How did you get started in 3D art?
i have a heavy background in pencil rendering, with some experience in oil painting - 3D was just the next step for me. i love it - no other medium gives you so much forgiveness, flexibility and potential. its a harder medium to infuse with your personal 'style', but its power lies in the fact that you can dynamically change your 'painting' as you work: delete parts of it, change the lighting, change the characters, the viewing angle, the scene, etc. even after you have rendered, you have the power to drastically alter the image in programs like photoshop.
3D is also more forgiving than traditional mediums in that it allows everyone to focus on the parts of the image that they are good at - and this opens up the art world to a much larger audience. perhaps someone has a great imagination, and some awesome ideas, but they just cant get drawing the human anatomy down, or drawing realistic hands, perspective, lighting/shadow, etc. well - they now have the opportunity to focus on their creations and decide exactly how much of the production process they want to be directly involved in. lets face it - just like not everyone can pick up a pencil and draw the human anatomy, not everyone (very few, in fact) can sit down and model the human form in a 3D modelling program, paint a texture map, or create a dramatic lighting environment. 3D... poser, bryce and products like the ones found in the rosity marketplace open the world of art, and a channel for our creativity, to ALL of us. its a more seamless, and less intimidating outlet for our creativity than, say, a pencil and a sheet of paper. What software do you use and why?
i use quite a few programs, but the three that i absolutely rely upon are:
poser4 - because its a very straightforward program and has the fastest (although most limited) renderer on the market. it lets me concentrate on my characters, lighting and postwork without spending half of my life waiting for a render. many have suggested i try bryce, but i would lose my mind (whats left of it) waiting for a 6 hour render. or, god forbid, an 11 day one ;)
poser propack - mainly due to the improved renderer, python scripts and the other little enhancements that make my life so much easier.
photoshop 6 - ive been using the photoshop products for a long time now... theyre expensive, but they are the best, and theyve become almost second nature to me now. also, i am constantly learning new techniques - in photoshop there are usually 2-3 ways you can do any given thing, and each method adds a different flavor. this is where i create most of my textures - the toolset is ideally suited for texturing and minute detailing - and im looking at the new photoshop 7 upgrade - with the healing brush - which seems like a very useful tool for texture creators. Any advice for getting started in selling 3D work?
sure. im not going to tell people what they should make, or how they should make it, or anything like that. but i have one word of advice to budding merchants: persevere. if i had a dollar for every time someone told me i was 'playing on the computer', id be a rich man. it used to enrage me when i heard the phrase "gabe spends most of the day playing on the computer"... now i just smile :) the fact is, i hardly have time for games anymore. i bust my ass working on my products, and i have taken a lot of flak for spending the time on my computer. most of it is from the older generation of people who cannot comprehend the fact that you can make a living creating an intangible product that is sold in an intangible store for intangible currency ;)
...but you can - if you put the effort into creating solid, reasonably priced products. if someone is thinking about getting into selling their 3D related products online, then my advice to them is to go for it -- the first product is the hardest, but if you put in the effort and create something of true value to your customers, and take that first step to selling your work online, the rest will fall into place very quickly.
another little suggestion is to make sure everything is tested well. i know everyone has heard this before - but think about it. is it better to spend an extra couple of hours, or even days, thoroughly testing a product - or releasing something with bugs and then spending ten times that amount of time uploading product updates and answering the flood of emails from dissatisfied customers? Where do you find inspiration for your products?
well, i have been focusing on female characters, since that seems to be my strength, and inspiration for these is all around me ;) i like to think that i combine reality and fantasy in a pleasant mix. i try to create appealing, sexy characters - but i ground them in reality: with a realistic woman's anatomy - full hips and thighs, thinner waists, a bit of a tummy, and sometimes generous, but realistic endowments :) you wont find any waif-thin characters with size EE breasts in my gallery or store (not that i have anything against them). several of my body/face morphs are based on actual people that i know.
in my textures, such as the upcoming 'Ki' texture/character, i try to combine soft colors with hi-res detail in areas where it matters (eyes, brows, lips, cheeks, etc) - but subtle detail, not highly contrasting, dark tones that render splotchy and unappealing when rendered from a distance or in indirect light. while i think high resolution photo scans are essential to an image, they can also be overused. ki will be a truly 'petite' character - shes about a foot shorter than vicky or stephanie (which under no circumstances are 'average' height at 6 feet tall), and all of her anatomy is scaled to match. shes really cute :) after that, kiera and i are going to work on a long overdue male texture.
as for ideas on what to make? ive never had any problems coming up with new ideas. most of my early products were items that i created for my own needs, used myself for several months in my gallery images, and then decided to sell them afterwards. my newer products are, again, items that are pretty heavily influenced by my own tastes - but ive been lucky in that those tastes are shared by many others. i guess im not as wierd as i think, hehe.
my inspiration for my gallery images stems more from my life. you can tell what mood i was in, or at what point in my life, by most of my gallery images. some of my early works are quite dark...unfortunately. How has this online community (Renderosity) enhanced your work, relationships, and learning?
well, until now its negatively influenced all of the above except for 'learning'. i am constantly evolving and learning about 3D, and im just getting into modelling so that i can create extra additions to my packages for more value to my customers. ill never be a natural modelling guru like my friend valandar, but i am learning how to make common objects (furniture mainly) and some small props (tools, weapons, jewellery), which i can texture and include with characters as smart-props. in any computer-related area, you have to keep learning to keep up with the everchanging products, methods, etc - or you get left behind.
until recently, while i was working a 9-5 job, renderosity has negatively influenced my work mainly because of the time involved in creating gallery images, surfing the forums, creating new products, etc. but instead of adjusting my passion for 3D around my job, ive done the opposite. i now rely on 3D as a major source of my income, and do computer literacy training, onsite tech/network support and webdesign on the side for extra income. im just finishing up some bartending courses at the local college just for a weekend job and a change of pace ;)
relationships? well, ive recently had a relationship fall apart and i suspect that my devotion to renderosity was a significant part of that. so now ive resolved to be careful not to allow my passion for 3D to totally take over my life - and i schedule my days a lot more carefully to allow for my personal life, active life and work to coexist in harmony... its almost working, too :) part of it is finding a partner that understands that a lot of the time i spend on my computer is work - again, the phrase 'playing on the computer' comes to mind. lately, rather than getting upset or offended, i will sit the person down with me and show them what it is i do, and what takes up most of my day (working on new products, communicating with my partner, customers, other merchants, the rosity staff, creating gallery images, dealing with issues such as the recent warez issue involving homestead, and answering IMs) they begin to understand that while i love my work, it carries with it an enormous amount of responsibility.
I wish to thank all the people here at rosity - the friends ive made, my partner kiera, the people who have helped me when i was a newbie struggling with things that seem so simple now, the staff who put up with me, and most importantly my customers - who have faith in me and my products and provide me with valuable feedback on what they would like to see in future packages. i even wish to thank the small number of 'enemies' ive unavoidably made here - without whom life would have been far less colorful :)