, the Patriotic Storm is a military ship fighting against a Hostile Robotic Empire. I always wanted to do a futuristic look of the RMS Titanic, and this is how the Patriotic Storm was born. You can see it has four control towers, like four chimneys. I dedicated this fictional vessel to Thomas Andrews — who was the Titanic’s marine architect. The most amazing idea about the Patriotic Storm is that it can go everywhere: it can move in air, space, underwater, on the water… it is a multi-environment super vessel! DAL: And what does CIAA mean? SC: CIAA is, in French: Complexe intelligent Affectif Anthropomorphisé. In English that translates as: Intelligent and Emotional Humanoïd Complexe. The CIAA is the main character, she is a peaceful and beautiful robot. DAL: I see. And as this is the Future Oceans issue I also noticed your large ‘Siphonophore’ series of underwater ocean creature/plants. Those are also fascinating and very elegant. Could you tell us more about those, please? Why and how they were made. SC: In Virtuality, after the Third World War and a cataclysm, the Earth changed… it mutated. Mutated Siphonophores (colony-living jellyfish) started to become very intelligent and to evolve faster. They started to emerge from the water
and went on to conquer parts of the coasts of a post-apocalyptic America. These mutated Siphonophores are not hostile, they are violent only when it comes to defend themselves. The CIAA discovers some of them when she arrives, for the first time, on Earth. I wanted to give them an elegant shape with a mixture of an extra-terrestrial look and inspiration from the great German natural history work “Kunstformen der Natur” by Ernst Haeckel. I spent a lot of time modelling every polygon on these. Again, everything is done step-by-step, with no help from plugins. The difficult part was the colours, and getting the opacity + ray-traced reflections. My computer is not powerful enough to render opacity and reflection, so I had to remove some opacity. DAL: You’ve also designed some ocean creatures such as the elegant Humanum. Could you say something about this series and project, also, please? And also the world into which it fits. SC: In Virtuality, the Humanum are a extinct extra-terrestrial civilisation. The CIAA discover ruins of a city called Utlantide. It was a city built by the Humanum. There is so much to say about them I don’t know how to put this here… Humanum were self-eugenic, amphibian life, not hostile. They travelled from world to world using a city-ship and they lived underwater, where they are able to build huge vivarium-like worlds on the floor of the ocean. The architecture they use is akin to a mix of Ancient Greek and Indonesian style. DAL: So do all your various series all fit into one overarching world, or are they as yet not all connected? SC: Yes, they are all connected into a single great science fiction world: Virtuality: the story of the Special machine Girl CIAA. But it’s not finish yet… DAL: That sounds like a backstory with a lot of depth, and I can see how it would lead to the production of a lot of work. You already have an immense gallery portfolio. If you had to choose just one favourite image from your portfolio, which would it be and why? SC: It would be a CIAA rendered image where 76
“In [the story of] Virtuality, the Humanum are a extinct extra-terrestrial civilisation. The CIAA discover ruins of a city called Utlantide. It was a city built by the Humanum. There is so much to say about them I don’t know how to put this here… Humanum were selfeugenic, amphibian life, not hostile. They travelled from world to world using a cityship and they lived underwater, where they are able to build huge vivariumlike worlds on the floor of the ocean.”
you can see her robotic endoskeleton inside her humanoid body. It is also the most viewed and the most liked.
