Renderosity: Who is voodoo?
I'm just your average, lucky, 40 year old guy who has a passion for trying to get the visions in my head down to the screen. I've been married for over eighteen years to a very understanding (you've seen my pictures, right?) and wonderful best friend of mine. We have two children, Jeff, 13, and Rachael, 17 (ouch!). My day/night/graveyard job for the last fifteen years has been spent as an air traffic controller. Please don't think it's too stressful. Try kids. It's a great job, but I'd love for my art to allow me to retire as soon as possible.
Renderosity: How long have you have you been rendering?
I've been using digital art as a medium for about five years now. At first, all my art was all 2d; playing with photos, and working on my first website dealing with philosophy. Later, I created a couple sites for friends. The first time I ever got the idea that the computer could be useful for almost all my art was the day I bought a pen tablet. I used the pressure-sensitive pen, and it was- oh man- am I going to have fun with this!
The first 3d program I got was Bryce 3d almost three years ago. Then Poser 3 a few months later. Once I found a tutorial on how to export the figure to Bryce, and there was no stopping. This was just too cool. Aaahh... but of course there were a few problems along the way...
Getting the figure to look like I wanted it to. Tough. We all know how different body types would stretch the mesh in Poser 3. And I was never satisfied with mesh hair. I think I tried one render before I said "this just ain't happenin'" and decided to paint all the hair on my renders. And it was only a couple more renders before I decided to paint all the clothes too. Trying to get the clothes with all the same morph targets as the body... well... too painful. So I never really considered doing much of a picture without post-render painting the hell out of it. "Render only" just did not fit in to the game plan of the picture in my head. I'm glad it didn't. Although I don't know much about 3d, I know much more about general art and traditional painting theory as a result.
Renderosity: What are you currently working on?
I'm thinking about getting in the circus as a juggler. But seriously, I've got about a half-dozen pictures in various stages at any one time. I'll start one, get an idea for another, and work on the idea while the idea is fresh. Some of my pictures always end up different; some are more 'painterly', and others more realistic, with sharper edges, rendered skies, etc. I never know until I start which one it will be.
I recently finished getting some of my images and tutorials ready for two book projects coming out this fall. I'm always eager for more work of this kind, but I'm also glad to get back to my work and just get the digital brush moving again.
A good percentage of my time I spend experimenting. I try new brushes in both Photoshop and Painter. Different colors, new overlays... And Painter is both wonderful and a pain in that respect. You have so many options, yet there is still the wall of limitations you hit whenever you attempt to simulate natural media. But I've been entertaining an idea lately: Is it necessary to simulate natural media so well in digital art? Do I need to see a canvas texture? I'm thinking color and the flow of the paint are much more important than what the surface looks like.
Renderosity: What software do you use and why?
I still use Bryce 3d. I may eventually get version five, but haven't yet. As my post-render work increases, I find the need to render rocks and skies lessens as I learn more. I also use Poser 4, of course. You just have to give DAZ credit for the Victoria figure. Wonderful. But of course, the figure was based on a real model. Not a real, more average woman's figure. Too bad. I've talked to them about it a few times over the last year or so, and I was very happy to see them add all the new full-body morphs to Victoria 2.
Of course, that's just my opinion. What I want to see. Kind of funny how everyone wants unadulterated realism when it comes to rendering objects and their textures, but when it comes to the female figure our minds shut down and the hormones start to scream. Hey, I know how it is... I'm a guy, remember? But I've always liked curves... and besides, any kid growing up who thinks he'll wake up in bed next to Miss October has another thing coming. Ain't happenin', pal. (Sorry for the digression.. what was the question?)
Just one more thought on that: I believe that media has the ability to create expectations. If we change the media (images), we change the expectations. It's unrealistic to think that 100% of the men will meet and fall in love with 1% of the women. So maybe there's more to some art after all... (dammit, is he done yet??)
Ok, additional programs I use are Photoshop and Painter. Couldn't live without 'em. I got trueSpace a while ago, and have only used it to model a few objects in a couple pictures. Again, it's only because I'd sometimes rather paint. I'll wait for a faster computer to really get into the guts of radiosity.
and why don't I paint the figure? It's not like I haven't tried... still getting there. But so far, Curious Labs, and DAZ have provided a very nice guide for me to work with.
Renderosity: Why do you like 3D art?
