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3D Art

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BE INSPIRED BY 3D DIGITAL ART Discover New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Worlds

Isidore koliavras

Summer Galleries Don Webster

Issue 19 July 2012

Models, Kit Bashing & Greebles

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3D Art Direct

BE INSPIRED BY 3D DIGITAL ART Discover New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Worlds Paul Bussey

Mickey Mills

Brian Christensen


Assistant Editor

Article Writer

Copyright © 2012 3D Art Direct. 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.

Main cover art : “The Chamber Portrait” by Don Webster 2

CONTENTS Editorial Models, Kit Bashing and Greebles!


Interview : Don Webster “Vue is my central application that everything else feeds. It is in many ways my movie set with Poser bringing in the people, Modo bringing in the sets and props, ZBrush in the makeup room with FULL INTERVIEW IN PREMIUM EDITION detail touch ups and Blender provides


Summer Galleries Brian Christensen


Suzi Amberson Artur Rosa Danny Gordon Arthur Dorety Junior Mclean

Interview : Isidore koliavras 44

“Many fans around the world can easily tell which image is based on a 3d model and which is not. After a lot of practicing I think I have managed to FULL INTERVIEW IN PREMIUM EDITION eradicate as much as I can of the plas-



Models, Kit Bashing & Greebles

DON WEBSTER basically saying they fix the issue by “gluing lots of junk to bare surfaces”.

One example of this is the original Imperial Star Destroyer from Start Wards. It was constructed from a plywood frame and covered with sheet styrene. Panel lines were cut into the sheet styrene, but essentially that left the ship looking extremely bare. Hundreds of model kits were purchased and the model department promptly took pieces of the model kits and cut them up and stuck them along with more sheet styrene to the surfaces of the ship. The ultimate effect was to make the ship appear more believable to the viewer through the addition of these large areas of ancillary details. The greebles themselves served no purpose other than to fill space and individually had no definite function to the design of the ship, although later each greeble was given a specific function by either fans or technical illustrators for fan guides.

The problem with virtual models can be that

Another example of greeble application was the Battlestar Galactica model for the original 1970s series, which featured on its hull pieces from a wide assortment of kits, including Apollo orbiters, Saturn rocket boosters, F16 fighter jets, and various tanks.

they’re too perfect, too abstract, so how do you overcome this? Going back to Industrial Light and Magic’s (ILM) early history may provide an answer. When they started out, they had to innovate because the budget for the original Star Wars movie was relatively small. So they employed “Kit Bashing”, using pieces from hundreds of plastic models to build the needed Star Destroyers, YWings and so on for the movie. The bare surfaces of the base models were jammed with pieces of model kits and even the odd plastic soldier – anything to break up the flat planes. Allegedly, Industrial Light and Magic modelmakers originally created the term “greebles”. There’s also an equivalent geeky sounding term banded about “nurnie”

What’s significant is not only that these provide realism by adding detail or making things look rougher, but that they add a sense of scale. One of the biggest issues with looking at virtual models is that there is nothing against which one can find scale. The expert model maker is partly able to make their work convincing by the use of “forced” proportion, achieved using extra detail with those Greebles.

So “Greebles” were used to make physical models look less bare. Model-makers, whether working with physical models or virtual for that matter, run into the same problem – and can employ the same solution. It’s 4

As time moved on, extra random detail for models became a standard to gain that additional realism, and not just for spacecraft. Remember Jurassic Park? Dinosaur skin textures were lightly roughened with computer- generated chaos to give them the impalpable level of detail that characterizes real-world images.

In 3D computer graphics, greebles can be created automatically by specific software, in order to avoid the time consuming process of manually creating large numbers of precise, custom geometry. This can often be tedious, and repetitive work, and some consider it a task best suited to automatic, software based procedural generation, particularly if a great degree of control is unnecessary or the greebles will not be particularly large on screen. Most greeble generating software works by sub-dividing the surface to be split into smaller regions, adding some detail to each new surface, and then recursively continuing this process on each new surface to some specified level of detail.

Paul Bussey Editor

Plugins buzzGreeble for modo

Greeble plugin for trueSpace

Greeble plugin for 3D Studio Max

Greeble plugin for LightWave

Greeble plugin for Realsoft 3D

Greeble Script for Blender 5

Greeble Script for Autodesk Maya




Don Webster has made a career around images and digital technology. From his army officer days as an aerial surveillance officer in the 60s to an executive management position at a technology company in the 90s, he has built a diverse experience base uniquely suited to the field of 3D art.

