Who is 'Flak'?
Flak is a person who at the moment is very surprised. Firstly at having been nominated, as there's so many
great brycers here and he doesn't have the most active of galleries, and secondly that he was chosen from among such a strong field. So, a big thanks to everyone who voted in the AOM poll, no matter who you voted for. It was an honour just to be nominated.
In real life I'm 38 (old enough to know better, but young enough to try it anyway), married, and live in South East Qeensland, Australia. The Australian weather has meant I've played (and still am playing) a fair bit of sport all through life and have the scars, sore knees, and stiff ankles to prove it. Jobs in the past have included being an MRI lab technician and a researcher investigating detection of landmines using radar.
These days I'm currently working as a biomedical engineer doing research support in a lab full neurosurgical equipment, and EEG systems, while desperately trying to crowbar up the "make art" button to see if I can find a "make interview" button. It's been a ride.
My musical tastes tend to be mainly from the 80s and consist of Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Doro, Warloch, Black Sabbath, Dio, Van Halen ... if it had long hair, tight pants, and screaming guitar solos in the 80s, then it's probably gone through my stereo at some time.
How long have you been rendering/doing computer graphics?
My computer graphic hobby originally started with trying to make pictures of roleplaying characters and places for my own home use. As I couldn't draw, I tried to go about it using photo manipulation, but alas this was severely limited to what was more or less already about. After my wife had shown me several of Don Tatro's creepy the clown pictures that had been posted to the bryce newsgroup, I figured that 3d programs may provide me with a greater opportunity to get the images and places that existed in my mind into a more viewable format. I think that was sometime in 2001.
Do you have traditional art experience?
None whatsoever. Until I found 3d and cg art, my greatest claim to "artistic" fame was having managed to fail both art and music at school. More recently, the closest I've come to tradional art experience has been exchanging the odd IM with racin-jacin and gerda (an impressive ceramicist) a while back and chatting with jadedjane when she's in one of her painting phases.
What are you currently working on?
The last year saw my own projects just about stop as life became very busy - a day job that went into extreme overdrive chewed up most of it, though I did manage to do some artwork for a game called "Battleground: Fantasy Warfare" with some other talented Rosity artists (Woodhurst, Forevernyt, calum5, rob_wes19). I also offered what was hopefully reasonable advice to SeekerGamingSystems when they were originally thinking of getting into the 3D-verse. Luckily however, things have slowed a bit, temporarily at least, and so I'm currently working on my own projects (generating masses of models and trying to start a new image series)... at the moment.
BTW, Kees -> 1-0, so move your pixels ;)
What software/equipment do you use and why?
Equipment... perhaps museum piece is a better way to describe things - most of my early stuff including the
entire Siege series was done on a PIII 450Mhz, though about 10 months ago I got a much faster, bigger, stronger PC. But fear not for the future of the loyal PIII - I believe it will be secretly swapped in for ICM's new PC when he's not looking, right Ariannah? Honest, he won't notice the difference. ;)
Software... I tend to use a pretty wide variety of bits and pieces. Bryce is my main scene building weapon of choice with poser and Daz Studio operating as very handy people plugins - I can't put together anything in poser, so my hat is off to those that can. I see Bryce's main strengths as its stability, the ability to import a large number of formats pretty easily, the ability to merge scene files, its stability, and its ease of use. Couple this with its ability to handle a large amount of stuff in a scene without going belly up, the vast amount of freestuff available for it, the huge amount of information and tutorials freely available for it, and its stability
and you've got a pretty versatile package. Just have a look at the galleries of the other AOM nominees for proof. Take note, software developers, stability really matters, even to hobbyists.
Bryce's renderer is a *bit* on the slow side, but that's never really bothered me too much as that's what the
night hours and the work hours are for... rendering, as long as Flakette is around to save the render and unplug the PC from the wall when the storms roll in.
Recently I've been spending a bit of time in Lightwave's modeller making untextured models by the bucket load, most of which will be used later in the new image series. (Edit - there would have been a mention about another bit of software that came as a freebie with LightWave, but I wished to not get tarred and feathered by TheBryster).
