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3D Art DIRECT

FANTASY & SCI-FI ARTIST IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS

3DArtDirect.com

KIM SCHNEIDER—ARKI

DAVE DE KERF

Tobias Roetsch from the Luminarium

ISSUE 37 February 2014

BRYCE ● VUE ● TERRAGEN ● POSER ● MOJOWORLD ● CARRARA ● DAZ STUDIO ● CINEMA 4D ● 3DS MAX ● BLENDER ● LIGHTWAVE


3D Art FANTASY & SCI-FI ARTIST IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS

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Main cover art : Orbital Flight by Tobias Roetsch 2


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Interview : Tobias Roetsch Tobias speaks about his inspirations and artworks as a long standing member of the prestigious Luminarium group who are a set of highly skilled Sci-Fi/Fantasy artists. Using Photoshop and Blender he has created an outstanding sci-fi portfolio.

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Interview : Dave De Kerf A rising artistic star who is dedicated to his craft in using Vue, World machine, 3D COAT and Photoshop. “Getting good results is usually not about being a natural talent, but about hard work and not being pleased too easily. I can’t remember the number of scenes I worked and reworked on, but with each version they came out better.”

Podcast : Kim Schneider A well know Poser content creator (Arki) with a popular store at RuntimeDNA.com talks about her history as an artist and how she progressed with content creation for Poser.

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INTERVIEW: Tobias Roetsch

3DAD: I understand you come from a Business background, how did you get started in the arts and what mediums caught your interest early on?

TR: My parents always supported my early attempts in the arts. For example I was allowed I was born in a small village near Dresden, to design the walls of my room the way I wanted Germany in 1987. I have been practising art them to look. At that time castles and piratesince 2005 and photography since 2006. I am ships were my favorite motifs. I actually started specialized in Sci-Fi and Landscape images. doing digital art at the age of 16. So I started my Self-taught, I am trying to improve my skills career by doing some signature banners for step-by-step with a lot of patience and effort. friends and myself. The Business background you 2010 I began working as freelance digital mentioned is just a back-up plan for my life. As artist, graphic designer and photographer. My my art skills are self-taught I needed a piece of educational background is quite simple: I paper that certifies some sort of profession. That studied International Business to have a backup plan for my life. is why I studied International Business. In hindsight art class would have been better choice for me. But the studies helped me to get my business working. And here I am, trying to 3DAD: 3D Art Direct is very pleased to have with establish my freelance work as artist day by day. us today Sci-Fi Fantasy Artist Tobias Roetsch, 3DAD: Looking through your galleries on Deviant Tobias welcome to 3D Art Direct!! Art as well as your home page http:// www.gtgraphics.de/ we see you are heavily involved with the Science Fiction genre. What got TR: Thanks a lot! It is a pleasure to do this you interested in Sci-Fi? interview with you.

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INTERVIEW: Tobias Roetsch

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TR: I have always been a fan of the Star Trek TV series such as Deep Space Nine, Voyager as well as the Star Trek and Star Wars movies. As a teenager I was playing Freelancer, a really intense space action game. I am really inspired by the vastness of outer space. Everything and anything is possible out there. At the same time I really wonder what our future has in store for us. (Technologically). Looking back at the last 100 years or even just the last 25 years of human and technological development the upcoming decades for sure are going to be really exciting. Sci-Fi is the

perfect combination of both topics and therefore my ultimate playground. I really enjoy the current trend of more Sci-Fi movies such as Oblivion, Elysium, Gravity and the last two parts of Star Trek. I see this as sign that there are more and more people like me who are dreaming of other worlds, which is a good thing as this ups the bar creatively. 3DAD: GT Graphics.DE created in 2006 with your partner Jeff Michelmann showcases some exceptional work from the 2 of you. How was this partnership formed?

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TR: We both met each other for the first time in playing Freelancer. There was not much talking involved as we were playing for different teams. Some months later we independently signed up to the same digital art board. From that time on we have been helping each other on every single piece of artwork. As it is easier to do a project together, we decided to build up a homepage as team. We came up with the somewhat cryptically name gtgraphics.de. It basically consists of the two initials of the pseudonyms we are using in the world-wide-web: gucken-G & taenaron-T Graphics. Later in 2006 we signed up to deviantART (dA) to present our images to an international audience for the first time. This for sure was most important step for our personal development. Again it was really beneficial to work as a team in this new venture. I think everybody knows how hard it is to establish yourself as a newcomer in a large social network. The highlight of our membership on dA has been the time we spent as community volunteers for the

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Space-Art- and Sci-Fi-Galleries. We really tried to push and promote the genres by building up some kind of community spirit, giving away the highly prestigious Daily Deviation features to single artworks and organizing different events for the community. All in all I can easily say that the partnership with Jeff belongs to the best things of my life and I am really thankful for everything we did and are doing together.

