Who is 'Lon Chaney'?
Well, I'm still working on that
question myself. I'm a single dad in my mid-40s. I live in Fernley,
Nevada, with my daughter. I've been into arts and crafts since my
teens. I started with silversmithing and lapadary. I actually
didn't really make any art until I got multiple sclerosis and had
to quit working. Well, I guess you could say I was making art, I
painted billboards for a living. After painting all day at work I
had no desire to paint at home. I was really more into music and
spent most of my spare time fishing and playing the blues on my
guitars. If it weren't for the MS I most likely wouldn't be doing
this now. My real love is music. Not one to sit around crying in my
beer when I couldn't play anymore, I bought a computer and soon
after discovered Bryce. I was soon hooked on 3d art. I have lots of
time on my hands so I rock out all day, take care of Jasmine (8),
work on my house, and make pictures on the computer. How long
have you have you been rendering/doing computer graphics?
my first computer in 1997 and discovered Bryce a year or so after
that. I mostly just played around with it, you know the classic
sphere over water thing, until I saw an image by Darrin Chapman
called "Midnight Swim". That image made me realize the power of 3d.
Do you have traditional art experience?
painting is just one big oil painting. You just have a very large
canvas. And you buy your oils by the quart :) Other than that and
the silversmithing, no. Much of your work is architectural in
subject matter; do you have any formal architectural training?
None at all. If you tried to build one of these in real life it
would collapse instantly. I've just always been fascinated by old
architecture. Many of your images are flourishing with
vegetation. What techniques do you use to create your plants?
Opacity (trans) mapping, actual geometry or post production?
use all three methods for plants. Usually the plants way back are
2d trans-mapped. To make fit the scene I make trees and then render
single 3d trees using the same lighting as the final scene is
using. I then use those renderings for my background trees using
alpha channels. Up close you need 3d plants. Throw a few 3d trees
in with the 2d trees, it helps blend them in. I layer the image up
in PhotoShop and paint in a lot of the ground cover. What
software/equipment do you use and why?
I love Max. And a good
working knowledge of PhotoShop is a must. I spend more time using
PhotoShop tweaking textures than I spend modeling the scene. I use
Xfrog. I have the new version, but I actually use an alpha version
I got from greenworks when they were first developing it. Plant
Studio is fantastic and it free. Tree Pro is another great plant
modeler. My hardware is due for an upgrade. Three year old Pentium4
1.3ghz with a gig of ram and a Quadro4 xgl900. I use the Maxtreem
drivers when I model things for the game Duel of
because I can get over 4000x4000 textures in the
viewports. That helps when modeling from drawing and images. I use
openGL most of the time though. Lighting seems to be a big part
of your final images; which lighting solutions do you prefer to use
within 3DS Max, and what sort of post work is involved with your
I use the light tracer sometimes, but I use fake GI
most of the time. I'm letting out one of my secrets here. I really
hate the long render times GI takes, so I render the image once
with lights and once without lights (just using default lighting)
and combine the 2 in PhotoShop. I usually do some post on all my
images. I like to give them a little blur to make them kind of
dreamy looking. I have never been a purist. I say use whatever you
need to get the image that pleases you. What do you think your
best piece of work is and why?
This is a hard one. I always
like the one I'm working on best. One of my favorites has to be the
. I have that one printed 18x24 on textured matted with a
5" dual mat in a cherrywood frame hanging in my dining room. I like
the colors and it looks like it just might be a real place. Why
do you like to work with 3D software?
Well, for me it was one
of the only choices. I can't paint anymore because MS is effecting
my hands but I can still use a trackerball. I also really enjoy
starting with a basic shape and molding it like digital clay to get
a multitude of objects. What 'formula' do you use for your
architectural compositions? Do many of your scenes actually exist
or are they pulled from your imagination?
I only made 2
buildings that actually exist. The Taj Mahal and the railroad
station in my town. All the other buildings are just made up, it's
easier :) Sometimes I have a general idea of what I'm going to make
most of the time I make it up as I go. I just make a wall or window
and take it from there. The rich use of texturing in your images
really makes your work stand out. What sort of texturing techniques
to you swear by? Do you work much with procedural materials? Do you
shoot much of your textures with a digital camera? Do you paint
them in Photoshop?
Most all of my texture work is done in
PhotoShop. I've gotten memory errors from Max because the big
textures I use. Dean and I both shoot pictures for textures and
then lots of layers in PhotoShop to make bricks and pavers out of
them. I use procedural textures for bump mostly. Who / what
There are so many great artists here it's hard to
choose. I've always been a big fan of feri's work. Most of my
inspiration comes from the blues. I have an extensive CD collection
and I listen to music from morning till night. I just start up Max
and rock out until I get an idea for a picture. Some of the
musicians that really get me going: Ana Popovic, Julian Sas, Mimi
and the Snakes, Jay Hooks, Susan Tendeschi, and SRV of course to
name a few. How has this online community (Renderosity) enhanced
your work, relationships, and learning?
I've been a member for
a long time. I was even the Artist of the Month for July 2000. The
encouragement I have received has meant a lot to me. Being disabled
has kind of hindered my social life and the online community has
been a way for me to meet people from all over the world. All of
the free stuff here is such a help to somebody just starting out.
Before I learned to model my own objects I used many free mashes
from here. The forums are a great source of information although I
don't have as much time to spend on them as I used too. Parting
Comments / Advice to other Artists?
Don't let life get you down
no matter what it throws at you and rock on.
Be sure to check out
Lon Chaney's gallery
! Click on '