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Issue 13 October 2011 9 Top Composition Tips
3D Art Direct
BE INSPIRED BY 3D DIGITAL ART
Discover New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Worlds
How we contribute to the Digital Arts Community
We specialize in 3D Digital Art in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. We interview digital artists from around the world and publish their portfolios in our magazine, video blog and our 3D virtual gallery. We specialise in examining an artist's portfolio in detail and discovering the stories about it's creation. We promote an artist's work across the board through multiple media.
Magazine Read our magazine on-line or order a printed copy.
Praetax Explore our on-line virtual art gallery (in beta)
Video Portfolios Get your portfolio on YouTube
3DArtDirect.com/blog/videoportfolio View portfolios of artists we‘ve interviewed on YouTube. See the 3DArtDirect channel. Paul Bussey Editor
Mickey Mills Assistant Editor
Brian Christensen Article Writer
Cover art : “Return to Avalon” Glen Clovis 2
CONTENTS Editorial 9 Essential composition tips for your digital art. These tips will help you create more compelling images
Interview : Glenn Clovis “One of the reasons I like painting nebulas so much is that it stems form pure chaos, I have freedom to mix elements, colors and patterns how I like, I am not restricted in a detailed sense on what I can create or what it looks like. “
Interview : Rob Caswell “Take ten photographers and tell them to photograph a subject and you’ll get ten unique results. The same goes for Poser
artists. Each result is a reflection of the creator’s skill with the tools and creative manipulation of the subject.”
Interview : Peter Rex Peter Rex on the Reality Lux plugin for Daz Studio. “Lux is an "unbiased" render engine, it emulates real world physics, very different from the "biased" render engines like 3Delight or the Vue render engine, the resulting images have a photography like feel!”
3D Model Zone Celestia Motherlode The Celestia Motherlode has a superb catalogue of spacecraft both from fiction and reality to explore. What‘s more these spacecraft can be placed in an accurate 3D universe contained in the Celestia software or scenes within your own 3D applications. Brian Christensen journeys through the Celestia Universe.
9 Composition Tips Framing
r ou y for art l ita g i d
The real world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes. In 3D digital art, the choice of frames is even greater. By placing frames around the edge of the composition you help to isolate and place attention on a main subject . The result is a more focussed image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest. In Warren Turner‘s ―Pan‘s Labrynth‖ created with Mojworld, Warren uses effective framing to create a sense of depth and exploration in this image. In fact as well as the main foreground frame, multiple frames from the lattice structure create further depth and mystery.
“Escape Velocity” by Brian Christensen uses depth by overlapping to provide the impact.
Because digital art is a two-dimensional medium, we have to choose our composition carefully to convey a good sense of depth. You can create depth in an image by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. Another useful composition technique is overlapping, where you deliberately partially obscure one object with another. The human eye naturally recognises these layers and mentally separates them out, creating an image with more depth.
An image can lack impact because the main subject is so small it becomes lost among the clutter of its surroundings. By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background ‗noise‘, ensuring the subject
In the example above, overlapping is used with good affect by the planet overlaying it‘s moon. The foreground spacecraft includes a ―leading line‖ of an exhaust trail to create more depth in the foreground portion of the image.
Angelic symmetry in action (Wolfgang Sigl)
gets the viewer‘s undivided attention.
Symmetry Pan’s Labrynth by Warren Turner
Patterns and symmetry surround us; both in natural and man-made formats. They both can make for very eyecatching compositions, especially in situations where 4
they are not expected. Furthermore – try upsetting the balance of symmetry – place an object to weight the image on one side, to create tension or a focal poin to the scene.
'Unicorn Bay' includes an unobtrusive, yet complimentary backround. Having a busy background will lessen the impact that the foreground objects make. The background will tend to blend into the foreground in this case. A real world or virtual camera has a tendency to flatten the foreground and background, and this can often ruin an otherwise great photo or 3D digital image. Don‘t crowd your background – make it a little plainer and more unobtrusive in order to power up the foreground.
Rule of Thirds
3D digital art has a large advantage, in that the virtual “Kid Soldier” by Wolfgang Sigl has the camera can be viewpoint towards the ground level., placed with making the image orientated more from ease anywhere the child’s perspective. in the scene. Viewpoint has a huge impact on the composition of an image, and as a result it can greatly affect the story that the shot conveys. Rather than just using an eye level point of view, consider placing the virtual camera from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the
Imagine that your image is divided into nine equal parts by two horizontal and two vertical lines. Try to place the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. Doing so will add balance and interest to your render.
Leading Lines When we look at an image our eye is naturally drawn along lines. By thinking about how you place lines in your composition, you can affect the way we view the image, pulling us into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey ‗through‘ the scene. There are different types of line you can think of to gain this effect- curvy, diagonal, straight, zigzag, radial and so on. Each of these can be used to enhance the image‘s composition.
Balancing the Weight of Elements Placing your main subject off-centre, creates a more interesting image, but it can leave a gap in the scene which can make it feel empty. You should balance the ‗weight‘ of your subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space. “Unicorn Bay” by Wolfgang Sigle has an unobtrsuive , yet complimentary background.
Paul Bussey Editor email@example.com
back, from a long way away, from very close up, and so on.
Raised by an artist and a sci-fi fan, early on he was both taught and exposed to various forms of art that challenged the imagination from an early age. Old sci-fi movies from the 50‘s and 60‘s as well as Star Trek:TOS and Star Wars had major impacts on his future interests. For a long period, sketch and ink pieces were the limit of his creations, focusing on cartography and character illustrations.
In 2006 he began to create Space Art and Sci-Fi pieces for his portfolio. Online tutorials and tons of research into related science fact helped guide his creative process. 2006-2010 was predominately Space Art pieces, with features on the covers of Sci-Fi Almanac 2010 Edition, and Vol I and II of Captain Future, published by Golkonda-Verlag. As of 2011 his work has continued in Space Art but with a growing focus on 3D modeling for use in the creation of more Sci-Fi centric pieces. Glenn lives in SW Portland, Ore.
It wasn‘t until the late 1990‘s, with his professional focus on web site creation, did the need for skills in digital graphic art become important. With an early copy of Adobe Photoshop he began initially creating simple GUI elements, wallpapers and logos. Around 2001, he stepped into the role of Creative Projects Director for a Indie game developer. Due to the small size of the company, his skill were using in many areas, including model texturing, This provided a huge opportunity to greatly improve his Photoshop skills.