3DAD: What types of services do you offer at GTGRAPHICS? TR: Both of us love doing art. We always wanted to share our passion with others. That is why most of our images are available as wallpaper for the personal desktop. There are even two GTGraphics theme-packs in the official Microsoft Windows 7/8 theme gallery. Beside this free service most of our images are available for commercial for a fee of course. In contrast to Jeff I am offering commissioned work as well. This could be


INTERVIEW: Tobias Roetsch

a book- or CD-cover, a homepage- or flyer-layout as well as photo-jobs (the last point at least in Germany). As our homepage currently is in a redesign process our job-showcase is not up to date. We are working to get this updated

3DAD: It seems you are also a member of the prestigious Luminarium group on http:// theluminarium.net/ a group of highly skilled SciFi/Fantasy artists. We have interview several artists from this group all of which speak very highly of the comradely between each other. Do you find being a part of this group has helped you grow as an artist if so how?

TR: It is awesome to be part of a group of so many talented artists, even more so when you are one of the early members like myself. It is quite interesting to see how the group has developed over the years. You see it as a Sci-Fi/ Fantasy art-group but there actually was a discussion about our “limited� variety. That is why we also included artists of other genres now,

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however most of the work you see on the web page is Sci-Fi/ Fantasy Space based. This is not a problem for me is not a problem of course, we fill a niche and attract a certain group of people with our art. Coming to your question if the group has helped me to grow as an artist I can only say: yes, it has. First thing that comes to my mind is that we have special topics and themes for each exhibit. You have to meet the guidelines of the presented topic and the quality control is done by the other artists. A second point is the feedback you get in the progress of work is so helpful, it really helps artists improve their work (myself included). All in all I am happy to be still part of this group although I have not been that active in the last months it remains very special to me and will always be.

3DAD: You use a lot of 2d and 3d tools to achieve your images. Combining 3d renders, 2d photos and digital painting really keeps all the creative doors open for you. Working with so many mediums I would think is quite the


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INTERVIEW: Tobias Roetsch

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INTERVIEW: Tobias Roetsch undertaking for an artist. What are some of the applications that are your “Go To” while creating? TR: My work as artist is composed using Adobe Photoshop CS5. I still have issues with this entire cloud thing but I prefer using CS5 and will as long as I can. When doing landscape based images I often use Terragen mixed with my own photos or matte painting, this all depends on the image, finding the right tool for the job. For simple 3D modeling I am currently using Blender. But everything comes together in Photoshop where 80% of the work is done. As I am a passionate photographer I often use my own photos as plates and stocks in my images. My professional work (when it comes to print layouts etc.) is done with InDesign.

3DAD: You have had great success in getting your images published. Your work has been featured on several Book covers and art collectives around the globe. Tell our readers about some of these projects. Which one are you the most proud of? TR: That is very hard to say. I think the best thing was to be on the cover of Advanced Photoshop magazine. I always wanted to be on the cover of a main magazine. When you are working digitally it is relatively easy to get you work spread all over the web, however it’s another thing to get it to the “real” world as print, that’s the trick. It is awesome to hold your work in your own hands, knowing that thousands of other people are doing the same and seeing your image there. Another dream of me was to see my work printed as a large wallpaper/billboard. Unfortunately it only was a photo, not an artwork. Nevertheless, seeing you image printed at 5x8m is very impressive. Last but

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not least there is my work for Aidan Fraser, visual effects artist from Hollywood. He had this personal sci-fi short film project and he needed some space themed images. I did some concept images for him that have been used in the film. To see your images in a motion picture brings a great feeling of accomplishment.

3DAD: Let’s start off with an image that has been getting quite a lot of attention around the web lately, Rise of a Planet. Quite a striking image. What was the inspiration behind this piece?

TR: This is one of my earlier pieces. I must admit the work flow was quite uncoordinated and at times down right confusing. The concept is very basic in comparison to my other works of course. Initially I was really unhappy with the foreground and wanted to scrap the entire image. In my desperation I filled the foreground with black color and I somehow liked the simple look of it. The rest of the work was done really fast: adding some clouds, some additional details to the ground and voila: The Rise of a Planet was born. Thanks to Jeff, the image was awarded with a Daily Deviation feature on deviantART.com. And that was the point where the magic began. People loved the image for its look and its sense of scale and maybe even for its un-realism. I can easily say that this image is the reason for my success as artist because it brought me a very large audience who was looking for upcoming images. Even today the image is the one that attracts the most attention. I was really surprised by the success and felt bad because I have never really liked

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INTERVIEW: Tobias Roetsch

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the image myself. In 2010 I decided to try a remake. Rise of a Planet II. This time it turned out way better to me. Some people like the new version more while the majority still prefers the old one. But I myself am happy now and that is the most important thing.

exhibits helped me in this area. I did a lot of apocalyptic images back then where the idea behind was clear and simple. To answer your question: yes I think it came naturally to me. As storytelling in general is harder when there are not many characters involved I really want to focus on the character-aspect more in the future.

3DAD: What really sets your work apart from the rest is that each image seems to tell a story. Was 3DAD: Victim of Gravity perfect example, this something that came naturally to you.... awesome concept and choice of colors. One can’t telling stories? help but wonder what will become of the stranded astronaut alone in outer space! What TR: I think every image is telling a story but not got the ball rolling on this one? everybody is able to read them all the time. The easier the story is to read the more attention the image is getting. I was not really thinking about TR: This image was done in two different steps. the story aspect when I started my work as The first version did not have the astronaut and artist. Maybe the choice of my topics in various 18


enlighten our readers on this piece.

