View Full Version : A Question for Artists

12-18-2004, 09:27 AM
When I started using Lightwave, I had two things in mind: create plugins and try to get my family involved with 3D as a family project.

My kids like art, but they haven’t really gotten into 3D, it just hasn’t drawn their interest. For example, my daughter who drew the avatar (she can whip that up in about 5 minutes) really enjoys drawing and has begun to learn wood carving. But 3D computer graphics to her don’t seem “real”, so she’s not interested.

So here’s my question – did any of you artists who were accomplished in other media find it hard to take 3D seriously as an art form? What helped develop your interest in 3D? Any thoughts that would help a young artist develop such an interest?


12-18-2004, 10:15 AM
I think there are a number of things that seperate 3D graphics from traditional fine arts that are difficult to bridge. The main things for me are immediacy and tangibility. With traditional media you have a concrete tactile product in front of you that has a physical character inherent in the media you use. There is something about the physicality of the paper or canvas or sculptural medium. Physical textures and smells and the overall characteristics of the medium play a big part in its allure. Having a tangible product that has been directly touched by the artists hands fill traditional art with a certain sense of meaning that seems lost with computer graphics. There is also a lack of spontaneity with 3D graphics (not as much with 2D such as photoshop or painter), that is perhaps the biggest difference between traditional media and CG for me. Possibly when computers are fast enough to render most things in real time that will be less inherent but at this point the dissconect between the final image and the process due to the need to render, tweak, workaround unexpected results etc. makes spontaneous expression difficult. There is also a certain preocupation with photorealism in 3D CG that seems to be a limiting factor at this point of it's existance, possibly due to the reluctance of fine artists to embrace the medium, due to the things mentioned above. Those are my conclusions, I'll be interested in other peoples responses. Very interesting subject.

Edit: And to answer your questions more directly, to make a living I was doing technical illustrations and got into 3D as a way to augment those skills not to attempt fine art. In general 3D graphics seems a left brained activity more suited to technically minded people than your average right brained artist type. Great for technical illustrators and architects, etc. Because of the technical aspects of 3D I think in general someone needs to be at least partially technically inclined to want to persue 3D CG.

12-18-2004, 03:14 PM
Its a back to basics thing, learn to create traditionaly and explore your ousing raw talent.
cg is really a 'bolt on' of your creative palette...lets face it, once its down on paper its either a rubber to correct those wrongs or worse still in a media such as watercolour it's start over! oils however are profoundly forgiving but all mediums are an avenue worthy of exploration.
I'm sure your beatiful offspring will enjoy the art of cg on their journey, just let them make their own path to their creative destiny. One thing to bare in mind on that route - and beyond is that it is not the cpu's magic button that creates great work, it is the creativity and experience of the user......don't corner your kids with your perceptions, let them create their own destiny to shine within - just like a diamond my friend.

12-18-2004, 08:03 PM
I have been a sculptor for 22 years working in carved stone and wood and modeling in clay. About 6 years ago I began working in 3D CG graphics. For me the transition was a natural extention of what I was doing in my sculpture. Modeling in 3D is actually more intuative to me than working in real materials. It's so much faster and I can try things out by stretching and bending and scaling in a mouse drag and then change them back again if I change my mind. I recently went back to modeling a head in clay in my studio and found my self wanting a "control Z" button to restore what I had previously done.
I have over the past few years been working with a toy company, sculpting models for toys. I use stereolithography to bring the models into reality these days. I used to carve them in wood- every time I wanted to make a change I would have to re-carve it. Using Lightwave i am able to produce models in about a third of the time. Bottom line, once you have mastered your tools, its just you and the artwork; the medium is irrelevant.

12-18-2004, 10:35 PM
I get the general impression that 3d isn't so popular with girls. You should just let them do what they enjoy and find they're own path.

12-18-2004, 11:19 PM
I agree with Bloontz on this one.