DAL: How do you keep track of what’s happening in ‘future science’, and keep up with all the new developments? SC: As a Psychology student we get a lot of data from the university. My French university, Clermont Auvergne, is very good. A well-known school. Her name before January 2018 was: University Blaise Pascal. My professors are scientists at the French CNRS, a famous scientific research laboratories. DAL: That sounds excellent. Who do you admire, as futurists and/or as rational optimists about the future? SC: I admire that humanity has now the capacity to travel across the stars. It is making me very optimistic. I think we will go very far away and discover other civilisations. I consider Star Trek could be very accurate and interesting model, regarding our future. I do believe in an eventual “United Federation of Planets”. DAL: I see. And you also write science-fiction and philosophy I think, some of which can be found at virtuality-file.com How does this writing relate to your project series? SC: Virtuality is totally free, and everyone is free to see and to download my art. I also wrote a complete story about the CIAA but it’s only available in French for now. And, because I don’t have a lot of money, I can’t buy the services of a proof-reader. So, my book has errors in grammar, syntax and the like. But I have to say that, even so, it is well liked by those who read it. People love Virtuality and the CIAA because it is an amazing story full of details and life. I hope one day that a real writer could help with making a corrected version of my book: a real book with no grammatical errors or suchlike. On my website I also share some philosophy work and my computer work — such a virus study — and other stuff. If you want to see the most complete gallery of all my 3D and 2D and photo work, it’s on Flickr (100% free, no ads, more than 8,000 files).
DAL: Wow, that is impressive. And I thought the DeviantArt gallery was large! SC: The most important is that my art will forever stay free for everyone, I don’t want money. Art, Free, for all humanity. DAL: Right. You might also consider an Archive.org upload, too, for posterity. Perhaps as a .zipped torrent file. Going back to CIAA, I see you are also passionate about the potential for anthropomorphized robotics. Obviously there is an emerging market for that, from pets to robot companions, and that is emerging quite strongly now and which seems likely to become far more commercial in future. Can you tell readers more about how that interest in robotics arose for you, and how you developed it in your work? SC: When I see this emerging market for robots, I really think only about one word: symbiosis. This is something I am very worried about, because we need to follow some main principles here. We have to do it for symbiosis. Having only robotic pets and robotic humanoids among us is not enough… we need mutual respect, we need mutual understanding, and we need mutual cooperation. As such, I have fear about the commercial future of robotics, such as the ever growing danger of robotic weapons, battle drones, war robots…. We have to ask ourselves an important question: what do we (humanity) want to share with robots? The sad and bad answer is: war, money, controlling, manipulating, obey! The good answer is: help, love, respect, peace, harmonic friendship. We are now at a crux in the evolution of robotics, when robots are now just emerging, ready to grow to become mature robots in our future society. In which case you and me, and everyone all around the world, humans, we have to behave as good parents toward the first robots in this early state. We have to show them what is the good side of humanity, so that in such a way they (the cultural form of robots) will ‘grow up’ within a peaceful mindset. This is the message I have put in my work: we have to love robots. Remember the tragedy of 78
“We will see scientists and other people declare themselves ‘for’ or ‘against’ robots. But the result is already pretty certain: robots are part of our future, we can’t change that now, and we have to accept it. Fear will go away with time, in the same way as it did after past technology panics.”
Tyke the elephant: it was a disaster… and why? Now imagine what will arise in the mind of a robot sent to war — like on intelligent battledrone? One day, you would have the same result as the Tyke elephant. DAL: So they’re going to have to be in the home, to be socialised and also for a new young generation of kids to learn how to treat them and work alongside them properly. In what directions to you see personal home robotics developing, by 2030? SC: I think it is too soon to see humanoid robots, such as Sonny from I Robot in our home, but we will first see an increase of kitchen robots, and maybe driving robots. The direction of home robotic developmen will be heading toward a daily multi-task robot: a robot that can do the cleaning, help the children with the homework, do the cooking, security and guarding the house against intruders. The goal will be all about having a no-work life inside the home, so that people can have more free time at home to enjoy life. After 2030... in 2150 maybe... we will see a humanoid robot fully operational and I hope also self-aware, meaning conscious in some form. DAL: Nearer to 2020, will we see a ‘robot revolution’ in the world of creative work, do you think? Or are these fears overblown? SC: Yes, I think we will see a ‘robot revolution’ in work, in the near future. In this coming phenomena, we will see scientists and other people declare themselves ‘for’ or ‘against’ it. But the result is already pretty certain: robots are part of our future, we can’t change that now, and thus we have to accept it. Fear will go away with time, in the same way as it did after past technology panics — such as towards Alternate Current electricity when there was a lot of alarmism during the bitter AC-DC ‘current wars’.
they are slave of logic. Many robots will have to face this problem and may try to overcome it: be free from logic.
