Interview with Renderosity Artist Mike Wilkinson (Mechanismo)
March 9, 2015 9:48 pm
Complex computer graphic software, created by innovative forward-thinking programmers, provides digital artist's unlimited tools to feed their creativity. Over the centuries, each art movement's masters-of-their-craft rise to the top. While exploring the Renderosity Art Galleries I recently discovered Mike Wilkinson … a modern artistic master.
What sets Mike Wilkinson, better known in the art world as Mechanismo, apart from other digital artists? To quote Canadian artist, Brian Rice, "… great art touches the mind, heart or soul of the viewer." Mike's work embraces all three. He has an intuitive eye for composition and lighting, igniting a fire within the viewer's imagination.
Mike has been a member of
Renderosity for thirteen years; a lucky number for the Renderosity
community. It was a privilege to interview Mike, on my quest to get
to know the man behind the artistic magic.
Mike Montage Copyright© Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo
Dee Marie: Hi Mike, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy life for this interview.
Mike Wilkinson: Hi Dee, Thank you for the interview, it’s a pleasure.
DM: You have an exceptional perception for composition and lighting; have you had formal art training, or does your talent come naturally?
MW: I started doing photography and graphics back in school, but my grades were only average. Then, after school I went onto a training-scheme, and luckily they also did photography and graphics. That’s where I learned about developing black-and-white film, and a bit more about photography. At that time I was blown away by a photographer named Bob Carlos-Clarke.
DM: Bob Carlos-Clarke is a remarkable photographer. Was it his erotica pin-up style that first drew you to his images, or his use of lighting and composition?
MW: No, not his pin-up style. He did the most amazing photo manipulations in the dark room. So, his works along with my classes were my training on the photo-side.
DM: Did you also have formal computer graphic training?
MW: On the 3D graphics side, I’m self-taught. Through books, and good-old YouTube, I managed to make/create, build and texture 3D objects, and then get them to work inside programs like Poser (I wasn’t clever enough to make clothes). [laugher]
DM: It takes a lot of talent to get to
your level of excellence being self-taught. In regards
to photo-manipulation; some of your pictures
are masterfully manipulated. In celebrating
Photoshop’s 25th birthday
… what was your first experience morphing
MW: Ah, ha! About
4 or 5 years ago, when I got back into photography, I went to a
studio open-day, where they had a few models to
shoot for free. [wide smile]. So, I randomly asked one
of the models, ‘’Can
you sit on the floor? I want to put wings on you." [smile
turns to laughter]. Then I
edited the image (Maddison, see below) which was my first
go at photography and Photoshop. Although it was my first go … it got great
Maddison (first Photoshop/photograph mix) and The Room (current Photoshop/photograph mix) Copyright© Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo
DM: I can understand why it was so popular. It's an ethereal image, especially for your first manipulated photograph in Photoshop. In regards to CGI programs; besides Poser and LightWave 3D, what additional CG software are you proficient in, or have experimented with?
MW: I first started with 3D software about 2001, when Poser 4 came out, and I was hooked! I also downloaded as many trial 3D programs I could. I’ve tried: Rhino3D, Vue 4, Bryce, Carrara, Silo, 3ds Max, Xfrog, and ZBrush …you name it I’ve tried it (I still don’t understand z- brush). Having experimented, I found I love 3D modeling in Hexagon 3D, and I find it to be very user friendly. Whereas in LightWave; I hardly ever model, I mostly just use the renderer.
The Emissary, Copyright© Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo
DM: Your image gallery is an eclectic mix: from 3D to photography; fantasy to reality; people to landscapes. However, I noticed that lately a majority of your gallery postings have their roots in photography (with touches of Adobe Photoshop). Why the move from CGI?
MW: Ah-ha, good question. Well, over the past 10 years, I played with 3D software. About 5 years ago I decided to buy a DSLR (Nikon D40). I started going to studios, Photoclubs, etc., and found it fascinating with all the different ideas people have. Suddenly, I was part of a large group of people (photographers/models/etc). With CGI it was just me sitting here, staring at a screen, clicking away.
DM: You and your cats, you mean?
Mike politely side-steps my query] What I've learned now, is a
technique where I can take an image, line that image up in poser,
add props etc., and then put it all together in Photoshop. Both the
CGI community and the photographers are amazed at my results …
and that puts a smile on my
face. [more laughter]
The Battle Copyright© Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo
DM: Not only are you an amazing artist, but you also are a very prolific musician. I noticed that the majority of the songs you record are categorized as Ambient [a music genre evoking an ethereal mood]. How does your music style influence your artwork?
MW: I'm a massive fan of background/ambient, chillout music. I actually do not own a TV set, so I listen to a lot of online chillout radio stations. How does it affect my artwork? Well I try to create thought-provoking images, and ones that tell a story.
DM: To turn the tables (ok, pun intended), how does art inspire your music? You mentioned in passing, that your instrumental, Clock Tower, was based on a 3D image; which image was this hauntingly beautiful recording based on?
