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BE INSPIRED BY 3D DIGITAL ART Discover New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Worlds Suzi Amberson
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Tribute to Ray Bradbury 1920-2012
Issue 18 Christian Beyer
June 2012 Premium Edition
3D Art Direct
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Main cover art : “Orinarri” by Mirek Drozd 2
CONTENTS Editorial Tribute to Ray Bradbury, a landmark science fiction and fantasy author, whose works included ‘The Martian Chronicles’ and ‘Fahrenheit 451’.
Interview : Ali Ries “I still approach each artwork as if I were making it just for me. I have fun and it is not work. If someone likes it and wants to use it in a movie or a book cover, then that is a bonus to me. I would have made the art anyway. “
Interview : Suzi Amberson “I make it a point to view at least 50 to 100 new images a day to spark my imagination and drive me to improve my skills. It's truly an incredible experience to watch new artists on DeviantArt survive and grow. I am happy to share the knowledge I have gained to help this process along as well”
Interview: Mirek Drozd “Most important is the atmosphere of mystery and the unknown. I, in my imagination, envisage worlds where the inhabitants have left, creating that sense of mystery. ”
Interview : Christian Beyer “In my opinion, Gimp is a fantastic tool for image editing. It offers all the features included that I need. It is easy to use and – it's free!”
Editorial Tribute to Ray Bradbury, Landmark Fantasy Author “
One minute it was Ohio winter,
Chronicles. If you’ve read the book, I'm sure you will come across some worthy scenes in your imagination that could be rendered as a 3D artwork image.
with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children Now the Martian Chronicles book was also made into an skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great ambitious TV mini series starring Rock Hudson, which I black bears in their furs along the icy streets. thought followed the original storylines very well and brought further deserved recognition to Ray Bradbury's And then a long wave of warmth crossed the small town. A flooding sea of hot air; it seemed as work. I say “story lines” since the book is collection of if someone had left a bakery door open. The heat short stories set in the same timeline, with some of them linked together. pulsed among the cottages and bushes and children. The icicles dropped, shattering, to melt. The doors flew open. The windows flew up. The children worked off their wool clothes. The housewives shed their bear disguises. The snow dissolved and showed last summer's ancient green lawns.
Now although Ray Bradbury worked with the TV scriptwriter, he didn't like it and at a press conference just described the TV adaption as "boring". This negative publicity caused NBC to delay the airing of the three part series until January 1980. Despite this, you'll see reviews on this (for instance on IMDB.com) as being on the whole positive, despite some of the dodgy special effects!
Rocket summer. The words passed among the people in the open, airing houses. Rocket summer. The warm desert air changing the frost patterns on the windows, erasing the art work. The skis and sleds suddenly useless. The snow, falling from the cold sky upon the town, turned to a hot rain before it touched the ground.
The stories include Earth sending its first manned probe to Mars in 1999, but a jealous Martian murders the two astronauts because his wife has dreams of meeting them. Members of a second expedition are hypnotized into believing that they have landed in the childhood community of the expedition's leader and they are tricked into thinking they have been reunited with deceased family and friends, but they are then poisoned by the Martians.
Rocket summer. People leaned from their dripping porches and watched the reddening sky. The rocket lay on the launching field, blowing out pink clouds of fire and oven heat. The rocket stood in the cold winter morning, making summer with every breath of its mighty exhausts. The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land....”
So started the Martian Chronicles, penned by Ray Bradbury and published in 1950, at a time when Mars was still wildly thought to harbour life and the age of atom power was dominating science's highways and byways.
Col. John Wilder leads a third expedition and learns that a chicken pox virus brought to Mars by the first two expeditions has almost eradicated the Martian population. A member of Wilder's team becomes obsessed with protecting Mars from humanity’s intrusion and murders some of the others in Wilder's party, before Wilder kills him. Colonists then arrive on Mars to settle, among them priests seeking God. A lone Martian masquerades as a shape-shifter among some earth settlers and becomes the figure they most desire as the settlers fight over possession of this Martian. Meanwhile Global war on Earth reduces man's native planet to a radioactive wasteland, serving as a warning to the few remaining settlers that choose to stay on Mars of how they should treat their new world.
Ray Bradbury was one of my favourite authors that I discovered in my teens and he left an enriching poetic mark on my then limited view of science fiction's I liked the activist character of Spender trying to defend fascinating landscape. the dying culture and cities of the Martians against man's With his death this week, I have to owe a few words to un-thoughtful colonisation of mars by modern science this wonderful author by a brief review of the Martian and technological advances (with the rocket 4
Bernie Casey as Spender and Rock Hudson as Col. John Wilder in the TV adaption of the Martian Chronicles poisoned by the Earth civilization.
symbolizing this portent throughout the book). The more even-handed character of Captain Wilder, who has sympathy for Spender's point of view but seems to have a key role in the Mars expeditions is definitely the hero of the story. Rock Hudson's Wilder character is used in the TV mini series as a consistent figure linking together more of the key short stories than the book does. Wilder is shown in the memorable last scene of the TV adaption (but the book doesnâ€™t identify the character as Wilder in the last chapter) where he shows his family who the Martians really are:
Now, of course - " They reached the canal. It was long and straight and cool and wet and reflective in the night. "I've always wanted to see a Martian," said Michael. "Where are they, Dad? You promised." "There they are," said Dad, and he shifted Michael on his shoulder and pointed straight down. The Martians were there. Timothy began to shiver.
"The night came down around them, and there were stars. But Timothy couldn't find Earth. It had already set. That was something to think about.
The Martians were there - in the canal - reflected in the water. Timothy and Michael and Robert and Mom and Dad.
A night bird called among the ruins as they walked. Dad said, "Your mother and I will try to teach you. Perhaps we'll fail. I hope not. We've had a good lot to see and learn from. We planned this trip years ago, before you were born. Even if there hadn't been a war we would have come to Mars, I think, to live and form our own standard of living. It would have been another century before Mars would have been really
The Martians stared back up at them for a long, long silent time from the rippling water...." Paul Bussey Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Ali Ries is a 3D digital artist from Salem, Oregon. Coming of age in the NASA era of Gemini and Apollo anchored her artist roots in space. Like many children of the sixties she was mesmerized by Neil Armstrong’s historic first moonwalk, wishing she could be standing beside him in the grand adventure. 3DA: Science Fiction provides huge inspiration for many digital artists. Our guest today personifies turning childhood visions into works of art. Like many who watched the American space program unfold on network television, Ali Ries has turned her Sci-Fi dreams into Sci-Fi creation. Welcome to the pages of 3D Art Direct and thank you for providing such marvelous images.
Her love for Sci-Fi was handed down from her mom. Their home was always filled with the latest Sci-Fi adventures. When Star Trek premiered on network television her future was paved with dream of some future in the world of Sci-Fi and Fantasy art or special effects. She would later meet the actors and writers of Star Trek at various fan gatherings. A career in special effects and the world of science fiction seemed out of reach and Ali became a nurse, but the dream never died.
AR: Thank you for this great opportunity. 3DA: What was it like for you growing up, watching the historic adventures of NASA and how do those memories affect the work you do today?
With the proliferation of 3D Art software Ali found a way to express her galactic imagination. With the equivalent of a mental Hubble platform, Ali began creating astronomical starscapes, nebulae and other space scenes as real as the night sky.
AR: I was born in Florida, so NASA and Cape Canaveral was near and dear to my heart. You almost had to be a Space fan.
Today her work is used on book covers, television projects and other media around the world, including the recent SyFy network project, BSG: Blood and Chrome.
When I was in High School the Lunar Landing occurred, and like most kids my age we followed it in school and watched it on TV. I didn’t want to move from the TV set for fear of missing “The Moment” when they finally set foot on the Moon. This coupled with my already voracious appetite for all things Sci-Fi served to create
Her rocket has arrived.
Ali Ries is: Casperium at Deviant Art 6
an imagination that kept me in Space many years to come. 3DA: You grew up in a home that embraced science fiction. Who were your favorite writers and how do those books impact your artistic style? AR: Asimov, Bradbury, Sturgeon and Heinlein were the ones I read the most. These writers gave me the inspiration to bring my imagination more down to “earth” and wanting to create alien planets, rocket ships and aliens. I love creating robots and cyborgs, for some reason I relate more to them than I do to the more human elements in the novels. For that reason I find myself creating scenes incorporating those same elements more and more.
3DA: How did you get into 3D art? Were you always one of those kids doodling in a notebook, dreaming about your drawings hanging in some fancy gallery or are you a late bloomer to the art world? AR: Oh yes, I doodled a lot. And at the time since I couldn’t do Space-scapes very well, I turned to a quasi-abstract form of terrains and aliens. I never envisioned having my art hanging in Galleries as I never felt it would ever be good enough. At the Star Trek conventions I used to see Star Trek artwork made by artist Keith Birdsong. I was wowed. That was the first time that I actually made a conscious decision to one day create Space Art. Having said that, it took me a lot more years before I could even get close to beginning the process, so you could call me a late bloomer in the art world. I got my first computer in 1997. I spent the first couple of years using Micrografx Picture Publisher learning how to make stationery and manipulations using stocks and other sources. It wasn’t until 1999 that I got a copy of Bryce 3D and learned how to start making my own art from scratch.
