3D Art DIRECT
FANTASY & SCI-FI ARTIST IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS
DISCOVER THE RISING STAR OF YURDIGITAL CONTENT + COMMUNITY
ISSUE 22 DANNY GORDON
BRYCE ● VUE ● TERRAGEN ● POSER ● MOJOWORLD ● CARRARA ● DAZ STUDIO ● CINEMA 4D ● 3DS MAX ● BLENDER ● L
3D Art DIRECT FANTASY & SCI-FI ARTIST IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS
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Main cover art : 2Drea Horvath
CONTENTS Editorial Applying the New to the Old:
Modern Visual Effects Restoring Original Classics
Interview : Erich Mestriner “This image pushed me and Bryce to the max. It is hard to create a space scene, due to the fact there is almost no natural light in space, only if you are close to a star. So it’s a real challenge to make a scene look realistic with only one light source. ”
Interview : Clint Hawkins “We have the philosophy that we are here to work for the artist and content developers. We maintain that YURdigital is by Artists, for Artists and from Artists, so we understand the artists and content developers on a personal level”
Interview : Deedee Davies “I can easily go through like 90 to 100 renders on any one picture just getting the lighting right.”
Interview : Danny Gordon “My lighting skills developed from doing Production lighting in my early 20’s in Los Angeles. I loved the control I had over a set or a backdrop’s appearance and mood with the use of simple conventional lighting techniques such as different color gels, varying can sizes, strengths, angles and of course a good old fashion fog machine.”
Applying the New to the Old Modern Visual Effects Restoring Original Classics real or virtual. The Battlestar visual effects redefined the viewer's experience of taking in space scenes, especially in a pitched battle scene. When watching such scenes it felt quite jarring and real as the camera shook and rolled- as if the cameraman was desperately trying to focus on the action, which was taking place too quickly to capture properly.
S TAR T REK TOS: T HE D OOMSDAY M ACHINE
Co-incidentally Ronald had discussed the same question with Ira Steven Behr, the exec. producer of DS9 on the day before.
I was privileged to attend the Star Trek : Destination London convention yesterday, which was remarkable in that all five captains of the franchise attended this one event. As you can imagine it was a large scale convention, held at the London Expo centre and it was a very busy, entertaining and informative day!
His answer was that the visual effects for the ships wouldn't have been different, because of the nature of the Trek franchise. Star Trek was not a war themed show, and didn't have the same core of realism that the Battlestar Galactica premise demanded. Curiously he did say that he would have done a lot more with visual effects within the Star Trek holosuites, but didn't go into detail.
Of particular interest to me was that some of the production staff were present, including Ronald D Moore who was a co-executive producer of Star Trek: Deeps Space Nine (DS9) and the Executive producer of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series (BSG). It was rare access to a high powered producer of two critically acclaimed shows, so I grabbed the microphone during his talk and posed him the following question, which was suggested to me by Jens Reinhart (interviewed in issue 21):"If you had the capability of today's Computer Graphics providing the visual effects for past series such as Deep Space Nine, how would you have done things differently on the show?" I added the example that the visual effects for the Galactica space scenes were much more natural than those used in the Star Trek franchise. The latter used "beauty" shots making use of slow, smooth pans to show off the ship models whether 4
S TAR T REK TNG: D ATALORE â€” THE C RYSTALINE E NTITY
Of course this theoretical question to Ronald D Moore has been applied in reality to Star Trek : The Original Series (TOS) and also to Start Trek : The Next Generation (TNG), due to CBS/Paramountâ€™s expensive project of re-mastering both shows, which includes using modern tools to update the visual effects.
difference of those mundane establishing shots of the Enterprise D orbiting a planet have been very much improved. Remember those out-of-focus planets? One notable example is the new CG effects applied to the Crystalline Entity from "Datalore," which used a new and improved detailed model for the HD format.
It would have been easy to over indulge the use of the tools to make the visual effects sequences longer and different to the originals. But the goal was to lovingly restore the shows to a better quality. Clearly there were different parameters going on when it came to the re-mastered Star Wars series, since revision seemed to be the emphasis rather than restoration, at least in some scenes.
Overall, the CG shots run the same length and usually retain the same content and composition in both series. The impulse to add new elements to scenes has been largely resisted. In many of the original effects used for the cartoonish phaser blasts and sparkly transporter dissolves, haven't been touched at all. Many that were cleaned up were designed specifically to go unnoticed. The project is commendable in that the work of the original artists has been respected.
The space effects are a substantial improvement to both series. An impressive example for the Original Series was the Doomsday Machine episode, where the original scenes of this planet/ship eating beast really relied on the music score to create the tension rather than the incredibly basic visual effects.
So a similar question could be posed to digital artists. If you had the capability of using today's computer graphics on earlier works in your portfolio, how would you do things differently? Would it be restoration or revision? Paul Bussey Editor
The Next Generation Blu-Ray release likewise had some impressive restorative work. Just the quality
Erich Mestriner A warm
my ideas visible, because I simply love this whole Alien universe.
welcome to 3D Art Direct magazine.
We’re really pleased to promote some of the best of your portfolio, which clearly has an influence from Ridley Scott’s Alien. Tell me about your passion for this film and why it’s influenced you to create so much artwork based on this classic film.
3DA: You’ve mentioned from your own comments when posting “Discovering the Alien”, that you don’t like the Alien sequels, but how about the latest Prometheus film, is this also influencing your artwork? EM: I really looked forward to Prometheus, and hoped it would show me all the things that the other Alien sequels did not show. Prometheus for me is nearer to the first movie in this Alien universe, since it brought me back to the similar atmosphere of dark tunnels and showed me a derelict ship again. What disappointed me is the fact of why those Space Jockeys have to look so human and why they are connected to us. But Prometheus motivated me again to start more and more Alien influenced renders.
EM: First many thanks for your magazine that is promoting my work in this interview. When watching ALIEN in 1979, at the age of 19 in the cinema, it overwhelmed me completely! I was already a die hard sci-fi fan, but this movie showed me for the first time a really convincing other world and a realistic alien life form. I visited the theatre four more times that week, for finding out how the ALIEN really looked in more detail, since it's hidden in dark shadows and corners all of the time. This movie also introduced me to H.R. Giger's artwork, who is one of my favourite artists now. After seeing Alien, I started sketching and painting how the Alien planet would look like, fauna and flora etc etc... and how the space jockey world would look like...and even today I am trying to make
3DA: How did you fall into creating 3D digital art? Was it all because of Bryce? EM: My interest in 3D art started, when I saw for the first time a 3D rendered image a long time ago before the internet, in a digital arts magazine, which was a 6
chess piece floating above water, with a lot of reflections. I thought "Hey.... that's what I want to learn, to create my own visions... ". But in those days the Commodore 64 was the only thing I owned, and lot of us knew how hard it was to create an image with it. It was all “peeks” and “Pokes” and “For x = 10 to 20:print x: next x”, so I had to wait many years before the first 3D applications showed up.
its 3D environment. Bryce was also the first 3D application I used. Bryce 5.5 was for free several years ago, the same as now Bryce 7 Pro is now. I simply like Bryce the way it is... and it is always a good challenge for me to push Bryce to its limit to achieve what I want. 3DA: You have a series of images based on a character called “Sad Sadie”. Tell me about this series and what you have learned whilst creating this images?
EM: Sad Sadie came to me after seeing a short animation movie about a little girl who lost her doll. She walked through some dreamscapes, but she never found her doll. I created Sadie in 2006 and made about 40 renders of her and sometimes she hops back into my mind and i create a few new ones. I even planned to sell her character online but ironically someone else came out a little earlier with a character called Sadie! The Sadie character pushed me deeper into the Fantasy / Fairytale genres, and forced me to 3DA: Can you tell me use more light and atmospheric effects. how what you like 3DA: In “Once Upon a Time”, part of your “Sad Sadie” best about Bryce, but series, you mentioned that the trees have been also one aspect of this created by “stretched out terrains” – tell me a little software that could do about why you’ve used this method. with improving? EM: Using these stretched out terrains is the easiest EM: When I am way to create forest close-ups, where no branches and working with Bryce, it leaves areneeded. I create three or four of them , makes me feel like I grouping them and placing them so they fill up the am creating my own national geographic whole camera view, adding a trunk material and some documentary, because Bryce sucks me completely into haze... and the forest illusion is already 90% finished .