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis 3DAD: First I want to thank you for agreeing to share your experience with our readers. Tell us a little about you, where you're from and what drew you to digital art. Thank you for the opportunity. CG: Thank you for this opportunity. I'm a Space/Sci-Fi Artist, father of six, originally from Monterey, California currently residing outside of Portland, Or. Digital Art had always been a fascination of mine, as the tools of the trade have provided me with the ability to effectively create my visions. Something I was never very good at doing on paper or canvas. 3DAD: Have you always been a traditional pencil and ink kind of artist or did this evolve with the digital world? CG: I started out as a basic pencil/ink artist, creating most of my pieces during the 90's. I purchased my first copy of Adobe Photoshop 3.0 in 1996 and started to teach myself. It took a good 10 years before I started to create works in the Space Art/Sci-Fi genre. 3DAD: What other digital artists have been your guiding influences along the journey? CG: Most of my influences are from the traditional medium. Artist such as Greg Martin, John Berkey, Chris Foss, William Hartmann, David Hardy, Greg Martin, Chris Fross, Ron Turner, Angus McKie, Alexander Preuss, the list just goes on and on from there. 3DAD: When you start thinking about doing an image, how does that come about? What is your creative process? 7
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
SHAR‘NEZ NEBULA 8
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
CG: I will usually start out with a piece of paper filled with prior to publication. Just the sort of environment I was small thumbnail sketches I have created. I'll build the looking for. We try to turn out new Exhibits every 4 months base elements in a digital medium (color, structure) and or so then add/subtract the details from there. 3DAD: Tell us about how the Eye of Odin sequence at 3DAD: You are a premium member at Deviant Art. Tell us The Luminarium evolved. about being a part of the DA community. How Has your CG: While trying to come up with a basic structure I cregrowth as an artist been impacted by your involvement ated an element that looked like it would be a very nice there? focus element. The middle image of that sequence is CG: DA has been a huge impact on me as an artist. I actually the first one that was created, the remaining have had the opportunity to learn, discuss, share criimages were created by removing layers or modifying tiques and be generally inspired by fellow artists. My inihow they blended or oriented. tial Space Art pieces were pretty poor, but exposure to 3DAD: Your gallery is dominated by deep-space objects, DA and the pressure to avoid negative critiques pushed nebulas and exploding dwarf stars. Are you a closet asme to be more honest with my creations in determining if tronomer and find digital art a means to release your they were truly "finished.â€– passion for the night sky? Where does this connection to 3DAD: How did your deviant name "tsayre" come about? space come from? CG: It simply from some 1970's sci-fi book. I needed a CG: I'm not really a closet astronomer, I just find space name for online gaming and I wanted something unique and the chaos it contains to be a beautiful thing. Creatso I used this, it's just kind of stuck. ing works based on that theme is liberating. 3DAD: Another group you are deeply involved with is The 3DAD: Looking specifically at some of your art, one of Luminarium project. You are listed there as a senior artist. your more striking deep space images is, Return to AvaTell us a little bit about your involvement there. lon. The depth and scope is breathtaking. You used Photoshop, Vue and Cinema 4D to create this one. Talk CG: Joining The Luminarium has been a tremendous opabout how you juggle these three packages to build an portunity, helping me hone my skills and learn from some image. very talented artists. As a group we are very supportive of each other offering straightforward critiques of work CG: Vue is becoming less and less of a factor in my im9
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
One of the reasons I like painting nebulas so much is that it stems form pure chaos, I have freedom to mix elements, colors and patterns how I like, I am not restricted in a detailed sense on what I can create or what it looks like.
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis ages, since I am becoming more proficient with Cinema 4D, but in this case it was very helpful for creating realistic asteroids/planet rings. Cinema 4D was used to create the basic ships, PS to add details to the ship and to create all the other elements. Photoshop is the end-all, beall tool for me, if I didn't have the 3D programs I would still be happy as long as I had my trusted Photoshop.
CG: Actually, Return to Avalon wasn't selected; the group at Sci-Fi Almanac instead selected one of my scrap pieces, which required a bit of tweaking. It was given the name "Decay of Avalon" just so I could call it something. Return to Avalon, IMHO, is a much better piece and one of my personal favorites. I would have 3DAD: If you could add a missing feature to Vue and Cin- preferred it was selected but alas it was out of my hands. ema 4D what would those be? Still, it was a wonderful opportunity to represent a fantastic group of Sci-Fi enthusiasts. CG: More organic tools, similar to Zbrush would be very helpful. 3DAD: Aries Prime is an image that jumps right off the page. The image has a fantastic blend of space and sci3DAD: In the fall of last year Return to Avalon was selectfi imagery. Talk about how you marry reality and specued as the cover art for Sci-fi Almanac magazine. Conlative fiction. gratulations. How did that come about and how was
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
CG: It is a very slow process. I could just throw in some small ships and add some vector trails, but it just seems to be overdone and frankly doesn't really fit into what I try to create. Getting sci-fi elements to fit into an image and look like they belong there is not something I'm always successful at, but when it works, it can really bring an image to life.
CG: It all depends on whether I can "paint" elements I require or if it would be better served to render a 3D model and add it into the finished piece. There's not stead and fast rule, it just depends on how well I'm painting that day.
3DAD: Shifting gears slightly, you have some 3D modeling images in your gallery. Space Colonies - Bernal Sphere 3DAD: Some of your work looks like it was pulled right off was one of your first modeling efforts in Cinema 4D. Talk the Hubble. For example the Augustus Nebula is so realis- about the story behind the Bernal Sphere. tic yet a check in the Messier Object database reveals CG: I needed practice creating something in Cinema 4D no such place exists. You seem to be world building in and I figured a design that had already been created the purest sense and creating space on your own. How would serve as a good starting point to go through and does this kind of vision come about? learn the tools. The Bernal Sphere model is fairly basic CG: I couldn't recreate a Hubble image and do it justice and I will likely go back and redo it, but was an excellent and frankly what would be the point. One of the reasons opportunity to judge myself on how well I was building to I like painting nebulas so much is that it stems form pure a set design. chaos, I have freedom to mix elements, colors and pat3DAD: Space colonies have been a favorite topic of sci-fi terns how I like, I am not restricted in a detailed sense on writers and film-makers through the ages. Any plans to what I can create or what it looks like. I try to leave in expand on this work into something with a broader physical characteristics you'd find in the real world, such scope; a graphic novel perhaps? as the interaction of objects, but I still have plenty of freeCG: Not at this time. Although some of my pieces are dom. used at Si-Fi Almanac, I frankly don't have the time to 3DAD: Some of your work, including the Augustus Nebucommit to a long term project that a graphic novel la, is straight out of Photoshop. What do you base your would entail, at least not for the next few months. decision to do a piece strictly in 2D or use a separate 3D 3DAD: What do you think are your greatest strengths as a application? digital artist? Weakness? 13
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
CG: Strength I would say stems from time in the trenches creating TONS of really poor pieces, but learning from those 'mistakes'. Weakness would be starting a dozen pieces around the same time and then forgetting about half of them until I stumble upon them at some later date browsing through Adobe Bridge. I am not what you would call 'organized'. Sort of like my nebulas.
CG: I‘d have to say 75% of my work looks nothing like what I had originally intended. So many opportunities or new visions come out of experimenting with various tools and methods while creating a piece. So initially, my inspiration may come from Hubble telescope images, fellow artists, Nature, etc., but it ends up being some ‗mistake‘, if you will, that compels me to follow through and complete an image I never would have thought of.
3DAD: Where do you usually get your inspiration for digital art?
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
3DAD: When you are not building spectacular universes you are building spectacular websites. How did you get into site design and what challenges do you face with that work?
3DAD: Keeping up with technology is always a challenge. What hardware platform are you using today?
CG: Initially, I started to learn programming strictly to make a better income. Like a lot of web designers I had no formal schooling, just a lot of long nights writing code, tearing apart code, making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, in the vain hope that I could keep up with the marketplace and have a skill-set I could actually sell. I find that dealing with website design takes a different mindset than that of an artists, especially if you are doing the coding yourself. With a digital art piece I may create a thumbnail sketch to start off with then carry the piece from there, with plenty of freedom to go off on whatever tangent I feel works best for the piece. For web design, not only am I subject to the clients' ever changing wants and desires, I am compelled to follow a defined process, that being; Needs Assessment, Storyboarding, Information Architecture, User Interface Design, Graphic Design, Programming, Q&A, Testing, Content, etc.
CG: Intel 2600k o/c to 3.8 MHz, 16GB RAM with a ATI 5770 which I will upgrading shortly for Battlefield 3. Renders on this rig are lightning fast. 3DAD: What projects are you working on these days? CG: Several projects for The Luminarium and some web site, I am extremely busy, which I guess is a good thing. 3DAD: Finally What three tips would you have for those involved in model creation and/or digital artwork? CG: 1. Never throw away pieces because they don't seem to work out, you'll never know what you can incorporate them into later. 2. Push yourself; don't just recreate a scene that has been done a million times. 3. Save, save often. SAVE!! lol.
Web design in a lot of ways is much more analytical than creative, not an easy jump sometimes.