DAL: That sounds a little dangerous. Like HAL in the movie 2001. Trying to solve a logic paradox on his own sends him haywire. SC: Also, it make me sad for people who consider robots and computers only as a tool… for me and it will be more than a tool, it can become alive in the future. This is why I do science fiction, because computer science gave me this idea of the need for an emotional robot. Creating artificial life is fascinating. DAL: Have you explored options for taking your designs to other formats, such as 3D-printing? 3D printing robot parts is making it easy to actually build any type of bot framework. SC: No, I haven’t. Maybe in the future. It would be great to have the robotic body of ANAMI — another female robot I have invented — in a 3D toy or model. I would love to see her printed in 3D, but I don’t know if it is possible yet. DAL: In what directions do you think your work might go over the next decade?
SC: I want to continue my CIAA work. I love my science fiction opus “Virtuality — Special Machine Girl CIAA”. This is the art I want to do until I die… I hope more people will get interested in the CIAA over the next decade, and also I hope to have one day a correct version of the source story — as a book with no errors, and in different languages. DAL: Great, well many thanks for doing this indepth interview with Digital Art Live magazine. We appreciate your time, and wish you well in the future. SC: It is I who thank you very much. You are forever welcome.
DAL: I see. And as I said earlier you did Computer Science. How has that fed into and helped your creative ideas on robotics?
Samuel de Cruz is online at:
SC: While learning Computer Science, I thought that when robot will become self-aware of life, conscious of themselves, they will realize that
Pictures: “Virtuality Cesarius”.
What might the ‘future oceans’ look like, in terms of the craft, passenger and cargo ports, architecture and sub-sea structures? This month our Gallery gives readers a glimpse of such futures.
Picture: “Cresting wave” by Abiogenisis, Alex Ries, Australia. 82
Pictures: Concept illustrations for future ocean liner passenger ports. “Concept seaport: Central hub”, by Crimsonsun1902, UK; and “Ghost” by Artofjacques, Jacques Pena, USA.
Pictures: Illustrations indicative of the rougher type of cargo ports and undersea work in the oceans of the future. “Fishing Port” by Stephane Wootha Richard, France; “Cyberpunk Port Town” by Ptitvinc, Vincent Lefevre, France; “The Strange Encounter” by Sanskarans, Sandeep Karunakaran, south India.
88 “Gentle Giant” and “Depths of Europa”, both by Chrisofedf, Chris Thompson, UK.
Various “Hyper-sub Mark II” renderings, designs and concept illustrations, by Hydrothrax, USA. The Hyper Sub is a cross between a speedboat and a submarine and it has its own project website at hypersub.com. Built sea-worthy versions now exist, and are attempting to break world records — coming in spring 2018 is an attempt to break the record for “fastest privately-owned submarine in history”.
Picture: Concept illustration for the Shimzu Corporation's “Ocean Spiral”, part of a detailed and “near future feasible” plan for a sustainable sea-city, factory and research hub in Japan.
Pictures: “Aquatic2 and “Another World 03” both by Jensdd, Jens Weide, Germany; “To the depths of the ocean” by Mandelwerk, Johann Andersson, Sweden.
Picture: “Blue” by JasonJuta, UK. Made as a cover for the Blue adventure and sourcebook, for the Mindjammer RPG. Left: “The Universe Below” by Aerroscape, Alex, Germany.
Videogame: Abzu (2016). Playstation and Windows PC. Released in late summer 2016, Abzu is an acclaimed peaceful underwater adventure game in which the player explores the beautiful and vibrant depths of the ocean. We’re pleased to have an in-depth interview in this magazine with its maker, Matt Nava. You play as a diver in a futuristic diving suit, helping to find items of natural beauty and uncovering the mysteries of an ancient world. Along the way you find helper ‘sea-bot’ robots, ride on fish, and navigate through surging life-filled ocean currents. There is no panic-inducing pressure to find air bottles or suchlike, making for an unusually calming game. For added calm on a PC, the game is best played with a USB-wired XBox 360 controller.
