Friday, March 7, 2008

Giving visual interest a boost

One cool thing about working in 3D is that it's a sort of hybrid between painting and photography. On the one hand, you can use as many "realistic" lighting scenarios you want; on the other, you can play with light in the most unrealistic, yet pleasing ways possible.

In the 3D world, there is a full spectrum of artists - those who want everything to look as it would from a camera, those who want everything to look as computer-generated as possible, those who want nothing more than a completely stylized, imaginary effect, and so on.

Regardless of the look you are after, the first step is to learn the tools. You can't really enforce a style without understanding how to express that style through your tools in *any* scenario your brain can think up.

So, my tip of the day for 3D artists is this: As you learn your 3D software, try as hard as you can to build up a visual toolkit of style and imagination that will pair nicely with your software-user skills. Put in that extra bit of energy to make an image into a story, or something that excites the mind.

When I look at the render above, I think of ways I could make it tell a story. There are countless ways - a handwritten letter, stained with blood, sitting opened on the table beneath the candle, that sort of thing - that require minimal effort compared to the potential increase in interest.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Design Rotisserie

Here's an image I've been working on in GIMP, just to make sure my skills don't get rusty.

Occasionally somebody will ask me when I'm going to finish a hobby project that they're interested in. The way it works is, I have a rotisserie of hobby projects in my head. One weekend I'll grab a few minutes to work on Project A from 5 years ago, and the next weekend I'll work on Project B from a brainstorming session a day earlier.

Above you'll see an example of a vehicle rendering that is unfinished. I really like how it looks in its unfinished state, but eventually I'll finish it up. There's an in-progress shot of it available too. I used GIMP to create it...there are some things I really like about GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), the path tool being one of them. It's quite simple to use if you've worked with beziers before.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Camera play


Playing with my old Canon A80 today before the new camera arrives. I've taken some pictures I'm really proud of with the A80 - a couple of my Point Cabrillo photos, for example. The combination of manual controls with point-and-shoot simplicity have allowed me to explore cameras to the point where I feel comfortable ordering a DSLR for more serious use. The camera doesn't make the photographer, but a DSLR will give versatility we haven't had before. Also, I'm dying to use the fisheye lens to do some panoramas.

Camera work inspires me to turn back to 3D rendering with more creativity and a focus on unique lighting rigs, things like that. 3D work inspires me to look for the ideal lighting situations when I'm out and about with a camera.

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