I have run a VERY diverse company for about ten years now and the fine arts side has run the gamut. I have found a myriad of uses for the 3D side to augment my income and have used it for the typical applications 3D CG is designed for as well as less common uses such as previsualizing mural paintings (some of which I need to get posted here in the galleries some day).

Point is Bloontz is absolutely correct- for a fine artist to develop 3D CG skills he/she must be comfortable using BOTH sides of the brain. Everything in 3D starts with modelling as you are well aware and the king of thought in this arena is left brain logic- pure and simple. It is a mathematical world really and most artists are mystified with the structure and rigidity of the modelling plane. This can obviously be overcome but for most it can be a bit of a challenge initially.

This is one reason why I feel that the post by tapsnap is not completely applicable here as it sounds like he was already working the XYZ axis long before the software version. This is a far cry from pushing a 4B pencil on a sketch pad. Not to get on your case tapsnap it is just that sculpture in the real world can be a VERY logical and highly-planned process at times. I have ceratinly not done sculpture for 22 years but I have done enough on the commercial side to know that planning is crucial if you don't want to throw money down the drain.

I could say something here about creativity and modelling but I risk getting pounded thereby diverting attention away from your thread so I shall bite my tongue.

12-19-2004, 01:48 PM
For me it is the immediacy and physicality of using traditional art media that sets it apart from CG.

As an art student, 16 years or so ago , we were begining to get computers in the Fine Art department of our art school. I quickly dismissed CG as rubbish, put off by the seemingly endless delay of a line following a mouse cursor, or the limited colour gamut of those printers and tiny monitors with a 10' x 8' canvas and the infinite range of colours, textures and mark making possibilities of paint, charcoal or pastels.

Even now painting and drawing are the mainstay of my own ceative output. Happily making art using a computer is a much more satisfying process thanks to ever increasing processor speeds, and since discovering softwear like photoshop, Byce, Strata studio pro, and more recently and most significantly Lightwave. I am happy to suppliment my output and income with CG.

Basically, encourage your daughters drawing, softwear is quick and easy to learn when you need it. Finding your own creative niche and visual language is a lifetimes endevour. After all moving points around is only dawing in 3d, and drawing is still the best way to nurture creativity.

All the best


ps I stil find the wait for a render to happen a maddeningly frustrating turn off, because once you hit F9 you are out of it, not involved.

12-19-2004, 07:15 PM
ps I stil find the wait for a render to happen a maddeningly frustrating turn off, because once you hit F9 you are out of it, not involved.

That's what makes Fprime so wonderful.


12-20-2004, 12:22 PM
I've always loved 3D graphics, even as a kid, and my interest in the area has only increased over the years. But what really gets me going is whenever I watch a 3D movie. Toy Story, Antz, Bugs Life, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, Shrek, etc... They always put me into a creative mood. Show you daughter these movies and then ask her would she like to create art and animations like that? But I agree with others above, if she still shows no interest, don't force it onto her.

12-20-2004, 08:52 PM
That’s a very interesting question, NormJ.

It was about ten years ago when my father and his friend a well-known Artist Jack Sorenson were walking along discussing art. “You know in a few years they will be able make images like this using computers,” said my dad. “Nah, you really think so? That would be incredible, working like that.” Said Jack.

Panting has always enchanted me. It is an incredible form of creative expression. It is story telling with the absence of time. But, I always wanted to see what was going to happen next, when I looked at a painting. I wanted to go into it and see what’s behind that building or see where that person was going. What drew me to 3D graphics was the fact that instead of making an illusion of the world you imagined you build the world that you imagine.

So far 3D graphics is the only medium that allows you to have a set of images that take you somewhere like in a book without sacrificing because something does not exist and you can’t build it or you can’t Cel-animate every frame that real without taking a hundred years. When it comes to still images there is a lot of skills that need to be relearned and interpreted before CG can really approach fine art, but it’s in animation and interactivity that CG shines as a unique art form.

Basically I chose 3D graphics because my visions are in motion, where no specific moment describes the meaning of the work as a whole, And my brother chose fine art painting because he sees precise scenes were every element of the image broadens its story beyond what you actually see. So I suppose it’s how and what someone wish’s to express that determines the medium they pursue.