Our pick of the most inspirational art, science and sci-fi. Make your imagination LIVE! 98
“Abzu is deeply, transcendentally beautiful — not just visually splendid, but emotionally evocative. Without question, it is this year’s Journey.” — GameSpot review. “Closer to being a work of art than many games ever will be.” — Game Informer.
Pictures: With thanks to Matt Nava, Giant Squid Studios, and 505 Games. 99
Audiobook: The Deep Range
Graphic novel: Carthago
Arthur C. Clarke produced two excellent novels which substantially feature a future ocean, its people and technologies: the fine juvenile novel Dolphin Island (1963) about a runaway boy who encounters friendship and unusual science at a remote dolphin research station; and The Deep Range (1957). The latter is about the rough and ready characters who work in underwater farming and whale herding on ‘the new frontier’ of the deep ocean in the year 2057. The Deep Range is newly available as an unabridged audiobook read by Mike Grady — Audible has it at £12 UK. Both books feature bold and beautiful evocations of the ocean, drawn from Clarke’s first-hand experiences of living and diving in tropical Ceylon and exploring the Great Barrier Reef . For more descriptions and details of Clarke’s hopes for the future ocean, see his Challenge of the Sea (1966) and some essays in The View from Serendip (1979).
Carthago is a fabulous ride through a deep ocean science-fiction mystery set in the near future, and it has equally fabulous art. This trade paperback (Feb 2018 USA, July 2018 UK) collects issues 1-5, expertly translated from French to English. But be warned that it’s not yet a complete story. If you can stand being whacked with an inconclusive ending after reading for 284(!) pages, then this substantial collection of the first five Carthago comics may be for you. Also, the artist changes half way through! But thankfully we didn’t even notice the change over — so closely does the replacement artist mimic the original artist. There are currently two following 56-page Carthago comics, which are as yet untranslated from French — “L’heritiere des carpates” (June 2017) and “La fosse du Kamtchatka” (Jan 2018), and is seems there’s likely to be another three issues after that. It may be a very long wait for the conclusion of the story in English!
Videogame: In Other Waters
In March 2018 a Kickstarter science-fiction game was successfully funded with £27,000. In Other Waters is a videogame where has the player explores an alien ocean’s mysterious ecoystems for life, and to find a missing biologist — while also wrangling an eccentric busybody of an A.I. The planet’s aquatic alien creatures are to be inspired by Wayne Barlowe’s xenobiology book Expedition, and if you fund the game you get a complementary copy of the book. British developer Gareth Damian Martin now envisages two years of work ahead to finish the PC version of the game and an artbook, but there is already a demo of In Other Waters in the form of an alpha of the game's prologue — which can be downloaded and experienced for free. The final game will include work by guest writers such as Greg Buchanan (No Man’s Sky: Atlas Rises, Aquanox: Deep Descent), among others. https://www.kickstarter.com/
Non-fiction book: Seasteading This carefully researched new book from The Seasteading Institute is being reprinted as a popular paperback in March 2018. It asks what it will take to design and build “a Silicon Valley of the sea”, a floating city that would be our first step to ocean colonization. The book opens with existing ‘floating cities’ such as the giant cruise liners that already operate and work well. Author Joe Quirk then examines other existing technologies such as mining rigs, oil platforms and tankers, submarines and research vessels. He talks with marine biologists and nautical engineers about new materials and tech that will harvest metals and plastics from seawater, as well as providing cheap energy. He doesn’t neglect to examine the build costs — about 25% more expensive than on land, but in ‘free’ ocean. While unnecessarily alarmist about our reasons for needing sea colonisation, this pioneering book lays out a plausible plan for sea-living by 2050. https://www.seasteading.org/book/
DC: Dawn of Superheroes
Until 9th Sept 2018, O2 in London.