3DA: We are honored to be joined by the very talented Don Webster, a 3D artist of extraordinary skill. His diverse gallery of images shows savvy techniques across a wide variety of 3D applications. Welcome to 3D Art Magazine.

Don’s love of period history spanning multiple generations is a pallet of inspiration for a gallery of digital art to be envied. From the streets of Rome and the time of Emperors, to the battlefields of the American Civil War, Don has an eye for period art and uses a wide array of 3D tools to bring his vision to life.

DW: Thank you for having me participate. 3DA: Before we jump into the art let’s get to know the artist. You’ve been working with images of some sort for most of your career. According to your bio you were an aerial surveillance officer in the 60s. Tell us what that was like and how it prepared you for future art works. DW: As a young Intelligence Officer stationed in Frankfurt West Germany, I ran an imagery interpretation group whose mission was to keep a watchful eye on the movements of East German forces through the use of aerial photography. This involved looking at very large dual image film strips using a device to view these in stereo. The ability to view things in 3D greatly aids in figuring out what is going on, on the ground. Each frame was about 10 by 20 inches and viewed on large light tables with reels at both ends. Using film positives was the typical surveillance activity for a group at a Corp Headquarters supporting the G2 Intelligence Officer who reported to the Commanding General of, in my case, V Corp, 7th Army Europe. This was also the days of U2 flights controlled directly out of Washington, and something new in our area: SLAR, Side Looking Airborne Radar. A long torpedo shaped device

Enjoying his retirement in the lush hills of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Don blends his free time with taking care of his beautiful home, traveling with his wife of 34 years, Shirley, and working in his exquisite studio creating digital art of the highest quality. He is a long-time Mac user and uses Vue, Modo, and Zbrush, along with several other software packages as the primary tools of his handiwork.

Don Webster’s Home Page



attached to the side of, in our usage, Mohawk aircraft that would fly alongside an area of interest while the radar beamed out for miles watching movements.

of your tech predictions come true? DW: I joined a graphics company in Washington DC and brought with me my photographic equipment, 35mm, 120 and 4x5 view cameras, studio lighting and lab processing hardware. I liked having full control from start to finish and I wasn't really interested in normal commercial photography assignments you would get in the city. I was more interested in using my systems and processing to speed up what graphic artists in the studio needed. This was a time when we were all watching Star Wars and the compositing and motion cam work being developed. Using film in the lab to create production capabilities for graphics seemed so high tech at the time.

Now you have to understand that I was a young married officer stationed at a level that makes this more of a Pentagon type day job with free weekends and time to travel the roads of Europe in my 69 XKE. (Oh, to have her back now.) The G2 is an intelligence section watching not only what was going on but signs of new technology. Back home we were putting men on the moon using scientists that came from Germany, that place where strange new weapons had been developed, so with a world of history, castles and Formula One racing at every turn it was a natural response that I would buy my first real camera and then include film processing. After several years in Europe, I returned to the states to be discharged and ready to start a new career in the visual world with my wife and first son.

That was until the day I saw my first multi projector slide show. There were 15- 35mm projectors controlled by a device that ran a power panel for each group of three. With multiple projectors providing an orchestration of light and sound all displayed on a very wide screen, engrained my current love for extreme horizontals.

Those years gave me a chance to see things I had been looking at in books at the library as a teenager and only dreamed about. A texture of life, art, and an appreciation for life that came after years of war for the people I met there.

I couldn’t wait to get involved in this new technology. I sold all my large format cameras, enlargers, and studio lighting to purchase the system I saw. It was my first experience with the Access the FULL INTERVIEW in our rapidly premium edition at changing


3DA: You also state you spent sometime in the 70s, “Conceptualizing technologies.” Considering the times, pre-PC and post energy crisis, it sounds like an exciting project for a budding computer artist. What were some of your technology concepts hits and misses? Has most




Brian Christensen lives and works in Northern California. Is pretty much a selftaught artist drawing things with pencil since early childhood. He took some 3D modelling classes in college and got hooked with Terragen.