T HE F ORGOTTEN O NE 7
female. I never looked for upgrading to a newer version, because this old one does what I need. I think it's a cool application, if you want to use or create your own human like characters.
B IO - M ECHANIC C ANYON
3DA: “Floating” is you most commented image in your Renderosity gallery. You’ve proudly mentioned that this is entirely constructed in Bryce. What do you like best about this image? EM: This image pushed me and Bryce to the max. It is hard to create a space scene, due to the fact there is almost no natural light in space, only if you are close to a star. So it’s a real challenge to make a scene look realistic with only one light source. I mentioned that this was made 100% in Bryce, because people could think I used some postwork on this image.
3DA: “MakeHuman” is an open source tool for making 3D characters. You’ve used this in your artwork such as “The Forgotten One…” What’s your experience in using this tool and would you recommend it to other artists? EM: I use an old version of Makehuman, and it only can pose the character and can make them male or
Fortunately this is one of a few scenes stored on my
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INTERVIEW: Erich Mestriner T HE B ROOD
A LIEN H ALL
hard disk... and I am planning to make it public use, so Bryce users can see how the scene is set up. 3DA: “Bio-mechanic Canyon”. This was inspired by one of H.R. Giger’s landscape paintings, who was the visual effects designer for Alien. You’ve used Wings 3D to create the models that make up the landscape. What’s made you choose Wings 3D as your primary modelling application (apart from the fact it is free!)does it have particular features that allow you to accomplish what you want to achieve with your artwork? EM: One day I was reading a article about box modelling and in the article a link to Wings3d was placed, so I downloaded and start playing with it. I know there are much much better modelling apps around, but I love the Wings3d working interface because 99% is done with only just the 3 mouse buttons. After practicing with it, I can create anything with it I need for my renders. It's perfect for creating organic shapes. 3DA: What are a few of your favourite models that you’ve created in Wings 3D? EM: One of my favourite models is the Derelict model I created. It's a different one to what is used in Alien, since it has only two entrances, and has some extra stuff on the outer hull. I almost forgot Sad Sadie; I think she is my number one favourite! 3DA: You make good use of lighting and depth by 9
S AD S ADIE : O N 10
U PON A T IME 11
INTERVIEW: Erich Mestriner I NFINITE
often using a misty or foggy atmosphere in quite a few of your artworks. “Weird” is a good example of one of these (most favourite in your gallery). Do you like the sense of atmosphere and mood that this common atmosphere you use creates? EM: This atmosphere I created I saved in Bryce skies, and I have called it LV-426. It has this deep dark green/blueish Alien touch and its perfect to create an outer space world or spooky scene from it and yes I love it. I love to walk through the fields and forests on
a foggy day; it always brings inspiration in my mind to be creative. 3DA: What’s your personal favourite from your Renderosity gallery and why? EM: My favourite is the above mentioned "Weird" and why? It is because the only colour in it is in the haze. All object materials are set to completely black and I only used the sun as light source. Specularity did the rest, it gives a very dramatic effect...
A T THE M OUNTAINS OF M ADNESS
D ISCOVERING THE A LIEN
I NFINITE 2: E ND OF T UNNEL
Clint Hawkins brings over 30 years of experience in the computer and digital art industry to the helm of YURdigital.com.
Hawkins is like saying Mike Tyson can throw a punch. After nearly 20 years with Data General in the 80s and 90s, he built a solid foundation in all aspects of hardware and software development.
His background includes 17 years with Data General, a minicomputer innovator in the 60s. He was a system administrator and occasional programmer using various languages of that generation such as Fortran and Cobol.
Hawkins then spent upwards of ten years working for Renderosity in various functions including product tester, testing manager and ultimately ecommerce manager. His journey through Renderosity laid the foundation for what was to become YURdigital. Hawkins worked from his Atlanta home for nearly three years with Renderosity before the company moved him to Nashville for a more active role, along with wife Lillian who ultimately signed on as a Marketing Manager with Renderosity as well. It was a marriage joined at the digital pallet.
After the downturn in the minicomputer segment, Hawkins took a position with Renderosity in the late 90s. Hawkins left Renderosity after 10 years and started up a successful e-Bay business which has been going strong for 5 years. After being away from the digital art industry for 3 years he decided to launch YURdigital.com two years ago.
Along the way the Hawkins built their reputation on honesty and integrity, networking with many leaders in the 3D art industry. When it came time to open the doors on his new venture, those relationships paid off in guidance and a rapidly growing base of content developers signed on at YURdigital.
Digital art is many things to many people. For Clint Hawkins, CEO of YURdigital, it’s a passion, a career, a business venture and a dream. It’s the idea that you can do what you love and have fun along the way. It’s the dream that you can turn your passion and drive into a paycheck and build something of value from the ground up that innovates and attracts. It is truly a formula for success.
“Our stance is we work for the artists,” Hawkins said. “We have a site that's setup for the artists, not that the artist works for us. We're there to help them promote and sell their products and do what we can to give them a solid platform for doing that.” Spend just a few minutes with Hawkins and it becomes very apparent this CEO has a vision,
To say the computer business has been good to 14
not necessarily rooted in selfish motives, but to be of service to the art community. On that quality alone, I envision many years of success for the YURdigital team.
YUR: It was a natural progression. I was with Renderosity for about 10 years and felt that I had done all I could to help the site grow and decided it was simply time for a change. There were things that I felt could be done better or differently in regards to how the site should operate and we’ve incorporated them into YURdigital.
3DA: Thank you for spending a little bit of time with the 3D Art Direct readers. Tell us about your journey to 3D Graphics. What was your one 3DA: Tell us about YURdigital – the genesis of the project and how it unfolded. driving force behind that journey? YUR: Thank you for having me. It all started back in the late 90’s when I first laid hands on 3D Studio MAX R3 and Poser 2. I was working as a pre-sales systems engineer at a large computer company at the time and I’ve always been a musician/artist at heart. Being able to marry my technical knowledge of computers with art was fantastic! I was hooked at that point and never looked back. 3DA: Going from being a cog in Renderosity’s success to your own graphics company is quite the transition. Was this a natural progression or did you always see yourself someday in this role and worked in that direction?
YUR: My wife Lillian and I decide to start a site that would be geared more towards the content developers and artists. We wanted to offer a site that offered aggressive sales splits for the content developers, more personal interaction with the staff, accessible to artists of all ages and less restrictions on the content developers in regards to content exclusivity. Many sites these days seem to feel the content developers work for them. At YURdigital we work for the content developers. 3DA: It seems YUR is primarily two things – it’s an art marketplace where your members can publish and sell their work. At a deeper level it’s also evolving as an art community. What has 15
R IESE been your biggest challenge in guiding the different aspects of the YUR community? YUR: It’s more of a content marketplace rather than an art marketplace. We offer a system that allows content developers to sell their content as well as a site that artists can purchase content to use in their 3D and 2D work. We also have an Art Gallery where artists can display their art work and Discussion forums where artists can share ideas and get help from other artists. Building
NUI C ITY
W OLF 999
the community around the Art Gallery and Discussion forums has been the biggest challenge. There are already many massive sites out there with very strong communities and it takes time for this area of the site to develop. 3DA: Art is a very subjective topic. One man’s Mona Lisa is another man’s place to draw a moustache. I get the sense from looking at the galleries you keep a close eye on quality and content. There just doesn’t seem to be what
INTERVIEW: CLINT HAWKINS someone might call substandard. Is this intentional on your part or do you think you just attract a strong pool of talent?