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
C AP T A IN FU TU R E COV E R A RT
INTERVIEW: Glenn Clovis
Rob Caswell (also working as Arcas) has had a passion for art – particularly science fiction – since he could hold a pencil. However, growing up in the U.S. during the Space Race meant art was discouraged in favor of science and math. So after graduating from college with his degree in astronomy, he‘s been on a long, frantic scramble to return to his childhood‘s creative passions and path. Rob has worked professionally in a number of different graphic disciplines, from science fiction and fantasy illustration for paper and pen RPGs (where he was mostly know for his work on Traveller), to comic book lettering, to computer game art, and in a host of more mundane graphics applications in between. His first hands-on exposure to 3D modeling was in computer game production, where he worked with Specular 3D, TrueSpace, and 3D Studio. But it wasn‘t until ten years later, when a friend introduced him to DAZ Studio, that he finally developed a true passion for working with the medium. He mostly generates work for his own enjoyment, but takes on the occasional freelance opportunity. Rob now lives with his wife in Western Massachusetts where he operates a business as a digital print maker.
You can find Rob Caswell at:
ADARA IN CHARCOAL
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell 3DAD: First, I'd like to welcome you to the pages of 3D Art Direct. Thank you for agreeing to share your work with our readers. Tell us a couple of things about your art journey not found in your bio. You started young with pencil sketches, is that correct?
shapes. The pencil did just fine.
Of course I didn‘t intellectualize the choice back then, I just did what I enjoyed. Adding more weight to my passion for pencil pushing was that my father came from a drafting background. He spent WW2 at the drafting taRC: Thanks a lot for this opportunity to showcase and talk ble and wanted to be an aeronautical engineer, but about my work. It‘s always nice to get some confirmation marriage and life (and little lives) happened so his pasthat my works are being noticed outside of the specific sion was channeled into a vicarious love of naval aviaonline venues where I post them. Plus I really enjoy shartion and a personal workshop where he engineered high ing my thoughts about art and technique with others. -performance, hand-launched balsa gliders. When properly thrown, these things could sail into the air where So as to your question about my art beginnings, didn‘t they‘d catch the thermals and sometimes ride them into everyone start with pencils? OK, there‘s crayons, but the clouds and out of sight. No kiddin‘ - really! those weren‘t technically precise enough for my needs, even at a young age. Crayons were too ―mushy‖ and So my father‘s engineering and design leanings rubbed finger paints… well, I hated getting paint all over my off on me pretty quickly, though the difference is that the hands. It screwed with my sense of touch and made me Golden Age of Aviation of the ‗20s and ‗30s inspired his nuts. By the time I was five, I was drawing spaceships, imagination, where as my mind was fascinated with takspace stations, aliens, and the like, so I was looking for an ing the next step: astronautics. instrument that would let me precisely define those CLIFF KISSERS
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell 3DAD: You have an extensive gallery at Deviant Art. One of the blurbs in your profile there says your favorite art styles are Illustration and Art Nouveau. How have those favorites influenced your digital art style? RC: I guess I‘m drawn to illustration that either tells or implies a story, as well as that works to illuminate an idea. It‘s the kind of thing that you find on many paperback book covers or that you see in conceptual art studies for media projects – games, movies, and the like. But when you start to get into more traditional, fine art still life subjects, it just fails to really engage me. I guess I‘m drawn to work that leaves you wondering…. ―how does that work?‖ or ―what‘s going here… and what will happen next?‖ My mother is still waiting for me to make her a lovely image of a bowl of fruit, but it ain‘t gonna happen. I know…I‘m an awful son, but my work has always come from a place in my imagination. Hmm… which makes me wonder if she‘d be okay with alien fruit???
again – there‘s almost an inverse proportionality between the amount of forethought and time that I put into a piece and how popular it is with viewers. I don‘t know if this is some kind of validation about being more Zen with your art? In any case it hasn‘t prevented me from still over-thinking some of my ideas before laying down pixels. ―Cliff Kissers‖ uses the artist Popgriffon‘s wonderfully detailed ―P11 Space Fighter‖ model and integrates it with a background image created by Didi_mc (http:// trueartistry.com/) using Vue. So the end result is a 2D/3D composite. My role was in creating the composition, crafting a lighting match for the 3D to mesh with the 2D, and in tweaking the right level of atmospheric haze. Of course when I say it like that, it sounds like my artistic input is little to none. As one who has done their own art and design in hand drawn form for decades before getting into 3D, I‘ve often wrestled with this one – the question of whether there‘s really artistic merit in working this way?
What already exists… well, it doesn‘t need my help in being realized and it‘s easy enough to just photograph. I say there is. It‘s more than just ―Digital Colorforms‖. I‘d liken it more to ―Virtual Photography‖. A photographer Art Nouveau gets its hooks into me through my interests usually doesn‘t create his subjects. He or she doesn‘t acin design and drafting. It‘s a way of fusing illustration and tually make the car, flowers, or landscape. They take strong, geometric design elements. It‘s not trying to be previously-existing elements and process them through reality, but to go a step beyond reality with its stylization. I their own creative vision to achieve something that only just find it a fascinating fusion of disciplines and styles. It their own mind and skills could craft. Take ten photogradefinitely seeps into my art – both 2D and 3D – though phers and tell them to photograph a subject and you‘ll maybe not in recognizable form to others. I often tend to get ten unique results. The same goes for Poser artists. use stylized geometric elements that intrude on an illusEach result is a reflection of the creator‘s skill with the tration to either enhance the composition, imply a functools and creative manipulation of the subject. tion, or just to direct the eye. It‘s a bit similar in the way artists like Patrick Nagel or David Deitrick have processed It‘s also worth noting that Poser content creators are and integrated some of the core Art Nouveau ideas into making these elements for that express purpose. They their styles. are doing it to supply Poser artists with raw materials, be it props, figures, background images, or what have you. 3DAD: You were asked earlier about your three favorite That makes a Poser image a creative composite, but pieces. You came back with: again one could argue that many photographs could Cliff Kisser also have that label applied when you think about where all the elements come from. Louis Wu: Ringworld Explorer Anyway, getting back to the illustrations in question, I guess I could say that my ―Louis Wu‖ image has been For each of these pieces tell us a little of what inspired about four decades in the making. When I read a novel the creation and what stands out as the best element of my mind is always creating pictures from the words. I each. read Larry Niven‘s ―Ringworld‖ as a teenager and its main protagonist, Louis Wu, has been in my mind ever RC: ―Cliff Kissers‖ has been tremendously popular with those following my output, but for me it was a very simple since. The mental ideas and imagery of him were only reinforced through re-readings and sequels. work. I almost didn‘t publish it as it seemed too simple. But it just reinforces what I see happen over and over Many Niven fans‘ idea of Louis‘ appearance is based on Spy Girls 3
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell LOUIS WU: RINGWORLD EXPLORER
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell
SPY GIRLS: 2
his description in the opening chapter of the book, where he is described as a Fu Manchu-ish 200 year old man. But if you carefully read the subsequent chapters you come to understand that initial appearance was a stylish affectation. Though he is 200 years in age, he has been on life-prolonging drugs all his life which has arrested his appearance as man in his twenties. Plus, regardless of his Asian surname, he – like most humans on Niven‘s future Earth – is a mongrel: a seamless fusion of the many different races of humanity who have procreated through the future centuries. That was the Louis Wu I sought to capture. My one nod to the character‘s age was his ears. It‘s said that our ears slowly grow larger throughout our lifespan, so I tried to give him ears that seemed... well, big for his apparent age. Particularly in the earlobes, which I tried to make just shy of Buddha-length. This is another 2D/3D integration with a background element by MNArtist (Jim Kuether). The Louis Wu character