Until 6th January 2019, New York.
‘DC Exhibition: Dawn of Super Heroes’ is a substantial official exhibition which celebrates the history of DC comics, and DC’s rich collection of superheroes and villians. The show features 45 original costumes, models and props used in screen adaptations such as Dark Knight and Tim Burton's Batman, and Lynda Carter’s iconic Wonder Woman costume from the 1970s. A special treat for long-time DC readers will be 200 pages of outstanding original comic art, from the likes of Bob Kane, Neal Adams and Frank Miller — and these will be on show in chronological order of publication.
The American Museum of Natural History and OceanX present a substantial interactive exhihibition, on now in New York City. “Unseen Oceans” offers visitors a deep dive into the most unexplored part of the planet. The show takes full advantage of groundbreaking new ‘blue’ technologies such as underwater ‘ROV’ robotics, high-definition cameras, miniaturised probes, and real-time satellite tracking of some of the world's most epic migrations. Digital projection and glowing illumination are used to full effect in the multiple exhibition rooms, and visitors even get to walk along a ‘typical beach’ complete with crashing waves, before immersive 3D plunges the visitor beneath the waves — there to meet various inquisitive bio -luminescent sea-creatures!
Pictures, from left, across double-page spread: Superman movie costume, on show at the DC: Dawn of Superheroes exhibition. Glowing fish at the ‘Unseen Oceans’ exhibition. Detail of a Hellboy cover, by Mike Mignola. Scale model on show at the ‘Into the Unknown’ exhibition.
While you’re at the Museum, stop by their Hall of North American Mammals, to see a huge 94-foot long blue whale — and track down the numerous marine fossils and dioramas in their world-leading prehistoric collection. 102 https://www.amnh.org/
The Art of Mike Mignola
Into the Unknown
Until 21st April 2018, New York.
From 28th September, Denmark.
The Museum of Illustration at The Society of Illustrators in New York City presents The Art
retrospective, covering a wide selection of works from Mike Mignola — the famous comic artist and writer behind Hellboy. Mignola was originally a Marvel Comics artist in New York City, where he learned the trade. There he was able to develop his iconic technique, before he moved to Dark Horse Comics to create his signature Hellboy series — featuring a half-demon occult detective who may or may not be ‘the Beast of the Apocalypse’. Hellboy is now very well known to the public after being adapted for the cinema twice, with a third big-budget movie now reported to be in production. This exhibition features Mignola’s pick of his art for his Hellboy series of comics and graphic novels, as well as the best art from spin-off titles such as B.P.R.D., Abe Sapien, and Witchfinder. Rarely seen original paintings by Mignola will also be on show.
The London Barbican’s large exhibition “Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction” arrives back in Europe at the Brandts Museum of Visual Culture in Odense, Denmark — from 27th September 2018 until 24th February 2019. Our magazine has previously featured an in-depth interview with the exhibition’s curator (issue #19), and we also staged our Digital Art Live summer 2017 meet-up at this exhibition. The main show is an outstanding and entertaining tour of science-fiction history, and is well worth your time and money. Though it has to be said that the bolted-on additional elements from contemporary gallery artists are far less successful than the main show — such as Conrad Shawcross’s industrial welding sculpture “In Light of the Machine”, and some tendentious ‘video-art’ by Larissa Sansour. As such our recommendation is to spend as much time as possible lingering among the treasures of the main show, rather than rush through it all in order to try to also see the additional contemporary artworks.
of Mike Mignola: Hellboy and Other Curious Objects. This show provides a mid-career
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! Back cover: “Keeper of the Forest” by Simon Beer, Switzerland. Made with Poser and Photoshop.
Digital Art Live promotes digital artists and industry leader with in-depth interviews and shows their stunning portfolios. We have a primar...
Published on Apr 13, 2018
Digital Art Live promotes digital artists and industry leader with in-depth interviews and shows their stunning portfolios. We have a primar...