K EN M
YUR: The Art Galleries are open to artists of all skill levels. We don’t remove any images due to quality concerns unless they violate our Terms of Service. This allows artists of all skill levels to upload their art work for display. In regards to the content marketplace we do keep a close eye on content and do from time to time reject content if the quality isn’t there. I do feel we attract a scenes with the content developers to correct strong pool of talent. I’ve been in the industry for any problems we find during the testing phase. around 14 years and have many connections Our testing staff has a very deep level of with some of the most amazing artists. experience and we have uncovered problems 3DA: You refer to your members as “Content with products that slipped pasted the testing Developers.” Is this a deliberate distinction? phase at other brokerage sites. We take great YUR: We refer to our members as members and pride in our ability to properly test products to refer to the artists that generate products to sell provide quality content that artists can purchase. We don’t allow any content that violates a as Content Developers. Calling the artists that registered trademark or violates trade dress. sell products Content Developers was done as a There are plenty of other content distribution very deliberate distinction to separate us from sites that allow products that clearly violate other brokerage sites. Many of the other sites trademark laws to be sold which just spins my call them Vendors, Brokers or Merchants. We moral compass in the wrong direction since this don’t feel these terms are correct. These artists can become a legal nightmare for the site as well create content so in our mind they are Content as content developer. Developers. 3DA: There are several software utilities for sale in the developer area. How do you manage that? Are there quality standards your content developers adhere to so buyers get an application that work as advertised? YUR: Yes, we test all content that is uploaded prior to it being release into the main store for sale. This ensures the buyer that the content they purchase will work as advertised so they can shop with confidence. We work behind the
3DA: Does YURdigital accept content from select content developers only or are all content developers welcome to sell through your site? YUR: We are an open brokerage meaning we welcome all content developers, not just a select few. We provide content developers with everything they need in order to start selling making it easy to get started. We accept content for Maya, 3ds MAX, Lightwave, Vue, PhotoShop, Poser, and the list goes on. Content developers 17
INTERVIEW: CLINT HAWKINS
The D & D Creations store at YURdigital is "THE" place to shop for high quality Vue content that will take your art work to the next level! D & D Creations develop phenomenal atmospheres, ecosystems, plants, materials, scenes, terrains and terrain maps. Included in D & D Creations' product line are deep forests, deserts, eroded lands, canyons, spectral atmospheres and mystical lands. Artists that use Vue, Vue Esprit, Vue Infinite or any software that can import TGA terrain maps will want to have a look at these digital art resources.
C YBER S ERIES F ACE
BY CHK 2033
YUR: We are very fortunate to have a super strong core team with very diverse skill sets. Having such diverse skill sets among the team members allows us to run with a small team. Each team member was handpicked based on their skill sets. Lillian Hawkins—Chief Financial Officer and Marketing Director: Lillian is the master of money and marketing. She has 15 years’ experience in these areas and keeps us on track in regards to money and how to best promote the site. Beth Rogers - Marketing/Brand Project Manager: Beth works very closely with Lillian to make sure that our branding and marketing stay on track. Beth’s experience in this industry along with her educational background and position as a computer graphics instructor at Nossi College of Art makes her the perfect team member for this position. Chris Patterson – Chief Technical Officer: I’ve known Chris for so long I don’t even remember how long. We worked together in the IT industry for years and his impressive technical skill set keeps YURdigital up and running. He is our programming ninja!
that are interested in selling through us should select About Us and then Selling Content from the top navigation bar to get a great overview of the service that we offer. It’s also 100% free with no upfront costs. 3DA: What’s been the biggest surprise along the YURdigital journey? YUR: The amazing support that we have received from the artists in the two years since we opened the site. We have a fantastic collection of artists and content developers that truly want to help YURdigital rise to the top and we are quickly getting there thanks to their undying support. 3DA: A company is only as good as the team behind it. You run a pretty lean crew at YURdigital. Here’s your opportunity to tell us about the talent behind the curtain. Give us a brief highlight of your team members and their function.
Ken Martin - Content Testing Manager: Ken and I have been friends since the late 90’s. Ken is very experienced in many 3D applications, has amazing communications skills and is one of the best and most thorough product testers I’ve ever worked with. We also have a team of highly skilled artists that help us manage the forums as well as provide us with consultation as needed. Michel Rondberg and Andrea Horváth (D&D Creations) are two of the best Vue artists in the industry. They help to moderate the Vue Discussion forum as well as provide our testing staff with copyright support help as needed. Marco Bokhorst (MindVision G.D.S.) is one of the best modelers that I know of in the industry. His skills with the modeling application Modo and Poser are amazing. He helps moderate the Poser and Modo Discussion forums as well as provides technical help as needed. Baron Thomas Von Buettner is our YUR-Roving Reporter. Thomas is tied in very heavily with the 20
INTERVIEW: CLINT HAWKINS J ESSIE
G RANDMA P AULA
motion picture VFX industry and provides us with some fantastic insider information that we can pass on to our members.
M ECHA P ATROL — W HITE L ION
3DA: What challenges have you faced putting together the right team? YUR: Finding people that you can trust and that will take control and do the right thing when issues arise. It was also a challenge to pick a small well rounded team since we had a lot of people that wanted to be part of the project. I still have a large pool of people eager to join our team but we don’t want to over staff too quickly. As we continue to grow the site we will add new quality team members as needed. 3DA: When I look at the kind of praise you’ve received from others in the industry it’s very obvious you are well respected and a force to be reckoned with moving forward. Does that kind of image add to your personal expectations and pressure to succeed? YUR: Yes and no. I’m a type “A” personality so my drive to succeed is just part of who I am. I truly feel that
respect is earned so I always treat people the way that I would like to be treated and this seems to generate respect from others.
However, there is pressure on the entire team to make sure that we keep the site up and running to provide the content developers with the vehicle to make money with their products. Many of the content developers depend on the income earned from YURdigital so I know there is a lot riding on a site that functions smoothly. 3DA: If you could point your finger at any one thing missing from the general digital art community what would that be? 22
INTERVIEW: CLINT HAWKINS V INTAGE
YUR: The one thing I hear over and over from artists and content developers is that sometimes they don’t feel valued. They feel like a number or a non-person when working with some of the other brokerage sites.
3DA: Along those lines do you think YURdigital fills a niche previously ignored? YUR: Most definitely. As stated previously, at YURdigital we have the philosophy that we are here to work for the artist and content developers. We maintain that YURdigital is by Artists, for Artists and from Artists, so we understand the artists and content developers on a personal level. Many other sites don’t provide this personal touch and seem to feel that the artists and content developers work for them. This seems very odd to me. So we hope that this personal touch helps to convey that we do value each and every artist and content developer that we have the honor of working with. 3DA: You saw the earliest days of microcomputing with the Commodore family and know how digital art has evolved over generations of hardware and software. Where do you see the evolution of digital art over the next decade? YUR: That’s a difficult question to answer since
technology is moving at such a rapid pace. However, with increased technological power and software applications that are becoming more powerful I think being able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s computer generated will be very difficult. Being able to tell if an actor in a movie is computer generated or real or if a picture is computer generated or a photo is going to be even more difficult as we move forward in this industry. 3DA: What about YURdigital – what’s your vision there for the next ten years? YUR: To continue to grow the site in such a way that content developers and buyers have a safe and secure place to offer their products as well as shop. 3DA: What three tips would you give someone today wanting to work in the 3D Graphics industry? YUR: Be open to constructive criticism when it’s offered and to learn from it. Enroll in a Art College- take tutorials from sites sites such as Digital Tutors and Gnomon Workshop. Never burn any bridges! This industry is small and tight knit. Burning bridges can come back around and potentially jeopardize a good job opportunity.
L A P RINCESSE
MindVision G.D.S. is notorious for developing the wildly popular Poser Indoor Creation Kit, otherwise known as P.I.C.K. along with producing highly detailed and dynamic clothes and props. MindVision G.D.S. recently released the ground breaking Poser PhotoBox and PhotoBox Xtra exclusively at YURdigital. Poser PhotoBox is a powerful render tool for Poser 8 and up producing professional render results for both experienced and beginning artists. It has quickly become the "Must Have" tool for Poser artists. In addition, the Washi Future Car and Suzume Future Bike were also exclusively released through YURdigital. The Future Car and Future Bike can also be used in Daz Studio, Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya and any other software that will import .obj files. Check out the MindVision G.D.S. store at YURdigital for extremely high quality digital art resources and content for Poser, Daz Studio, 3ds Max, Maya and more!