TR: Before I started with this image there was another older image. This older one was supposed to show a large galaxy, however I was not able to make it work the way I imagined. I thought about how to make some use out of this WIP and had the idea of some traveling ships. Near light speed would allow me to add motionblur to give the image a sense of speed and drama, which is what I actually did. The damaged window, the guy leaning against it and the nearby ships give the viewer an impression that a cataclysmic event is unfolding. This image offers a lot of possibilities for a story. I have given my own interpretation in the description on GTGraphics.de. But at the end it is up to you. The image was completely done in Photoshop while the blurred asteroids were made with C4D. For the person I took a photo of myself as reference. All in all this image was quite fun to make although I would do it completely different today.

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the nebula was way more minimalistic. I was focused on the broken moon. The idea behind this image was an unstable moon that finally lost its fight against the gravity of its mother planet. Thinking about our Moon and the effect such an event would have on Earth this was quite an interesting topic and really fun to make as it was the first broken planet for me. I added some city lights to the main planet to show that it is populated. Besides that I went for the ship and astronaut as well to adding more details on the one hand and more to the story on the other.

3DAD: Another addition to your apocalyptic showcase is Shadows of Elysium. Boy is this a feast for the eyes and imagination. Please

3DAD: Another action packed scene is Orbital Fight, A jaw dropper for any Sci-Fi enthusiast. Quite the light show and sense of motion in this. Any advice you could give some of our readers that aspire to create these types of effects?

TR: This image has been created for Advanced Photoshop magazine (Issue 94) as a 5 page tutorial and cover-image. How you could achieve such effects is written in the tutorial ;-). But to give some hint on this one: it is all about the light. This is a lesson you learn as photographer but it is the same for other arts as well. The right light is the key. When it comes to digital art it is important to have a common light scheme for the entire image. You need a light source (or several) and everything has to go conform to that. For example you cannot have a sun on the right side while your planet is only illuminated on the left, the opposite side. People will notice 19


INTERVIEW: Tobias Roetsch problems with light immediately, even if they cannot actually tell you what is wrong.

completely done with Terragen, the asteroids and planet again with C4D. The building on the rest side is a stock of my own collection and the rest was painted in Photoshop.

Looking at Orbital Fight, the sun for example is covering the entire upper left corner. It is filling an empty area and giving the image a warm touch. Without the sun something would be missing.

3DAD: Any Direction has similar shapes and colors to Relegation. Are these two images at all related? By related I mean, did one inspire the other?

3DAD: As you mentioned lighting seems to play a major role in your images. Whether it is subtle or vibrant, it draws the viewer in. Great example of this is Relegation. Excellent light in the shadows as well as the center. Lots going on in this one, tell us a bit about this creation.

TR: Any Direction was a collaboration with ChrisCold (chriscold.deviantart.com/) Here we are on the observation deck of a space station watching unusual nebular activities. While the colors might be similar, the concept behind both images are totally different. I highly recommend artist to work with others, collaborations really are awesome thing to do. Bringing 2 different point of views together in one piece while does not ensure a good outcome all of the time, but it is great learning tool as well as promising a lot of fun.

TR: The story of this image is quite simple. Mining colonies on orbiting asteroids are directly connected with the planet to ensure a quick transport of goods. Of course one could say that this is totally unrealistic. But that is what Sci-Fi means to me. The sun adds a natural highlight here of course, but it is giving a lot of depth at the same time. The foreground cave was

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located on a moon). All planets are premade in C4D and finally tweaked in Photoshop.

3DAD: One image that sticks out to me personally is Wayfarer. The combination of an icy planet with some topnotch Terra-space work 3DAD: With so many great artists out today, really gets me. What was your work flow like who are some of your favorites? And what is it while creating this? about their work that catches you? TR: I wanted to do a stormy winter scene. In this image, the actual storm is about to come and the two guys need to hurry. To make the look even more dangerous I decided to go for an eclipse. I had the chance to see a real total eclipse myself in 1999 and it was a real moving experience for me. To improve the overall impact of the image I used a tilted camera perspective. Coming to the work flow itself: I started with the foreground and used one of my own stocks (like most of the time). The original image had some small houses and other elements that I needed to paint out as I wanted it to be free of any civilization a more extra-terrestrial feeling. I extended the mount on the left side to a giant spire. The thin atmosphere allows a good sight for the eclipse, the main planet and the other moons (it should be clear that the viewer is

TR: My favorite artist was, is and always will be Jeff Michelmann. We started together and his feedback and tips always have been the main source for my own development. Besides Jeff, ChrisCold is definitely on my list of favorite artists. His unique style is really captivating. His images are always kind of dark and dangerous but with a great use of light and composition. Another name would be Andree Wallin. He is doing some really impressively realistic sci-fi images. There are many more artists that really inspire me but the only other important names that come to my mind at the moment are Dylan Cole and Jonas De Ro. 3DAD: NightFall nice sense of motion and nebula work. This is one example of many showcasing some impressive nebula and brush work. What are some of the applications you use while 21


INTERVIEW: Tobias Roetsch creating your skies? Do you use any Fractal you can, even if it might be hard from time to generators or is all of your work strictly by hand? time to deal with honest criticism.

