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A discussion on 3D art by Genejoke

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.

(5 star average out of 5 votes)

By Genejoke
From El cid.
Software Envy
You see this sometimes on 3d art sites, like Renderosity. Some noobs think that if they can just buy some better software, like 3dSMax or Cinema4D, that all of a sudden it will instantly transform them into some kind don't need a high-end 3D program. You'll be getting like five percent of the use out of it (but you still have to pay 100 percent of the price).
Is it Art?
Obviously. I think the real question people are getting at with that is, Are DAZ Studio users and Poserites artists? The results speak for themselves, but it's good fun to denigrate the creation process, which I've heard described as “puppeteering” and “doll porn.” The issue, as some see it, is that DS and Poser users don't create all of the models themselves, and therefore deserve no credit for their work. This is, in my humble opinion, nonsense. The photographer does not create the flowers, landscapes, and architecture he photographs, and the film director does not act out every role himself. When you look at any given panel of a 3D comic, you may well be seeing the results of hundreds of man hours' worth of work. No hobbyist could accomplish this on his own, working in his spare time, nor is that the manner in which any other major 3D projects are done, be they feature films or video games. All 3D productions are a group undertaking, whether by a dedicated production crew or the online 3D community.
To 3D or Not to 3D?
That is the question. Does the world really need more 3D webcomics? Is it a medium you should consider? Getting started does require considerable investment, if not in money then in time (though likely a good bit of both). With some of the consumer level software out there, it's very easy to get impressive results right out of the box using presets, but this is deceptive. The real issue is finding out how far you can go once you move beyond the presets and start trying to be creative and build your own universe, and develop your own style. You don't want to be stuck just making derivative work that's dictated by what's given to you by presets and pre-made models. And that's the real danger I'd have to caution against: You don't want to end up in a situation where what you're able to do is limited by your knowledge and abilities with the 3D software you're using. So you have to seriously consider that before taking the plunge. Fortunately, there is a tremendous online community of 3D artists and tutorials and other resources available, so if you're serious about learning 3D, it's achievable for anybody.
From Huse 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.
3D purism/postwork/filters
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.
The workflow
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.
From Genejoke
Is it art
Done to death but it's something people still ponder, like stickmen and sprites, 3D art is still an area people are often dismissive of, often due to what people refer to as…
the uncanny valley
how can you get around this? etc.
3d purism/chauvinism.
From el cid
El: You don't see it so much but there used to be a whole school of thought that Photoshopping your 3D stuff is cheating, which I guess I can understand from the standpoint of animators if you're trying to learn for commercial animation, then Photoshop is a crutch, but for the rest of us… it's a great tool! This loosely ties in with Filters.
Some good examples on DD:
Some 3D comics use filters to get a more comic book style, to mixed effect but maybe it's because I'm more of a purist. It seems some artists try and distance themselves from 3d, but use it too heavily for it just to be.
Poser was originally created as an alternative to artists mannequins, it's also the reason I first downloaded daz as my kids kept playing with my mannequin. many artists, both pro and amateur use 3d programs for reference for backgrounds too. Project GTH has a lot of backgrounds created in google sketchup. Speaking of sketchup, it's just one f many types of 3d
poser is the most commonly used software for 3d comics as it's affordable (compared to many of the high packages) and geared well towards… well posing the figures. Daz studio is very similar to poser but from there….hexagon, carrara,maya,lightwave,terragen,bryce, wings3d, 3ds max, blender and so on and so forth.
Pro's and cons of 3d, or where it succeeds and fails
Someone commented on BASO that they don't like 3d comics for the people but love them for the hardware.
What makes a good render.
never underestimate the power of lighting and atmospherics, much like traditional art and photography. One thing el cid mention is that most great 3d artists are also good traditional artists.
The workflow
everythign from set up, rendering to postwork and finally to the page. A lot of the time things are done in numerous software packages. Some artists use pose to pose and cloth the figures before exporting it to another package add backgrounds and render. then throw in post work etc. some render back grounds and figures separately and merge them in photoshop. Something we regularly do for the lite bites reviews.
Some more exaamples of differnted approaches in 3D comics



dojang6 at 4:47AM, Dec. 1, 2012

I am a 3D artist that has been involved with a traditionaly drawn webcomic for a few years now. It has been my experience that the two compliment one another very well. It is well known in the comic field that artist (traditional) do a lot of tracing, is this drawing? How about this technique, taking photographs of action then tracing it and putting in the main character. 3d is just another technique to bring bright and intresting story lines to life in an attempt to entertain us all.

ladypteranodon at 6:44PM, Sept. 23, 2012

I don't mind 3D webcomics and movies entirely in 3D, but it drives me crazy when 2d animated movies use 3d animation for anything that's even a teeny bit hard to draw. And its even worse when people use 3d animation and try to make it look like 2d animation. That IS cheating. It ruins the entire look of the animation and people do notice. I just had to say that.

Allyndn at 5:48AM, July 6, 2012

People may say that 3D is a short cut to creating real art. What if it is? Like, I read this book on Frank Frazetta. He set up photo shoots and he painted what he saw in the photograph, rather than create completely out of his head. To me, Daz Studio functions much like a Frazetta photo shoot. Except that I can make my models look exactly like I want. And if I need a dragon in the picture, I can just drop one in as well. For me, my process of DS4 and post work in three programs (and, increasingly, drawing on my ipad with a stylus) actually takes longer than it did when I just drew pictures, but I do it because the end result better achieves my artistic vision.

SLK8ne at 8:48PM, April 24, 2012

I have to agree. What the critics loose site of is that what comics are about is STORYTELLING. It's not about the media used, it's about the STORY. Whatever you use to tell the story is just a tool. (which is why the pros at marvel use Google Sketchup for cityscape perspective shots) And I've had similar debates with 2D animators. But, digital 3D can trace it's roots back to puppeteering which was telling stories long before either print comics or 2D animation. So, this is just as much art as hand drawn comics. (in my opinion) Because it is the story that IS the art.

gtbf at 3:09PM, April 24, 2012

All I'm going to say is this if my work present itself using Daz or Poser well guess what my tools are until the work(s) is/are done. In almost any profession you can tell who trying to be good at it and others who are half stepping. I think that what really being talked about here. I use Daz as my foundation and really don't need the photo editing stuff to bring out the main idea. Okay words and some extra tricks to make my work pop out. It might seem like 3D software is mostly used for sexy stuff but that another reason to reject digital art/artists. It's nothing wrong with natural attractions between men and women there just need to be some balance in product menu(cars, clothes, environments, buildings, etc). I'm slightly concerned about people rejesting digital comics because the belief people didn't use ink and dead trees. That a real no no! It like saying comic artists were not real artists cause their work was over the top. No deja vu! People should make a living

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