Interview with May 2021 Vendor of the Month Ken_Gilliland

May 20, 2021 at 06:00 am by gToon

Our Renderosity Vendor of the Month for May 2021 is Ken_Gilliland. Ken joined Renderosity in 1999. Since then he has built an excellent store with over 250 followers and many who admire his work with birds and native plants. His skill and attention to detail are obvious. We especially love the colors he uses which probably comes from research and care in how he depicts the birds and plants he loves.

In addition to the video gallery, which features 10 works from Ken's Renderosity store, we spoke informally with Ken who shared information about his background and what he's currently working on for his store. We congratulate Ken for earning his VOM status and hope you will look for his Renderosity sale which is coming soon 

Tell us about yourself - how did you get into digital art and 3D object creation?

Ken_Gilliland: At 15 years old, Dore McLellan, a local artist, introduced me to oil paints. Within a year, I was selling paintings at local art shows and accepting commissions. I graduated from Crescenta Valley High School with a State Scholarship, the La Crescenta Women’s Club Outstanding Achievement in Art Award and a summer scholarship to Art Center. After a summer at Art Center, I enrolled at California State University, Northridge as an art major in the fall of 1978. I turned my artistic focus to drawing and painting people, taking classes at CSUN in illustration, painting and figure drawing. It was also there I met a popular Southland artist, D.J. Hall, who was teaching at CSUN at the time. While Hall’s influence is clearly visible in my paintings, I also credits CSUN art professors, Sol Bernstein and Watson Cross, with having an impact on my work.

I graduated from CSUN with a BFA in 198., I continued to paint in my spare time while I worked my “day job”, creating a series of paintings of friends that I called “contemporary portraits”. At this period  I experimented with Scenic Design and Painting for local theaters and schools, running a social club and newsletter and computer programming, music and art. In 1987, I showed my paintings with the “Sharing Friends of the Arts” in Hollywood and the following year at Gorky’s Café in downtown Los Angeles. I was also featured in an article in the Glendale News-Press. While the public reception of my work was positive, the sale of my work wasn't, so I turned to computer programming and began to sell “clip-art” to a national distributor, Asgard Software.

What is a typical workflow on one of your projects?

Ken_Gilliland: Hmmm... it's a little crazy. I'm "supposedly" a professional artist which means I force myself to work whether I'm inspired or not.  I'm obviously more productive when I'm excited about what I'm working on so what my solution to work flow is to often do two projects at once. For the one that I'm less excited about, I set an achievable daily goal.  Once I completed that goal is done, I get to finish the day with the other project that I really want to do.  It's sort of like eating your vegetables to get dessert :)

I'm also a big music fan and doing art while listening to music generally makes me more productive. I usually do an eclectic mix from our music server ranging from classical and opera to jazz, swing, rock, punk and even a little hip-hop.

Most of my projects, start in Modo where I do my 3D modeling.  Once I have a model I'm relatively happy with, I bring it into Poser.  Poser is my favored model development tool, where I get the rigging, textures and morphs working right.  I create the set first in Firefly using Poser 10.  I use that version because it makes a pain-free import to DAZ Studio.  For doing texture maps, I'm a long-time Painter user. I like the feel of its traditional media art tools.  

Once the Firefly version is stable, I import it into DAZ Studio and make the Iray and 3Delight versions; while also testing the texture maps.  Finally, I return to Poser 12 to create the Superfly version and clean up the Firefly version I started with.

What are you working on at present, Ken?

Ken_Gilliland: I have several things... I continuing my work to update my existing Songbird ReMix library to modern standards which now is about 2/3 completed (reworking a 1000+ bird species library is a huge task).  These updates include an entire reworking of the set from improved geometry, rigging and new morphs to reworked 4K texture maps, separate Poser and DAZ Studio versions and support for Firefly, Superfly, 3Delight and Iray render engines.  I just finished updates for Songbird ReMix Africa, Woodpeckers, Cool and Unusual Birds v1, European Edition v2 and Pose Pack v2. Australia v2 should be out in a week or so.

What's new...  I'm working on a new bird set of Bee-eaters found through the world, as well as an entry in my non-bird Nature's Wonders line,  "Cicadas of the World".


I love Ken's birds. I hope those updates he's working on will include fixing the peacocks and wild turkeys so that they will be strutting realistically. - Jack
With Lisa's plants and Ken's critters hard to go wrong. Nice that HW found a home at Rendo!
Congratulations. I've always admired your outstanding work, although my budget forces me to be circumspect. I admire your attitude to the practical meaning of the term "professional." Yes. Professionals get to it even when they'd rather be doing something else.
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