How did you get started in 3D art?
My awareness and fascination for computer art started in the early eighties with films like 'Tron', and 'The Last Starfighter', and when I first saw a series of short animations demonstrating the 'state of the art' at that time, one of which is the now legendary 'Luxo Junior' by Pixar. Sadly, at that time, one needed a Cray supercomputer the size of an apartment, something that was a little beyond my financial reach as an art student! :) - But as a child, I was always drawing something, and I have vivid memories of sitting down with my father, armed with pencils, tackling the intricacies of perspective and foreshortening on all sorts of shapes, which obviously began my awareness of 3D form. Recently I also realised what an incredibly educational and creative toy Lego was for me! (no, seriously!), as now, while I am rotating one of my models or scenes in virtual space, and adding little blocks here, and a cylinder there, I recognise that same childhood fascination I had with balance, construction and form.
In 1995 I got my first Macintosh, and began experimenting with Photoshop and a 3D app. called 'Infini-D', which made little sense to me at the time, and I only ever got as far as rendering some primitives with glass and metallic textures on. A friend of mine had an early incarnation of Poser, and although I didn't see any real use in it's abilities to render a good human likeness, I started playing with its basic deformation tools to make some odd looking aliens that I composited into photographic backgrounds with Photoshop. I didn't really explore digital art much beyond an occasional doodle in between my traditional painting work for a couple of years after that, until In 1998, I began working for a publishing company as an in-house designer/illustrator. I used Photoshop and Painter for almost every kind of imagery needed, but when another artist (Pete Hill aka Curio) joined the team complete with his own copy of Bryce 3D, I quickly realised how much the software had moved on, and the potential art that could be created with these new tools. We persuaded the boss to buy us Bryce 4 and Poser 4, and did our damnedest to answer as many of the briefs as possible using our new 3D toolset, effectively allowing us to experiment, have fun, learn and get paid for it! Some months later, I went freelance, and just happened to be visiting a company about some other design work, when a guy walked in and asked if I knew whether it would be possible to create a set of images of winter athletes, looking like they were clad in chrome!! - I eagerly volunteered my services for the job, only to find out shortly afterwards, that they were being commissioned for a Visa advertising campaign for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics!! - I knew then that there might be more of a future for me and these tools in 3D graphics! :) What software do you use and why?
Well I think people know me best for my Bryce work, it's still my preferred software for scene creation and rendering (despite the wait time!), One of the great things about Bryce, particularly for beginners, is how easy it is to get a half decent looking scene together, and that definitely entices you in, making you want to delve further. In experienced hands It's capable of incredible realism, yet it can also have a beautiful illustrative quality that I personally keep coming back to, time and time again.
I have been using Cinema 4D since late last year, after seeing demos of all the major modelling apps at a digital arts exhibition. The whole idea of actually making my own meshes was very daunting, but I knew that if I wanted to progress, and overcome the modelling limitations inherent in Bryce, I had to jump in with the 'big boys toys'. Of all the demos I saw, Maxon's Cinema 4D looked like the easiest to follow, and now after a lot of experimenting and head scratching, I am starting to feel comfortable enough with it to get some nice results.
I use both Poser 4 & ProPack for all my figure work, and find it particularly useful to have them both installed when creating Poser related products for the MP, to iron out any compatibility issues. Photoshop is the one program that rarely gets closed down on my machine, since I am constantly jumping in and out of it to create and edit textures as well as all the final post-work touches.Any advice for getting started in selling 3D work?
Whether you are planning to sell products for other artists to use in their own endeavours, or create models and images for commercial projects, you must love what you do! - you will be satisfied and more dedicated, which will show through in your work. Try to create products that you actually really want to own yourself, based on things that you have a passion for, it will make you more conscientious, and keep you inspired!
Everything I make is something I need for my own artwork, and sometimes, I feel like I would like to keep hold of them longer before I make them available to others, but that's a natural emotion to have when you put a lot of time and love into something! - I am sure It will be the same with my daughters when they come to fly the nest! :D Where do you find inspiration for your products?
Everywhere and in everything!!! - My problem is having the time to keep hold of all the inspiration and actually put it into reality (albeit virtual!).
Growing up in rural England, surrounded by beautiful countryside has obviously made a lifelong impression on me. My family have always been 'country folk', so even when we went away, it would be to the mountains & valleys of Wales or the ancient forests of Hampshire, and I guess I just soaked all of that in. I have always loved woodlands, so It was only a matter of time before I tried to recreate some elements of that for use in my own CG work.
In my personal artwork, sci-fi & fantasy has nearly always played a part since I was a child, and as I developed as a painter, studying the images of artists and illustrators like Magritte, Dali, Maxfield Parrish, Jim Burns, Boris Valejo & Tim Hildebrandt (amongst others), as well as the literature I read and films I watched, I recognised my love for creating things as realistic as my skills would allow, but with a twist of improbability or fantasy.
When I was painting traditionally, I would be constantly observing anything and everything like it was already a painting. I'd always be watching the way light fell on or around things, how the shadows fragmented a clean line, and be mentally transposing the process required to re-create those elements with a brush and pigment. I do a similar thing now, except that I am thinking about polygons and pixels!
Of course, there is always that inspiration we call 'a bill' to motivate the completion of a new product too! :)How has this online community (Renderosity) enhanced your work, relationships, and learning?
Being a member of Renderosity has had an enormous influence on my work, both in terms of motivation and development. There are some very talented artists here whom I admire and am constantly learning something from. I have to moderate my daily consumption of the galleries these days however, due to work and family commitments, as I was spending far too many hours looking at 'all galleries' both in the morning and late at night, but I still trawl through as many of them as I can or have a keen interest in.
As well as the obvious visual stimulation the site provides, the forums and tutorials have been essential in my acquisition of new skills and techniques for creating my products, especially the Poser related ones!, and I am very grateful to all who have shared their knowledge over the last couple of years.
It's debatable whether I would have created so many new images or realised so many old ideas in CG without this community here to share them with. I never could have imagined how big a part this 'concoction of html, database code and server bytes' would be playing in my daily life and routine two years ago, and I find it fascinating that despite the great distances, and technical nightmare that separates us, we all come here to express our emotions, both good and bad, and in so many forms, all (or mostly!) in the interest of our mutual love of the image, technology and communication! - *sniff* ;)
Ahem!.. anyway, it would appear that this is the bit where I thank everybody, so here goes!:
To all those who have taken the time to look at my artwork, comment and critique, to all those who have shared their knowledge freely, to all those who have created their own products with care and attention to detail, to all those who have believed in my products enough to part with their hard earned cash, to all those that have taken the time to provide useful feedback on my products, either privately or publicly, to those select few who I entrust to test my products, and give me honest, constructive feedback, to the great artists here that use my products in their renders AND grace me with a credit!, to the admins that keep this place in order, and ticking away as it should, to all those in the forums that have either agreed OR differed in opinion to me over the trivial to the philosophical, to the great artists here that constantly push the envelope, making us ALL try harder, to the staff that have made some amazing opportunities available, to the person that posts the merchants cheques each month!, to those who have sat and read this neverending monologue and remained awake!...
...to the whole community for making this place a REAL one to come and hang out!...
Thank you all very much! :)
Adam Benton aka kromekat