3DA: You started out in 3D art using Bryce. How did you approach the learning process? AR: Bryce was a fun process. I started out as most, making orbs floating over water and small islands. I look back now and cringe at them, but we all start someplace. Pushing buttons and seeing what happens is the way to go. It gets you familiar with the program and lets you have fun at the same time. But once I started getting serious I invested in a good manual, Real World Bryce 4, which was the Bryce Bible at the time. It is still a good starting point for new users.
STATION’S END 7
INTERVIEW: ALI RIES
At the time there were a few 3D models you could buy or get for free and those helped. My husband took an interest in 3D modeling and used Rhino to make ships and other models for me to use. It was a fun time. A few years later Daz3D and Renderosity really hit the scene and getting models became much easier, allowing me more time to perfect my art.
takes both to create unique art. 3DA: You mentioned a couple of software tools that don’t get much discussion around here – Nik Color Efx Pro 4 and Diardsoftware’s Universe. What do these packages bring to your design arsenal? AR: Diardsoftware’s Universe has been a staple in my art bag since the very beginning. I use it to create the vast star backgrounds and to make the beautiful colored stars that make up my art. I have used it for over a decade and will continue to use it for as long as my computer accepts it as a plugin or standalone.
Now I know that there have been many controversies over using Bryce and Poser and buying models. That is not art when you do that. You can have the most expensive program in the world, but unless you have the vision to go with it, you won’t create extraordinary art.
Nik Color Efx Pro 4 I have been using since version one. It came as a package with some other plugins that I had bought at the time. Never thinking I would use it, I stashed it away. I am also a photographer and for a few years did wedding photography for KJB Design Photography. At that point I pulled out the Nik Efx to see how it could improve my photos and fell in love with it.
I have seen so many artists take those programs and create awe inspiring art. At the same time I’ve seen some really lame art made with fantastic models created by the modeler. It is like those with the talent to create the models sometimes lack the vision to use them in a fantastic way, and those of us who do make incredible art lack the ability for creating the models. We need each other like two halves of an equation. It
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago I was playing 9
INTERVIEW: ALI RIES around with it and decided to see what it could do with my Space art and was amazed at how it could improve even the dullest art. It gave it depth and vibrant color. Using the knowledge I acquired about improving photos, I applied it to the artwork and with the vast improvement it gave the art, I have been using it ever since. I upgrade every time they come out with a new version.
Space Art galleries. It was the most fun I have had in years. 3DA: Name some of your favorite 3D Artists who have inspired you and tell us the ways your art has evolved through that inspiration?
3DA: You’ve been a member at Deviant Art for over nine years. How has your growth as an artist been impacted be participation in the DA community? AR: DeviantArt has had a big impact on my art. There are so many talented artists there, most willing to share their techniques, give critiques and most important of all provide resources and tutorials to help me learn how to create my own versions of art. The most important thing is without DeviantArt I would not have been able to create the Space Nebula I now make. I would still be doing Bryce and Vue art consisting primarily of terrains and not Space. In 2003 when I joined DeviantArt I found a group of people there using a program called Apophysis and making Fractal art with it. It looked interesting so I downloaded the free program and started learning to make fractal artworks.
AR: Without a doubt Javier Ontiveros because of his mentoring in fractals. But the many Environmental, Matte and Space Artists that have their home on DeviantArt have been instrumental in my learning more techniques. The art of hoevalkamp, tsarye, nukeation (Dax Pandhi), hameed, archanN, taenaron, freelancah, MacRebisz, tigaer, KeremGo, are just a few of the many. I give you their deviant art names because it would be easier to locate them that way. They inspire me to dream and I owe them all a debt of gratitude. 3DA: With projects like Space Command, where some of your art is being used, it seems more and more production is moving away from big studios to smaller independent media companies. How do you think this will impact the Sci-Fi genre in general? Do you believe this will open the field to a wider range of artists? AR: I think it will make a big impact. If nothing else it will wake up the major studios to create more movies that we the fan base want. Studios are run by people who see numbers and ratings, and sometimes forget that good entertainment takes time to develop. If ratings don’t go good with the first few episodes, or with the Focus groups, they axe it before it has had a chance to develop into something great. The same goes for movies, it goes with the trends and what the CEO’s may or may not like. I do not know the ins-and-outs of how all of this works, but I am sure that once they see we do not need them to create fantastic movies then they will start looking at us more closely.
It was simple enough to do and very pretty but still not Space Art. I noticed one artist, Batoruco (Javier Ontiveros), using the fractals he created and making other types of art from them. Using individual fractals he created elaborate undersea-scapes, volcanoes and mountains. He took the fractals to another level and out of their primary program. He was a visionary pioneer who became my good friend and mentor, and who sadly passed away a few years ago.
Definitely more artists will have an opportunity to participate in those creations. We can now work from home and send our completed projects via drop boxes across the internet. The Internet has its drawbacks, making copyright infringements a big possibility, but it also gets our work out there to be found and viewed by more people in the “business” than ever before.
Seeing what he did made me think of how I could do the same but going in another direction: Space. I noticed certain fractals look like clouds and other formations could be put together to make a nebula. Now I could finally make the visions in my head come alive as art. Over the next few years another version of Apophysis came out called 3DHack. From one simple script written for it came the art that I make today. DeviantArt has been good to me. I started out making most of my Space Art as “wallpapers” or desktop art for your computer monitor. They became popular and ended up all over the internet. I eventually became a DeviantArt Community Volunteer last year for the Wallpaper Galleries and then for the Science Fiction and 10
We may be Independent Artists, but we still need those VFX directors on the spot where it is being filmed to create the vision to begin with. It is THEIR vision for the movie that we, the independent artist, is fulfilling. We are less without them, and they are greater with us. They are like a music conductor, taking all of us to a crescendo of great visual impact.
“The most important thing I had to learn was to make ART FOR YOURSELF first and foremost. If you try making it for approval from others you will be disappointed. Have fun doing it and it will come naturally.” — Ali Ries
Please check out, follow and Like Space Command on Facebook. It could use all the help people can give it. Make fan base movies a reality and help the independent artist get more work.
what’s that been like? AR: Doug is amazing. He contacted me in 2010 after seeing my nebulae online while looking through the NASA images for his new project Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome. Thinking it was a new NASA image he was surprised when one of his colleagues told him it was CG and thought it amazing. I worked with him over the course of several months creating artwork that the
http://www.facebook.com/spacecommandmovie 3DA: Have you been able to develop a collaborative relationship with the amazing Doug Drexler through your contribution to the Space Command project and if so, 11
INTERVIEW: ALI RIES 3DA: Talk about your first experience with one of your images being selected for commercial use. What was that like? AR: My company name is Casperium Graphics based in Salem, OR. I have had many people use my artwork for their CD covers for which I have never charged. They are just starting out and trying to make demos. I have always felt honored that they wanted to use my artwork. The first paying gig was for book covers (Science Fiction ones of course) by independent authors publishing their own books, and it felt so good to see that check made to me for MY art! WOW. But major commercial was with Qmx. The totally fantastic and talented Geoffrey Mandel contacted me about using my artwork on the Firefly/Serenity “Map of the Verse“. I am a big Firefly fan, so I jumped at the opportunity. After that was more work with Qmx for more Firefly and then Battlestar Galactica merchandise. It was wonderful and an experience I recommend to all artists. There is nothing like seeing “The Map of the Verse” hanging on your wall and seeing your name on it. 3DA: I like the Star Trek - Romulan War cover. When one of your images ends up on a book cover do you find yourself seeking it out on book store shelves? AR: Oh yes!!! As soon as Doug Drexler told me which books he used my art on I went out immediately to look for them. I bought 2 copies of each, one to read and display and another to seal up in a bag for posterity; something to leave my 2 grandchildren. It is a fantastic feeling walking up to the cashier and knowing my art graces the cover. I usually require 2 copies from the independent publishers as part of my payment and inner cover name credit too. So when I can’t find it on the shelves, I know I will have it in my collection one way or another. team could use for their Visual Effects. I am told it worked out wonderfully. Since then, Doug has used my artwork for 4 star Trek novel covers that he was designing, and when Space Command came about he brought me onboard for that too. He is so easy to work for, very positive and full of praise – a genuine gentleman. Totally unlike what I thought the Hollywood types would be. So far all of the guys and gals on the Space Command team have welcomed me like family, and are the best team a gal could ever wish for. I would definitely work with them for years to come. 12
3DA: Name your favorite Sci-Fi character, Sci-Fi series, and Sci-Fi movie, and why? AR: That has to be the hardest question so far. There are so many characters that pinning it down to just one is impossible. Bones McCoy was always my favorite on Star Trek: TOS, Mal and Wash from Firefly, Jack O’Neil from StarGate:SG1, Dr. Carson Beckett from SG:Atlantis and so many more. Of course the TV series Star Trek: all versions had me glued to the TV, movies included. I absolutely loved
the Wrath of Kahn and the newest Star Trek movie with Chris Pine. And of course StarGate:SG1, SG:Atlantis, and Firefly. On TV these days there is a big lack of great Sci-Fi series, but I really like Eureka and Warehouse 13. I must confess a real love of all of the doomsday movies: Deep Impact, Armageddon, 2012 and others like them. The special effects are phenomenal. Avatar, Aliens, to Zardoz, you name it, Science Fiction is my favorite; having said that, I am also a big fan of Science shows, and UFO and Ancient Aliens. 3DA: Iâ€™m a big Firefly/Serenity fan myself. Getting your Nebula on the Firefly Universe map was quite the coup. How did that come about? AR: Me too, real big fan. The talented Geoffrey Mandel contacted me after finding my artwork online and asked if I would be interested in letting him use my artwork in his Map of the Verse he was in the progress of creating. I almost fell off of my seat when I read the email. First I thought it was a joke, but then I checked out Mr. Mandel online and almost fainted again when I read his impressive list of credits including Star Trek and many others. I e-mailed him back and told him the honor was
all mine to have his use my artwork. I felt like I had won the lottery and I drove my family crazy with my exuberance. Fortunately they are hardcore Firefly fans too, so they were happy and proud. Geoff was a wonderful man to work for and we collaborated on a number of items for Qmx. His work is
INTERVIEW: ALI RIES impeccable and I am proud to have my name next to his on the wonderful artworks he created.