Mindvision G.D.S & YURdigital
Deedee Davies Deedee is a long-time fan of fantasy and dark art. Boris Vallejo and Chris Achilleos are a couple of her early inspirations. She first started creating 3D art in 2004 when accidently stumbling across the Poser platform. Davies was fascinated with game artwork and animation and Poser allowed her to try her hand at it. After a few years in the field she has settled into Carrara Pro for modelling, Vue Studio for landscapes and rendering, and Poser Pro for figure posing and animation. Her influences include vampires, cheesy 80s horror and fantasy films, heavy metal and the works of Poe, Lovecraft & their contemporaries. Davies tries to storylines into her images to make them more interesting, and to use or modify existing items in different ways to make them unique. She currently works on book covers with a prolific horror publishing company. At least fifteen of her book covers are out in print. We interviewed Deedee originally in issue 16 of the mag, but also interviewed her on our podcast in session 6. http://seedydeedee.deviantart.com/ http://www.3dfantasyart.co.uk/
Introduction: Deedee Davies is a long-time fan of fantasy and dark art. She first started creating 3D art in 2004 when accidentally stumbling across the Poser platform. Deedee was fascinated with game artwork and animation, and Poser allowed her try her hand at it. After a few years in the field, she has settled into Carrara Pro for modeling, Vue Studio for landscapes and rendering, and Poser Pro for figure posing and animation. And her influences include vampires, cheesy 80's horror and fantasy films, heavy metal, and works of Poe, Lovecraft, and their contemporaries. She includes some story lines into her images to make them more interesting and to use and modify existing items in different ways to make them unique. She currently works on book covers with a prolific horror publishing company, and at the time of the magazine interview, at least 15 of her book covers were out in print. No doubt, there's more now. So, you liked cheesy 80's horror films? Deedee: I did, indeed. 3DAD: Give us an example of a cheese 80's horror film. What are your favorites? Deedee: Evil Dead springs to mind. To be honest, anything that's got lots of splatter and humor in it. That usually does it for me. 3DAD: Plenty of inspiration in there, no doubt. Deedee: Oh, absolutely. Yes.
PODCAST INTERVIEW: DEEDEE DAVIES 3DAD: Yeah. Now, You mentioned in the original magazine interview in the 3D Art Direct, that one of your strengths as an artist is making images with impact which, as you mentioned, is essential for the full size image as well as the thumbnail. Did you take a while to get this skill right and is it all down to less is more, or are there other sort of facets or aspects to getting this kind of impact that you're after. Deedee: Well, I think the first thing to say is I'm not sure if I've honed it all that well at all. I think there's still quite a lot of trial and error involved, but I do think there are certain things that you have to get have right, no matter what medium you're using. So, you need to have your angle, your point of view, your composition, your colours and lighting right in order for it to have an impact. And I do think that less can work better ,in that if there are less distractions in the picture to detract from the focus and then that can work better but sometimes clutter can help tell a story too. And to be honest for me, it's mostly about the lighting. I probably spend most of my time on any one render getting the lighting right.
doing a book cover for say, an ebook, the only way to discover an ebook is by looking at a little thumbnail to start with. Deedee: That's right. I think it's particularly important for ebooks because that's obviously a bit of a new media whereas before you could walk through a book shop and see them on the shelves in quite big size. Ebooks, as you say, they are so quite small. Yeah. Absolutely. I'm just going back to what you were asking actually about the impact. Deedee: I think one of my tips or tricks on that one would be like I usually find if the images are lacking contrast when the rendering is done, I either sort of post work them in Photoshop and use adjustment layers like brightness and contrast and levels and curves and that sort of stuff, with masks as well to sort of highlight and darken certain areas. I think Vue
T HE M ESSENGER
I can easily go through like 90 to 100 renders on any one picture just getting the lighting right. 3DAD: 90 to 100 renders? Deedee: Yup. 3DAD: Dedication. Deedee: Yes, but you want to get it looking just right and it's just worth just pressing the button again and again and again, and just getting it to where you want it. And I do think it's a good idea to look at your image reduced down to thumbnail size before you go ahead and say it's finished. And if at that point it's not jumping out at you, then there's just more work to be done. And I don't think it's like necessarily about being able to see the detail when it's really small, but maybe it's about getting the right sort of blend and colours and shapes so that people are interested and want to click on it. And if you're anything like me, you'll go through like hundreds, maybe thousands of images as you look through art sites in any week. And if a little thumbnail isn't attractive, then actually it's probably not going to get seen. 3DAD: I was thinking as well that if you're
time waiting for something render. Then you probably don't want to go back and do it again. Then I think Photoshop, it's great for that because you've got so many different tools that you can use to actually adjust afterwards that it's really, really good. I found something useful on Poser recently actually. 3DAD: Oh, yeah? Deedee: I'm just trying to think what it was called, but there's a way where when you export the image, it exports it so you can activate the histogram in Photoshop and you can actually adjust the levels and things properly in there. I can't think for the life of me what it's called now, but it's in Poser. 3DAD: That impact is very important, and I was discussing this same topic with Rob Caswell in an editorial once. Because of this new medium of the ebook, like we said, it is essential, because of in the bookstore, people will tend to take the time to look at book covers and appreciate the art work. Deedee: Yeah.
W HY H AVE Y OU F ORESAKEN M E ? 3DAD: But on a web site, you is particularly good for them, because you can put like know what it's like. You'll get maybe three or four a tiny little spotlight next to whatever you want to sort seconds of attention, and the eyeballs will just move of bring into focus or to make people look at. on to something else. And like use low power and soft [chatters] and you can sort of bring it into focus without making it stand out too much. So, I think it's all about sort of brightness and contrast, really, about making the image pop. I think that that's the really key thing. 3DAD: Now, can you get away with, maybe, focusing a bit less on lighting, so that's not perfect but then said post work it was extra contrast to try and bring stuff out? Deedee: Absolutely, especially if you spent a lot of
Deedee: That's right. 3DAD: And so the impact of an image for a digital artist or publishing their work on the web, it has to be so impactful because people's attention is a lot less on the web that it is in the real world. Deedee: That's absolutely right. Yeah. 3DAD: Yeah. Now, you mentioned there's something you'd like to improve upon in your art, just to try and gain decent cover palettes in your scenes, by using complementary colours . . . 28
PODCAST INTERVIEW: DEEDEE DAVIES Deedee: Yeah.
clothes, actually. But you can go there with like a hex code or just an idea of a colour and it will help you 3DAD: . . . and I suppose I haven't really thought pick either a monochromatic scheme or a about this before because, I suppose I think about this complementary colour scheme and a bunch of others I in terms of clothes. My wife always moans at me for didn't really know about, actually. But that was a life not using complementary colours for my clothing saver for picking a really sort of complementary blue choice. font colour for my font, so I'll definitely be using that Deedee: I might have a tip for you! for cover titles in the future. 3DAD: This is important in digital artwork as well. So, are you get into grips with getting towards better colour mastery? Deedee: To some extent. I was working on a book cover recently, that had a picture of a girl in armour on front that was quite gray and then a sort of sandy beige background. And they work quite well together until the point where I had to come and put the title text on, and for the life of me I couldn't pick a colour for that text that both complemented the image and stood out. So, I ended up on this web site called colourschemedesigner.com that helps you pick a colour scheme, so this might be really useful for your
3DAD: It sounds like a pretty good resource. Deedee: Yeah. Absolutely. Colourschemedesigner.com, well worth a look. But I think when it actually comes to creating a picture from a scratch though in 3D software, that's still a bit challenging. Because I find, I don't know whether anybody else does, but when I build a scene from scratch, I'm not always thinking at the outset what that end render is going to look like. So a lot of my pictures tend to grow organically, so sometimes I'm not thinking about the colour scheme. I mean, sometimes I know I want to like write in gold in
A P RISON W ITH N O W ALLS
the picture or black and green, but other times I just end up with a huge mix of colours that really don't go together. So I will admit that in the past I've done really bad things like put like a really strong single coloured light on the scenes so that it sort of blends together a big [inaudible 00:12:50] same thing in Photoshop with a colour adjustment layer. And there's quite a few in my gallery like that if you look at Amnush in the Swamp, it's just all green. So, I'm not quite there with this one yet. Certainly not on the composition side, but I think that web site might well be my saving grace. I'll keep persevering anyway.
