All About... Don Webster [london224]

February 17, 2014 1:37 am

Tags: London224

All About... Don Webster [london224]

Out in the real world, we all have hobbies and interests in addition to the work we may be most known for. Here at Renderosity, our vendors have their own stories to tell. Things they do away from their products... special projects, awards, citations, or things of interest that most may not know about.

In an effort to better introduce our vendors to the rest of the community, we've asked them to tell us more about themselves, and share their stories. Rather than a straightforward interview, these are their stories, in their own words.

This week, we find out all about artist and vendor, Don Webster, better known to the community as London224.




My professional career has always been involved with imagery. In the late 60's early 70's, I was an Aerial Surveillance Officer stationed in Germany where we kept tabs on the troop movements of Soviet Block forces. This was still the practice of looking at stereo pairs of large film sheets that came in rolls…looking back now, probably the beginning of wanting to see everything in 3D.

Returning to civilian life from being a military intelligence officer, managing the development of concept illustration in support of contract with DARPA seemed the right fit during the 70's-80's. With the advancement of technology, my professional work moved more into the introduction of technology and the management of people in problem situations. Focused on technology and with a known reputation for coming in and reorganizing problem workplace situations (no, I was not a hatch man, but rather one who restructured existing staffs), I was quickly brought into Arthur Young's Educational Center to head up their video production and communications group, which at the time was looking for both talents.

Arthur Young was at the time one of the big 8 accounting firms and their expansive sound stage and production facility, complete with fabrication and art dept., provided not only the firm with all their educational materials, but also work for their clients and their commercial work. Located in Reston, Va. and with easy access to Dulles International, the studio was a great location for people to fly in and do taping sessions without having to travel into Washington. These were the years of introducing the advancement of computers into both communication and design work. In the studio, we were able to design in 3D our set designs that would then go to the fabrication dept. as the art dept., now all computer based, produced the additional materials for the up-coming video production. I have to admit that these were wonderful years working with a great group of people, not only in my studio group, but the 5 floors of educators in the rest of the Reston operation. Having movie stars and political big wigs drop by was, well…nice, too! Alas, as so often happened in the early 90's, Arthur Young merged with another in what started to be the consolidation of these 8 firms. In such matters, one always has a counterpart from the other side, mine was a partner in New York, I was only a director…

Starting back with the DARPA days, I had met a young man who was writing a CAD program for the Mac. I had stayed in contact all this time and watched him grow. From kitchen table to a small old building with 7 employees, it seemed exciting and a challenge. Over the next dozen years we grew from 7 to 80, produced engineering and architectural CAD products for both Windows and Mac, went public and were finally purchased by Nemetschek out of Germany, who at the same time purchased C4D. As Chief Operating Officer for a firm, I had an opportunity to retire and took it.

Removed from art production in my management roles, I now had the opportunity to get back with whatever I wanted to try. This was also just at the breakout of digital photography and I purchased my first Nikon D1 just before going to a wedding in Europe with my wife. She took a traditional film camera and over the next 10 days we saw the real advantage to digital over film. At the same time, we were getting into the Civil War Reenactments that naturally are all around us in Virginia.

Photography led to printing out on canvas, which I do in-house, and thus the beginning of mixing 3D with photography and tablet painting and manipulation. Re-enactors wanted to see themselves in the activities, and the mix of these skills and technologies was a perfect solution for the person who wanted to be depicted as they saw themselves. My wife had a wonderful time dressing up, getting a Sutlers tent prepared with all my works as we both had the enjoyment of meeting so many interesting people.


A 12 x18 tent with cider chips on the floor and gas lanterns at night made for a wonderful atmosphere for viewing art as people came in in their uniforms.




I would often bring a work-in-progress for people to see the development and find that the original target customer would then ask for changes, additions, like in this case (pictured below) the old man at left was the head of the battery but had been missing for these ref photos and they wanted him worked in. Easy enough to do, but I have had a number of: "can you make me taller, thinner, on this type of horse, and could you change the saddle type and color?"




One thing I loved about Painter was the ability to blend together a number of layers of a composite to achieve what the client wanted.




While I have done a number of Civil War portraits and battle scenes that I am pleased with, I wanted to somehow get back into 3D construction, and with my oldest son, a professor, teaching computer animation, 3D modeling and visualization programming at VaTech, it was he that introduced me to Modo. I was already using Vue as my electronic diorama tool, as I like to call it, using the assets of other modelers I either admired or knew. Modo seemed to be the perfect fit for me, as I was still trying to master, and still, the capabilities of ZBrush, Poser, MD2, Painter, etc. At 66, I am happy to be selective in what freelance work I do, picking just those things that interest me, both paying and even speculative when a Disney-type theme park in Eastern Europe, which ended due to the world economy meltdown, and a Web Game that may still rise from the ashes, as shown below….




I must admit that I model what I want to use in my own canvas work, and afterwards make it available for both the Vue and Poser/Carrara/DAZ|Studio communities. While I have been posting to Renderosity for some time, it has only been the last 2 years that I have started selling here. It is a bigger market compared to Vue and I do miss the atmospherics of Vue, along with glass, metal, and water procedural in Vue, but I am getting a handle on Poser materials, and it is a larger market. When I model, I look for new challenges, and this sometimes makes it hard as I look at Vue models I have done that might be of interest here to convert…

Poser is naturally more suited for Portrait and smaller scene development, so something like my USS Yorktown aircraft carrier might be a bit much, but then the Carrara and DAZ|Studio people might like it.




I enjoy my interaction with other artists and modelers and like helping those who want to try modeling and even setting up shop. I have a number of people that I am helping at present and enjoy this interaction. As far as the constant updates in the programs I use…well, I just wish I could force myself to read the manuals and then remember it. Oh, to be 30 again!

Here is a few types of things I do....


Dora in her Tunnel
I created this tunnel around the wonderful model by a Russian friend and was rewarded by it being in EXPOSE 7. 40 inches in width, as I tend to stick with on all my canvas work where possible.


Painter effort for Civil War Re-Enactment


Research and Modeling of the USS Alligator Union Civil War Sub lost at sea near Cape Hatteras. Presented and showing at a State Nautical Museum at Hatteras.


The Race
Testing exercise with Poser and Vue using my BenHur models. I may make three models that make up this scene, including the large figures at the ends, available in Poser format.


Brugge "The Studio" Completed
Promo render of my Brugge Music Studio Model


I guess I could have written more here, but I think most of us are more visually oriented, and so appreciate the imagery instead.


While I'm not into clothing assets as such, there is already so many people doing that, I do cover a broad range of themes, from Historical, to Sci-fi...


My latest offering is the USS Yorktown of the Battle of Midway fame. It's on sale in my store now at 25% off.


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Article Comments

jennblake ( posted at 10:02AM Fri, 30 May 2014

Thank you for sharing with us Don! I am an admirer of your work. I hope you continue to create and be such an inspiration to other artist and creators. :)

KimberlyC ( posted at 10:32AM Fri, 30 May 2014

Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself Don. I knew you have done quite a bit but I'm completely wowed. You know I'm a fan. :)

Coleman ( posted at 1:55PM Sun, 01 June 2014

Your models are fantastic! Thanks for selling them here in Poser format.

SIGMAWORLD ( posted at 6:50AM Tue, 03 June 2014

Interesting interview. You have very good models.