TR: It is all just brush-work. I was thinking about the possibility of fractals but for me they always look kind of artificial. Maybe I will try them out for some minor details one day. A good way to get some quick shapes done is to use cloud-stock images to paint on (at least for me). Most of the time I am only doing two different types of nebulae: a cloud like, soft and clearly gaseous one or a harder more liquefied looking one .Maybe this is part of my personal style.

3DAD: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us, we wish you all the best of your future endeavors, hope to speak with you again in the years to come!

TR: Again, thanks a lot for the opportunity to talk to you. I wish you and your magazine all the best in the future.

http://www.gtgraphics.de/

3DAD: Tobias over the past few years you have been developed quite the body of work. What’s next for you?

http://theluminarium.net/v3/view_profile.php?id=32 http://taenaron.deviantart.com/

TR: I am in my fourth year of freelance work. I hope to be able to continue my way and of course to develop as artist. We are currently redesigning our homepage and adopting it to today’s standards. Besides that I am really open to everything that might come and really looking forward to the next months and years. Hopefully my motivation stays the same as in the past. It is a great feeling to look back at the work I have already done and the way things came together. Also I love to do some background images for a larger film. That is a dream I still have. Let’s cross fingers ;-)

3D Art

3DAD: Well best of lock with that Tobias. Lastly what advice would you give an up and coming artist trying to get things going in a commercial setting? TR: Be honest to yourself. Do not take every commission just to have a commission. If there is a commercial purpose behind a project Do not give away your art for free. People are promising a lot to get free images. But that is not the way the business is working. And in order to become a better artist, try to get as much feedback as 22

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“I’m Dave De Kerf, and live in Antwerp, Belgium with my two lovely kids and girlfriend. During the day I work as a software developer at the Karel de Grote University College, but my evenings I spend painting and creating preferably realistic natural science fiction scenes. I always had a passion for photography but later on moved more towards 3D. My favourite digital tools are Vue, World machine, 3D COAT and Photoshop. When I’m not creating Vue scenes, I’m usually practicing my mattepainting or sculpting”

What’s your background

or interest in digital arts? Has your creativity in this area stemmed from photography or from arts in other traditional media? Dave: My father used to be a freelance photographer before I was born, and where I was brought up as a kid there were always a lot of cameras around the house. I always loved taking pictures and got a camera for my eighteenth birthday. When in College I took on a student job at the weekends and during the holidays at a local photography shop where I picked up a lot of skills along the way. My bedroom became the dark room as well. When my eldest son was born I had less time to go out and photograph, and I was looking for something else to fulfil my creative needs. About the same time the first edition of Advanced Photoshop was released in Belgium, and Photoshop became my new focus, trying many different techniques. I often lacked a good collection of stock photographs of specific items, 3D and Vue would offer a good solution for this. 3DAD: Who were some of the earliest digital artists that inspired you? What did you like specifically about their work that enthused you? 26


Dave De Kerf

Dave: In Advanced Photoshop nr. 2 was a demo disc of Vue and an article about Kerem Gogus. I was impressed with the scale of the scenes he was able to produce and the great amount of detail in it. He would later give me my first daily deviation on deviantart, which has put me in contact with him. I remember being really impressed with works by Dax Pandhi, the realism he uses has had a serious impact on my work. He also got me addicted to World Machine 2, which has had a lot of impact on the quality of my landscapes. Michel Rondberg and Andrea Horvath provided me with a lot of guidance when I started learning vue, pushing me further and further to get better results. As a lot of my skill derives from them and that knowledge is still a big source of inspiration. As for digital painters, I’m always impressed by Jonas De Ro’s lighting skills and watching his work and tutorials has provided me with many tools to improve my renders during postwork. 3DAD: Were there any initial barriers as you started out with the learning curve in digital art? How did you overcome these difficulties?

Dave: The most difficult thing was believing I could do it. It’s sometimes too easy not to try anything because it looks too hard, or because you think you lack exceptional talent. Getting good results is usually not about being a natural talent, but about hard work and not being pleased too easily. I can’t remember the number of scenes I worked and reworked on, but with each version they came out better. It’s a case of break down the process, and learn one step at a time. When I first tried Dax Pandhi’s tutorial on a tropical beach scene it came out so well and I realized for the first time I could make such a scene with the soft-and hardware that I had available. I started breaking down the scene and played hours with it to see which items made the difference. The most helpful part was having great people around you to help you, review your work and offer advice. There’s an active vue community on Facebook called ‘Vue galleries’ where a lot of good artist hang out. 3DAD: Was Vue the first 3D digital arts application that you used? What were your first 27


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impressions of it? Dave: I used to do some classic box-modelling in Blender before starting with Vue. Creating a model can be a long process, and making good renders proved even more difficult for me. That is what I liked so much about Vue when starting out. This is truly software you can enjoy from day one, chances are you will create a sunset scene of a palm-beach-island, but it will look nice, and create it in less than an hour. You hardly need any prior knowledge to start out. Still interface has several tiers of complexity offering a beginner a clear and user friendly interface while offering the advanced artist the possibility to create the most daunting procedural functions.