I don't know, a blue and a green that don't go together, you could change one of the textures to something complementary.
Deedee: Or the other thing you could do, actually, something you have just said that is as you could change actually the texture that's supplied to the model in the first place, if you've got like a clashness,
and the rest I would kind of discard. Now, you mentioned something called the Liquify tool in Photoshop, that helped you overcome this challenge.
If you sort of are adjusting textures on models. 3DAD: Yeah. So hopefully the folks out there will start to get their colour schemes right. That's actually without resources mentioned.
3DAD: Now hereâ€™s a quote from the magazine interview in regard to Poser. It says, "Too little emotion on your character looks like a shop window dummy. Too much emotion and they look crazed" 3DAD: I think that is a bane of a digital artist, isn't it? which I thought was a fantastic quote; because I think everyone finds this out particularly when they first Particularly if they're using 3D models that they're start using Poser or Daz Studio, and they try to get bringing into the scene that have already got their textures and colours sorted out because suddenly you the right expression. Even when you buy expressions for different Poser models, you look at them and you may like the look of a certain set of models to get there. Colourwise, they may be awful. They may be a think, I don't want my picture to have that expression. horrible mix. And like you say, the only way to sort of Often I'd be looking at the set of sort of bored rescue the situation is by using lighting, or post expressions, a sort of pallet of expressions you could processing. choose from, and I'd like maybe a handful of them,
INTERVIEW: DEEDEE DAVIES Deedee: Yeah. If you're anything like me, you probably use a certain percentage of the tools in any bit of software that you've got, and there's quite a bit of it that you overlook or you just don't know about. And so now and again you can stumble across something that's just been staring you in the face for ages, and this was one of those. I came across the liquify tool a few years in Imagine FX. You know the magazine? 3DAD: Yeah. Yeah. Deedee: And there was a tiny section at the bottom of the page where a reader had asked a question and they'd said “I have just painted this character's head. The expression is just a little bit wrong, but I don't want to repaint it again from scratch. Is there anything I can do?” And the short answer was “yes”, use the liquify tool. So, I went and had a look at it and it's got various brushes and settings, a lot of which I don't actually touch. It's got like bloating tools and shrinking tools and all sorts of stuff. But the main brush just sort of
moves things around a bit and I use it a lot for making minor adjustments to facial expressions. I think it's probably fair to say that since I've discovered it, I've used in every single picture I've made. It's that good! A lot of my characters tend to be sort of quite fierce and if they're not quite aggressive looking enough when they come out of the render, I often use it like make the eyebrows a bit angry or make the face a bit more stern. and like making chins pointy and ears pointy and that sort of thing. And it's a really powerful, and what it can do is save an entire re-render. You could go back into Poser or Daz and twiddle some parameter dials. It can be that simple, but if like me you've done it in Poser, imported it into Vue, altered all the textures, waited 20 hours for it to render, you probably don't want to do that. So, you can just tweak it with this liquify tool. It's fantastic. I actually did a tutorial on it, actually, which is on my web site and it covers just basic of use it, and the sort of stuff we just talked about. 3DAD: OK. While we mentioned it, what's your web site URL?
T HE S HADOW A LLIANCE Deedee: It's 3dfantasyart.co.uk.
3DAD: So because you're working in a 2D plane, you know, you're working in Photoshop with this liquify Deedee: Just coming back to what you're saying tool, is it still able to deliver even though you can only about the character expressions, actually. Getting work with what you're seeing in terms of the face of them to look natural is really, really tricky. For myself, the model that's been rendered, if you like? I usually start off with a little less emotion in it than I actually need because I find it's a lot easier to Deedee: Yeah, I think so because even though you're intensify it then to make it less intense. not actually adjusting the model itself because it's a flat image of them. 3DAD: So it's better to start off from the shop window dummy look than the crazed look? But it takes a little bit of practice, but I think it's certainly got the scope to do almost anything you Deedee: Yeah, I think so. And then just it make it a need to it. Obviously, you can't turn the head around bit more errâ€Ś. or anything like that, but within what you've rendered, 3DAD: Crazed! it's really, really powerful, and it's got quite extensive application, I think Deedee: Crazed. Yeah. That's the one. But what I would say though is if you're having trouble, just use a reference page. I think a lot of people are afraid to look for reference and they think it's cheating, but like if you go find something that's got an expression close to what you want and then just try and emulate it in your software. I mean failing that, look in the mirror.
3DAD: Now, you do commissions so some of your work is professional. What was it like when you gained your very first commission? That must have been a wonderful achievement for you.
Deedee: Yes, it was. It was absolutely brilliant. The first book cover I did that got published, I went out 3DAD: Yeah. I was talking about that to Rob Caswell, and I bought a bunch of copies of it and I sent it and I imagine that a lot of Poser artists do look in the randomly to my family with my name on the front of it mirror quite often. Not because their vain, but because as well. I'm not sure they appreciated the zombie they're trying to get a good reference for an slaughter fest that was inside, but it's the thought that expression. counts. But it is just a really great feel of knowing that you are collaborating and in a lot of cases, you're Deedee: Absolutely. Yup. bring author's visions to life. And hopefully what 32
PODCAST INTERVIEW: DEEDEE DAVIES you've designed is helping bring their stories out into the world. It's like what we've just talked about when you walk into a book shop. Unless you're looking for something by a particular author, you'll be attracted by the book cover first and foremost. It's really, really important, like you said, for that picture to pop because it's the first hook in getting somebody to buy it.
about later. I'll go into that in a bit more detail. 3DAD: So if any listeners, if they want to just get some nostalgic cheese going, in terms of horror, just go to Deedee's web site and look at what she's done because some of it is very good artwork but some of it is very cheesy books with cheesy book titles. Deedee: Absoltely. I'm glad you appreciate the cheese.
3DAD: Now, I had a great time looking at some of your book covers that you did, and some of them are quite cheesy aren't they?
3DAD: So, what are two or your favorite projects you've done for clients? What was the journey like in creating these, and what did you learn by the end of the project?
Deedee: Oh, yeah. 3DAD: So, you've got one book called “Dating a Zombie.” Deedee: Yup. I'd like to do a DVD cover. 3DAD: Which I may actually buy because it just sounds so intriguing. And the other one was called Zombonauts, which is a cross between astronauts and zombies, I think. Deedee: Yeah. I've actually picked out of those to talk
Deedee: Well, if we talk about the one just mentioned first, Zombonauts. This was a bit of departure for me because left to my own devices, I will do straight down the line middle of the road fantasy and maybe some gothic stuff. And so when they threw “Zombies in Space” at me, it threw me for a little of a loop. So I haven't done anything with space before so I had to go out and learn how to create a space scene.
Essentially. I've never even done stars, so I had a great time reading tutorials, using like noise and colour filters to make the stars and the nebula and things like that.
or third book cover I did. Yes. 3DAD: It's quite challenging to illustrate an image to do. I'm looking at it right now. Deedee: Yeah.
And I found tutorials for making planets because that was part of the brief as well that the astronaut had to be floating above a planet with a zombie eating his leg. So it was great figuring out how to make planets. All of this sort of stuff was really using in things I did in the future as well. But one of the elements of the brief was that where the zombie was biting the astronaut's leg, there had to be little globules of blood as it would be if it was floating in space. So I sat down. How on earth am I going to do this? I don't know if you're familiar with that. But basically, you've got little balls that attract and repel each other, and if you stick them together and pull them apart again, it acts a bit like blue tacks, so they sort of stretch and stick.
3DAD: And on the back, it's got a lovely expression. It says “in space no one can hear you groan!” Deedee: There it is. It's funny enough that do you know what took me the longest bit on this picture was making the zombie space suit dirty. It took me hours and hours and hours. You wouldn't think to look at it, but, yeah, that took ages. 3DAD: So, yeah, Check out Zombonauts, and that's from the Library of the Living Dead. That's the name of the publishers, is that? Deedee: It is. Yes. Yup. 3DAD: OK. Second one?