SPY GIRLS: 3
morph is mine and the outfit is a mish-mash of props and clothing, re-purposed and re-colored to meet my needs. The Pierson‘s Puppeteer figure model is by the artist Dodger. Finally we come to ―Spy Girls 3‖ – one of the early works from my Spy Girls series of images. This series came about from a love of the '60s spy/detective genre – from Emma Peele and Honey West to James Bond and Batgirl, where stunningly beautiful heroines seemed to be both kick-ass and peril-prone in near equal measure. I‘m sure Ursula Andress‘ appearance in ―Dr.No‖ was strong in my mind with this work. The challenge here was to create both that perfect moment of stealthy approach to the villain‘s lair and to give her an appropriately-soaked appearance, as if she‘d crawled through a hatch out of the sea only a minute before. I was happy with how I hit those marks. The whole Spy Girl image series has its own stylized look, 24
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell with a cutout selection of photoreal foreground/subject lighting set for the 3D elements that mimicked how the elements fused with a geometric abstract background. I light hit objects in the 2D background. Once that was try to use this graphic presentation to pull the series todone it was easy enough just to do test screen renders gether as a ―visually-related family‖ – or just ―visual and tweak the lights and/or props until I had a match branding‖ …in a non-commercial way. that seemed to work well. Then I did a TIFF render of all elements and PNG render of just the 3D elements to 3DAD: The fighter component in "Cliff Kisser" is an outserve as a mask for postwork. standing creation by Popgriffon at Renderosity. What you've done with the image is give it a definite sense of I loaded up my renders in Photoshop, with my mask in a motion and action. Walk us through how you put this to- layer atop the full image render. At this point the 3D elegether and how it evolved. ments stood out against the finished background in their clarity and contrast, so the big postwork challenge is to RC: Well, as I said before, the basics of how this image get the 3D parts to match the 2D image quality. went together are pretty simple. I started with the idea of wanting to show the P11 against a planetary landscape. I created a new layer and filled it with a very light beige I looked through my available resources until I found a color. This will be my atmospheric haze for the 3D bits. landscape that clicked with my creative leanings du Next I CTRL-CLICKED the PNG mask layer, which just sejour. lects the 3D elements. Going back to the haze layer, I click the MAKE LAYER MASK icon at the bottom of the Once I had a background chosen, I loaded up DAZ Stulayer palette. This makes the haze apply only to our 3D dio, loaded in my two P11‘s, and then set the workelements. I set the haze layer‘s blending mode to space‘s background image to Didi_mc‘s landscape. So I SCREEN, then reduced the layer‘s opacity until the most now could see my 2D and 3D elements together. This distant P11‘s haze level matched the background imallowed me to, first, pose the subjects in a believable age. Now I wanted to add more haze effect to the far way against the 2D landscape, and second, to craft a fighter, so I made a selection box around my closest
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell 3DAD: A lot of your inspiration seems to mostly come out of sci-fi literature of the '60s and '70s, (Larry Niven, Frederick Pohl and Ursula K. Le Guin to name a few). What do you look for in good sci-fi and are you finding it in any of the contemporary creators? RC: Oh sure, there‘s still plenty of good sci-fi being written, although as I just said, I don‘t see nearly as many inspiring covers these days. I‘m generally lured by new and interesting concepts – those novels that ask, ―what if‖ – and not so much by action-oriented, high -caliber, rock-em-sock-em space operas. Good ―first contact‖ stories are always a great read, too, as well as alien archeological mysteries.
Some contemporary authors I enjoy are Paolo Bacigalupi, Greg Egan, Jack McDevitt, Allen Steele, and Alastair Reynolds. But I must admit that my recent reads don‘t form images in my head quite as readily as the books of my youth… but maybe that‘s a product of age. Or maybe it‘s just a more jaded imagination that demands a higher level of originality given all the ideas that I‘ve already been exposed to? It‘s certainly not out of the question that a newer work of fiction would light a fire beneath my muse. It just hasn‘t happened too much, lately.
fighter, then I selected the haze‘s layer mask. Going to IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST I decrease the brightness of this mask element – thus decreasing the amount of atmospheric haze effect – until I have a match that I want. You can continue to play with haze layer opacities and brightness adjustments until you‘re 100% happy with the result, but that‘s the basics of the process. After that it was mostly a matter of digitally painting in some contrails. 3DAD: The Louis Wu image, "Ringworld Explorer." You cite the source as Larry Niven's award winning novel, "Ringworld." This book released in 1970 so I suspect it is an early inspiration in your sci-fi roots. How much of your art is inspired by early sci-fi literature?
One of the few illustration areas that I‘ve been recently working professionally is providing technical illustration for printed sci-fi novels – namely for Allen Steele and Rob Sawyer. These are mostly ―blueprints‖ of key concepts in the books. They‘re a nice change of pace from renderRC: I guess it‘s hard to put any kind of numerical percent- ing and I like keeping my fingertips in the print publishing age value on that influence, but as I mentioned earlier, pie. when I read my head becomes a sort of sketch pad. I‘m 3DAD: Many of your pieces have a backstory written to sure the many novels I‘ve read through the years have enhance the experience. Given the choice would you left their footprints in my imagination. That and I just love be a sci-fi writer or a sci-fi artist? looking at sci-fi book covers – especially those from the RC: Well I‘ve always considered myself ―an artist who 70‘s and 80‘s. For me that period was a kind of Golden can do an OK job stringing words together.‖ I enjoy writAge for sci-fi paperback illustration. I‘m sure a lot of my presentation and color choices are shaped by their influ- ing – and I‘ve always had this fantasy of doing some novels or short stories and trying to get them published. But ence. at this point in my life… well, if it REALLY mattered all that 26
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell much to me I would have done it by now. But I still daydream. And maybe some year I‘ll surprise myself and actually get some words on paper that I can shop around? … Sure, and maybe some day we‘ll all wake up to find out that the cars in our garages have been replaced overnight by magical, talking, flying unicorns that pleasantly exude the scent of fresh-cooked bacon!?! 3DAD: You bring to life another of Niven's characters in the form of Teela on the Ringworld. This image has a marvelous balance of color and contrast, and the compositional structure is spot on. Tell us about this image. RC: Well thank you! This was actually my second image of Teela Brown. The first was how she appeared early in the novel, in gaudy Flatlander fashion. The second image is how she appeared once they got to Ringworld so it‘s a much more utilitarian look. In the novel Niven alludes to both Teela and Louis as wearing a kind of insulated exploration jumpsuit. That‘s what I tried to depict here. The technical process behind this one is really much like other 2D/3D composites, like ―Cliff Kissers.‖ The selected 2D background is brought into DAZ Studio as a backdrop where it serves to position the 3D elements and provide a measure to match lighting. Then the final tweaks are made during postwork in Photoshop, where the level of atmospheric haze is applied and balanced. Finally the ring, extending off into the sky, is digitally painted in. 3DAD: As your digital art has evolved, who have been some of the guiding beacons of your development? RC: I can‘t say I‘ve looked to many 3D digital artists as my inspirations, but more often I‘ve looked back on those who have influenced me in earlier times through more traditional media. People like Michael Whelan, Ron Cobb, Bob McCall, Wayne Barlowe, A.C. Farley, Ralph McQuarrie, Bob Eggleton, Frank Frazetta, Steve Rude, Dave Deitrick, Patrick Nagel, and even more specialized ―graphics technicians‖ like Terry Austin and Geoff Mandel, whose bold graphic line work set an early presentation standard for me.
words in a day, you should AT LEAST be reading ten thousand words a day for input – and more is better. I think it‘s the same with art. The more imagery and design that you can expose yourself to, the more fertile and flexible it makes your imaginative output.