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Dave: What would you like to see developed in Vue to increase its potential? The hardest part for me in Vue is to create great looking clouds, and they’re often pretty intensive to render as well. At the moment it’s often easier for me to add fog, atmospherics and background clouds during postwork. For this reason I was very glad when Helios by Quadspinner was released. It provides such an improved interface over the atmosphere editor. The lighting on the clouds looks a lot better, while clouds look more soft and fluffy. In the long run it would be great to see this fully integrated in Vue. Overall I’m very happy with Vue as it is, and I’m really enjoying the improved photometric lighting model!


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INTERVIEW: Dave De Kerf 3DAD: You’ve used World Machine to define your terrain for some of your Vue scenes (eg Mt Lucifer). What would you recommend about World Machine and has it helped you construct a scene a little more easily than from just using Vue’s own tools?

remember a conversation with Michel Rondberg in which we said: “Hey, could we make thick pink god rays?”, and so we tried, and this is what came from it. Many of my scenes started out as a technical experiment, either in lighting, eco-system population , terrain construction etc. For Dave: It definitely doesn’t make lighting idea’s I often use things easier, it’s often a lot more reference pictures and I try to work. But World Machine rebuild it. I often keep reworking provides your terrain with erosion the atmosphere until I get it and stunning details when used perfect, and it’s a great way to well. Imagine the scene “Newlearn. But I also learned that the Mesa” without erosion. While the lighting doesn’t have to be amount of detail you get is very perfect in Vue, it can often be high, render times are often more easily perfected during considerably faster compared to postwork. For me the lighting rendering procedural terrains. techniques that Jonas de Ro uses Working in world machine is very in his digital paintings were an comparable to working with the enormous contribution to my function editor in which makes it workflow. He has several good a natural instrument for any Vue tutorials at digital tutors. artist. Exporting a procedural stratified 3DAD: One of the most complex terrain and adding erosion to it scenes you have done is “The can be such an easy process and Guardian”- which was your first in it will look very good. Vue 10, which includes a figure in I especially love how World the scene. What did you learn Machine allows me to combine from putting together this scene? several terrains together, scale Dave: I only had a core i5 laptop them and putting them exactly without a graphic card when I where I want them. This allows was creating this scene so I had me to create terrains based on to be very careful about my reference pictures etc. resources. I prepared the figure 3DAD: You’ve done some good separately in an empty scene, scenes where you’ve carefully set-up the materials and saved it considered the lighting, including as a vue object. Pre-creating “The Lowest Point in the Valley” items in an empty scene is often and “How the Light Falls In”. a great help, and when saved as What’s one of the key points vue-objects they can easily be reyou’ve learned about lighting as used and imported in any scene. you’ve progressed in your I created the scene with a lot of artwork? layers, carefully creating the scene from the front to the back, Dave: “How the Light Falls In” always hiding the objects and really was an experiment. I 30


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geometry from openGL preview when possible. This way of working still helps me when creating complex scenes and pushing my more modern hardware to it’s limits. 3DAD: The Helios extension for Vue by Quadspinner helps construct atmospheres for Vue and you’ve done a tutorial document on using this. You’ve also used Helios to create “Tatooine Sunset” and “clouds”. Tell us about what you liked most in creating your Tatooine Sunset image.

Mostly it was fun doing a Star Wars scene and making it look close to the movie. The Helios Skybuilder interface really helped this scene by easily creating the right atmosphere, lighting and mood for the scene. Adding the star wars models from scifi3d.com did the rest.

3DAD: “The Passage” caught my eye, since I’ve very much liked the Quadwing spacecraft model available through Cornucopia3D .Tell us about this piece you created – you mentioned in your DeviantArt notes “This is the kind of image that Dave: I found it amazing to be able to recreate a drew me into 3D. I'm still chasing my dreams” famous scene that you have in mind. My early Dave: I always was fond of planes, spaceships vue works were often lucky accidents or born out etc. and I love miniature modelling as a of experimentation. It’s not until very recent that teenager. I only wished that I could have created I’m able to create a concept that I have in mind. an environment for it back then and that’s For me this scene and “Morning Lake” gave me exactly what I’m able to do now. a whole new level of control over Vue. You never Models from Cornucopia3D are often inexpensive stop learning. and will provide your scene with a great start.

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For this scene I exported the spaceship model and imported it in Blender. I re-arranged the wings & missiles for a more faster and aggressive look. I also added the lightbender metanode by Quadspinner to the reflection and highlight of the spaceship material. These actions added a lot of value to the model, and I loved seeing the model reflecting the exhausts and the environment. It made them much more part of the scene. Breaking the classic terrain geometry with the arch added a sense of speed and direction to the scene, leading the eye from the fighters to the city. This scene is still one of my favourite ones.

started to learn Vue and I learned so much form everyone at Vue Galleries (a facebook group), and in particular: Michel Rondberg, Andrea Horvath and Dax Pandhi. I had some of the best teachers.