They're really, really good. So, I used that I thought it really good effect for the globules of blood and exported it and put it into Vue. And Vue's got a great blood texture, so that all sort of fit together quite well. I rendered it in Vue because Vue's just awesome. But it was quite a departure for me, and I'm really quite glad I did it because it took me completely out of my comfort zone. And it was really quite a good journey of learning things, that one. 3DAD: Was this one of your first commissions you did? Deedee: It was. Yes. I think it was either the second
Deedee: Second one I picked was “Anti-heroes” which was also it was another cover for Library of Living Dead. And it's one of those I was really quite happy with how it turned out, because somehow accidentally it ended up looking a bit like a graphic novel. It wasn't intentional, but I quite like how it turned it. The brief for this one was for this big guy with slits in his arms and wherever there was like slits in his skin, there were tentacles coming out and all sorts of stuff and a secret agent with a gun. That bit was straight forward. But the guy with the little tentacles, I ended up having to find a free octopus and like put ten intakes of the
PODCAST INTERVIEW: DEEDEE DAVIES
octopus inside the freak character just to get it to render, so that was fun. But the other thing I wanted to say about this one is that it uses a lot of older models, so a lot of people now are using like the generation 4 and 5 figures like Michael 4 and Victoria 4 and 5 and things, and these are actually the generation 3 models.
because the covers on that side have just slowed down a bit. The guy at the press has taken bit of a break. But I think a few more since then. 3DAD: Do you also do artwork for games as well? Deedee: I have done in the past. Those are actually my very, very first commissions was doing some artwork for an online game called Vaperida and that was great fun. Just like creating different versions of characters so they start off at level one and doing the same character through to like level ten. That was quite a challenge. I think there's quite a few games have actually just picked up some of my artwork anyway, so there's a lot of freelance developers out there who really don't really have the budget, and they just get in touch and ask if they can use some of my artwork.
3DAD: Yeah. They turned out very well considering. Deedee: Yeah. I think it just goes to show that if you liked and rendered them well, some of these older figures, they are still quite useful and a lot of their stuff is a lot cheaper than the new models and there's no reason why they can't be perfectly serviceable, really. 3DAD: And so I'd imagine they render faster as well? Deedee: Yup. They do. Less polygons.
3DAD: What kind of work do you prefer then? The book work or the game work?
3DAD: Yeah. I'm looking at the cover now, and the detective has turned out very well. Itâ€™s a very typical detective pose, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and gun in the hand. But I see what you mean about the figure behind you with the octopus tentacles coming out. That's quite unusual horror figure there. Deedee: It is. Yeah. I do find that that happens quite a lot particularly when people ask for character portraits of people that they've just sort of dreamed up and they quite often have completely off the wall. It makes me wonder how on earth am I going to do that. But it's all good fun and it drives you to innovate, I think. 3DAD: Yeah. They are very good book covers. Deedee: Thank you. 3DAD: So how many are you up to now? I mean, I've mentioned at the beginning of the interview, you had about 15, 16 covers, but you've done quite a few more, I think, now. Deedee: I don't know. I've lost count. I think probably only a few more since earlier this year
Deedee: I think actually at the minute I prefer the book work, because it's got a very definite beginning and end and it's a small self-contained project. Whereas with the character art for games, it could be going on and on and on and on indefinitely. So I quite like having things with a definite ending so I can move on to the next thing. 3DAD: And is the game artwork a little bit more nebulaâ€™s because, I suppose, with an author they've thought very carefully about their characters and perhaps what they look like as well. And so you tend to get a better and more detailed brief for a book cover than you would for a game. Deedee: You do. You do. Yeah. But I think also as long as it meets the rough brief that they've given you for games, it's usually fine. 3DAD: Now, one tip you gave to artist in our magazine interview towards the end was to take your time, and when you've finished and ready to share your images with the world, to go away and take a break. And when you come back, you may find
something you've missed, or decide it would look better if you completely change certain elements. Now, is this something that you've personally learned early on or do you still catch yourself and say I must take a break and come back to my artwork later on and take a second look?
looking for a free script that would generate random assortments of words like you know where you can go to a site and you can press a button and you can get your middle earth name and it will pull from like a list of names and you'll get like little delve or something. You know the ones I mean.
Deedee: I'm absolutely terrible at this. I'm quite an excitable person generally. I usually can't wait to get my latest picture up and posted and show it to other people and see what they think. But a few years back, I was doing some fan art of a game series I was really into at the time, and the picture that I was working on was starting to come together really well and I was really itching to post it. I had this just nitty little feeling at the back of my head that if were to wait a little bit longer, it would be much, much better. So, I left it overnight, came back the next day, got it looking much better, did the same thing the following night. And eventually I got to a point where it was tons and tons better than the version I was originally going to post, and it's been a bit of a lesson really to take your time and that there really is no rush to get the images out there. If you haven't got a deadline, it doesn't matter when you post it. I suppose I'm as guilty as everybody else, that you come back in a couple of days and you look at your image and you think how did I let it go up with a foot poking though the shoe. So I think it is worth taking that time out, but I'm not very good at practicing what I preach, unfortunately.
3DAD: Yeah. There's another one that does technology, and it kind of gives you if you are like an IT manager a bit like me and you have to give some excuse to somebody to fob them off and give them some techno babble, this would give you some track technical babble so you can fob people. Deedee: You've got to give me that link because I manage IT projects as well and that would be invaluable. 3DAD: So, it's all about the warp engines needs a second level diagnostic or something. You have to wait!
3DAD: I think it's very easy to tie yourself down and just work and work and work and say I'm just going to get this finished and posted. Deedee: Yeah. 3DAD: You sort of get yourself all tired and exhausted from just being in front of that screen. And you get into something because you're in that state, so it is a good tip. Deedee: That's a good point actually. I haven't really thought about the whole being tired thing, because you've sat there for so long. 3DAD: It just comes on by degrees, and you end up going slower and slower and slower. You're just running out of creative patience. Now, on your web site, you've got some wonderful tools which I though were fantastic. So you've got an art theme generator and also the vampire personality test, all very essential tools. Tell me about these.
Deedee: That's great. I'm sorry. Where were we? Yes. The random insult generator. Yes. So, I found a free script and as I was making this insult generator, I started getting ideas and I thought if I used a character type and a character description, I could create a ready-made picture of a character or an idea for a character.
Deedee: OK. Well, the art theme generator, this is terrible, it started out when my other half asked me to And then I thought, well, actually, if I put in a place and a place description, I'll have a whole idea for a make him a random insults generator. So I went 36
INTERVIEW: DEEDEE DAVIES person, a type of person, and where they are, and what they place is like. So I put that together and what it spits out at the other end is usually really, really silly. It might give you something like, I don't know, a lonely warlord in a scary wine cellar or something stupid like that. But it does start you thinking. It's like, well, how am I going to show that the warlord is lonely and what's scary about the wine cellar. And I think it just starts idea spark even if you don't end up doing that picture it might even help sort of get rid of an art block. 3DAD: Yeah. So, it kind of forces your brain to, well, associate things that wouldn't normally be associated together. You never know. You might end up with a great idea. Deedee: This is true. And I actually run a competition about it over on Deviant Art, and the challenge was to go over to the site, click the generator until you got a theme that you liked, and then do a picture based on it. And the one that actually won was fabulous. She did a crazy bride on a fake country lane and just the imagination that she used to actually get that into picture form was brilliant. It was absolutely fantastic. I did another recently as well. It was just two person picture generator. It give you like just two character types, a location, and what they're doing. So, it's like you might get an angel and the devil fighting on the beach or something like that. But again, it just gives you an idea for what you might to do for a piece of artwork. A 3DAD: And the vampire personality test. Deedee: The vampire personality test. Well, I'm sure that everyone will emphasize with this. I get most of my best ideas from one source, and that's procrastination. I got the idea for this when I should I have been doing something else entirely and I just couldn't concentrate on it. I was playing around with some Facebook polls and I thought I could do one of these based on vampires. So, the next thing you're know, I'm off making loads of pictures based on vampire stereotypes. You know, it's got a ['inaudible 00:35:23] type in there and a Count Dracula type in there. And it attracted quite nicely from what I should have been doing at the time. 3DAD: So when you do the test, what do you end up with? Deedee: I usually end up as the Count Dracula classic vampire type.
polls sound really fun so that's definitely worth a look on your web site which is 3dfantasyart.co.uk which is an amazing domain to obtain, by the way. So, well done getting that domain. Deedee: It was very tough to get that. And I've also got the dot com. 3DAD: Yeah. Now that's brilliant. So, I think we'll wrap it up, but thank you so much for joining 3D Art Direct. I really enjoyed having you on the show. Deedee: Thanks very much, Paul. 3DAD: And what are you working on at the moment? Deedee: I'm just wrapping up a sci-fi project I've been doing with a friend at work, actually. He's done a story that he's set to his own and I've done the images for it. 3DAD: Oh, fantastic. Deedee: So, it's just been a bit of a collaborative effort on that over the last few months, so hopefully we're going to try and get that out this year. 3DAD: OK. We'll look forward to that then. No doubt we can find that through your web site once it's posted.