in layers to achieve a more 3D look.
3DA: You’ve also had some involvement in the Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome project. What can you tell us about that? AR: Doug Drexler contacted me after finding my artwork while browsing through NASA nebulae. It was another one of those e-mails that knocked my socks off. My artwork gets posted all over the internet by people who like it and want to share it with others, mostly without telling me or asking my permission. Many times though they forget to give me credit and crop my name off, so eventually it ends up heaped in with the many Hubble images that NASA puts online. But this has helped me in many ways as it is how Doug and others found my artwork, once they finally find their way to my site. Doug found me and wanted me to create some artwork for Blood and Chrome, a spinoff of Battlestar Galactica. It was a lot of fun coming up with the fractals for the show. Doug was fantastic and knew what he wanted. It made it easy to create the art.
What it boils down to is being able to see potential in a fractal, to visualize what it will look like in a space scene. It is really easy to do and most of the time is spent rendering the fractal and then an hour or so in Photoshop adding the background stars and using my plugins to achieve the color and depth I want. The good thing about using fractals for these scenes versus creating it using only Photoshop (like a traditional or CG drawing) is that I can re-render and make that image to almost any size if it is wanted for commercial reasons and it will look almost identical to the smaller version and only take me slightly more render time. Someone that made a CG Photoshop only nebula at say 2000x2000 pixels probably took days to create it, and redoing it for studio work at 3,4 or 5 times larger would take weeks starting back at square one, and chances are it will never look exactly like the original. Combining the fractals gives you an infinite variety of nebular looking pieces. Even the old one can be repurposed and used over again.
It is hard to put a price on creating art. While I enjoy the paycheck, I would do it for free because I love it and love seeing it appreciated by other. That is the impression that I get when I deal with others in this field. That like me, they too “have to do this,” because it is a part of them like the air they breathe. But the cash does come in handy. 3DA: Let’s discuss some of your work. Your Nebula pieces are some of the best out there – very nice designs. You mentioned a technique you’ve discovered to create your Nebulas using the fractal maker, Apophysis. Step us through how that works in your space creations. AR: I have already stated how I came upon Apophysis and how Javier changed my perception of what could be done with fractals. Many have asked that same question of “how” I do this.
Another good thing about Apophysis is that you can go back and mutate the fractals for newer ones. Just changing the color gradient will produce different looks. The potential of this program is staggering, and at free the price is right. However, I would gladly pay for it. There are many other fractal programs out there, but so far none have been able to produce the nebula that I find in Apophysis. 3DA: Niagara Nebula is a brilliant piece of work with a great contrast of the hot tones of flame and the cool atmosphere of space. Talk about taking your vision for an image like this from the blank screen to a finished piece. AR: Niagara is an example of what changing the gradient and repurposing an older fractal can do. I had created another image several years ago for a contest. It consisted of 2 fractals merged into one image and I called it the Nogano Nebula. It was called something else, but since it didn’t win I changed it to Nogano (No Ganó) which means in Spanish (It didn’t Win). Anyway, a year or so later I was looking through my files, saw it and decided to play with one of the two fractals again. Just by changing the gradient color of the fractal it changed the feel and look of the nebula. I was blown away at how it looked like it was falling in on itself. This image practically made itself. It had its own beauty. I rarely start out with a plan, I let the fractal lead
By mutating the fractals I just happened to notice how many had cloud-like nebular formations, swirls and spirals that looked like galaxies. And when I rendered them and put a black background and some stars it looked like an outer space scene. Through refining my technique I was able to create more intricate looking fractals. Most of the time one fractal is all I render to get a nice nebula. At other times I combine several of them 16
me. This fractal looked like Falls and that is what it became.
Nebula. But this one named itself from the beginning. 3DA: I imagine considering the general harshness of space, bringing out this kind of color pallet can be a challenge. The Reef Nebula is very different yet it has that same warm to cool contrast evident in many of your space images. As your work has become more sophisticated over the years how do you keep changing your galactic images so there is such a variation of scope and color?
I rendered it as a transparent background png. Once in Photoshop I usually put a black background layer behind (or below) the rendered fractal. Often I duplicate the fractal layer again and then â€œscreenâ€? it to brighten the fractal. I use Nik Color Efx to create a deeper black for the image and that separates the parts of the fractal and gives it a more 3D effect. I also use it to enhance the colors and make them stronger. Once I have it colored to my liking I add another layer for the smaller stars using Universe plugin and start erasing away stars from where I donâ€™t want them for a greater 3D effect. Using Universe standalone I add larger stars because they are better than using star brushes. Once I have finished all of these steps I go back and then burn or dodge to bring out the details. And that is all I usually do. The hardest part sometime is finding a name for the 17
AR: That is true for fractals too. After a while they all can start looking the same so I am constantly trying new mutations, gradients and find new ways to create unique looking nebula. Experimentation is key, revisiting older fractals and using newer techniques on them. Figuring out that NikColor Efx could help has gone a long way in making them look different and fresh. I also look at Nebulae from NASA and other artists to get ideas for creating more interesting background layers on which to lay my fractal. I am always looking and learning.
INTERVIEW: ALI RIES REEF NEBULA
The Reef Nebula is one of my older fractals using older techniques, back when it could take hours to find ONE good fractal. It is one of my favorites.
make it look like an ethereal Blue Interdimensional Ship that the blue aliens could use as their ship. Add a planet and some stars and it was done. It was all in fun and games but it looked really cool.
3DA: A stunning image is Interdimensional Ship. This piece has a distinct depth defined by your use of the light circles set in different perspective angles. How did you put this together and what was your inspiration here? Some of your commenter’s thought Romulan. AR: Interdimensional Ship is also based on an older fractal that had nothing to do with space or nebulae. (It is one fractal and not a combining of several.) It was called Anatomy of the Third Eye in reference of course to the Third Eye in parapsychology which is associated with telepathy etc. When Doug started the Space Command program they tossed about blue aliens as one of the Alien races that they would come up against. So I decided to redo that particular piece of art and 18
3DA: It would be easy to get into a space rut and become known as “The Nebula Lady,” but you’ve done a great job of diversifying your gallery with many different styles. For example, Is Anyone Out There, shows great character piece set in an apocalyptic environment. What is your inspiration here and how did this come together? AR: As I have said before I am a great fan of apocalyptic movies. I had this vision of the world going to hell from war and other things. One person manages to survive comes out from hiding and wonders if anyone else is still alive. I could feel her heartbreak. To me it is a comment on how, no matter what happens and how
IS ANYBODY OUT THERE?
â€œI have seen so many artists take those programs and create awe inspiring art. At the same time Iâ€™ve seen some really lame art made with fantastic models created by the modeler. It is like those with the talent to create the models sometimes lack the vision to use them in a fantastic way, and those of us who do make incredible art lack the ability for creating the models. We need each other like two halves of an equation. It takes both to create unique art.â€?