3DAD: Who would you like to mention that’s helped you along your journey so far in the 3D art world?

Nothing beats real-life reference, but when not possible books maps & pictures will help a lot.

Dave: So many people were so helpful when I

The LA Masterclass and Realism in Vue by Quadspinner were such an incredible boost for me in terms of skill. Creating your own content makes your scenes more unique and personal. I often create extra content using 3D Coat. Which allows me to sculpt and paint models. 3DAD: What three tips would give to those who are just starting out with digital art?

Get in a group or get active in your community. There are often a lot of people around willing to

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help starting artists. You’ll see other work, or experiments and may often be inspired. I often put a finished render as a desktop-background. Only after a couple of days I often see the things that are disturbing me or things I don’t like about the scene. Then I rework the scene. Oh, and don’t be afraid to do postwork on your renders. It’s often a time-save and can give your render just that extra punch. Dave De Kerf’s Gallery at Deviant Art http://dave-dk.deviantart.com/ QuadSpinner’s Helios Extension for Vue http://www.quadspinner.com/helios/ Facebook Vue Galleries Open Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/vuegalleries

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Kim Schneider “Welcome to Kim Schneider who we are interviewing today for the 3D Art Direct podcast. Kim attended the University of Applied Sciences in Munster, North RhineWestphalia where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Design and Illustration. Over the years Kim has done work in the role playing game industry, applying her illustration skills for a number of RPG games. Her journey into 3D digital art began in 2000 with Poser. She delves into other packages occasionally including Carrara, Bryce, Terragen, and uses Hexagon for modelling. Also in her workflow she has GIMP, Photoshop Elements and UV Mapper Pro. Kim Schneider can be found at Runtime DNA as a vendor under the name of Arki. If you visit the RuntimeDNA.com website you can find her quite easily amongst the vendors there. Welcome, Kim, to 3D Art Direct.�

Session 23 3DAD:

We did a magazine interview with you some issues ago and I remember that it was a picture of a dragon that inspired you to start drawing. That fascination with dragons has stayed with you ever since. Tell me a little bit about the dragon picture that inspired you and any other early inspirations that started you with art.

Kim:

The picture was black and white I remember. It showed a huge chained 3DAD: dragon, chained to the ground, with a lot of tiny, tiny people surrounding Kim: him. The dragon was breathing flame and trying to free itself. I don't know; 38

I was so impressed about the size of this beast and what it was doing and the people were so tiny. The very same evening I decided to draw something like this myself. I think what impressed me most really was the size because most of the things I decided to draw in this early stage were big. It was whales, I remember, orcas, killer whales at first. My son likes those. He's done some art projects with those. I still love them today. They're really magnificent beasts. Then I started to draw animals in my surroundings and


these were camels because I lived in Saudi Arabia back then, so I had a firsthand reference. Later when we came back to Germany I had more typical interests like every girl; I started drawing horses. I stayed with horses a long time before I remembered going back to dragons. 3DAD:

I don't know what's more difficult between a horse or a dragon. They say that horses take a long time to get right but I think a dragon's probably just as difficult in some ways.

Kim:

It's two sided because everybody knows how a horse looks. You can look up a horse, you can put the image right beside and say, "That's

wrong, that's wrong and that's wrong." And nobody knows how a dragon looks. 3DAD: But the dragon is still based on real world animals to a degree and there's so much fun with artwork and dragons as well. Tying into that I think one major inspiration for you was Michael Whelan's art work. Do you have some favorites of his? Tell me about those. Kim: He did some cover art for the early releases of Anne McCaffrey's Pern series and I remember the first image I ever saw of his was the cover art for “The White Dragon�. Then he fascinated me because he had dragons looking realistic. They had big wings and the musculature looked about right so they could fly. I was impressed "This is the first realistic looking dragon I can believe." So I bought the book and I 39


D RAGON B RAID

researched his paintings. 3DAD:

Kim:

3DAD:

I think you've got a good point there because in our sculpting class that Kim: we're doing at the moment, “How to Sculpt a Dragon in ZBrush with John Haverkamp�, that's one thing that John pointed out which I didn't think about really was the muscles that would drive these huge wings and getting those right in the artwork. Sometimes this aspect is forgotten about, so in some cases you may think in looking at artwork, "How can that dragon fly?" 3DAD: Exactly. I think that's my pet peeve when I see dragon illustrations: where are the muscles? Do you have an affinity for other 40

mythical creatures or are dragons your favorite? Not so much. I think I favored these hybrid creatures like the sphinx for a time. Wait, wait! I'm totally forgetting my wing fixation because dragons have wings of course and I love humanoids with wings, angels. I am just going back to dragons these days so I think I'm somehow ignoring that I love to draw wings and feathers and webbed wings and all this. I suppose there's the twin concepts of grace and power at the same time, isn't there, with wings? I think that's why they're an attractive artwork focus for people. Now


you've also worked as an illustrator in the role playing game industry. I know that was a time that you particularly loved. Tell 3DAD: me about your experience with that. Kim: I think it started with ships. Kim: There was an acquaintance of mine and he asked me one day if I thought I could draw plans of ships and live action drawings of ships and a lot of them. That was how I got involved with my very 3DAD: first project. From there I think the next job was also ships but from a different publisher to a point where I could not see any more of them. Kim: Then there came the first real illustrations for an adventure supplement a bit later on but they needed floor plans of houses, caves or temples, and ships. 3DAD:

These are the game play areas for the role playing games, is that right?