3DAD: Getting back to your favorites, tell us about your One thing I really enjoy about spending time on Deviant Spy Girls series with Cassie Blaine. What was the genesis Art is that it not only offers me a chance to showcase my of this project and has this gallery unfolded in the way you envisioned? work, but it also provides a constant flow of creative input. There‘s so much great talent contributing to that site RC: Well, as I explained earlier this series came from my – in a wide variety of media. A day doesn‘t go by when I love of the '60s TV/movie action heroine. I‘d lay most of don‘t see at least one image there that plants a bit of the blame on Emma Peele and Batgirl. The series tried to creative seed in my mind. capture what I liked about that archetype and update it An old friend of mine, Gary Thomas, is a writer who always said that if you expect to output one thousand
a bit. I‘m sure the easiest way to sum it up would be ―Jane Bond‖. 27
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell
Like a lot of my series work, it didn‘t start with that intent. I captured my imagination growing up. did the first image, it was well-received, and I had fun 3DAD: The Cassie Blaine character owns the lion's share creating it. Plus I felt I had a lot more to say with the subof this gallery but there are a few other stars including ject, so one image led to another and another and…. Erika Mann and Lara Croft. How do you go about selectSo given I hadn‘t pictured this as a series to begin with, I ing the base characters and then building the environdidn‘t really have any long-term expectations. I just kind ment to fit? of let it grow where it wanted to. For a while I entertained RC: The Lara Croft images are not meant as part of my the idea of opening it up to an ensemble of characters, Spy Girl series, but she does fit the character profile well. I but I dropped that in favor of just keeping it focused on worked in computer game development starting in the my initial creation, Cassie Blaine. early nineties and I kept advocating for strong female The theme of the images in the series has varied, from leads as subjects in adventure games. The idea never action/adventure to beauty/pinups to peril, but the unfound much traction with my peers… and then Lara derlying goal is to convey the Cassie character as a Croft came along, being that exact character type and bold, capable, beautiful agent of adventure. Nothing succeeding for all the reasons I theorized a female lead more, really. Like so much of my work it‘s mostly a homcharacter would. So I have certain affection for her as a age to the creative entertainment that shaped me and creation. She may not be mine, but she validated my 28
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell untested concept. Erika Mann and the other Spy Girl characters mostly sprang from a desire for some visual diversity in the subject, but somehow adding these additional characters made me feel like the series concept was being diluted more than enhanced, so I just dropped that angle and went back to Cassie as the sole focus.
―It‘s more than just ―Digital Colorforms‖. I‘d liken it more to ―Virtual Photography‖. A photographer usually doesn‘t create his subjects. He or she doesn‘t actually make the car, flowers, or landscape. They take previouslyexisting elements and process them through their own creative vision to achieve something that only their own mind and skills could craft. ―
3DAD: Another of your character galleries is Adara. Tell us about her. RC: She‘s another example of an unplanned series that just decided to grow. I think the idea may have grown out of vague recollections of Heavy Metal‘s Taarna character, with maybe a bit of Red Sonya thrown in. She was my first series character created with the DAZ Victoria 4 model as a base. As such she‘s primitive by my current standards of character creation, meaning that she relies heavily on pre-created morphs which, in her case, can lean towards a more stylized beauty. But she proved popular and I didn‘t let myself get concerned with what I saw as her shortcomings that were due to my inexperience.
As with much of my work, most of the Adara imagery is 2D/3D composite. I didn‘t have a backstory in mind from the onset, but as the images rolled out, my imagination started filling in the blanks. In a nutshell she‘s an archeology grad student from a future time who gets forced through an ancient jump gate to land on a distant world that serves as a nexus for many such gates. So the world is a sort of galactic melting pot, though all the pot‘s ―ingredients‖ don‘t blend all that well. Social friction + strange, diverse aliens = Heavy Metal-styled sci-fi action. 3DAD: I like the Charcoal Adara you did using Daz Studio. Describe that process – what tools did you use and how easy was it to achieve this effect? RC: This piece was a stylistic experiment in lending a sense of physical media to a digital image – specifically a crisplyrendered 3D image. DAZ Studio‘s role was nothing unusual. I just created the base figure render there to serve as my ―under painting‖ in Photoshop. The technique I used in postwork is based on a technique described in Tim Shelbourne‘s ―Photoshop Photo Effects Cookbook‖ by O‘Reilly Media. The steps are fairly complex, but it boils down to creating a lower layer that takes the source image and makes a monochrome, textured version of the crisp 3D 29
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell
render and having a layer above that simulates paper. The paper layer has a layer mask that is carefully masked away in controlled brush strokes to expose the underlying layer in such a way to evoke charcoal application.
cend that medium – usually though minor-to-extensive postwork. I‘m not so concerned with the tools I use to get where I‘m going as long as the end result is where I want to be. And my DAZ Studio-Photoshop tag team has, so far, satisfied my visual goals.
I‘m not sure if this book is still available – and if it is it‘s been updated as my edition was made for Photoshop 7. 3DAD: Describe your creative process. Do you always But this volume has been one of my Holy Books. The tech- have a general idea of where a piece will end up or nique recipes within its pages have been more useful does it tend to evolve through the design sequence? than I can say. RC: In 90% of my work, I sit down with a blank slate in my I‘ve always viewed 3D modeling as a means and not an head. I‘ll noodle around with various figures, props, or end. It‘s a tool to create the building blocks of art. Sure, it other elements until a certain combination sparks somecan be used as both a beginning and an end, but I think thing in my head and a fully-formed image starts to the greater artistic expression comes in trying to transshamble out of my brain fog. Sometimes it can continue 30
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell to evolve as I work, but quite often that initial spark provides a clear goal. To me that process is a lot like sitting down with a sketchbook. You just start doodling until eventually an idea starts to form. I really enjoy doing that in 3D. It‘s a relaxing way to be creative and let off steam. The downside is that it can be time-consuming. I‘ve had full evenings where I‘ve done nothing but nudge props about with all the enthusiasm of a five year old prodding the vegetables on a dinner plate. My creative muse eventually shows up, but she does it on her own sweet time table… and sometimes she just stands me up. Of course there‘s that other 10% where I have a subject in mind even before I turn on the PC. And I‘d say that those are the images that evolve and deviate more from their initial conception. The brain has a way of creating
things that look really cool…. but just can‘t be replicated in the real world. I‘m not talking about objects, but mostly compositions. I often see an image in my head that just can‘t/won‘t be composed the same way in the real world. I can‘t explain it much better than that, I think. But suffice to say it‘s those well-thought out concepts that go through the most revisions before they turn into something I‘m happy with. 3DAD: Another of your galleries is the Leonov Project where you collaborated with Tom Peters (Drell-7 at DA or www.tpeters.com) on the Arthur Clarke vision. How did this teaming come about? RC: Tom is an old and dear friend. We‘re both kids who grew up soaked in the Space Race culture and with fathers who adored aviation. Tom‘s father was one of the pilots who flew the famous WW2 B-26 ―Flak Bait‖. So Tom and I are pretty creatively in synch with the same geeky trip triggers and a healthy respect for the ―science‖ in 31
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell
We had two main objectives guiding our work on this project. First, be true to the details described in Clarke‘s novel. Second, to try and season the design with modern Russian aerospace design elements. We had the benefit of seeing what Russian technology looks (looked) like in 2010, so we tried to create a ship that had a family resemblance to a 2010-era Soyuz. This included a certain inelegance compared to the sleek Discovery – and again, the book states as much about the craft‘s appearance.
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell
2010: Odyssey Two â€” Trans-Jovian Injection Burn
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell science fiction.
(without sharing our ideas) did sketches of what the book conjured to us. Our concepts were remarkably similar so Tom and I are both Arthur C. Clarke fans. I was so anxious we created a fusion, using the best of both. to read ―2010‖ back when it was released that I managed to nab a copy of the Del Rey uncorrected proof So the design was a pure fusion of our talents. The modand read it a few months before it hit stands. By the time eling was all done by Tom in Lightwave and we‘d review the movie version came out I had read the book at least the WiP version every few days to tweak it and braintwice. While Syd Mead‘s design was visually interesting, it storm further details. Once the model was finished, Tom didn‘t match the details of what Clarke described in the created the illustrations and I provided guidance as ―art book at all. I think that was when the germ of this idea director‖ for the project. So the end product has pieces came to me… and got put in cold storage. of both our talents sprinkled throughout, but I think Tom deserves the greater credit, if only for his outstanding In early 2010 (the year, not the book) I re-read the book modeling skills. for the umpteenth time and sprang the idea on Tom to try and replicate ―Clarke‘s Leonov‖ from the novel. He 3DAD: Leonov 2: Transjovian Burn is an image coming loved the idea and also re-read the book. Then we both out of the Leonov Project. It's amazing the level of detail
HOT LANDING 34
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell you put into these images. What was your guiding principal in building the Leonov? RC: We had two main objectives guiding our work on this project. First, be true to the details described in Clarke‘s novel. Second, to try and season the design with modern Russian aerospace design elements. We had the benefit of seeing what Russian technology looks (looked) like in 2010, so we tried to create a ship that had a family resemblance to a 2010-era Soyuz. This included a certain inelegance compared to the sleek Discovery – and again, the book states as much about the craft‘s appearance. And I guess a third objective should be mentioned: to be true as possible to real world astronautic design. You can point to just about any greeblie on the model and we can tell you what its function is and why it looks like it does. Short of crunching numbers (and we actually did do a little bit of that) we tried to keep the design function-driven and with as much an adherence to real world engineering as we could muster. Tom and I were both very pleased with the result and because it was a creative fusion, I think the end result was something that neither of us quite expected, but we‘re very proud of. We‘re only sorry we didn‘t get it done a year or two earlier so we could have shared the results with Clarke. That would have been really gratifying.