INTERVIEW: ALI RIES WHAT IF?
hard we fight with others, we still need each other Human contact. We would rather have Human enemies out there to fight, and perhaps we might make peace with one day, than face the prospect of being the last one standing. 3DA: When you stretch out and try new software and different techniques, what do you find to be your biggest frustrations? AR: My biggest frustration, beside the exorbitant price, is the time it takes to learn the program. Too many programs are so complicated and have a steep learning curve, it takes years to learn them to the point that I want. That’s why I prefer simpler programs that let me use my imagination instead of fighting with them. That is the problem with many of the 3D model programs like Maya, 3DMax, and others like them. The learning curve is very high. Plus they are priced in the thousands of dollars, or you need to get more and more powerful computers in order to run them. Every six months or so they put out newer versions making you pay more for one of two upgrades. Sometimes they get bought out by another company and they take out all of the things you liked about them 22
in the first place, or go out of business and you can’t get upgrades anymore, like what happened with Mojoworld, one of my favorite programs. So far I haven’t found another program that makes fractals like Apophysis, so I am safe with that one. However I am thinking of revisiting Vue and getting the professional version, but that means I need to upgrade my computer again. Talk about a vicious circle. 3DA: A very thought provoking image is What If? Your fan base really liked this one and provided dozens of great comments. What was the inspiration? AR: Actually my husband Steven is responsible for that artwork. He created a robot in a 3D modeling program and then talked about how he imagined it taking the place of God in Michelangelo’s artwork “Creation of Adam” in the Sistine Chapel. Running with that idea I created it in Bryce using a poser model’s hand and my husband’s robot model. It has been very popular and was used in a magazine. 3DA: You even dabble in abstract concepts. Tell us about Pipedreams II, a wonderful piece that really speaks to your depth as an artist. This image got a Daily Deviation in December of ‘08. Did that surprise you?
AR: I created the original Pipedreams probably in 2002 in Bryce. I wondered what inanimate objects would do if they could come to life. Like the pipes in an old steam room, always side by side but never touching, what would happen if they could touch and fall in love? Because this was made so long ago it took forever to do. Processor speeds were too slow to handle all of those polygons. I used Poser models that I posed and then took the rendered bitmaps into Rhino and created the pipes curved in the shape of the lovers.
I have another account called Moonchilde-Stock on DeviantArt on which I post artwork that I allow other people to use as stock in their own manipulations. 3DA: How do you approach your art today and is that a big shift from when you first started? AR: Back when I first started I wasnâ€˜t trying to be an artist. I had no ulterior motive other than having fun and learning some new programs. I made pictures for me. The idea of making Space Art was so far back in the recesses of my mind that it did not even come into play until years later. I still leaned towards making some kind of Sci-Fi art, with robots and spaceships, or alien terrains, but there was still fun in creating other art pieces that did not contain those topics. I joined other forums and found kindred souls doing the same as I, learning new programs and sharing our artworks with one another.
Once in Bryce I added other pipe models and things I found online or that came with Bryce. Over the years I have revisited this artwork as I bought new computers, making it easier each time to move the pieces and add volumetric lighting and change mats. Eventually I decided to play with the color, which was kind of sepia rust to begin with, and the added color made it pop. I changed the name to Pipedreams II and dedicated it to some friends of mine who were engaged. The response to this piece was phenomenal. The original barely got noticed back in 2004 when I put it on DeviantArt. So yes, I was surprised and elated that it got a Daily Deviation. Each time I get one is like the first time
and I have 12 of them now between my 2 accounts.
I got a lot of feedback from them, and some of my art actually made an impact and people really liked them. My art appeared in the book: â€œThe Best of 3D Graphicsâ€? back in 2002, and I won some online contests. Once I joined DeviantArt I felt as if I had gone back to 23
INTERVIEW: ALI RIES kindergarten, because I felt my art was inferior to everything around me. But I soon learned that the group might be different but the people were the same and they helped me learn and progress as an artist. Now I approach it with more confidence. I know my art is good and well liked. But I still approach each artwork as if I were making it just for me. I have fun and it is not work. If someone likes it and wants to use it in a movie or a book cover, then that is a bonus to me. I would have made the art anyway. I am still in awe that anyone would want to use it, but I am honored that they see more in it that someone just having fun. I think if it ever became a “job” I wouldn’t be able to create as well as I do. 3DA: Are you a big planner with a very specific idea of how an image will look when complete, or does the piece evolve as you go through the process? AR: Up to 90% of the time it creates itself. It evolves and changes as I play with it, especially the Space Art. Now with Bryce, which I haven’t used in a while, it can go both ways depending on whether I am using models and creating a scene, or doing abstracts, which like fractals; take on a life of their own.
scene, because I have to determine which models to use and pose them accordingly before I can ever begin to create a “set” for them. It is a lengthy process that can takes days to set up. Once I have everything where I want, then I can render the scene, take it into Photoshop and edit it there. It can evolve and change as I go along, but an idea or plan is always required first. 3DA: Describe your work environment for us – computer, workspace, music, and wall hangings. AR: No music….I guess I am weird, but I have always preferred peace and quiet. As for my computer room, it is filled with all sorts of Sci-Fi paraphernalia and memorabilia. Books, magazines, Firefly Marquettes, Star Trek posters and ships, M&M things, Minions, Garfield, Star Wars, my sword collection, and some of my framed art and many other things, which I change on a regular basis to keep it interesting. It is a fun place with some controlled chaos thrown in. It is MY room and no one is allowed in for more than a few moments if I am working. It is also my TV room where I can sit and watch the programs or DVD’s I like. It is all ME. 3DA: What three tips would you give 3D Artists just starting the journey?
When I am using models then yes, I have to plan out the
AR: 1. Believe in yourself and don’t give up. There will
always be someone who thinks your art sucks no matter how good you are. They are few, but if you let them get to you then you are doomed from the start. Keep learning and don’t be afraid to ask questions of the pros. Many times they will answer you. They were YOU just a few years ago. And don’t expect results overnight, it takes time to perfect any skill. Be kind to other “newbies” they need encouragement too. 2. Find the type of art that you like and do that. I have seen many who want to do 3D modeling and get so frustrated because they can’t grasp it. Or want to do fantastic fantasy scenes like in Avatar and can’t. But they are good at Anime, and there is nothing wrong with that. Play to your strengths. You can still dabble in Fantasy and 3D modeling or any other media and who knows perhaps one day something will click and you will go “OH! So that is how they do it. It was so simple I can’t believe I missed it.” And then you are off to another career.
disappointed. Have fun doing it and it will come naturally. One last thing a lot of people ask me when they find out I got my artwork into movies, books, tv etc.: How did I get them to notice me.? Who did I have to kill to get the gig? Well the answer is I did nothing. They contacted me. I made my art, they somehow found it, and e-mailed me. They are out there looking on the internet, watching those sites where we congregate. When they find something they like they will find a way to contact you, so make sure they can. Have an e-mail on your site. Let them know that you are interested in doing business commercially. If they contact you, check them out before you answer, because you never know who is at the end of that e-mail and if they are legit.
3. And the most important thing I had to learn was to make ART FOR YOURSELF first and foremost. If you try making it for approval from others you will be
Suzi Amberson currently resides in sunny Phonix, Az. She worked in the Insurance industry for 24 years before discovering a passion for digital art. Once Suzi realized she was not following her intended path she took a huge leap of faith and left the Insurance business to pursue the passion for creating 3D art. Suzi is a self-taught artist. She earned her wings starting out with Poser 6 to creating characters and backgrounds for images in 2007. Her CG toolbox has expanded over the past few years and now includes Poser Pro 2012, Photoshop CS5 Extended, a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet, Marvelous Designer 2, Hexagon and Bryce as her tools of choice. She entered her first official art contest in 2009 over on the Daz3D website. The challenge was to create an image in the spirit of infamous fantasy artist, Frank Frazetta. The final judging was conducted by Frank Frazetta Jr. One of her entries took third place and fueled her desire to pursue 3D art as she sought to add interest and depth to her spectacular body of work.
