Who is Blackhearted?
I'm horrible at writing BIOs so I'm going to take the easy way out and do this in bullet form:
Where: the boonies, in northern Canada
Favorite Movies: The Warriors, Yojimbo, Shichinin no samurai
Favorite Bands: Insomnium, Carcass, Anathema, Dark Tranquility, Government Mule, Iron Maiden
Favorite Artists: Igor Amelkovich, Craig Morey, Szász Endre, H.R.Giger, Brom, Bisley
Favorite Writers: King, G. R.R. Martin, Ludlum, Coleridge, B. Cornwell
Hobbies/Interests: leatherworking, sculpting, hunting, photography, collecting and restoring things
How long have you have you been involved in digital art?
I've been a merchant here since 2001, starting off with light sets and textures. I started modeling around 2003.. but only got seriously into it in 2005 when I created the Irina Adventuress pack. Before becoming a merchant I dabbled in creating textures for freebies under another username. All of it was for Posette and, later, a character called Eve (which was a collaboration improvement of Posette if I recall) - not for Vicky 1.0 (because I couldnt afford her - prices have come down a lot over the years, some things used to be $70-100+). Most of my modifications were either fixing seams and adding detail to freebie textures for my own personal use, adding tattoos, freckles and blemishes, or making high-res (which back then was 2048x2048, heh) transmaps for freebie clothing. I remember what a big deal it was when I finally got Victoria 1, heh. At some point I put together a morph for V1 called Angelyna, which I submitted to freestuff. Looking back on it it was somewhat primitive compared to GND2 or Irina - there were very few people working on custom morphs at the time (only a handful of people like Traveler and Jim Burton were releasing them) - but it was a step in a new direction for Vicky. An ungodly amount of people downloaded it - enough to put me near the top of the freestuff providers for a while and leave me scrambling to find hosts for the file (it was 1.1 megs I believe, back in a time when most people had a 2 gig/month upload cap). Cooler hosted it for the longest time (thank you again). Consequently, several people started pushing me to become a merchant. I messaged Magnet - who had won merchant of the month recently - and asked him a a bunch of questions about being a merchant and the marketplace. Turned out that it wasnt as daunting as I'd imagined. I had quit my IT job a month before this and was working part-time welding in a bodyshop, so I figured I'd give it a try because I could really use some extra money. And here I am...
I remember my early influences quite well:
SnowSultan and his amazing 'vickybuster' free textures are what made me want to texture, and breathed new life into Posette. Jim Burton's early work on Supermodel Vicky and Traveler's custom morphs/tweaks are what made me want to do custom morphs. Wyrmmaster as well - although I'm not into the 'mega-boob' thing, his work with Vicky1 along with Jim's Supermodel Vicky gave us all hope that we didnt have to settle for Vicky's default body - that the possibilities were endless. Xurge, Billyt and Moebius87 are probably most responsible for me wanting to learn to model.
What are you currently working on?
GND4 for ages now.... Its taking a lot longer than I anticipated, and I'm a nitpicker for detail so I refuse to release something that isnt to the absolute best of my abilities at the time. Her morph and some initial clothing are done, just working on her texture right now. She has the usual mesh refinements and bang-up body customers expect from my characters, but this time (especially with the texture) I've decided to go in a different direction than the current trends... hopefully it will prove a refreshing change for customers. I'd go into more detail but I like to stay pretty tight-lipped about my upcoming products until theyre already uploaded to the store queue.
What software do you use and why?
Texturing: Photoshop. I'm still using version 7.0 since I really havent found much of a reason to upgrade. Since the introduction of the healing brush in version 7 nothing i really need has been added to it, so I'll probably save my money and wait for the next version. Modeling: Silo. Silo is a stripped-down sub-D polygon modeling app that dispenses with all of the BS bells and whistles and just gives you powerful modeling tools in a light, small, inexpensive program. Unfortunately it has a few problems with exporting poser-grouped meshes, so i still keep an ancient version of 3DS Max around to make changes I cant make in Silo. Morphing: Zbrush. The least intuitive interface ever made, but still the best app for morphing out there. There are also a handful of small utilities I use that make Poser content creation a little less of a headache, most of them are free: Cr2Editor, Morph Manager 4.0, UVMapper, File List Maker, and of course Notepad.
A couple of years back I jumped all over any new developments in the 3D world, but for the past couple of years I've just been trying to simplify my workflow and get back to basics -- cutting off all the 'fat', so to speak. My focus on modeling and texturing lately has been to make things as 'clean' as possible. I used to model in Rhino - a NURBS modeler. It was very intuitive and by far the easiest modeling app for an artist to learn because everything was created from bezier curves such as those used to make paths in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop (in fact you could sketch out curves in either of these apps and then import them directly into Rhino - this is how I made my old faerie wings), but it gave you very little control over your final exported mesh. So you would spend all this time creating a nice, detailed model and then when you exported it as a mesh you would either get something crazily high-poly or end up losing a lot of your detail in the conversion. After I transitioned to polygon modelling I had complete control over my meshes. There is a sense of accomplishment in creating a clean, detailed, ordered mesh that I never felt with NURBs.