Kim:

Yeah.

3DAD:

So floor plans of ships. Is that where the artwork stayed; was it two dimensional floor plans or did it develop into something a bit more? Did you do stuff like maybe the box work for advertising the game or was it just to do with the game plans.

Kim:

It was mostly the game plans and sometimes I got handouts to create like letters or newspaper cuttings which were a lot of fun to do or scribbled notes or sketches of creatures. So I could play around

with scanned pieces of paper, my own handwriting scanned in or take a picture of a paperclip and put this together on the computer which was a lot of fun. Was part of the fun doing some collaboration as well? Were you working with other people in creating these games? Yes. Some of the projects had some teamwork. We had to decide who took which part of the illustrations because we had big lists of say, thirty illustrations and everybody had to say which one he would take. They had to be finished to the deadline. This was the team work aspect of this. Now with 3D digital art your adventure with this began with Poser. This is way back around 2000 when Poser, I think, started. You discovered it really, really early on. What were your first impressions? Did you pick it up and run with it? I think I was intimidated because for me 3D was this magical realm of very complicated, technical questions which I didn't feel equipped at this point to solve. But when I noticed that it was mostly click, turn, render and move around objects and figures I decided to give it a go. I saw what other people could achieve and I thought, "This might be a great tool; first to replace reference photographs of people to use for my drawings." That was the first thing I did with Poser.

3DAD:

I suppose your artwork has been focusing previously on 2D plans and then you jump into 3D. That's an extra dimension to think about and worry about. Were you good with your own pencil and pen artwork, with drawing people or did you think, "I can't do that too well. I'll use Poser?" Was that one of the things that drew you to it?

Kim:

Poser at this point was advertised as an illustration tool to help

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INTERVIEW: Kim Schneider—Arki

illustrators. It was slowly getting away from this but I decided to use Kim: it as a way to create reference 3DAD: pictures so I didn't have to look for photos from newspapers or from the Internet or look for faces or the Kim: right shadow or right perspective. That was my problem: I couldn't draw people very well and I decided to use this material to maybe even illustrate groups of people not only one person sitting somewhere. 3DAD:

I think that's a really good point actually, that's one tool that Poser can give you. Previous to Poser if you were looking for a particular body pose you'd have to, I suppose, look through a catalog or something and hope that you might get the pose that you're after. But with Poser you could create your own references. What are some of the 3DAD: first things that you did as artwork? I think you started creating content some years later, didn't you, about 42

2005, 2006? Yes. What were some of the first things you created content-wise? I think the very first thing I did was body paint overlays for existing skin textures, for tattoos or exotic skin markings which I wanted to use for my own pictures. Someone asked why, "Why can't you go and sell this stuff?" And I said, "Really? You can't do that." and they replied “Yeah, there are marketplaces out there, people that want this.”. That I think was the starting point. Then I moved to clothing textures, did clothing and skin textures side by side, then I moved onto hair textures. That was the starting point. Some of those things are still in your store today, aren't they, that type of content?


Kim:

Yes. Especially some skin textures for Victoria three and four with complete body covering feather, scale or tattoos textures which are very hard to make if you do not have the right tools.

Kim:

3DAD:

Included in your tool sets you have Hexagon for modeling and I think you tried to experiment at first with Maya. Looking between the two what made you choose Hexagon in the end?

Kim:

I have done a few things with Maya, a few starter tutorials long before I even touched Poser, that didn't have anything to do with this. But I 3DAD: remembered all these things when I got the chance to purchase Hexagon for a really low price when Daz3D offered it to us and then I thought, "I think I have modelled a few boxes and pillars before. I think I can do the same thing again." Then Kim: Hexagon pretty much stayed my main modeler to this point.

3DAD:

What are some of the things that you like about Hexagon that you would recommend to other people that are looking for a modelling package?

Kim:

I think it has got a very simple, very clean interface. If you want to start modelling you can find all the tools 3DAD: you need pretty much at one place, in one space. It offers all of the simple polygon modelling options you need and from there gives you the opportunity to move into the subject even further and try out more things. This is what I like about the software.

3DAD:

It sounds like it's especially good for beginners.

Kim:

Yes, I would say yes.

3DAD:

Also in your workflow you've got ArtRage which I believe is painting software that aims in being as natural tool as possible with an intuitive interface. Tell me about this and what do you use this for in your workflow?