3DA: We are fortunate today to be joined by an amazing character artist, Suzi Amberson (Kachinadoll at Deviant Art). Her Poser work sits in the upper echelon with todayâ€™s best 3D artists. Her diverse gallery displays a wide range of vision and skill. Welcome to 3D Art Direct. Give us a quick overview of how you started out in art and ultimately made the transition to 3D characters. SA: Thank you! It's such an honor to be a featured artist in your awesome magazine! I have always had an active imagination. However, I never painted or hand drew anything until I discovered digital art. A whole new world opened up for me when I discovered I could actually translate the images in my mind into a 3D environment and then render them into 2D images. I feel like I am just scratching the surface and have a great deal more to learn about my art. I love to discover and explore new and interesting techniques and I try to incorporate them into each new image I create. I am very passionate about my work and the more I feed the passion, the hungrier it gets. 3DA: Who are some other artists who have inspired your work? SA: Frank Frazetta has always been an inspiration for me. I remember reading the Conan books
mostly to view his awesome imagery. I was so amazed with his fantasy style paintings, especially how he painted animals and creatures like his wonderful black panthers. A great deal of my inspiration came from the great masters. I took several Art History courses in college to gain a better appreciation for art and artistic style and have spent hours viewing their work â€“ Da Vinci in 28
particular. Not only was he an incredible artist, he was an inventor and scientist as well. I think that is where my love for Steampunk and the Victorian and Renaissance eras started. 3DA: You have a very active fan community on Deviant Art. Your gallery has garnered over 22,000 comments;
INTERVIEW: SUZI AMBERSON nearly 400 watchers. This seems to be a real testament to 3DA: What about Hexagon? Are you doing a lot of your how well your work is received. How has being a part of own modeling with it? the DA family helped you evolve as an artist? SA: Hexagon is a new addition to my CG toolbox. I SA: It's funny, but I was quite hesitant at first to join the mainly use it to tweak the dynamic clothing models I Deviant Art community. I did not think my work was create in Marvelous Designer 2 and set up the material polished enough to join the ranks of the incredibly zones and grouping for textures and rigging. I also use it talented artists who were members there. I finally to add small fine details to my clothing models such as summoned the courage to join and never looked back. I piping and buttons. I plan to dig deeper into this am so glad I did. It has been the most rewarding wonderful modeling tool and eventually create my own experience ever. The artists come from all over the world models and props. and I have met some incredibly talented artists and 3DA: When you plan a new piece do you have a vision made many dear friends. for it immediately and work towards that vision or do you The inspiration flows like water at Deviant Art. Everyone is find it to be a very fluid process where the image evolves so friendly and helpful. There is a vast amount of in the building process and the end process is very awesome tutorials and resources available to artists in different from what you imaged? every medium. Just the sheer number of brilliant artists is SA: I never plan out my images. I prefer to just get a an inspiration in itself. I make it a point to view at least 50 good general vision of my final image and let it grow and to 100 new images a day to spark my imagination and change as I work through my pipeline of CG tools. Most drive me to improve my skills. It's truly an incredible of the time what I end up with is so far off from my experience to watch new artists survive and grow. I am original vision, it's kind of scary! I find that if I actually plan happy to share the knowledge I have gained to help this out my image, I feel too restricted and the creative process along as well. sparks seem to be missing so I end up with a lifeless 3DA: You list your software tools on your DA bio as uninteresting image. Marvelous Designer 2, Hexagon, Photoshop, Poser, and 3DA: Where do you mostly get your inspiration from? Bryce. I don’t hear many people discuss Marvelous SA: I draw inspiration from so many different sources. I Designer but it looks like an almost indispensable would have to say a great deal of my inspiration comes package for the dedicated Poser artist. Tell our readers from books and novels I have read. The Hobbit and the what the software does and how you apply it. Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien have been a SA: I discovered Marvelous Designer 2 long standing inspiration for my art. I read the books www.marvelousdesigner.com a little over a year ago. It years ago and they still provide sparks of inspiration. I also is an incredible 3D Modeling application that is used to love all the Charles Dickens novels and poems. He create dynamic clothing for 3D characters. It supports created such unusual and interesting characters. I have polyline, free curve and dart drawing so you can actually also been equally inspired by the wonderful writers on create your own clothing patterns, sew them together Deviant Art. In particular Shawn Gillogly, aka Tarian Cole and drape the 3D clothing on your character in a realhttp://tariencole.deviantart.com He is a brilliant historical time simulation. fantasy and Steampunk writer. I have had the privilege It is such an incredible 3D tool and it's so intuitive and of illustrating several of his wonderful characters. In fact efficient. The end product can be exported out to one of my most recent images Katharina is one of the several 3D applications such as 3DS Max, Maya, main characters in his Steampunk novel “Iron Softimage, Lightwave, Poser, Daz Studio, Vue and Modo. Conqueror”. The wonderful folks at Marvelous Designer are the best I I also draw inspiration from the extremely talented artists have had the privilege to work with. They are extremely on Deviant Art. My absolute favorite 3D artist and dear helpful and actually listen to their customers and use this friend Angel Alonso aka Angelitoon http:// feedback to continually improve the software. Adding angelitoon.deviantart.com and some of the most Marvelous Designer to my CG tool box has enabled me extraordinary digital painters I have ever seen, Nathie http://nathie.deviantart.com, Christine aka to actually design, construct and texture my own clothing models in a fraction of the time it would take to Crayonmaniac http://crayonmaniac.deviantart.com and May Fong Robinson aka May Fong http:// model the clothing with traditional applications. I don't mayfong.deviantart.com and some incredibly gifted know what I would do without it! pencil artists, Mayumi Ogihara http:// 29
on the new Passion Tales site. I'm very excited to once again work alongside these gifted writers and create some new and interesting characters. 3DA: Let’s assume you are brought in to consult on the next release of Poser. What three changes would you recommend? SA: That is a difficult question for sure. With the release of the most recent features in Poser Pro 2012 and Poser 9, Smith Micro has taken great strides in 3DA: You are the featured artist at Passiontales.com, a providing features you see in the higher end site dedicated to illustrated eBooks spanning the fantasy, applications. Poser has come a long way since I paranormal, romance and erotica genres. It looks like started with Poser 6 several years ago. If I am pressed you have done an extensive amount of work there. Tell us to answer, I would have to say I would like to see more how that came about and what the experience has improvement with the Hair room and Cloth room. Both been like. of these functions deserve more attention and could certainly use a boost in speed. Other than that, I am SA: Working with my dear friend and incredibly talented very satisfied with this awesome application. You can writer, Quoren, was a wonderful experience. We really create some impressive 3D characters in Poser. previously worked together on a site called Legends of A definite must for a Character artist's CG toolbox. Mernac and decided we wanted to branch off and start a website of our own to create e-books. Quoren wrote 3DA: What is the number one tip you would pass along the stories and I illustrated them. It was great fun and a to a new Poser user to help them get higher quality lot of work but I learned a great deal and we actually renders? produced several illustrated e-books and put them up for SA: I would have to say concentrate on your lighting. sale on our site. Lighting is what truly makes or breaks a good image. Due to some real world commitments, we had to Try not to use premade lights as the scenes are unique discontinue our work. However, we have recently been and require their own lighting set up that accents the back in touch and “Q” is busy reinventing Passion Tales characters and props in that particular scene. So once again with a new focus. This time he will be many times I see images where no attention was given working in tandem with another dear friend Roz to teach to the lighting and the resulting image appears flat spiritual growth. Roz is building a Ning site called Spiritual and has no areas of interest. Every image does not Warriors where people will learn what spiritual growth is all need to be lit with an IDL light set up. Mix it up and try about and how to pursue it. Then they can practice some various lighting techniques and you will be what they have learned through interactive role-playing surprised with your results. mayumiogihara.deviantart.com and Brian aka Veiz http://veiz.deviantart.com just to name a few!
