Individual artistic expression is greatly shaped by the events the artists themselves have endured. Life altering events from the death of a close friend to the birth of a new baby. Calum Andrews (Calum5) is a great example of how life affects a person's creative direction. His works of art can be called both beautiful and horrifying. They are a bold, visual representation of the events that have shaped his life. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to get to know this talented Renderosity member. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to the community, Mr Calum Andrews.
What is your name, and where are you from?
Calum Andrews, born in London in the early 70's and still living in Central London with my partner for 18 years and mother of our 2 children. Jake is 16 and Amy is 7. We have a dog who's nearly 2!
How did you first get interested in 3D art?
I grew up with little in the way of toys and discovered a pencil! I used to draw monsters and beasts, probably a reflection of the adults /people around me. I lived most of my childhood in local authority care. Drawing became a hobby, creating things that have not been seen before. I don't have issues with the creative process and feel flooded with too many ideas for the time I have to make them in my work (Museoverload). I have had a lot of monsters around me in my life and I guess in some form they have something to do with my art. I guess boredom and an escape from reality while stroking ideas onto scraps of paper was my way into art. I love creating images.
What programs do you work in?
I got my first PC in april of 2000, and after couple of years wanted to add more depth and water like effects into my work like I'd seen on posters. I discovered Jasc Paintshop Pro 7, and soon after, Bryce 5. I have some work still made in my Rendo gallery from back then. After joining bryce5.net (now closed), I discovered Renderosity and all the galleries! New programs and artwork that blew me away.
Poser had my main love early on and I saved for it : Poser4, then P4 Pro-pack, Poser 5, and now I have Poser 6 but will be getting poser 7 at some point. I added Photoshop and Coreldraw to my tools as I learned more. I use Apophysis and Universe Image Creator for some minor post work effects.
I have now jumped into Zbrush 2, thanks to being shown it by Ron Harris, a member here. It's my favorite program ever (version 3.1)! You can create anything in your mind from scratch, and having the model sculpted personally means more to me than adjusting other peoples' models as I do a lot with Poser. It's my model and my detail, my texture and lighting, etc. I feel free with Zbrush. I have also bought Softimage XSI 6 for rendering purposes, but haven't gotten round the complete work flow as of yet. I teach myself everything and read as much as I can. I have Shade 7 and Hexagon, but after they both crashed on my first look, I haven't opened them again yet.
The fact that you are self taught is amazing. Do you foresee yourself ever going to school to learn more?
Ideally, I'd love to go back to school to learn with hands on help. I left school at around 13 with no qualifications or purpose in life. Only after meeting my partner and having our first child my life then changed. I had responsibilities and...Love! Things I'd missed throughout my young life. I work 6 days a week mostly, and have since 1991 when Jake was born. I work every minute I can to keep all of my family with what they need. I buy occaisional tutorials, but learn mainly thought trial and error. I feel you find what suits you in your own way. Generally, adjusting little bits of what good artists state in tutorials is not a bad way to acquire your way. Then try different things along the way throughout the process.
I'd love to go to College to learn more one day. I'd recommend learning that way to get a good understanding of all the areas in art, and especially if your into 3d work. My way has taken a good few years and I'm far from having all the answers. Maybe I'd be doing better work if I could have saved time on the methods to achieve where my work is now.
Images used to take me around a day...those images I'm really unhappy with, but they all helped me learn something I feel. As artwork for me, I really don't like anything that is over 2 months old in my own gallery. Some pieces do have parts that I like, but on the whole I'm never happy. The light or post work, the POV or theme; something always bothers me as I learn more and look back. I know what I want to do but simply can't ever get there, or the bar keeps being raised in my own perceptions.
A lot of the friendly people in the galleries enjoy my work and tell me things that are very flattering, and I'm very grateful to them all. I especially appreciate the remarks in regards to improving. It's good to get suggestions from how other people see your work. That's a good way to learn, too.
Images now, I spend over a week to 2 weeks on. If I'm using a Poser fig base, then I can save a lot of time, but get left with a numb feeling that it's not all my work. So for me in my art, to be creative and to create from scratch is what makes me feel more happy with myself. Saying that I thought I was brilliant when first rendering in, say Poser, I hadn't done anything apart from set up props, poses, morphs, lights and hit the render button. I'm moving very fast away from that side of things these days, as I've found a way to do it myself to a reasonable standard. I do enjoy immensely what people create with programs like that, but my path has changed. Respect to everyone who creates beautiful images in any program. I will still work on occaision to make a nice image quicker with the likes of Poser and Bryce, etc.