3DAD: OK. I'll definitely avoid you in person. Those 37
D ANNY G ORDON
Danny Gordon, 39, is a computer draftsmen raised in central New Jersey, USA. He was a late bloomer to digital arts considering his childhood and teens were consumed by sports, primarily Ice Hockey. He played minor league hockey with the Philadelphia Junior Flyers until he was 23-yearsold. Gordon left the sport and took up a Disc Jockeying in the mid 90’s, spinning techno and house music in NJ, NYC & L.A. He ultimately relocated to L.A., hoping to advance in the DJ arena. There he began working with stage lighting and set design for photo-shoots, special events, and concerts, anything to expand his skill set. This experience became the root of his visual & computer art interest. His first foray into the 3D Art world was through a brief exposure to Bryce, but it wasn’t until he discovered Terragen Classic in 2004, did he really begin to advance in landscapes & procedural texturing. Today Danny Gordon is heavily involved with Digital Arts, as a moderator for Renderosity’s Terragen forum. Much of his time these days is spent getting Danny Gordon Digital Arts off the ground, selling Prints and animations to private and professional clients. 38
B AKARR 3DA: It’s my pleasure to welcome back Danny Gordon to 3D Art Direct. We interviewed Danny back in Issue 3, one of our earliest Terragen (TG)/Mojoworld artists. Thank you for allowing us to revisit. DG: Thank you for having me, when I received the invite for the follow up interview I did not hesitate, Issue 3 was a great experience and opened several doors and opportunities for me as an artist. I have been following 3d Art Direct since issue 1, very impressed with its progression and most of all its diversity in leaving no stone unturned in the world of 3d arts. 3DA: What have you been up to, artistically, since your first visit with our readers? DG: Since issue 3 I have maintained the same course for the most part, continuing my Moderator position at Renderosity’s Terragen Forums and honing my skills with Planetsides current version of Terragen version 2.4, Thinking back to the time of the last interview I was very much heading in the direction of a full time Mojonaut (Mojoworld User) although I haven’t abandoned this application completely, the lack of development and support for Mojoworld has left
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many a Mojonaut abandoned, myself included. This compared to the massive push by Planetside to get version v2 where it is today was hard to ignore as they are somewhat similar in regards to the interface. This to me is the next logical step forward in the Landscape genre. Planetside’s support of multicore processing, extremely realistic results, full-on Tech support from
Planetside Forums and New World Digital Art sets version 2 apart from Mojoworld. In my humble opinion this is a Mojonauts answer to the “Mojoworld 4” myth that has been popping up in forums and threads for 56 years now. 3DA: Since we covered a lot of the biography and
O DOODEM motivation stuff in the last interview I thought we’d keep this focused on the technology—more on the “How to” side of TG since you seem to have settled in their as your software of choice. Let’s talk about atmosphere. When you first think about a piece how much consideration to you put into atmosphere before you get started?
DG: Well I would really like to sit here and tell you about a disciplined structure to my work flow; however this is simply not the case. Every image starts different to be honest; it may be a terrain displacement or any misc. object, plant, Daz content, anything inspiring that initially gets the ball rolling, getting back to your question, atmosphere is
I N M Y D REAMS
extremely important in my work and I tend to address it as I progress with each piece, this doesn’t necessarily define the direction I go out of the gate, but certainly gets worked in and takes on a major role in the mood and feel of the finished product.
this case besides the strong light / rays coming through the clouds, I really wanted to light up Terrade’s “Twisted Tree” that he was kind enough to share with me. To do this I needed to create some reverse / environment lighting working with the camera exposure to get the right tones and strength 3DA: Is there a specific technique you use to define to highlight the Terrades tree and foreground details atmosphere settings for one of your images? without losing any of the dark spooky mood I was DG: Techniques vary from version v.9 (Classic) to v2, going for. I feel this worked out quite well in this although created by the same company they are two image. separate animals. They represent two different time 3DA: You are very good about using light and shadow periods of CGI. Lighting is the one element that I wish in your work to create depth and contrast. Talk us could be combined from both versions into one. I through how you’ve developed that skill in TG. personally find v.9’s lighting a bit more flexible in regards to extreme settings, deep rich surreal tones DG: My lighting skills developed from doing and of course v.9’s famous Rays just can’t be Production lighting in my early 20’s in Los Angeles Ca, duplicated in any other application, On the other hand I loved the control I had over a set or a backdrop’s v.9 can’t compare to v2’s 3D clouds and overall appearance and mood with the use of simple realism with its lighting package. So there’s a little conventional lighting techniques such as different color give and take. Two very different techniques rendering gels, varying can sizes, strengths, angles and of two very different results. course a good old fashion fog machine. Fast forward a few years and insert a quick spin with Bryce than 3DA: Atmosphere and lighting has to work hand in Terragen Classic. Browsing through some of the works hand. A great example of this is In My Dreams. What of artists like Horselips, Moppellundwilli, Josh Hund, really makes this work for me is that balance between Maori, Azrabella etc .. I was immediately taken in to the surrounding atmosphere and the rear angle this new Digital World that I had complete lighting. I see this technique in many of your images. environmental control of, a world that I could create Why do you think this works so well? from pure imagination. I was blown away. I look DG: Correct, it is all really a balancing act of light. In forward to the future with Version 2 42
INTERVIEW: DANNY GORDON T IME B ANDITS
3DA: Your TG gallery is very diverse in the sense that it’s not landscape after landscape. You have a wide variety of topic and style. Time Bandit jumps out as a piece where you went to great care with the light and shadow work. The depth is fantastic. How did this piece develop and are you satisfied with the final result?
Terragen, as you see them?
DG: In my humble opinion at this stage of the game the only weakness in v2 would be render times, its very hungry, however since the first release of TGD Alpha in 2005 the guys at Planetside have cut these times significantly. I only expect this to continue to improve with future updates to the software. As far as DG: This image is loosely based on 1981 film by Terry the strengths, I think it’s pretty safe to say its almost Gilliam’s “Time Bandit”, As a kid I remember watching limitless because of the flexibility with the node this movie many times and the impression that it left network and freedom to experiment with different on me inspired a lot of my images not just this wiring configurations for experienced users who chose particular one, the Time Travel, the Haunted Pirate to work within the network. This like Mojoworld’s Ship and the overall Dark Mood it had, the dark mood Function graphs tends to deter new users from using is certainly not conveyed in this piece, but the Mystery it. However v2 is certainly for a beginner or hobbyist, and sense of imamate Time Travel are there. The you don’t have to be a programmer to operate it. It is bright static light that would appear each time the boy a powerful tool to any CGI hobbyist, professional or Kevin and is gang of Dwarfs would be transported to studio looking for real results. another Time period was the idea. The clouds where 3DA: If the design team from Planetside came to you created using a cloud clip file from Terrade, the cloud and said, “We want to add a Danny Gordon tool to the nodes were driven by 2 Power Fractal with Perlin Ridge software,” what would that be? displacement. A little Photoshop was added to the original render to accentuate the overall effect. Overall DG: Danny Gordon Tool is a bit much, they pretty much have all tool based issues sorted out by I am pleased with it, it’s certainly in the work in progress folder for a rainy day as I would like to revisit Planetsides beta testers and the staff themselves, I would like to see some changes to the navigation tool, this one soon. although fully functional it just seems to slow the work 3DA: What are the strengths and weaknesses of 43
B ES G AS IV
INTERVIEW: DANNY GORDON flow process down a bit in its current form. It would be nice to have the option to scale an object with a bounding box or some other real time tool. Also 3d orbit of these objects would be helpful. As it is now all rotating and scaling has to be typed in manually, I personally would like the ability to free orbit and scale a prop manually in the preview window. 3DA: Open up your personal toolbox for a moment. What are some of the neat tricks you’ve uncovered in TG that helped you improve the work?