The undo. CTL-Z, baby. Like in one Ren & Stimpy cartoon: "the history eraser button". The one thing we will never have in real life we can at least have in digital art. Those CTL and Z keys on my keyboard are worn smooth, shiny, and are oh so attractive.
But in other ways, it's great to know I've got my studio right in front of me. I'm typing on it now. No mess, unless I spill the coffee. If I'm in Poser, I can change the view, the lighting, the focal length of the camera. You name it. In Bryce, you want more clouds? There. More clouds. You want a mountain? Boom. Mountain. Done. In Photoshop, there's no problem correcting color, trying different layering modes, changing the brightness and a gajillion other things.
I need to watch out though... there's a trap. It's too easy. We've all seen the "chrome balls over water picture". Not cool anymore. Along with the ease of creation comes a responsiblity to be ever more creative. You just can't grab a chair mesh in free stuff and render the same thing that 4000 others have downloaded. You better use it in a new way... get something else out of it. Tack it to a ceiling or something. Change the texture. Or let your virtual figure sit in it while she wonders how she ever got this thin while her chest got larger.
As far as true "render-only 3d art", there's this thing on the end of one strand of DNA in every male that makes them jump up and say "COOL!!" when they see things like Final Fantasy. You can argue the story, but stuff was cool. If I'm on the computer and want to relax, I'll check out what the really high-end Matrix and Star Wars people are doing. I'll never learn Maya, but ya gotta admit... it's neat stuff. (That's the part of digital art my wife just doesn't understand :))
Renderosity: What inspires you?
The idea that a created image can tell more about a scene than a photograph or even a scene from real life. We are able to create moods with images. I've said before and I'll say it again, as it's central to my mode of thinking when I work: I want the viewer to see a figure on a mountain top and feel the wind blowing through their own hair... to see a woman in a stream, and feel the cool wetness on their back. Pavlov's dog? Sure. But that's the power everyone has. To be able to create images and illusions that make people dream, to have them feel good that they are alive...to have them exercise the senses... that's the challenge.
I've seen this work in others: Frank Frazetta, Jeff Jones, Michael Whelan, Keith Parkinson. The colors of Maxfield Parrish. Others less known in fantasy, but on the web as figure artists: Edson Campos and Steve Hanks. It would be tough to list them all (hundreds of bookmarks), but the one thing they all have in common is the ability to create an image that immediately draws us into their world. We feel the atmosphere, the flowing action of the scene, the blowing wind, the crashing waves, or the soft filter of dust above a desert floor, right below the shininess of skin. I know I'm being manipulated; I'm buying their illusion and dammit, I love it! Because they are taking me on a trip to somewhere I'll never go in real life. It's a vacation. What power they have. What power WE have.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention one painting by Frank Frazetta: "The Egyptian Queen". I've stared at this for a long time. Find this image. Take a look at it. Because it works in every way. Lighting. Atmosphere. Softness and tension combined. And the most amazing thing to me? The woman in the picture. I know what you're thinking, but here's the thing: If you saw her walking down the street today, you would be thinking, "man, she needs to lose some weight". Just like most of the women in his paintings. But he has taken this woman, and made her look like the most desirable and sensual human on the planet. I could go on a rant here, but I'll just say this, like I said above: Media creates expectations... if our expecations are whacked, what does that say about our responsibility as artists?
Frank Frazetta has taught a lot of lessons to many people, and not just about painting, my friend.
Renderosity: How has this online community (Renderosity) enhanced your work, relationships, and learning?
I've met a lot of great people; eager artists who share a passion, searchers of both technique and scene. I've been inspired by the imagination seen in all the pictures here. Having so many people around, I don't have a problem if I want to post a question in the forums; I'll get an answer pretty quick. We all check the galleries, that's the real fun. I love seeing what people are doing, sometimes to my delight, and other times not. That's what makes it interesting. We all have so much to learn... people spend a lifetime at say, drawing the figure, and never get it just right. It makes me chuckle when someone says they know Photoshop backwards and forwards. Not possible, my man. No way, girlfriend. There's always more. Always.
I've been around here for over two years, before the big changes took place here. It was smaller then, and it's been nice to see the growth. My only hope is that we all give our best to our images. Go the extra mile. Experiment. Give your scene everything your imagination deserves. Oh- and have fun. 'cause I said so.
ok.... I'm done. (I thought he'd never shut up!)
View voodoo's gallery (click here)