Do you do any sketches before you begin in 3D?
I don't draw out concepts. I just get in front of the computer with an idea. As I work, thoughts begin to float into my mind to help make what I see better or more enjoyable as the image develops. No limitations to hold me back, just free flow and use what I have available in mind and tools.
Have you done images professionally, or are they all for your enjoyment?
I made some characters for the Battlecard table game last year. That was a great learning curve for me in regards to finding ways to get what was required. Thankfully, the gentleman I was doing the work for was very helpful with the concepts I sent and the time allocated to make them.
I have been recently asked by Chuck Russell ( Director, The Mask , being his best to date), for some concept pieces and he said he was happy with my images, would use me again in the future and I'd be recommended to groups by him for my work and ability to get something done fast . I was amazed/honored to be contacted by someone in such a position. To have communications with Mr. Russell and see how the concepts to film creation are set about was very interesting for me. I had to work on a very short deadline which was one thing that I wish I could've changed. My work I like to take my time on but had to get things done and make a few changes on the way as the hours ticked away. A minimal sleeping moment in my life.
I have been offered work abroad with my art/characters, but couldn't take it up due to leaving the family not being an option. A Wii game designer recently asked me about my status for working in France. I'd love to have done it, but my path seems to be taking me another way.
I have joined some ventures with artists, but not for profit, except in knowledge, but some are ongoing. I have one venture that involves me learning UV mapping, but I never seem to have enough time to really learn all the tutorials I've purchased.
I sell the odd item on cafepress, but hardly worth mentioning. I need to update it by a couple of years!
I created a lot of items, images for friends of their kids transformed into fairies, characters, etc. Another don't get rich scheme (LOL). It was great to do and I still do the occasional one.
So, I guess my images are for my enjoyment, but perhaps to one day maybe make a little more from my years of doing what I love.
I can't say an individual artist has inspired me, no. I can say images by some great artists have. I surf the web, look at images that I feel like I'd want to be at a level with (first impression, and then the enjoyment of a well done image). I enjoy work and look at how it was done. All the elements of any image I scan for what works and what I feel doesn't. The light, textures, pov's, and composition are some of the things which I look at after the initial feel of the image appearance/theme.
Have you ever created something in Zbrush and thought about having it rigged so that it could be used in Poser? Do you want to?
Yes. I want to rig Zbrush models to work in Poser, but haven't had the time yet to learn how. I spend my free time, if any, making images as it's something that I enjoy and relaxes me after work, kid and home duties, dog walkies, etc, leave me with minimal time, but I will get to it soon. I might be moving soon possibly, and have been researching the new area.
In Zbrush, it's easy to create high poly models and paint directly onto your models. For the conversion to Poser, I need to keep the polys a lot lower, generate displacement and texture maps amongst other things that I will deal with in the future. I got Zbrush 2 last year late and recently upgraded to version 3.1. Learning my current work flow has taken all my free time so far, but I learn what I can when I can. If I was trusted enough to take more time off my current day Job, then I'd do it now, even to break just under even.
Is there one aspect of your art that you find you have the most trouble with?
The thing that troubles me the most I'd say, is the initial render's appearance, the backgrounds more so. The creation process I find fun, but compositing to a level I like, I find is what I want to improve upon.
I recently purchased Softimage XSI 6, so I can hopefully soon take my work to another level on the character side. Backgrounds I tend to build and render rather than paint, but I hope to get Painter one day to get more ink flow to my image scenes. I love the look of light blending in vibrant effect. You can't render what I'm speaking of. It's like smoke brushes, but more intense. Just my own preference I guess, a deep love of semi-reality fantasy styles and worlds.
What kind of computer are you using all your software on?
I work on a 4300 Multi thread Mesh power station. 2Gigs of Ram and a decent Nvidia graphics card (Windows system).
What are you working on currently? Can we get a sneak peek?
Any advice for those who admire your work?
To get better at what you do, practice a lot! I'd recommend looking at images you really like and try to emulate them. Look at what makes images look good, and implement those things into your work in your own way. It could be as subtle as back lighting on your character, or depth blur. Sharp edges, focal points with blurred backgrounds. There are many things that make an image, depending on what type of image you're doing. The elements, light and shadow, detail and theme. You need to get all aspects looking good for a better end result. The more you create, the more you'll pick up and learn what's going to work or not.
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Calum Andrews was the Grand Prize winner in the 2D/3D section of 2007's Renderosity Halloween contest!
November 5, 2007
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