DG: Besgas IV — The title is actually a spin off of Besgas 3 an orbiting Gas Refinery of the Planet Bespin from “The Empire Strikes Back”. This was actually and orbital shot of another image I created some months before. Terragen like Mojoworld creates environments on a global scale, so you are creating an entire planet of displacements, giving you infinite POVs with your displacements and textures. In this case I elevated the camera to orbit, imported the models and maps, placed models and rendered it. The moon is a primitive sphere, Lens flare was added in Photoshop. I am actually working on a short animation of this image now. The recent upgrades to the animation module are pretty extensive, look forward to experimenting with it.
DG: Wiring techniques, with version 2 there’s so many ways to get varying effects on every element of your scene. The node network allows the user to rewire your nodes into different configurations that result in endless variations, this is what I mean by “it’s 3DA: Another of your TG masterpieces is the unique almost limitless”, it’s an ever evolving experimenting Xuelth. One, where did the title come from, and two, and learning process. Every image I gain something. how did you create the sharp angled peaks? It looks This is truly something special Planetside put together. like a windblown desert scene. 3DA: Besgas IV is an interesting piece of work. I like DG: I wanted a name that carries both alien and the subtlety of the Millennium Falcon (by scifi3d.com) reptilian characteristics Xuelth does this for me. After I in the foreground? This is another of your images look at it a few months later, I see “Alien” meets "The where your gradient transition from light to shadow is Chronicles of Riddick, I find the cinema is always magnificent. The lighting flares really give this image consciously or subconsciously steering the direction I pop. How did you do that? go with my work, this is certainly a prime example of
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INTERVIEW: DANNY GORDON Best feature is probably Mojoworld itself. As a whole, this program is a part of history. Its creator, Doctor Ken Musgrave the creator of the Fractal based code that Bryce and all digital landscape was based from, designed this program. Itâ€™s one of a kind and will never be duplicated.
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this. The terrain was created in Mojoworld, which is actually an excellent terrain generator that can export to various types of heightfields and meshes. In this case, Terragen’s native .ter format. The terrain was then loaded in v2 and given single Power fractal displacement (roughness on the rocks) along with a strata and outcrops node (slanted stacked displacement in foreground) & Twist and Shear node which allows you to lean and twist up the terrain in any direction. Some Fake stones where added with Perlin Ridge displacement to create subtle organic greenery to this alien wasteland. The atmospherics took a little time to sort out and is still in the process of being refined for a similar type image coming soon.
effective tool, however Mojoworld greatest down fall is that it does not support multi core processors. Single thread only, in a world where every artist is working with at least a dual core, its hard to sell a product that is so far behind in this area. Render times are outrageous. But the volumetrics by Dymtry Lavrov are awesome
http://dmytry.com/volumetrics/index.html 3DA: Visually there seems to be some very subtle differences between TG and MW. Trying to look at it with the eye of a consumer rather than an artist, what are the biggest differences you would point to in images created with both packages?
DG: My first thought would have to be what types of images will I be creating? Mojoworld fair to say is mainly Sci-Fi/Retro Sci-Fi in todays market. I have seen some realism come from Mojo but not a ot to honest. If photo realistic eco systems and real world surfacing and terrains is your goal Mojo isn’t for you in DG: As I mentioned briefly before I haven’t my opinion. Mojoworld at present time is unsupported. completely abandoned Mojoworld, nor will I ever it has Pandromeda and Mojo.org at the time of this interview a unique style all its own, Dymtry Lavrov’s volumetric are offline, that being said I am a firm believer that plug-in introduced in 05 was the last upgrade of any you get what you pay for. That’s why I purchased kind to the Mojoworld Community, it brought some Mojo. I knew what I was buying, it was a personal great images and it’s an extremely powerful and choice and I am happy with my purchase. OK 3DA: Let’s shift gears and discuss a bit of your Mojoworld (MW) work. First off, what is your vision of MW today and where does it fit into what you are doing now considering there hasn’t been a revision to the product since 2006?
INTERVIEW: DANNY GORDON Terragen - Sci-Fi and Photorealism capable, supports full realistic eco systems and multicore processors, volumetrics, full tech support via Planetside Wiki, Planetside Forums, intergraded online help tabs on all nodes, New World Digital Art chat, pack presets and tutorial videos. Ok the prices - Mojoworld 3.0 Animation (mojomove) and Mojotree + Free 3.1.1 upgrade, extra content, Mojotree upgrade and D. Lavrov’s volumetric plugin. $479.00. - Terragen v 2.4 with animation $299.0, $699.00 with 1300 Xfrog Plants Bundle.
*I am Commercially licensed Freelance user of both softwares, I am not a spokesperson or representative for Pandromeda or Planetside Software 3DA: Is there room in the artist’s marketplace for both a current Terragen and Mojoworld – and why? (Or why not?) DG: Yes there is certainly room for both, as they are two different applications that create to different results. It’s up to the user. 3DA: Lightspeed is one MW image that really stands out. The sense of motion and the somewhat narrow color pallet is exquisite. Step us through how you did this one. Would those same methodologies work in TG? DG: Lightspeed was created using the Planetwizard Mojoworld offers, all elements were created using Mojoworld 3.1.1 Pro, as you mentioned the color pallet is fairly simple. What gives the image a bit of pop is the sense of motion which was actually done in Photoshop, basically just split the image in two at the horizon line separating the terrain from the sky, added some ‘zoom’ motion blur at different settings than stitched them back together. That’s it.
program. It’s one of a kind and will never be duplicated. 3DA: What are you working on now? DG: Currently I am running the Terragen gallery and forums at Renderosity Digital Art Community where we run monthly theme and terrain challenges for both versions of Terragen v.9 and v2. I am also working on a Collaboration for artist Regulus’s Currents of Space Zodiac Project. http://currentsofspace.blogspot.com/ In between I am working full time as a Computer Designer Draftsmen. So it’s safe to say I’m pretty busy. 3DA: I know you recently moved to Florida. Do you see the new locale impacting your motivation and inspiration? DG: Yes completely, the scenery down here is very inspiring, picked up a few Tropical X-Frog plant packs and have been steadily working with them, got a whole bunch of ideas just need to get the time to get them all set up and rendered properly. 3DA: What’s your biggest challenge today as a 3D Artist? DG: Time, technology is always progressing all new softwares have steep learning curves to climb, lots of trial and error, Having the time to learn technics and still remain active in the community with quality images is tough going. 3DA: If a 3D newcomer asked your advice on making a choice between Terragen and Mojoworld, how would you respond to that? DG: As much as I love Mojoworld, I have to say Terragen v2; it’s the future. 3DA: Thanks for your time today and I look forward to more fantastic Danny Gordon art coming in the future. DG: Thank you very much for the inviting me. I will always make time for 3D Art Direct, best of luck to you guys, keep up the good work
3DA: Biggest complaint with MW? Best feature?
DG: Best feature is probably Mojoworld itself. As a whole, this program is a part of history. Its creator, Doctor Ken Musgrave the creator of the Fractal based code that Bryce and all digital landscape was based from, designed this
http://dannygordon20.deviantart.com/ http://www.renderosity.com/homepage.php? userid=598284
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INTERVIEW: DANNY GORDON
INTERVIEW: DANNY GORDON
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D ANNY G ORDON — W ITCH M OUNTAIN 3D Art Direct : Be Inspired By Digital Art54
3D digital arts magazine specialising in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. We interview selected artists and discover their portfolios and stor...
Published on Oct 25, 2012
3D digital arts magazine specialising in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. We interview selected artists and discover their portfolios and stor...