Where do you find inspiration for your products?
All around me. Not from TV: I havent watched TV in over 5 years now, just movies. But I can be inspired by something I see in a movie, in a shop window, a model, or even the girl standing in line in front of me at the grocery store. When it comes to my morphs I consciously try NOT to draw any inspiration from the mass-market media (and believe me, not watching TV helps). It should be glaringly apparent that I'm not a fan of the stereotypical big-breasted blonde bimbo, nor do I much like the stick-thin supermodel look. A nice set of legs, hips, and a cute behind... along with enough muscle tone to show it all off are more my style. While the initial GND4 will sport a body more to my tastes, I promise that this time around there will be alternate bodies that should meet every single taste. Unfortunately for me, most of my earlier conceptions rarely made it to the marketplace... theyre gathering dust on work in progress CDs or they lose momentum from the constant concessions I have to make due to Poser limitations. Lately I've been trying to remedy this by getting more organised and actually following a strictly ordered workflow. With a more structured product conceptualization->workflow hopefully I'll no longer get 80% along on a product only to realise 'oh god, this cant be done in Poser', or something like that.
Do you have any advice for aspiring Digital Content Developers?
How has this online Community (Renderosity) enhanced your work, relationships, and learning?
- 'Good Enough' should not be in your vocabulary. Your reputation is your most precious asset in this business, so keep working on something until you get it just right.
- Create something different, or create something better (aim for both). If there are 1000 merchants all releasing nearly identical caucasian 'big-breasted blonde bimbos™', for example, then either make a big-breasted blonde bimbo™ that completely and utterly blows all of theirs away, or make something different like a petite native american.
- Give the customer more than they expect. Above average quality/detail, friendly and thorough customer service, providing extra content (such as some clothing/props in a character pack), or following up with a solid product update that they didnt expect all fit the bill.
- Dont be afraid to ask for help. No matter who you are, in a community this size there is always someone who knows more about something than you. If you are stuck or just need advice, post a question in the appropriate software or technical forums. There are always friendly, knowledgeable people around the site that are willing to help -- the true value of the 'Rosity community is the vast collection of knowledge and experience of its members. On the flipside of this, try not to waste peoples time asking questions whose answers can be found with a 30 second search of the Poser manual or that come up as the first result of a Google search.
- If you ask for feedback from someone, make sure they understand that you want hard, constructive criticism rather than back-patting. Its very easy - and safe - to say 'wow thats beautiful!!!', but this type of feedback doesn't make you a better artist. If you find people that will actually give you honest criticism, give it serious consideration - but learn to differentiate between feedback that is a result of personal taste and those which are solid ideas for product improvement. If you make every change suggested to you then you are no longer creating your products; on the other hand if you are oblivious to all feedback and suggestions then you may just be acting like a typical hardheaded artist - try to be more receptive to feedback. Another, different perspective is invaluable to an artist since you end up staring at what you are creating so long sometimes you miss glaring things. Another thing that helps is to periodically invert/mirror your work either in your application or with a hand mirror so you get an alternate view of it -- Its an old sculptor's trick, I spot so many things this way.
Lately it hasn't since I haven't been around. Rio and I have been remodeling my mom's kitchen from scratch, including gutting walls, drywall, new ceiling, new plumbing, new slate tile, all new handmade custom cabinets, etc. Its taken up basically all of my free time for months on end. The good news is that its almost done - just rubbing the last coats of tung oil onto the cabinets (argh my arm is so sore), then tiling the countertop and we're finished. You'll be seeing a lot more of me in the Poser and Merchant forums soon. This is also why I've been somewhat of a hermit for the last several months... and I apologise again to anyone who I havent responded to in a timely fashion - sometimes a week or more went by without me being able to check my email. In the past few years however, the 'Rosity community has been invaluable in my work. There are a ton of knowledgeable people here (especially the brainiacs in the Poser technical forum) that are always happy to help you, the staff is great, and the community on the whole is very positive and encouraging.
Do you have any final words (any info you want to share with the community)?
Just a thank you: to my customers for supporting my work and allowing me to continue doing this, for the community for getting me started and invaluable knowledge, to people I've worked with over the years, to Clint and Debbie and the rest of the store staff - you guys are marketplace ninjas, and all of the people here at 'Rosity who still count me as a friend even though I've been off the map for the last year. Thank you Ana (Arien) for your wickedly sharp eyes and honest feedback (that stuff is pure gold), and Mike (trav) for enduring my ranting and 'rasslin with poser limitations with me for countless months now, and Rio of course for her helping hand in everything and putting up with me for 5 years now. cheers,
Make sure you stop in and visit the V endor o f the M onths:
Store in the MarketPlace