INTERVIEW: SUZI AMBERSON
is a microcosm of your work. Between the playful kitty and the Steampunk element I think it’s a great little 3DA: One thing that stands out in your work is your grasp image to introduce your gallery. It’s a fantastic piece of of lighting and shadow. You seem to have mastered how art in its own right. How did this idea unfold? to use highlights and shadow to give your work depth. So SA: I love to learn new techniques and one way I have many pieces I see have a flatness directly tied to lighting found to accomplish this is by walking through tutorials. I techniques. You’ve obviously worked hard to balance like to search the net and find a fun Text tutorial and walk the lighting and shadow. What steps do you take in through it. I love Steampunk and I found this cool production when you are lighting a scene to ensure you Steampunk font that I just had to play with. In this are getting that right balance. particular image I was learning how to use the Repousse' SA: I think the key to a good image is to create the feature in Photoshop CS5 Extended. I liked how the lighting to match your particular scene and characters. I letters turned out so I exported them to Poser, created think lighting has been one of my biggest obstacles to the textures for them and added the little kitty sitting on overcome. I read tutorial after tutorial trying to figure top of the letters just for fun. The rest of the image just them out and get good results. The best advice I could grew from there. I exported the render from Poser and find for lighting a scene is to read tutorials created for began adding different Steampunk type elements to the photography and apply them to your 3D work. The scene in Photoshop. It actually has a strange mix of techniques are universal and will work equally as well in elements but I thought it was fun and felt it would make your 3D environment. I always set up new lights for every a great ID pic for my DeviantArt page. image I create. I think that is what I spend the most time 3DA: Many character artists seem to have a distinct on when composing a scene as well. preference for gender; they either work primarily on male 3DA: Let’s talk about some of your art, starting with your or female characters. Your gallery seems well balanced Kachinadoll ID banner. That’s a fun little piece that really with some strong male and gorgeous female characters. 31
INTERVIEW: SUZI AMBERSON Do you have a preference and why, or why not? SA: I really do not have a preference. I enjoy working with both male and female characters. It really depends on what I am trying to accomplish. Some scenes call for a strong male character and others a pretty female character. One thing I have discovered, there is way more content available for Female characters than their male counterparts. So there is less to choose from when it comes to clothing. However, now that I have started to create my own clothing, that limitation has vanished. I do have to admit that it's much easier for me to create clothing for female characters then the male characters. Not quite sure why that is, most likely because I am more familiar with clothing for females, being female myself. 3DA: One of your strong male characters is Baine. This seems to be a somewhat dark character but that might just be the character takes on the darkness of the background. The whole image really comes together with the right touch of dark tone contrasted against the skin and leather textures. What was your vision for Baine when you started? SA: Baine actually started out as an OC (original character) request from another artist on DA. I wanted to see if I could illustrate another person's character. The artist would provide basic information about the character like their facial features, color of eyes and hair, the body type and clothing etc. Then I would create an image in the characters likeness. It was a great exercise in character creation and I took several requests over a period of time. I really enjoy bringing written characters to life. It's an excellent challenge to see just how close you can come to the writers idea of the character they have written. I recently became a contributor on Shutterstock http://shutterstock.com/g/ kachinadoll to sell my characters and images to the general public so they can be used for Book covers or models for Photomanipulation projects etc. So I have 32
been updating some of my old characters and images and Baine was one of those. 3DA: Being a big steampunk fan myself I was really drawn to that gallery. You have done some fantastic work there. One of my favorites is, Steampunk Spy Carousel, created for Björn Malmberg’s (see Issue 17 interview) Magic Wars project. There is quite a story wrapped around this character. Is that something you came up with yourself? The little blue creatures remind me of the Harry Potter “Cornish Pixies.” SA: Oh yes, Björn is a dear friend and incredibly talented artist! He has such a wonderful imagination and dreamed up the original Magic Wars Battle of the World collaboration over on Art Zone. The idea was to create some sort of a magical character and a creature or animal that went along with the character. He gathered up several artists and we all had to create our own special magical character and animal that had to fit within the Magic Wars perimeter. It was great fun and a good challenge indeed. Just recently he revisited the Magic Wars idea on DeveiantArt and added a bit of a twist to the plot. This time you had to create a magical character and animal or creature, and you had to come up with a story behind your character as well. I was so inspired by the whole Magic Wars idea and his invention of the evil Scarlet Council that my Steampunk Spy Carousel image pretty much created itself. Once again we had to call upon Madame Eugeia Malevant and her Clockwork Sparks to assist in the defeat of the dreaded evil Scarlet Council. 3DA: You also have a set of Steampunk women in your gallery – Steampunk Voyager, Jules, Iron Butterfly, and Flight. These are great images, close enough to make a set, yet each one can stand alone. Were you thinking “set” when you started or did the creation process just snowball, one image leading to the next image and so
on? This looks like a character with endless possibility.
were a blend of both magic, fantasy and Steampunk. The characters were not intended to be a set, however looking back it does appear they would go together.
SA: I so love anything Steampunk and the wonderful Victorian atmosphere it is set in. All the cool grungy textures and mechanical gears and clocks fascinate me. My first attempt was with my Steampunk Flight image I also love fairies and anything magical or having to do which I created a couple of years ago. At the time I had with flight. So I wanted to come up with characters that not even thought to bring the elements of magic and 33
INTERVIEW: SUZI AMBERSON
INTERVIEW: SUZI AMBERSON Steampunk together. Then my Jules image was created for the Magic Wars collaboration and I began to think of combining the different elements to create a sort of magical Steampunk type character and it has indeed snowballed. I have a zillion more ideas for these unusual characters and hope to create many more of these blended images in the future. 3DA: A wonderful image with an ethereal feel to it is Enchanted Forest. I get the sense of motion and although overall this is a dark image, the textures really fit with the chosen pallet. Your fan base seemed to immediately go to the LOTR Arwen character. I’m guessing this was at least a subliminal (or possibly blatant) inspiration? SA: There is something to be said about enchanted forests. They are creepy and mysterious all at the same time. The outfit my character is wearing was indeed inspired by the “Chase” outfit Arwen wore in the LOTR movie. It's easier to learn how to design clothing by picking apart something that already exists and then changing it to suit your own imagination and vision. It's similar to that outfit but as I went along, it took on a life of its own. The character was a coincidence. I could have created a blond haired character just as easily but I felt dark hair fit better for the darkness of the image and the green atmosphere. I think people will associate pretty much any female elven character with long dark hair with the infamous Arwen character. It's only natural I think. I love the Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy though so I'm sure those stories will always be a source of my inspiration weather intended or not. 3DA: I like the whole Zeigfeld Girls gallery. All four are great images on their own but together they are a splendid set. My favorite is Feathers. The intricate detail on the headpiece is magnificent. Describe for us the process of getting the feather detail.
actually hand painted the entire headpiece. I scanned a variety of real feathers and created my own feather brushes in Photoshop. I added some of the finer details and texture with a simple tiny 1 px round brush. In total it took me nearly 15 hours to paint the entire headpiece.
SA: I'm a huge fan of the old Black and White movies. The characters and clothing had such charm and elegance especially the infamous Ziegfeld Follies of the 1930's. I loved the elaborate headpieces the girls wore and I wanted to create a bit of an updated version of those beautiful costumes. For the Feathers image, I
3DA: You are an artist that seems to be fearless in the genres you will attempt. The pieces in your Asian gallery are amazing. Sakura Dreams is one of those great evocative Asian women characters set against a flawless background. This arrangement works to give this image a 36
distinct strength despite the softness of the character. The big cat contrasted with the posed beauty is a nice touch. The final render is a masterpiece. Where do you begin the process when you start working on a piece that seems so outside your normal comfort zone? SA: I had a lot of fun creating this image. The Japanese bed set was created by a modeler friend of mine, Kenneth aka Ghostman2007 http:// ghostman2007.deviantart.com I created my own textures for the screens and the tiger was actually from
an image Kenneth had taken. When I am attempting to create an image that is out of my comfort zone I do a great deal of research. I have a huge folder of reference images I have collected to get a better idea of facial features, clothing, textures, patterns, hair styles etc. And I constantly refer back to the images for reference. It's scary to venture out of your comfort zone and try new things. However you will never know until you dive in and give it a shot. Sometimes it's a good result, sometimes not, but at least you have learned 37
INTERVIEW: SUZI AMBERSON having some fun, please stop by and join us. 3DA: Where we work makes a big difference for comfort, creativity and stamina. The music we play, the paintings on the wall, even the animals at our feet all can play a part in the design process. Describe your working environment. SA: I have created a small office in my little den. It's a wee bit crowded since I built my new computer and now I have two desktop computers, two monitors and my iPad all set up on my desk. I also have a little trundle bed which comes in handy if I am waiting for a really log render. I can curl up and read a book while I'm waiting for the render to finish. In front of me on the wall is a bulletin board with tons of sticky notes and push pins and a calendar I created and printed from Deviant Art. I enjoy listening to classical music while I'm working, especially if I am hand painting something. I find it relaxing and inspiring and since it's instrumental, I don't get sidetracked listening to the words. I don't have any furry friends at the moment, however, one day I would love to get a little kitty to keep me company while I'm working. I faux painted the room a warm yellow-orangish color and built wooden shelves that line the wall all the way around the room where I keep various books and something from the experience. knick-knacks and keepsakes. It's a cozy little space that I 3DA: Speaking of stretching your work into genreâ€™s love and it has a large window at one end so I can view previously untapped, where would you like to go next for the outdoors as well. a new direction? How do you motivate yourself to step 3DA: As the hardware gets better and 3D Art is out in new directions? accessible by an ever increasing pool of would-be artists, SA: I'm not really sure yet what I want to try next. I try not what three tips do you have for anyone starting out on to plan things out as I usually get a better result if I just let the inspiration come naturally. I'm currently working on a the Poser journey? little collaboration with the Founder, Elle aka ElleArdenImages http://elleardenimages.deviantart.com and co-founder Rachel aka Ryzashra http:// ryzashra.deviantart.com of our Dazaholic's http:// dazaholics.deviantart.com group on DeviantArt. They are both dear friends and wonderfully creative and awesome artists!