Irresistible Oblivion Black holes are known as voracious eaters, caring nothing for whatever is swallowed by their gravity's appetite. This example shows a low mass X-ray binary system which consists of a class K star and a black hole, orbiting near enough to each other that the black hole is able to pull away the outer layers of the star, forming an accretion disk of superheated gas. The sole remaining planet will be tortured by gravity until it is finally torn to pieces. The star will eventually be devoured in a burst of searing radiation which bathes everything within several hundred lightyears. Neither the star nor its orbiting planet have long to live, eventually they will both succumb to the irresistible oblivion that awaits. I've always been interested by black holes, and always wanted to do a good depiction of one. Finally, with some inspiration from Mark Garlick, I sat down and started. This image was painted far more than any others so far, I felt it was the best way to get the feeling I wanted, CG just wouldn't cut it here. I would have to say i like the black hole itself the best, the accretion disc turned out well. I got a lot of positive feedback on this image, on DeviantArt I think it got more comments than everything else I've posted combined. It's probably my best reviewed image to date.



In the Names of God Massive Lei Gong rises in the distance, with 6 members of it's extensive family of moons visible, over the Tratung Mountains in this view from the moon Zhun-Ti. The monks of the Jaffei Order live far above the forest and it's inhabitants, both literally and figuratively. Living an ascetic existence amid the freezing mountaintops, they continue their Order's reason for existence; their attempt to fulfill the Prophecy of Clarke. Found in the holy book "The Sky's Backside" written by the prophet Clarke millennia ago, the Prophecy states that when all 9 billion names of God have been calculated and printed into physical existence, it will reverse Hubble's constant, causing all of spacetime to slow and then stop it's expansion and begin it's contraction into an eventual singularity, essentially triggering the end of this universe and the creation of the next. The monks have strung together a network of sublight transmitters to contact their brethren on other worlds in order to assemble the holy List in real time. This small, unassuming temple here on on Zhun-Ti is a permutation generator that generates the many possible combinations of letters that make up of the names of God, which are then sent to through the transmitter to a printing station, to be printed out on prayer flags and hung from the Final Stupa. When all 9 billion prayer flags have been hung, the monks will have, in effect, destroyed the universe, all in the names of God. This was inspired by the short story "The 9 Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke, which always been one of my favorites. I just wanted to reimagine it in a different setting, far in the future, since I've always been fascinated by the effect time has on culture and civilizations. In the past I've usually relied on a single render for a base, in this case I had to use multiple renders and stitch them together, it worked better than I expected, and I have used this technique again already (sort of). I think I like the sense of grandeur in this image, the scope of the view, with the planet rising in the background it lends the whole image a sense of majesty. This image garnered a decent bit of attention, I guess that just proves the timelessness of Clarke's story.



Midnight Voyage In the dusty depths of the Midnight Nebula, an unusual craft appears. A solar sail, which by it's worn appearance appears to have been drifting for some time, slowly nears the gas giant Vidar. When there is no reply, two armed patrol ships from the Collective naval base on the moon Thrym are dispatched to investigate. By the direction it was travelling the solar sail seemed to have come from the nearest habitated worlds, orbiting the star Atea, 16 light years away. This could mean trouble, since there has been little contact with the New Polys since the war began there. The two patrol ships hail the craft in all known languages, but there is still silence. After thoroughly scanning it for any signs of life, ambiguous signals prompt them to carefully tow it back to port. Once in port, the craft is opened and found to contain 27 passengers, all in cryosleep. It takes months to figure out how to bring the corpsicles back to life, but eventually it was accomplished with the loss of only one life. When the captain of the solar sail finally is given a chance to tell his story, it is a good one; The Atean system had been simmering with tensions between the different factions for years, but recently it had flared into a brutal hot war. Both sides had poured resources into developing weapons, and their success had been frightening. Nuclear weapons had long ago become the standard warhead for ship to ship missles, but now they had been repurposed to planetary bombardment of civilian areas. Advanced physics had been bent toward a devastating purpose, the quick and painful annihilation of the enemy. Viruses had been developed, both biological and technological, and let loose into the planetary net. These viruses had been the favorite weapon of one nasty faction of enemy, the captain said, shaking his head slowly. Artificial Intelligence had been considered the cutting edge of technology before the war had exploded. Now this AI tech had been incorporated into the viruses programming with particularly malicious results. Whole colonies had been wiped out. Once infected, humans with net implants, a common accessory for communication and data access, would be under the control of the virus, in effect creating armies of mindless robots or zombies but zombies trapped inside their own head; as the host carrier remained aware and conscious. These carriers, once infected, would work to achieve the goals set up in the virus' programming, but would do so without alerting anyone to their infection by using the hosts bodies own memories and personalities. What this meant among civilians was a bloodbath as they were usually simply directed to eliminate their neighbors, family and friends. This was seen as such a vicious method of killing that public opinion quickly turned against the virus creators. But for the majority it was too late; their system was turning into a killing ground of crisped moons and glittering debris fields where habitats used to orbit. These solar sail refugees had struck out on a last ditch effort to escape, by building a simple craft like a solar sail they had avoided attracting the attention that the buying or stealing of, say, a couple of Alcubierre warp drives would have done. They constructed a laser station on a cold splinter of rock far on the edges of the system, and were lucky enough to set off without attracting more attention than a lone patrol ship pilot with a slow trigger finger. After a long, cold, silent voyage, they had arrived here, at the edge of Collective space. Once this story set in, the Collective promised to begin caring for any wounded or sick, and they set about doing just that. They had state of the art medical facilities compared to what the refugees had had access to before fleeing. After the initial bio exams and treatment for cryosickness, the passengers were brought one at a time into a opalescent room to have their implants scanned and cleaned of any traces of viruses. When the eighth passenger walked into the room and came within range of the scanners a tiny bit of compressed code jumped silently out of her head and into the machines lining the walls, unnoticed by human or machine.....