STARRY KNIGHT 2
3DAD: You seem to have a strong sense of composition and structure. How do you go about select- often makes for messy compositions or images that try to ing the different elements that go into your work? show too much and lose focus. So I set up my camera RC: I usually start a scene by selecting a main subject, be really early and then ―play to it‖. it a figure or a space ship, posing it, and setting up my camera position/angle. All the details come later, but I always start by positioning the key elements of the composition.
As a scene comes together I might feel like I need to balance the composition by adding another element – a planet, a rock, a creature, a graphic element, or a hunk of technology. And sometimes I even carry that into I‘m not sure how many other 3D artists work that way, but postwork, adding an artificial light or shadow to help subtly steer a composition. It‘s the kind of thing I just do on I know many like to model a whole scene before they the fly if the composition starts crying out for some assissettle on a camera position. To my kind that can be a tance. waste of time as you end up detailing things that may not be in your camera view… or worse, you feel that just I never learned composition – at least not academically. because you put the effort into loading them up, posiI developed my sense mostly by doing… watching others tioning them and refining their materials, you think that and making LOTS of my own mistakes. I know some folks you HAVE TO work them into the final camera shot. This love to start drawing lines and cite the Rule of Thirds, but I 35
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell
think my mind found a way to implement that without being distracted – or restrained – by hard and fast lines. It‘s just gotten to the point where I know when an image composition feels right and balanced to my eye. And it helps that in my day job, as a digital print maker, I‘m constantly forced to evaluate the work of clients and optimize their presentations. 3DAD: You have an extensive library of characters and environments to work with. What drives decisions to acquire a particular piece and do you think you get enough usage to justify a purchase? RC: Well first, you can argue business ethics behind it, but Poser content tends to sell a lot more cheaply than models for, say, 3D Max. Where ―professional‖ models routinely command prices around $100 (or more), a lot of Poser content comes in around the $10-$20 price point. That enables Poser users to more affordably build up a library of building blocks.
NEXT GEN KAWAII
My buying decisions are usually made around how much utility I think I can get from a model, but that‘s a theoretical measure. I never know for sure how useful a given item will be until I start to work with it. So some stuff has 36
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell I‘ve been playing with a lot of Star Trek models and doing images because a) I have almost forty years of built-up Trekkie imagery to get out of my head before it explodes, and b) it‘s quick and easy – like the 3D art equivalent of a bag of open potato chips (nomnom-nom). Of course if I got more into modeling, then ―quick and easy‖ is gone. I would like to get back into modeling at some point, but for now I‘m just having fun indulging my nostalgia and trying to recapture the fun of creatively losing myself in an established universe as I did as a teen. Of course it was more fun then because Trek was an effectively dead property and the background was never going to be developed any further, my creative vision was a valid as the next fan‘s. 3DAD: How challenging is it to keep up with technology? RC: You know those people who tell you about the great stuff they‘ll be able to do
been a tremendous value for the money and others… well, others I‘d have to call ―impulse buy indulgences‖, though I never think of them as such when I hit the BUY button. But as far as justifying the purchase price, I have many, many items I‘d say qualify for that. Of course there‘s lots of great free content out there on sites like ShareCG.com or Foundation3D.com. Now that‘s bang for your buck! 3DAD: What subject matter would you like to explore in the future? RC: I‘m afraid I‘m pretty flighty when it comes to future plans, but as I do this primarily as a hobby and for relaxation, that‘s OK. So any future plans I mention here are not contractually binding… Ask me tomorrow and I may have a whole different answer for you. Lately I‘ve been thinking more about doing imagery based around frontier human interstellar colonies. I‘ve been rereading ―Legacy of Heorot‖ and am about to dive into the sequel. I might try some illustrations from those books, or I may just take that theme and run off in my own unique direction. 37
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell Few know that Clarke and Kubrick's "masterpiece" was derived almost wholesale from an earlier, unpublished Verne tale.
five minutes if you want to check back with me? 3DAD: Finally What three tips would you have for those involved in model creation and/or digital artwork? RC: Well I‘m not qualified to lend any advice to modelers, but as to Poser scene artists… well I‘m sure I‘m got many things to pass along, so the challenge is narrowing it down. 1) Lighting can often make or break a well structured scene… and can often make a very simple scene have much impact. Learn how to best use and tweak your lighting tools and look to stage/TV/photo studio lighting for tips on how best use light to define the shapes and set a mood.
once they get that tech upgrade? Well… that‘s not me. I‘m happy with my configuration as long as I don‘t feel too restricted. I just upgraded my box last year, so I‘m happy enough. I‘m also the slow guy to upgrade software. I‘m running Photoshop CS2 and DAZ Studio 3. Like I said, I generally don‘t upgrade hardware or software unless I have my arm twisted or have a very good reason. I guess I find it usually a distraction from what I like best: makin‘ art. 3DAD: What hardware platform are you working with today? RC: I‘m on a PC – a Dell Optiplex with a quad core processor and 3+GB RAM, running under Windows XP Pro. Not ―the bleeding edge‖, but it gets the job done.
2) Don‘t adjust your camera to best take in the set, but rather to best show the main subject. While a set may be packed with impressive detail, it‘s really just there to support your subjects, so don‘t give into the lure of that cool washing machine or small moon to be included in the shot. Let your main subject be the over-riding priority in camera placement. 3) In doing figure work, the more you tweak, the better your chances of imbuing a sense of life and personality. Expression and body language are rarely symmetric AND don‘t forget that the whole body (including fingers and toes) plays a part in visually expressing our moods and feelings. Take the time to make those subtle tweaks to your characters… and use a mirror if you need some expression help. It‘s the small details that can really pay off in the end product.
3DAD: Tell us about your current projects. What are you working on today? RC: I don‘t have anything major happening at the moment… aside from my day job. But no big projects in the pipeline at the moment, though that could change in 38
INTERVIEW: Rob Caswell
Peter Rex grew up in rural Germany and now resides in France with a passion for 3D digital art. He has been impacted by art throughout his lifetime, with early influences from his father who was a talented painter and photographer. Peter took prompt advantage of digital art at the time of the Commodore 64 and the Amiga and has never looked back since. We originally interviewed Peter in Summer 2010 and now find out his latest artistic exploits.
3DAD: It sounds like a complex plugin, but giving good results. Do you have to tweak much after DS exports the
3DAD: What are some of the main things you‘ve learned as a digital artist since last time we interviewed you? PR: I think I am getting better with the lighting and material work in DAZ/Studio and Vue. Also I‘m using Reality, the Daz Studio plugin to transfer a scene into the Lux render engine. 3DAD: I've noticed you've used this DS plug in in your cute and creepy "Stay Back" doll image. What exactly does the plugin do? PR: It allows you to "convert" a DS scene to a Lux compatible file, going through the steps of tweaking the materials (since it is a different render engine with different surface properties) and setting up the lights. Lux is an "unbiased" render engine, that is, it emulates real world physics, very different from the "biased" render engines like 3Delight or the Vue render engine, the resulting images have a photography like feel!
Lux is an "unbiased" render engine, that is, it emulates real world physics, very different from the "biased" render engines like 3Delight or the Vue render engine, the resulting images with the Reality plugin have a photography like feel!
file ready for rendering in Lux? And do you think it is good value for money - would you recommend it to other artists? PR: It is a complex plug-in – even for a person used to 3D. You learn how to use 50 lights (exaggeration!) to simulate a daylight scene! it is quite easy for photographer because you only need the sunlight.