SA: I think the number one tip I would have is Quality not Quantity. So many times I see artists posting one image after another. They all look the same and the quality hardly ever improves. In my mind, it's much more important to try a new technique and apply it to each new image you create to help add depth and interest and expand your skills. The second tip would be pay Rachel and I are building a tiered lace gown in attention to your lighting. Images that have been Marvelous Designer2 then the three of us will individually created just using pre-made light set ups tend to look dull create our own textures for the finished model and and flat. Create your own lights for each of the scenes render an image. It's the first time I have collaborated on you are building and try a variety of different types of modeling clothing in MD2 and we are really having fun! lighting and even colored lighting. The third tip would be By putting our heads together, we hope to create study the art around you. On Deviant Art there are so something new and unusual. Our Dazaholic's group was many wonderfully talented artists you can learn from. set up to assist new and seasoned artists alike to hone Study their images and if you have a question, don't be their 3D skills and learn new techniques to add interest afraid to ask them how they accomplished their results. and depth to their work. We have 654 members and are For the most part, artists are happy to share with you the currently accepting new members as well. If you are a process they go through to accomplish their results. member of DeviantArt and are interesting in learning and 38
MIREK DROZD Mirek Drozd was born in Poland and lives near Warsaw in the small town of Otwock. A professional optician, he spends his free time exploring and refining his interests in digital artwork. Mirek has been inspired both by the work of Salvador Dali as well as computer game art found in such titles as "Myst" and "Riven". “You can find elements of the atmosphere from those strange but beautiful worlds in my pictures", Mirek says. The main program he uses is Bryce 7 Pro. with the postwork done in Adobe Photoshop 5. In addition he use Wings 3D and Blender 2.61. Some of Mirek's work, along with his tutorials, can be found in a step-by-step guide/album "DIGITAL SCI-FI-ART" published by ILEX (September 2004) printed in the UK. In March 2004, Mirek was featured artist showcased in "Science Fiction Weekly" website and cover artist in THE BULLETIN OF THE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY WRITERS OF AMERICA, For several years, his work can be seen on the cover of Polish edition of the magazine NEXUS
3DAD: You've been inspired by the work of Salvador Dali, the Spanish surrealist painter. What do you like about his artwork in Particular? What are some of your favourite works of Dali and why?
and deformations of objects. One could go on.
I have a few favourite images. "Christ of St John Of The Cross". Beautiful perspective, emphasizing the enormity of the crucified man and the light that comes out of MD: Salvador Dali said about himself: “I am a genius”. It is nowhere. "The Temptation of St Anthony". This includes hard to disagree! What do I like most in his work? It is fantastic deformation of objects, emphasizing an hyperrealism of the scenes. Colour, which gives each enticing vision and the littleness of man. "Windmills". We image a special atmosphere, while the total output is are dealing here with something of a fantasy, maybe sf? consistent. Salvador had fun with the laws of physics. The Butterfly wings instead of windmills ones. As on the planet famous "clocks", for example. Using the brilliant prospects of insects. "Galatea of the Spheres". Dali brilliantly maps 40
issue 12th What are some of your favorite scenes from Myst or Riven That Have Inspired You Most? MD: I do not have favourite scenes. I am inspired by all the worlds that have been created in these games. From all the parts of the saga Riven is my favourite one. In 2000 I created a work titled "My Riven". I tried to reproduce the colors and atmosphere of these islands. In 2007, I made "Myst VII", where for the postwork I used a wallpaper from the fourth part of the game"Revelation". I think that from "Riven" I draw a nice sense of emptiness from this world. Myst is a bit different, especially the later parts of the saga. What captivates me is the "unknown", which can be found at almost every step. It's for example strange devices that were created for a purpose, but you can’t always learn what that purpose was! Other elements such as beautiful, abandoned houses, strange plants and animals in the game fascinated me. I try to include these elements in my work. Most important is the atmosphere of mystery and the unknown. I, in my visions, visit worlds that have left its inhabitants. I don’t look for them. I’m only a visitor.
the three-dimensional canvas, applying all the scattered fragments on the balls. Completely, as if he uses a computer with a 3D computer program. And finally, "Autosodomised By His Own Inspiration", Best, autoironical portrait.
3DAD: You use Bryce 7 Pro. Was this your first 3D art application, or did you start with an Earlier version of Bryce?
3DAD: Myst and Riven were classic computer games Introduced That some iconic graphics, with Myst being released in 1993. 3D Art Direct was fortunate to have interviewed one of the graphic artists Chuck Carter in 41
“Most important is the atmosphere of mystery and the unknown. I, in my imagination, envisage worlds where the inhabitants have left, creating that sense of mystery. ”
INTERVIEW: Mirek Drozd MD: Yes, my first 3D application was just Bryce. I started with version 4 and have remained faithful to this program today.
3DAD: Have you taken advantage of some of the new features in Bryce 7 Pro, such as the Instancing Lab? MD: I used this feature several times. The effect can be seen in my work from the year 2011 "Seuaugor." All the stones are formed from one piece. This is a very convenient feature, because the duplication of objects takes into account the terrain. "Multi-replicate" plus "Randomize" is used in this case, too time-consuming and inaccurate, because the height of objects above the ground is the same. I highly recommend the "Instancing lab", especially when creating forested areas. 3DAD: When Bryce 7 was first released, it was a little unstable and render times were fairly long, but have the patches released since it was first on the market improved things? MD: I am sure the program is more stable. Sometimes there is an error, but in general the application works fine. Besides, it may be an operating system error, lack of memory or other causes. I think some bugs can be linked with working on very large files while using HDRI images, but this is not always the case. 3DAD: What are the top three functions of Bryce 7 you enjoy using the most? MD: It includes the "Sky Lab" with the outstanding IBL module, which allows you to use HDRI images in a scene. IBL can also improve the quality of the "Sky Presets". The effects are really great. For example my work "Sea Horses" uses this feature. The second function, the "Materials Lab", where you can modify the "presets" and create your own materials. Thirdly, the terrain modifier which I use to create lands by using brushes, images, or specially prepared masks in a 2D Editor. Previously I often used a flattened "double lattice", to build models. I do not recommend this because the dense grid will greatly increase the size of the working file. 3DAD: What advice would you give for Those just starting out using Bryce 7 Pro?
I like the use of light and texture in this work. I wanted to ac A new experience for me was the use of very intense light. maximum bump height of the material.
For easy viewing of a scene from different directions, use the "Camera trackball". This prevents needing a four way MD: Donâ€™t be afraid of the interface. It is really intuitive split screen, which most 3D apps have. You can save the and can be easily learned, even without a tutorial. All the main settings of the view at any time to return to it with most important things are clearly defined and can be one touch of a mouse button. "View Controls" is a static understood. We have a tool palette, Camera TrackBall, view from the top, sides and the bottom. camera and rendering settings, or a view. In most other And one more thing. Maybe there are other ways to applications, these options are hidden from immediate view in a drop-down menu which definitely increases the achieve photo-realistic effects, but my method on this is this: always turn off gamma correction. A great depth of learning time. field can be obtained through the use of "haze", "fog" 42
INTERVIEW: Mirek Drozd
chieve the effect of early evening. I think the composition of the scene is also interesting. So I set the “sun intensity” to 250. Besides, I wanted to get rough surface rocks, despite anti-aliasing. So I used the
and "color perspective." In my opinion gamma correction dilutes saturation stage. The colors fade and the scene as though it becomes less natural. Of course, in some cases this setting may be successfully applied .
In Bryce, for easy viewing of a scene from different directions, use the "Camera trackball". This prevents needing a four way split screen, which most 3D apps have. You can save the main settings of the view at any time to return to it with one touch of a mouse button
3DAD: You’ve used Wings 3D to great effect in producing some eye catching surreal models in your images. Tell me what you like about Wings 3D? MD: Wings 3D is a very simple and easy to use. You can learn it in one day. However, the apparent simplicity 43
INTERVIEW: Mirek Drozd NGUVU
I am most content with the atmosphere that I have achieved here and the objects that I created in Blender. They may not be too complicated, but they perfectly capture the atmosphere of the work. The time of day shows the reflections of light on the ground. Light and shadows are in good balance. This time I used all the tricks I know, available in Bryce. I learned another use of the HDRI picture, to create sky and clouds. It is positioned at an angle, not horizontally. Basically Nguvu is a world of creatures, living near their “security guards”. The guards can provide them with energy from the sun and can serve as messengers to others. does not mean that it is suitable for simple models. The effects can be seen in my work from this year: "Etsai", "Kizazi" or "Doria". Using fhe basic shapes such as sphere, torus, cylinder or cube, you can create truly fantastic models. It's fast and easy. A very nice feature is the possibility of deformation of objects. It's a really powerful program and it is free! Of course, seasoned modelers did not even touch it. For them Wings 3D is maybe too ... primitive? I do not think so. 3DAD: What are two of your favourite Wings 3D models that you’ve created and what do you like about Them?
deformed N-cube. Once I created the models within Bryce, but it is for me now too time-consuming and complicated. Bryce, after all, is not primarily an application to create models, although it has some functionality to do so. 3DAD: You also use Blender, which can be used for animation. Have you been tempted to experiment with that medium, with the release of short films such as Sintel being created with Blender?
