ozoneocean at 8:40AM, April 23, 2012
This is a short discussion of the merits and techniques of 3D art in comics, featuring the words, of Genejoke, El Cid, and Pam Harrison/House of Muses.
A SHORT DISCUSSION ON 3D ART
From House of muses/ Pam Harrison.
Is it art?
This question has been asked of every piece of created imagery since the dawn of time, from Scrog the Caveman to Michaelangelo to Picasso to Andy Warhol. The term ‘art’ itself originates from around the time period 1175–1225; Middle English Old French, accusative of ars Latin ars (nominative), artem (accusative) ‘skill, craft, craftsmanship’. Art as a definitive noun is a class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection, or any field using the skills or techniques of art. The act of placing creations under scrutiny then, involves evaluating the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. The definition of art has been given as “A level of technical expertise sufficient to create an emotional response.” Whether that emotional response is good or bad has always been the domain of what the critic thinks is perfection versus the skill level of the artists themselves.
When Michelangelo was finishing the David, along came Piero Soderini, the town mayor or boss, to have a look. Michelangelo had put a canvas around the scaffolding so no one could watch him work. He didn’t like gawkers and he didn’t like intruders, not even patron intruders. So when he saw that canvas flap open and the mayor come in, though he had to smile, he must have cursed to himself. Piero Soderini put on the show of the art connoisseur, walking around under the huge figure. “It’s coming along wonderfully,” said Piero Soderini. “But do you know what? The nose is too thick.”
“Well, we’ll fix that right now,” Michelangelo said; and quickly grabbing a hammer and chisel, climbed up the scaffold like a monkey. Clink, clink—Soderini heard the hammer against the chisel and saw marble dust fall. Clink some more.
“How’s that?” Michelangelo called down from the scaffold. Of course he hadn’t touched the figure at all but only pretended to be altering the nose.
“Oh, that’s much better!” exclaimed the mayor. “Now you’ve really put life into it.”
Michelangelo climbed down, feeling sorry for those critics who talk nonsense in the hope of appearing well-informed.
Due to my personal art style, I tend to be a purist. This only means I take straight renders to place into panels of comic pages. Sometimes postwork is entirely necessary, and indepth postwork can create magnificent effects. The cover of House of the Muses #9 is postwork, from two renders with completely different lighting, merged for a final effect. Because my tastes are aesthetic I can see the final results of other people’s postwork regardless of what Photoshop filter they are using. No amount of Photoshop Poster Edge can cover poorly posed figures or rendering errors.
Using 3D for reference
In House of the Muses #3 I introduced a number of my pencil pages (to silence critics who shouted that I could not draw), wherein a battlefield sketch artist illustrated the beginning of a conflict, a flashback scene illustrated in pencil sketches that jumped back to 3D when the tide of battle turned badly and the army went on the defensive. Some 3D files were used to create immediate reference points for the illustration, placement of trees, props and light and shadow. Once established, the scene was sketched out. Much like the old fashioned art of live or nude modeling, any beginner could conceivably use this method to improve their own illustrating skills.
Software used, the differences between them.
I have used Carrarra, Bryce, 3DStudio Max, Poser and DAZ 3D Studio. For my purposes, I have found the most ease of use in DAZ 3D Studio. Of all these programs, access to camera angles is most intuitive in DAZ, plugins seem easier to access and the ability to build prop and character libraries is most versatile.
Pros and cons of 3D art
3D art takes much of the work out of the creative process for the artist: Lighting, camera angles, coloring, layout, the ease of this depends on the skill of the artist
People are always going to question your actual artistic merit: i.e., can you actually draw, aren’t you cheating when everyone else draws traditionally, what right do you have to be using CGI when it isn’t really a legitimate artistic medium, etc. Whether you really excel or give up and quit at this point, having been hit with all these rude questions is a matter of the courage of your own convictions.
Your ability to create stories will always be limited by your personal skill level, and you will have to improve with each issue. If you plateau and cease to make any noticeable improvement over time, readers and critics alike will notice it, and it may cost you in the long run. Always reach higher.
What makes a good render?
As I defined a few questions ago, the best renders have always been those with the emotional response factor. From alien landscapes to young lovers in a quiet shady grove, those are the outstanding types of renders, if done right. A “good” render has all the technical elements in place. But to be really good it has to strike a chord with the viewer.
Because each render becomes an actual comic panel in each page of my books, I cannot begin to count how many renders I have done. But over time I would have to say that the page titled “Fireflies” in House of the Muses #4 and the dolphin scene with the god Poseidon remain among my personal favorites.
My workflow in a nutshell consists of keeping all the correct folders. Because I do full print production of my stories I have a workflow to output for various formats:
Issue Folder Assorted comic pages
Also inside the Issue Folder:
TIFs (Individual panel renders go here)
RAW TIFs (Adobe Illustrator final pages exported to TIF go here)
KA-BLAM TIFs (Prepressed, cropped, color corrected pages for print go here)
WOWIO (Ka-Blam TIFs re-processed to PDF stored here for ebook publication)
In a side folder, I have folders named for issues: Issue 01, Issue 02, Issue 03 and so forth, to collect all DAZ files for current and future reference. Beyond that, all my stories are in my head and I used DAZ to “download my subconscious” as a friend once so interestingly put it, and put it in digital form. That is about it.
Read the rest of this Tutorial and Interview for Genejoke and El Cid’s articles at this link.