Roobol -- January '03 Artist Of The Month!

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First I must say that I was truly surprised to be nominated as AOM for the combined Bryce-Vue-Terragen galleries, which represent no less than 25% of all galleries and which have so many incredibly talented artists. And I was even more surprised to be selected, knowing that it has been more than 6 months since I last posted a Bryce image (but there is one in the making, and near to completion, promise). Having said that and still blushing, I have to admit that I am touched by this honour, and I would like to thank you all for your friendship, support and feedback during the almost 3 years that I am a Renderosity member. I would also like to use this opportunity to wish you all an excellent, creative, happy and healthy 2003.


Who is roobol?

Well, my name is Kees Roobol, Kees being short for Cornelis (and in my language it's pronounced as "Case"). I'm 48, married and Dutch, but living in the Flemish part of Belgium while working in the French-speaking part of Belgium. In daily life I'm a research scientist at a pharmaceutical company, where I'm heading a small immunology group. Our mission is to figure out what goes wrong in all kinds of nasty diseases (mostly asthma, for the moment), and with that knowledge try to develop new and better treatments. It's a fascinating job, but one that takes some 60 hours per week. My remaining spare time I try to divide between making images (with my computer), beating my wife (with tennis) and travelling around to get all the textures that I need for my images.


How long have you been rendering?

Hmm, since I could hold a pencil, I think, but it became more serious in high school. At the age of 17, I had to choose between art and science. I finally opted for science, since I reckoned that as a scientist I would still be able to make art in my spare time. The inverse would have been next to impossible. Art has remained a life-long hobby, though, and I have experimented with all kinds of techniques, such as oil paint, pastel, charcoal, pencil, but also photography and video. From 1995 to 2000 I went to some sort of an art school in the evenings (well, more a drawing class, actually) to improve my drawing skills, and to learn a bit more about art theory.

My first attempt at drawing with a computer dates back to 1985, with MacPaint on a Mac 512k. This became a little bit more frequent with PixelPaint on a Mac IIsi, but it only took off in a serious manner in 1995-1996 with one of the first versions of Painter. Bryce 1.0 and Poser 1.0 followed shortly after, and then I was hooked.


What software do you currently use?

My current hardware consists of an old beige G3 at 260MHz and a G3 iMac at 600MHz (both with a truckload of memory), a digital Olympus E10 and a Wacom A4 Intuos. A dual G4 is in the planning, presumably around the summer. My main software packages are Bryce 5, Painter 7, Photoshop 4, Raydream 4 and Poser 3 (I'm not the upgrading type of person, *grin*). An image usually starts fairly finished in my head, and than begins the process of making all the textures and meshes that I need to reproduce it.

Since most if not all of my textures are photographic, Photoshop is the first application to work with. Also all the corresponding terrains are made in Photoshop, since the terrain editor if Bryce is a bit too limited for my purposes. Everything that cannot be made with terrains is modelled in Raydream. Poser is a nice tool too, but I mostly use it to experiment with different poses in draft versions. For the final render I prefer real humans; these can be friends, neighbours or actors at historical reconstructions or in historical musea, and also the nude model from art school still poses occasionally for my 3D/2D work.

In the second phase, the entire scene is built in Bryce, and usually rendered at a 2000 by 3000 pixel resolution. The final render is enlarged to 4000 by 6000 pixels for postwork. Postwork itself consist of, first, removing all the artifacts which are an inevitable consequence of terrain modelling, and, second, add a paint-like effect (which also helps for said artifacts). And of course, once I have finished the resemblance to the original idea is usually only marginal. :-)

This is the way of working that suits me best, but also one that requires the patience of a saint. About 100-150 hours of work for a single image are not exceptional, hence my productivity of 5-6 image per year. For those of you who are interested, details can be found in the tutorial section of http://users.pandora.be/roobol.


What inspires you?

Almost everything, I would say. This could be movies, music, books, things that happen in daily life. As for the genre that attracts me most, I would say this is magic realism and the painter within this genre that has influenced me most is probably Carel Willink. In my work I try to capture a moment in time, with a lot of things that could have happened beforehand, and a lot of things that may happen afterwards. I always attempt to introduce some sort of conflict or tension in the way the characters do or do not interact with each other or their environment, and also through the use of symbols for death, religion, love, loneliness, etc., but in an open-ended manner, to allow the viewer to find or project his/her own stories in my work.


What projects are you currently working on?

There is a Bryce image that I've been working on for two months now and that I hope to post within a week or two. It will be a 16th century scenery with people gathering at the court yard of an old farm. Two other people are approaching from opposite directions and it's not quite certain what will happen when the arrive. There will be a lot of beautiful costumes, a menacing sky, dead trees; and as I see it growing I think it isn't going to be that bad after all.

For 2003 I plan to do at least 3 other Bryce images, one being a winter scene in Russia 1812 with lots of snow, soldiers and ruins; another a European 17th century cityscape; and finally also something weird, like a red light district behind the front lines during WW-I. And if my models don't shoot me for those, I intend to continue with some 2D work as well.


How has this online community influenced your work?

In several ways, I would say. First, I think the possibility to expose my work to an audience is incredibly stimulating and motivating. Apart from the pleasure of just making my images, I now also enjoy to see that they are actually appreciated. Second, there is the fascination to see that thousands of people working with the same handful of programmes come to such diverse and impressive results. For me it is a challenge to realise that there is no limit to the possibilities of CG and it's an invitation to continue to explore new avenues. Finally and most important, there is the direct contact with other artists that I appreciate enormously. Renderosity is a nice place to be, and I hope to be here for still a very long time.



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