I would also have to agree that it is a left brain right brain thing. I have learned to start thinking logically one step at a time when setting up scenes and then letting myself go with modeling texturing etc. On the other hand my brother can’t get anything straight in 3D, but he can easily tell you the feel or what’s visually wrong with an Image.

12-21-2004, 10:04 AM
Hi all,
I come more from a photographic back ground which has the kind of mix as with 3D which is artistic BUT with a good grounding in technical knowledge.

If I wanted to give a young person an intrest in doing 3D BUT NOT push then into it I would ask them to draw a basic character then model it texture it (basically)but the real biggy (I find) is making it move!!!

The magic of 3D is making things move you get them hooked on that and they will love it how about a a start with a basic bouncing ball? Because that is one thing you cannot do so quickly on paper.

12-23-2004, 09:35 AM
When I was in high school I was against it. Even though I had a lot of exposure to technology and computers I couldn't see that as the same or a way of creating "real" art. My thinking obviously changed and I would find it hard to go back. I used to work in oils, using a very traditional method of underpainting and building up layers. Great results but unforgiving and VERY time consuming. Things like "undo" or making copies and trying different approaches with them are just unbelievable things for an artist.
I would also say that there was always resistance to new mediums, techniques and tools throughout the history of art. Italians resisted oils for a long time as well as 3/4 view portraits until Leonardo adopted it from Northern Europe. No, an intelligent artist will use whatever tool is at his disposal if it will advance his ability to generate a more successful finished piece ("successful" can be debated in another thread). Could you imagine what Leonardo would have done with a computer?

Now after that rambling justification of CG being viable art, let's look at your main question. Your daughter has drawing skills that appear decent. In school, I resisted sculpting because I wanted to focus on 2D skills. A professor explained to me that an artist should be able to express themselves in ANY medium and here I am where a lot of my work is modeling in 3D. You sometimes never know and indeed, he was right. Limiting your modes of expression is not good for an artist. The more 3D work I did (cg and physical) the better my drawing skills became, too.
It could be difficult for a child to get the hang of sculpting on a computer because it's not tactile. I would suggest she get some exposure, if not already, with clay. Get her brain and eyes thinking and seeing things in 3D. We take it for granted, but depending on her age it still could be something she hasn't fully grasped yet.
Only after that would I start showing her more of sculpting on a computer. It could also be easier to communicate tools and procedures by being able to compare them to things she's familiar with in clay.

Kids today are very tech savvy and have considerable computer exposure compared to us when we were young. That's a plus. Also, as mentioned above, you can't force it. Just introduce it, let her watch if she wants and just encourage her to try and be there for her questions. Hell, that's probably sound advice for anything you'd want her exposed to.

12-23-2004, 11:21 AM
I just want throw a provocation: are we speaking about "Art", "Production" or "Production-Art"? ... this is the question...

12-23-2004, 11:32 AM
Yes, that's provacative, Exper.
I think for the point of being helpful, we should consider a blanket term of "art" for all.

We could start discussing Duchamp's urinal and what should be art, high art, good or bad art, spiraling out of control and off the point. Also, art for art's sake and art for hire brings up that fine art/illustration BS and we once again race off topic.

No, let's focus on developing artistic skill in general and in cg for children which is what Norm originally wanted to discuss.

12-26-2004, 01:52 AM
It could be difficult for a child to get the hang of sculpting on a computer because it's not tactile. I would suggest she get some exposure, if not already, with clay. Get her brain and eyes thinking and seeing things in 3D. We take it for granted, but depending on her age it still could be something she hasn't fully grasped yet.

Depending on the age of the child this is very true. They've shown that Geometry is hard for children of ANY culture to grasp before a certain age. AKA they just will not get it. I thin Zarathustra has the right idea with the clay.

Maybe you could get her into Celshadded work? Then she could sketch it first and work towards that? Or sketch, model in clay, then model in 3D. I find it much easier to model from something I can touch.