Kim:

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I don't use it so much now, but did use it for my body painting products produced in the past. I used ArtRage to simulate real life media like pastels, oil or color pencil or ink. ArtRage offers you the option to paint on an uneven foundation like grainy paper or whatever you can think of. You can even make your own settings. This can come very, very close to real skin if you do it right. These patterns or images I made with this, or makeups, looked very realistic. You can even do metallic paints with it and they look very, very good. Are you saying that you can create a bump map texture that you can import into ArtRage and paint over it? Is that what it does or does it allow you to create the textures inside it? You can use a reference image and trace over this. This is one of the things you can do with ArtRage. Mostly I imported the UV templates from the figures, maybe for the face and then paint ornamental curls and little patterns around the eyes and then later export this as a PNG file to create makeups to further work on them in another painting program. During retelling your history with Poser just now, you mentioned launching a store and starting to sell some of your content for Poser. You've got a store at Runtime DNA. What is it like starting out as a vendor and what were some of the challenges that you first had and that you overcame as you started up? I will say I wasn't starting as a vendor at Runtime DNA. Runtime DNA for me always was a bit big, scary because I thought all the professionals are there. I started out at Poser Pros years ago and then moved onto Renderosity. I was in fact invited by Runtime DNA to join the store. I was tickled to death by this, to get this invitation. I had


INTERVIEW: Kim Schneider—Arki to learn to find my way around because they have different procedures and different rules. I was so nervous that I couldn't keep up with the standard that they might expect of me, that my products wouldn't hold up to their expectations. 3DAD:

Syyd Raven who's there at Runtime is very supportive, isn't she? Was she the primary person that supported you there?

Kim:

Yes. She still is.

3DAD:

I think for those that are listening if you're thinking of being a vendor for Poser I certainly recommend Runtime DNA. It's a very supportive environment and you'll have a good experience in starting out selling there. Now your store is split between a number of different types of products. You've got characters, you've got textures, fantasy, gothic and something called Y Stylers. What's this last category?

Kim:

The Y Styles were a series of custom morphed characters but not any more supported because I do not have the time. It came with dozens of texture options with tattoos, without tattoos and even a few jewelry props or figures. It's mainly characters with a background story and a few accessories to get you started, to get your imagination up and running to work with them. Everybody can make his own story if they want or they can read the PDF with a character profile in there.

3DAD:

Out of those categories in your store what would you say is the largest category?

Kim:

I would say the fantasy and gothic section.

3DAD:

That's something you focused on over the years?

Kim:

I would say by myself I'm the fantasy type. I'm always a bit surprised when people call me a gothic content producer because I do not really see it

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this way but obviously it hits these criteria and I'm okay with this. 3DAD:

Is there any products in your store at the moment you'd like to mention that there are any specials on that are worth mentioning to the listeners?

Kim:

There's a product due to be released, it's from [My Gear] series more in the sci fi direction. Another small item. Spirit Foxy will be releasing add on textures to it as well so again we unofficially teamed up to get this product out. I don't know when it will be released. I hope next week.

3DAD:

I was just going to mention getting inspired. What are some of the things that inspire you? Where do you get some of your sources of inspiration from when you start a project?

Kim:

I read a lot. That's one source. I always keep a notepad beside my book to make notes when I find some description that produces an image in my head when I say, "I really want to model this. This idea is great. I really want to see this in 3D." Or when I watch a movie mainly costumes, props, environments. These are very inspiring for me because I'm very fixated on the visual level. Of course, that's always the problem that you do not get too close to the designs someone else already made. I only use it for inspiration very rarely. I have to let it lie in my inspiration folder for a while, maybe even more than a year, and then pull it out again and say, "I can do something with this or I cannot." Mostly it's a description or a mood or even something I take out of music: these are the three main sources of inspiration I have.

3DAD:

So you've got a special folder just for inspiration that's great, just to collect all your inspiring ideas together. We're also going to be 45


INTERVIEW: Kim Schneider—Arki talking about working either singly as an artist or within a team so I'd be interested to hear about your experiences. Maybe just give one example of where you've worked as a team at Poser with one or more other artists. Kim:

earth sometimes. Thank you for your time today for this interview.

Kim Schneider’s Store at Runtime DNA:

I did this a couple of times in the last year, with three to five people depending on how much the project expanded obviously. It's not as close as real team work in an office as you might imagine. It's mainly me starting to model something, mapping something, throwing an image in a forum or thread and saying, "Here, I've got something new. Who wants to go in?" Then texture artists come in, grab this model and start a texture. We have to coordinate who does which style of texturing and I try to give them at least the basic texture templates of what I want to do so we do not have crossing over of this. I think it's a very nice way to work and you always get the input from the others and they haven't seen your model as long as you have been staring at it yourself. The hints I get are very valuable.

3DAD:

A pair of fresh eyes is so important, isn't it, and handing your project to somebody and saying, "Have a look and see if you can spot any problems." Finally, is there anyone you'd like to mention or thank that has helped you as a digital artist and content creator over the years?

Kim:

I don't want to name individuals because someone is always left out unfairly. So far I would say thank you to the complete Runtime DNA team because they really helped me grow a lot over the last years. Of course to my friends in the Poser community which sometimes bring me back to earth even by asking, "What the hell did you model there?" Oh, I don't know.

3DAD:

We all need to be brought down to 46

http://www.runtimedna.com/Arki/


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D AVE D E K ERF 3D Art Direct : Be Inspired By Digital Art48

Issue#37


3D Art Direct Issue 37