What do you think your best piece of work is and why?
"Bryce 5.5.01001001 - Evolution" was the most fun to make - it was an image that really got loose and ran amok on my HDD (thanks for the robot, Drac). It was sort of a homage to the life of brycers including what we've collectively gone through in recent times and what we're looking forward to in the future.
"Dragonbreath Chasm" is the image I consider to be my best so far although "Siege" was reasonably popular at the time. Hopefully this choice will change in the near future as I try and make each image an improvement on the last.
Why do you like to work with 3D software?
I'm more of an engineer than an artist (I see my creations as more eye candy than art), so 3d really lets me indulge my making and building desires. I can make things or places of any size and shape, real or not, and if I don't like them, I can just pull them apart and start again. Gotta love multiple guilt free undo.
Who/what inspires you?
I think inspiration comes from everywhere though I mainly get it from looking at medieval architecture books and reading about events, fictional or not, and working out the possible stories behind them. Cruising the galleries can be good for inspiration as well, even if the images are of a different genre to what I normally create, and it can be thought provoking at times. Flakette has also volunteered that if I ever run out of ideas, she has a lot that she'd like to see done, including one she first mentioned to me a couple of years ago.
How has this online community (Renderosity) enhanced your work, relationships, and learning?
Renderosity has had a big effect on my 3d life since joining in 2002.
After initially being drawn here by the freebies, I decided to venture into the galleries for the first time and that sure served as a bit of a reality check. At that time I'd just made my first bryce pics and felt pretty good about them. I had what I thought was a really good poser figure on a wharf... then I saw one of Hobbit's bryce pics... then I thought of throwing bryce away... and what was even worse is that he wasn't the only one making some really mind blowing bryce images (rochr, roobol, sbleci, etc etc). Then I wandered off in a stunned daze and stumbled over a ToxicAngel pic in the poser gallery, and realized just how plastic and lifeless my poor poser figure was and how far behind the eight ball I sat. So while that first visit was a bit confronting at the time, it also served as a great eye opener as to what could be done with those programs
and it really drove me to want to learn and improve my skills.
It wasn't too long after that that I found my way into the Rosity chat and met some great people, and frogs, and jeweldragons, and Moe-de-rators, and ex-gothgirls, and bonerboyz, and Fillingims, and kiwimasons, and 'renderers, and Lurgie-throwers, and swiss-misses and..... Over the years, some interesting ideas were brought up in that chat - "but I want to see the army from more of top down view and swarming over something". Yeah, righto, thanks a lot for that one Moebius87 - it took about 3 months to sort *that* idea out. ;)
At about the same time, I started lurking in the bryce forum and saw that some of its members (read names like clay, AgentSmith, humorix, pidjy, Ornlu... et al) were creating some very innovative effects that I hadn't even considered trying. These new effects and techniques, combined with the ideas people were throwing up both in the rosity chat and more recently in the rendergods.com chat, administered by some prominent brycers from here, have really made the creative process a lot more fun and have driven it in directions it probably would never have gone in on its own.
I've made a lot of online friends from all over the world through this place, some of which I may not see about for a while, but I know that when we do meet again, we can pick up the conversation as though it hadn't stopped.
Parting Comments / Advice to other Artists?
For the one or two people who are still reading ...
I think my advice is pretty simple - work out what you want to do, then take your best shot at it, even if it may seem beyond what you think your abilities are at the time.
Always look around and see what else is happening around you. See what other people are doing and see what you can learn from what they do. If you see something that you really want to know more about, then ask the person about it. Most people I've dealt with here are more than willing to talk about how they achieved an effect or a particular feel in their image.
And lastly, enjoy what you do, whether it's stunning landscapes, swirly colourful fractals on spheres, nice simple crisp images that people want to hang on their walls, twisted abstracts from 12 dimensional space, or
hiding your inadequacies at making a good looking closeup face behind a swarm of skeletons.
They're all forms of art after all.
Be sure to check out Flak's gallery!
Click on 'AOM 2006' on the sidebar to learn more about Artist of the Month and to view our past winners.
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