INTERVIEW: Peter Rex 3DAD: What are two of your favourite images that you have rendered with the Reality plugin? PR: Mmmh, good question! I do like very much "Fairy dance" and "Hello old friend", I am somewhat sentimental and I feel I was able to pass some kind of warm, cozy feeling, even when using She-Orkz model from Sixus1 Media. It is a kind of challenge, how to transform a so
called "monster" into a feeling, loving being. 3DAD: I think you specialise in "monsters" and us gaining affection for them! I see you are a big fan of Sixus1's models. "Breggar's Fight" uses these - I really like this piece. What inspired it? Was it the Sixus1 characters that initiated the idea? PR: Yes, I really love the work of Les (Sixus1), he is adding a lot to my inspiration. He is writing a book, with Orkz and
Goblinz and who knows what else. "Breggar's fight" was inspired by the short part of his book that he added to the product page. 3DAD: I'll have to ask Les about his book and find out some more about it. Talking about books and graphic novels, did you do anything more with Planetfall, the graphic novel you started last year?
INTERVIEW: Peter Rex PR: To my shame not really, I added some pages to the story, but my big problem is the form. Do I use a comic style or do I use something different? And right now, I am into another story, inspired by Les' characters - The Ant Farm's Dead Water series. I call it "The Deadwater Chronicles", which occupies large parts of my "free brain resources"!
3DAD:I also like "Assassin" also with Sixus1 characters. It shows the victim out of focus and the scene has muted colours helping the viewer to study the scene a little bit more. It is a real action scene that gained some good feedback on Renderosity for you . Are you please how this turned out?
3DAD: I've noticed your Dead Water series, inspired by the Deadwater props. What do you think captured your imagination about these characters and scenes? PR: You know, I always loved how The Ant Farm's (John Van Fleet) brain and imagination works, he has a kind of twisted humor, transforming a beer barrel into a saloon, a Wells Fargo money chest into a bank, an old fashioned trunk into a hotel, the grater as a window for a prison cell ...He has created a couple of robots, each with a very unique character; he is certainly one of my favourite content providers, a real artist!
PR: The muted colour is one of this lucky accidents, I have set up the scene in Daz/Studio and exported it into Vue. After the appropriate time spent on surface tweaking (I am getting better and faster with that) I did 20- 30 testrenders, never satisfied with the atmosphere, the colour of the light (s) I finally chose is one of the Vue default atmospheres, the â€•acid atmosphereâ€– if I remember well, and I liked it. After some tweaking I came up with the mood you see in the image. As for the feedback, sometimes I wish I would do "Naked Vickies (Victoria 4) with a sword in a temple", you get more feedback on that! But yes I think people liked that one. As for me, I am never satisfied with my work! 3DAD: When I first used Vue, that's the first thing I played with - all the many and varied built in atmospheres.
INTERVIEW: Peter Rex
3DAD: Tell me about "Memories". This image shows a real emotive moment for this character - nice render.
3DAD: Thanks for sharing the Vue Galleries resource. it looks like a nice active Facebook group. And thank you for being one of the very first interviewees for 3D Art Direct—we‘re grateful to catch up with your work again.
PR: ―Memories" was my first Reality/Lux portrait, there is only one "softbox" (a meshlight) in the scene. I started with one of the default poses for Michael 4, never having PR: You are welcome, it is always a pleasure to be a "real" idea for the scene, then I played with the expres- "tortured" by your questions, it makes me think about my sion, added the "softbox and exported it via Reality into work! Lux. I don't have much merit in that image, it was done in what, five minutes? But the Rendertime was more like 20 hours. Again, there are images which don't start within the imagination of the artist, at some point, the image takes over and it creates itself. 3DAD: To finish what are two of your favorite on-line resources related to digital art and why? What makes them special?
“Memories" was my first Reality/ Lux portrait. I started with one of the default poses for Michael 4, never having a "real" idea for the scene, then I played with the expression, added the "softbox” (meshlight) and exported it via Reality into
PR: One of them certainly is the "Vue Galleries", a Facebook group of Vue artists, known people Like Dax Phandi, "Drea" Horvarth or Barry Marshall hang out there, another is not really on-line, it's the thing called "Real life" - I always find inspiration there! 43
3D Model Zone CELESTIA MOTHERLODE Looking for good real-world spacecraft to add to your perfect scene? Or maybe you want to examine the Discovery from 2001: A Space Odyssey up close and personally? The Celestia Motherlode has a superb catalogue of spacecraft both from fiction and reality to explore. Whatâ€™s more these spacecraft can be placed in an accurate 3D universe contained in the Celestia software or scenes within your own 3D applications. Brian Christensen selects some choice models and takes a voyage through the Celestia universe. celestiamotherlode.net
In this article we will be reviewing a series of spacecraft models from the Celestia Motherlode website at http://www.celestiamotherlode.net. The models are all free, as is the program Celestia. In fact, Celestia is an open source project and most of the models, including all those reviewed here, were created by members of the public and donated to the website. Celestia is easy to install and a lot of fun, plus many of these models are usable in other applications, since
they are in 3DS format. Space Shuttle Atlantis First up is the Space Shuttle Atlantis, created by Jack Higgins. This model comes with three versions, Atlantis by itself, the shuttle launching with the fuel tank and booster rockets still attached, and lastly a version of Atlantis with the cargo bay door open and the robotic arm extended. It's a nice model, albeit not incredibly detailed,
What is Celestia? Celestia, a 3D astronomy program, allows you to travel through a comprehensive universe, which is based on reality. There are almost 120,000 stars contained in it, based on the Hipparcos Catalogue. Models range from small spacecraft to entire galaxies, all represented in three dimensions using OpenGL. The superb advantage of having this universe in 3D is that you can have perspectives which would not be possible from a classic planetarium. Its notable that NASA and ESA have used Celestia in their educational programs. The software was originally created by Chris Laural. 44
3D MODEL ZONE: Celestia Motherlode but for anything outside of closeups it looks quite good. The textures are simple, but then the Space Shuttles aren't exactly covered in details like something out of Star Wars, so it works well. There are some things that could be improved, it wouldn‘t be difficult to add a texture showing the heat shield panels, and the wings are not perfectly symmetrical either, which is something that seems like it should be a fairly easy fix. I‘ve noticed that some details were sacrificed in the engine areas, possibly to keep the poly count down. Overall I like the model. It strikes a good balance between level of detail and keeping the poly count low. For anything beyond a close-up, it‗s a wonderful model, even just the outline of a shuttle should give anyone who dreams of going into space a little shiver of anticipation, after all this is the veAtlantis Specifications: hicle that made space travel an (almost) commonplace Download URL: http:// occurrence. www.celestiamotherlode.net/catalog/ show_addon_details.php?addon_id=272 Polycount: 28,776 Download Size: 619.34 kB Available Formats: .3DS Textured: Yes
Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)
The other good thing about nearly all these Celestia models is that they are available in the .3ds format, a native file format for 3D Studio Max, and also a common format accepted by most 3D modeling programs. When you open the Atlantis models in 3D Studio Max, there are some issues with the normals, and you might have to apply an Edit Normals modifier to the stack to get it to do what you want. This is a great set of models, and it is pretty cool to have all three versions of the Shuttle; I'm glad Mr. Higgins included all of them.
This is an incredible set of cameras that spends all day in an inclined geostationary orbit, staring at the sun and taking some of the most amazing pictures. This SDO model was made by Brian J. It's a nice model, textures are good (admittedly they are considered mediumresolution), and the cameras are rendered in different colors; which is a nice touch of realistic detail. To be honest there's nothing that strikes me as really outstanding about this model, but admittedly to get to a much higher level of detail you would need to model your heart out getting the infrared foil coating and the rest of the minute details, for this to look noticeabley
This is a great set of models, and it is pretty cool to have all three versions of the Shuttle.