Suzi Amberson currently resides in sunny Phoenix, Az. Suzi realized she was not


following her intended path she took a huge leap of faith and left the Insurance business to pursue her passion for creating 3D art. Suzi is a self-taught artist. starting out with Poser 6 back in 2007. Her CG toolbox has expanded over the past few years and now includes Poser Pro 2012, Photoshop CS5 Extended, a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet, Marvelous Designer 2, Hexagon and Bryce as her tools of choice.

Suzi Amberson

She entered her first official art contest in 2009 over on the Daz3D website. The challenge was to create an image in the spirit of infamous fantasy artist, Frank Frazetta. The final judging was conducted by Frank Frazetta Jr. One of her entries took third place and fueled her desire to pursue 3D art as she sought to add interest and depth to her spectacular body of work.

3DAD: What inspired you to create these images? SA: The biggest inspiration for both my Steampunk Voyager and Steampunk Iron Butterfly images was the incredible 110.1 Suit created by AlphaSeed over on Runtime DNA As soon as I spotted the suit and Metal textures the images just popped into my head. I love all things Steampunk and thought it would be fun to create images that blend Steampunk and Magical elements together. I was so inspired, the images pretty much created themselves. My Ziegfeld Phoenix fire image is part of a set of images I have been working on. I am so fascinated by the old Ziegfeld Follies of the 1930's and have been creating images with an a more modern updated feel to them. I love the elaborate head Intothe Names of God pieces and outfits they wore and wanted create outfits from a different perspective and more modern approach. 3DAD: What did you learn or improve upon during the creation of these pieces? SA: I think the greatest challenge with all three images was to create the illusion of flight or movement. It's difficult to create this feeling with a static image and I learned a great deal when posing my characters. I felt more extreme poses did a better job to capture the feeling that the characters were in motion. Painting the hair in more unusual styles and giving it a windblown look really helped to capture this feeling. Another obstacle I encountered was to achieve the feeling of depth. Since the main focus of the image was the character, it was important to use shadow and light effectively to achieve some depth to the images. I created all new lights that were strategically placed to help focus the viewers eye to the important aspects of the image. 3DAD: What do you like best about these images? SA: My favourite aspect of all three images is the unusual magical feel they have. I love fantasy images and try to blend in magical elements to create a more unusual look to them. My goal was to create something that never existed before and to give the images a new and different look. I also like to add a lot of different textures and colors to help create the illusion of depth. I want the viewer to be drawn to the image and character and by using many different colors and textures they have a lot of interesting things to look at. 3DAD: What positive or constructive feedback did you get for these images after posting them? SA: I received quite a bit of positive feedback for all three of my images. People seemed to enjoy the colors and textures I used as well as the way the images were composed. I especially received good feedback for my Steampunk Voyager image. They liked how I had blended the Steampunk and Magical elements together as if the character was traveling through time and space.