MW: A few years ago I found this amazing 3D render of a tower, titled: Birth of a New Dawn by Khalid Al-Muhurraqi. When I looked at it, I just imagined a huge clock attached to the tower… just ticking away. So, it inspired me to create a piece of music called the Clock Tower (I then added bird sounds). It then inspired me to create a 3D image: titled MaraKesh.
MaraKesh Copyright© Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo
DM: That is serendipitous: art that inspires music that inspires art!
MW: [Mike shrugs his shoulders, smiles and nods]
DM: Besides music (and since you don't own a TV), what influences your artwork, what gets your creative juices flowing?
MW: I would have to say certain films. These are some of my favs … purely because of their style: Tron (all the florescent lights and the futuristic clothing); Sin-City (the use of black-and- white contrast, and the comic book type style); Sucker Punch (which has that grungy, dirty feel with robots, steampunk, and Japanese warriors). Another one of my favorites is The Fifth Element; which has everything in it from ancient Egypt to incredible looking spaceships.
DM: Every artist has a first love, which was yours: music, CGI art, or photography?
MW: Well, this goes back to just after I left school. When I was doing the training course in photography and graphics, I decided to get a guitar. I didn’t know how to play it, but I kept practicing… and here I am today with 3 cameras, 3 computers and 12 guitars. [laughter]
Mike Montage 2 Copyright© Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo
DM: To that extent, how has living in Peterborough, England, inspired your artistic life?
MW: Well, I would have to say since doing photography I now look twice at everything. I look at an old building now and ask myself, "How can I take a pic of this that doesn’t look like everyone else's?" Plus, we do have some amazing hidden places in Peterborough like: an abandoned church, or the derelict Flat [apartment] that’s situated in the middle of the Town Centre. [flashes an I know a secret smirk]
DM: Did your alter-ego username, Mechanismo, derive from (sci-fi artist and author) Harry Harrison’s book Mechanismo: An Illustrated Manual of Science Fiction Hardware? I only ask because some of your images appear to be influenced by Harry Harrison’s visionary art book.
MW: Yup, you are correct. When I was at school I picked up a sci-fi book called Mechanismo. I found the name, and book, the most original thing I had ever seen. I ended up buying the book from eBay (the first thing I had ever bought from there). Whenever I joined websites etc ., I kept using Mechanismo, and it seems to have stuck. I even use it today on my portfolio site.
Del Mar Copyright© Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo
DM: I would be remiss if I did not ask about your cats: how many, how old, and what are their names? How do they help or hinder you when creating music and/or art?
MW: [hearty laughter] My cats! I have a saying, "You can always tell when I run out of models, that’s when the cats get it." Currently I have four of them: two were strays, then the other two I got when they were tiny kittens. There's Max (looks like a squirrel), the Ginger one, plus Kit and Kat.
All cat images Copyright© Mike
Wilkinson aka Mechanismo
DM: Please give our readers a few parting words-of-wisdom in regards to achieving your level of artistic expertise.
MW: I would have to say that YouTube is probably my best friend. Whenever I get stuck, I go straight to YouTube as there's always an answer for everything! Plus, my tip for Photoshop users is to learn Layer Masks. Not a single pixel is ever deleted. I always use Layer Masks, and I also cut people out; either using the Pen Tool or create a Channel Mask.
The Spell (before and after) Copyright © Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo
MW: This is my current work flow:
- I do a photo shoot with lots of props, and get the models to stand in unique poses
- Then I edit the image in Lightroom and export at a hi-res
- Next, I reduce the image to about 800 x 600 pixels
- This image is then loaded in Poser
- Once the image is in Poser I load in some props, or wings etc.
- I take great care in matching the lighting of my image to the lighting in Poser
- I render the image in Poser at the same original exported hi-res image, and save it as a TIFF
- Finally I end up in Photoshop with a hi-res image, plus my TIFF file (which match up)
- For an example of a finished image of this process, see Android (below)
MW: I currently work on a PC, running Windows 7, with 4 GB of Ram. Also, all my artwork is done using a mouse (not a drawing-tablet and stylus-pen).
Android (before and after) Copyright © Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo [Model Jess de Lancey-Wheeler]
MW: It's been a pleasure.
Visit the following sites to view additional works by Mike Wilkinson (Mechanismo)
- Mike's Renderosity Art Gallery
- Mike's Facebook Page
- Mike's YouTube Artwork and Music
- Mike's Official Online Portfolio
All supporting images are copyrighted by Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo. All supporting images cannot be printed, downloaded, reprinted, and/or used in any manner without written permission from Mike Wilkinson aka Mechanismo
Visit Dee-Marie on Twitter: Dee_Marie_SOA
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Thanks Mike, curiously I have I suddenly recall some tunes ther as well: http://www.reverbnation.com/playlist/view_playlist/-4?page_object=artist_649752 some live stuff from a coffee house gig...testing songs for a cd at that gig. Some made it....some didn't. Off to check yours out....