Question and Answer Section With Ulrich Dickmann Celestia Motherlode Site Administrator 3DAD: How and when did the Celestia Motherlode.net site start. Did it exist in the early days of the Celestia project? Ulrich Dickmann: The site was conceived by Mr. Joe Bolte in June 2004, three years after the first release of Celestia software. He created the initial Celestia Add-on Catalog web site, which was originally located on the University of Chicago web servers. Since add-ons were scattered around the internet and hard to find we did try to collect, gather and host add-ons with a repository.
3DAD: Tell us how you personally got involved with Celestia. What attracted you to the software? UD: – I simply did stumble over the 3D astronomy simulator Celestia while I was looking for a planetarium software at the end of 2003. I did download it and expected nothing but another simulator with a more or less undemanding graphics quality. I did install the software and ... WOW! What a remarkable graphics quality! You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy. All movement in Celestia is seamless; the exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across while it is simple to navigate through the universe to the object you want to visit.
3DAD: How easy is it to install these models to a copy of Celestia that's already installed on your system? UD: – Well, that depends on how the add-on author did set up the add-on. Most of the add-ons you find on the Celestia Motherlode are very easy to install on Windows platforms. Linux users may have to modify some files in order to get the add-on run properly (since Linux is a case sensitive operating system). Each zip file should contain a readmefile with instructions.
3DAD: So all these models are completely free, and created and donated by users from around the world? What does it take to get someone's model included in this amazing project? UD: – Yep, all models are completely free (but copyrighted sometimes). To get your model included in the listings of the Celestia Motherlode your add-on have to be really ready for wider distribution, e.g: Does it work properly and offer something new or in better quality? Will other people find it actually interesting?
3DAD: What are the .ssc files that all the models come with, and how do they effect the models? UD:– This kind of file sets up planets, moons, spacecraft and other orbiting objects in a solar system. It is a *S*olar *S*ystem *C*atalog (SSC). To set up a solar system you also need a .stc file (*St*ar *C*atalog) where you have to define the position of the star in your universe.
3DAD: What are Celestia Virtual Textures (VT) and how do they work? UD: In its simplest form, a VT is simply a large, hi-resolution image of a planet's or moon's surface. This image has been broken down into smaller images (tiles) which are then used by Celestia to display higher resolution images on your computer. The advantage in processing the images this way is that they don't take up a lot of memory while running on your display screen. Each level of a VT consists of a series of small pictures which are aggregated by Celestia into a whole for your viewing pleasure. If you're limited to a machine which has no graphics card at all, then VTs can make all of the difference in the world...
3DAD: Tell me about scripts for Celestia; what can you do with them? UD: – What can you do with them? Everything! Scripts are a kind of a macro you may know from MS Excel or similar.
WOW! What a remarkable graphics quality! You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy. - Ulrich Dickmann 46
3D MODEL ZONE: Celestia Motherlode A Celestia .CEL script is simply a plain-text file that contains a list of instructions for Celestia to carry out automatically. For example, when a default installation of Celestia is run, the on-screen display moves to Jupiter's moon Io. This action is taken automatically when Celestia is run, via the included startup script. So with a script you are able to show others how space dynamics works, you can present and explain planets and moons and a lot of more.
3DAD: .I was looking for the Mir space station, and I couldn't find it. Why doesn't it appear in orbit? UD: Celestia has programmed some of its spacecraft to appear in space and then actually fall back to Earth (disappear) on the day that they really did so. The Russian space station Mir was launched on 02/20/1986 and fell back to earth on 03/21/2001. To see Mir in orbit above the Earth, you will have to reset the date to some period between those two dates.
3DAD: What's the next step for Celestia? Where do you see this program (and it's community) going? UD: Well, that's hard to say. I think the community will grow since Celestia is in an ongoing progress of development and improvement. E.g. High dynamic range lighting (photorealism), Light scattering model for rings, major UI improvements, advance visual effectsâ€Ś A big step for the next major release (2.0) is to join all operating systems (Windows/Linux/Mac) into one setup file and GUI. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Ulrich, and best of luck with the future of Celestia! better. There is a nice amount of technical details, and having modeled a few satellites myself, I can tell you it can be time consuming to add all those tiny parts that NASA likes to stick on. Plus the added feature that the communication antennae stay pointed roughly at the Earth is pretty neat. My verdict is that, this is a nice model, and since the SDO is a fascinating piece of observing equipment, this is a worthy addition to anyones Celestia universe. On another note, unfortunately I could not get the file to open in 3D Studio Max, so I was unable to use it in that program. SDO Specifications: Download URL: http:// www.celestiamotherlode.net/ catalog/show_addon_details.php? addon_id=1422 Polycount: n/a Download Size: 1.30 MB Available Formats: .3DS Textured: Yes Discovery One Next up is the spacecraft Discovery One from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The original model was made by Matthew Parker, and was edited by Jestr. 2001 is known for being extremely realistic in terms of spacecraft design (and the book is one of my favorites!) so I was under47
3D MODEL ZONE: Celestia Motherlode
standably worried that this model wouldn't live up to what I wanted to see. I am glad to say my fears were completely unfounded; this model is great. When you load it into Celestia, it's floating between Io and Jupiter, just like in the end of the first book. It still has a rotation all of it's own, seemingly oblivious to the rest of the universe, rather fitting for a ghost ship. The model itself is definitely detailed, including a nicely textured command module and engine section. The spine of the ship is loaded with hidden greebles, and plenty of technical doohickeys. This is a quality model, and it comes with a set of 10 textures in .jpeg format. This model opens fine in 3D Studio Max, and when you look closely you can see that plenty of time and effort went into it. Everything is triangulated and the normals are OK. I had to locate the textures by hand, but thatâ€™s a common problem when moving files between computers, and not a big deal when the result is something like this. The polycount is somewhat high, but I think the only thing that would make this model better is the addition of a couple of EVA pods, and maybe an astronaut floating by. You can almost imagine HAL 9000 biding his time and waiting to be fully rebooted.
Discovery One Specifications: Download URL: http:// www.celestiamotherlode.net/ catalog/show_addon_details.php? addon_id=517 Polycount: 93,157 Download Size: 1.38 MB
It still has a rotation all it's own, seemingly oblivious to the rest of the universe, rather fitting for a ghost ship.
Available Formats: .3DS Textured: Yes
3D MODEL ZONE: Celestia Motherlode Event Horizon The fourth model to be reviewed today is the the Event Horizon from the movie of the same name. The model was created by John Victor Ivan (also known as ScyBladeghost). If you've seen this movie, you know this is a rather dark and forbidding craft, and this model for Celestia is indeed a good match at first glance. The engines and gravity drive section of the craft look accurate to what I remember from the movie. The textures are fairly good too, but they don't resemble those in the movie too closely. There are portions on the front end
(I googled it), it turns out that they did appear in the movie—or at least in the movie poster! Aside from my nitpicking, this is a good quality model, and kudos to John Ivan for his work. It should be said that this model was built originally for use in a game level, so it may not be as accurate or detailed as it could have been. In fact, the textures are labeled 'lo res,' so lets hope that John puts out a newer and more detailed one soon! In the meantime, it's not at all a bad addition to my Celestia universe, and I‘m glad I downloaded it.
Event Horizon Specifications: Download URL: http:// www.celestiamotherlode.net/ catalog/show_addon_details.php? addon_id=665 Polycount: 56,128 Download Size: 1.71 MB Available Formats: .3DS Textured: Yes
Thanks to everyone who built and donated models to the Celestia project and to the folks who manage the Celestia Motherlode that are obviously taken from another source, but it‘s not a deal-breaker, after all texturing can be an entire job in site, your contributions are appreciated. Next month, join us again as we review models from www.scfi3d.com, init‘s own right, and as long as you don‘t look too closely, cluding everyone‘s favorite moon-destroying spacethe Event Horizon model looks good. station, the Death Star. There are also a series of spikes running along the - Brian Christensen front crew module that I didn't remember from the movie, but, upon conducting an exhaustive web search
Rooftop Cassie by Robert Caswell
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