SUMMER GALLERIES Artur Rosa hails from Portugal. His background is originally engineering, but found a passion for 3D digital art since 2006. We’ve all probably heard of SimCity—a classic 3D game that piqued his interest and led him eventually to using E-on’s Vue software. He’s created a unique portfolio with some great symbolism and sense of wonder in many of his pieces. http://

ALIGNMENT Alignment of celestial bodies is something that has inspired and fascinated people for thousands of years. Most of these alignments are not visible to the naked eye so I thought it would be kind of nice to have a place from where a great alignment would be visible. I made this image mostly reusing assets that I had created for previous images but there was one detail where I tried to improve: a trail of footprints on the sand. That was made with a mix of procedural materials painted on the sand, directly in Vue's terrain editor. My favourite aspect of this image is imagining I'm that character, standing there, seeing that first hand... I learned some really interesting things concerning the particular physics of planetary systems and eclipses with the feedback I gained!





I love to depict human colonies in distant worlds. In this case I wanted to show a way for people to live in harmony with nature. The houses I made for this image are integrated with the rocks from the landscape. Without a "footprint" on the land itself, those houses are fully integrated with the scenery. I'm not good at modelling, it's one of my many weaknesses, so during the making of this image I learned a bit more about modelling. My favourite detail here is how the sun hits the water. That was an effect I wanted to achieve since the beginning and I think it turned out fine (not 100% what I wanted but still fine). Whenever I use DOF (depth of focus) in my images, like in this one, I always get conflicting comments. Some people love it, some people hate it. This image was no exception to this rule. I find that interesting but I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

I recently read a great fantasy book by Patrick Rothfuss, "Wise Man's Fear". It's a very visual book, in the sense that the author spends a considerable amount of time describing the places where action takes place. There was one particular chapter about a character named Cthaeh, a kind of an oracle (but much more), hiding in a tree in a clearing of a forest. The author also describes how the path seems to lead to the tree but then it deviates from it. I tried to depict the essence of the scene in my image. Not all details are the same; for example, in the book the character walking along the path is naked but I chose to depict him instead with the looks that he has throughout all the other chapters of the book. The light/shadow in the scene is made by the clouds. I learned a bit more on how to manipulate clouds to obtain that effect. I also learned a lot about how to make paths in Vue using splines, a new feature in the software. I really like the tree and also the light/shadow effect here. From the feedback on the image, it was really nice to see comments from people that also read the book, how they

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Isidore koliavras is a working graphic designer. He lives in Athens, Greece and with a lifelong passion for comic book heroes has honed his digital art skill to creating and designing his own superhero characters, as well as putting his own touch to classic Superheroes. Using Poser and Photoshop as his primary tools, Isidore has created a vast gallery of his own creations that could stand alongside some of the most well-known characters of the age. In addition, he has paid homage and put his own twist on some more well-known Superheroes, including his favorite, Superman, Batman, Spiderman and several others. He hopes to someday ply his skill with one of the big comic book art houses.

3DA: With Hollywood’s love affair with superheroes it’s no surprise there’s a big proliferation in superhero and comic book art. Many of today’s young digital artists are turning to 3D packages like Poser to build their own unique set of super men and women. We are joined by one such artist today, graphic designer Isidore koliavras, better known as Isikol to his Deviant Art fan base. Welcome to 3D Art direct. ISI: Thank you so much for the invitation. I really appreciate the opportunity to introduce a new way in creating/directing comic stories, the way only a 3d application can offer. 3DA: Share with us how you got into digital art. Did you always want to be a commercial artist? ISI: Honestly, no. I always wanted to draw comic book superheroes but my daily job as a visual communication designer and my family state (married with 2 children) wasn't leaving me free time to restart drawing them. But a 3d application called Poser helped me so much, allowing me a return to digital drawing.

3DA: How did your passion for comic book and superhero art take off? ISI: That happened really early, at the age of 5 to be exact. When on a trip to an island I saw one of the earliest publications of Spiderman at the airport. And that was it, I was drawing superheroes all day long until the age of 17. That was when I stopped. 3DA: What has been your greatest success in your superhero artworks? ISI: That is my ability to “hide” the fact that what you see is a 3d image. Many fans around the world can easily tell which image is based on a 3d model and which is not. After a lot of practicing I think I have managed to eradicate as much as I can of the plastic look and feel of a 3d model.


3DA: Your characters are visually 19

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Black Moon by Isidore koliavras

3D Art Direct : Be Inspired By Digital Art20


Issue 19 of 3D Art Direct Magazine Mini Mag Edition  

The best 3D digital arts magazine that interviews digital artists in depth. Discover unique and inspiring artwork in the science fiction an...