MD: I thought about it, but after several attempts I gave up. I do not think I need to create animations. I leave it to MD: I have more than two. So I will answer briefly. There others. Maybe some day? For now, I want to know Bryce are the “Generators” with "Kiziazi" spaceship from "Doria", even better because I feel that I still have lots to learn. wing-ships "Hegoak" and all the objects in my work 3DAD: Some of your artwork has been promoted in "Truke". The works come all were created this year. What several publications, tell me about these and how you do I like about them? Well it is the fact that I managed to got involved with the publishers? hide the basic solids and primitives from which they were MD: It is connected with my internet presence at various created. For example, the quasi-city in “Truke“, is a 44
INTERVIEW: Mirek Drozd sites, and I also have my own website to promote my work. I did not seek the contacts. My works have been spotted there. Because the visuals and the required themes meet the criteria for the publishers.
spirit of his genius. 3DAD: What aspect of your artwork would you like to Improve upon next?
MD: I try to focus on the fact that my work has a photorealistic quality. For sure I will continue working on this. Maybe I will use the "Instancing lab" more. In my MD: I can not decide! I really have four. They are: opinion the most important aspects of an image are the "Txangoa", "Orinarri", "Nguvu" and "Peqxuasi". I think they light, color and atmosphere. Sometimes a stone in the accomplished what is most important. I tried to achieve desert will tell more of a story than a futuristic city with Photorealism in each of them. The colors and hundreds of details. . Maybe someday Iâ€™ll create a very atmosphere were changed from "Daylight" and complicated scene, since I tend to be minimalistic with transparent to something more mysterious. I'm happy objects. I hope that my artwork will not be similar to with the objects that I created either in Blender 2.61, or in hundreds of others, which are often associated with "Star Wings 3D. In my humble opinion, the end result is Wars" or other sci-fi classics. The originality of style is an satisfactory. I would add that despite the fascination with important factor. the works of Salvador Dali, in my work the climate is a 3DAD: What is your favourite on-line resource related with little bit more of Antonio Gaudi. Maybe you can see this digital art? in some of the models I created where you can find the 3DAD: What are three of your personal favourite images you have created and why?
I like the composition of this scene, with the large objects in the foreground. I am content with the used textures and the atmosphere achieved in this vision. Besides, the picture is clear and well lit. In this case, I learned to better control the textures and their combinations. In this work, there is no post work. For example colour is natural and comes from Bryce. The rings are used to convert the captured material from meteorites to convert it into energy. It is then stored in tanks visible in the background. 45
INTERVIEW: Mirek Drozd NISHATI
What I like most is the plasma effect and the "extra" three-dimensionalityâ€”where I mean the balls in the foreground. They are clearly in front of the rest of the composition. The elements are very realistic. Materials / textures and light too. It's an unfriendly world. I wanted to show the energy that destroys lives. Unfortunately it is too strong and the man does not have to change it. This is definitely an allegory. UHARIBIFUU
INTERVIEW: Mirek Drozd TXANGOA
The models in this scene were done completely in Blender, after one day of learning the program. It was enough to watch a few tutorials on the web. I think they are unconventional and carefully executed. Of course I'm content with the lighting of the scene and it is another of my favourites. The story that this image is telling is about exploring the new world. This is a extra terrestial version of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. Only the vessels and "people" are different! This vision is about exploring new and not always friendly territory. MD: There are several. Renderosity.com and tool Simple Deform, I formed them as you see. This Deviantart.com and are quite popular and large in terms method works very well. Deformation tools in the two of number of registered members. I would also programs are different and can be very well mixed. recommend Raph.com and 3DTotal.com For fans of science fiction and fantasy I’d recommend Elfwood.com 3DAD: The image entitled “Orinarri” has been made the "most favourite" out of all of your gallery pieces, what do you like best about this image?
MD: I think the greatest strengths of this work are the original objects, sky and colors. Everything fits. Nothing is too much or too little. This work is similar to a painting, and I did not carry out any aggressive post work. There were only minor corrections for errors on the terrain I made. The great atmosphere was assisted by an HDRI image I used as sky. It is a good example of using the IBL module. In this work I learned how to use both Wings 3D and Blender together. I made some objects in Wings 3D. Then I imported them into Blender. There, using the 47
CHRISTIAN BEYER BON VOYAGE
Christian Beyer from Germany started out exploring computer graphics on an Atari 800 XL home computer. He moved onto exploring the delights of Bryce and Terragen but now primarily uses Vue to add to his large portfolio of science fiction themed images. http://www.cornucopia3d.com/portfolio/cbeyer 3DA: We are fortunate this issue to interview Christian Beyer, (kanzler at Renderosity) a very talented 3D digital artist from Germany. Welcome to 3D Art Direct. Tell us a bit about how you first started out doing art.
demos in Basic. Later on I discovered Terragen and Bryce and wondered about their potential. After getting started with Terragen freeware I was hooked!
CB: It all started in 1982 with an ATARI 800 XL home 3DA: The first thing that stands out about your work is the computer. That was my beginning in graphics. Back then extraordinary ability to create fascinating alien worlds. together with a few friends I wrote some first graphic What is your foundation in this kind of vision? Where do 48
“In my opinion, Gimp is a fantastic tool for image editing. It offers all the features included that I need. It is easy to use and – it's free!”
you go-to for this kind of inspiration? CB: The nice thing about sci-fi art is, that you can let your imagination run wild. I was inspired by many movies and books. But basically, most of my artworks are not planned, but the ideas develop as I create them. 3DA: Let’s talk about your tools for a minute. Looking at your gallery you are primarily a Vue artist, but you’ve also used Bryce and Terragen quite a bit. There’s even the occasional Poser character. Talk about how you’ve progressed as an artist and how you select which tool you use for any given piece.
CB: I came across Truespace because it is freeware. It has nearly all the features I need for 3D modelling. 3DA: I also notice you do a lot of your postwork in Gimp, a rather uncommon tool in a Photoshop world. Being a Gimp user myself I applaud your choice. What are the top three compelling reasons for choosing Gimp over Photoshop?
CB: Every software has its own advantage, although I think Vue is a very comprehensive tool. It is only after CB: In my opinion, Gimp is a fantastic tool for image creating a 3D model that I decide, which tool is going to editing. It offers all the features included that I need. It is work best with it. easy to use and – it's free! 3DA: One package you use that I don’t see a lot is Truespace. Tell us how you came to use that software and what it gives you that some of the more mainstream packages don’t.
3DA: Let’s talk about some of your images. The most viewed piece at Renderosity is Future Impressions. You do a real good job of perspective, shadow, and lighting in 49
INTERVIEW: Christian Beyer this piece. The little splash of blue is a nice touch. What do you think makes this a viewer favourite?
function of using an aerial perspective; a nice feature to easily get extra depth effect in the picture.
CB: I think, the complexity and mass of the architectural structures and the lighting makes the picture interesting.
3DA: You get a lot of comments from your Renderosity fans. The piece with the most comments is A New Age. With comments like, “Superb,” “Outstanding,” and “Awesome,” you must feel a real sense of pride in the way the community embraces your art. How has your work been impacted by community feedback?
3DA: The most favourited is the Dystopia Control Room. It was clever to add bits of your art in the monitor screens. Tell us how this piece developed. CB: Dystopia Control Room originated by chance when I was experimenting with the featured Poser character. I
CB: Of course it's nice to get confirmation and support for
DYSOTOPIA CONTROL ROOM
your artwork. I would like to express my gratitude. I appreciate any kind of critique. If it is positive or sometimes showing what I could have done better. Especially with my first publications on Renderosity it has really helped me.
practically built the control room around the character. 3DA: Another fantastic image is Pleiades Sector VII. It brings to mind the floating city of Bespin in Star Wars. The light blue pallet works nicely to give this piece a wide expanse. The subtle ships placed in the scene give it a little motion as well. A soft touch seemed to be needed here to fade the distant components. How did you put this one together?
3DA: Why is Vue is your favourite software for making 3D art? CB: Vue is so interesting to me as software because it covers almost all areas, whether I want to create sci-fi
CB: In this scene, I've taken the advantage of the Vue 50
INTERVIEW: Christian Beyer worlds, landscapes or abstract pictures. I’m happy to have achieved very good results with Vue.
3DA: What is your biggest challenge as a 3D digital artist? CB: I always try to come one step forward and test new things. I’m hoping some opportunities will come along to make this great hobby a full-time occupation. 3DA: How much time do you spend to finish a typical image like Metroplex-Harbour District? CB: It always comes out on how much time do I need for 3D modeling. I do not remember exactly, but I think, this image I needed about 8 hours. 3DA: Describe for us your hardware and working environment. What music do you listen to as you work or do you like it quiet when you create?
BRIGHT DAY IN SECTOR 11
CB: Currently my hardware is a 64-bit Windows PC with 3.4 ghz quad core and 16 GB of memory— and I prefer a quite environment for working. 3DA: What are a few tips would you have for someone just starting out in the 3D art world? CB: Be playful—always try new things. Always publish the images in respective communities to get feedback.
Elven Rain by Kachinadoll
3D Art Direct : Be Inspired By Digital Art52