View Full Version : Meet the Artist: Steven Stahlberg

04 April 2005, 07:15 AM

Steven Stahlberg is one of the best known CG artists in the world today, with his work featured in almost every 3D/CG webzine and magazine in existence. One of Steven’s most prominent 3D works “One Last Time” (AKA “Fairy and Snake”) was the cover image for the landmark EXPOSÉ 1 book, where Steven’s work was also awarded. He is an active Forum Leader here on CGTalk.

Steven Stahlberg is a co-founder of Optidigit, now partnered with VisualXtreme to form Androidblues, The Virtual Talent Studio. Steven is the head of 3D animation and art director of Androidblues in addition to being an artist, illustrator and animator. After completing his art studies in Sweden and Australia, Steven worked ten years as a freelance illustrator for leading advertising agencies and publications in Europe and Asia. Steven is internationally acknowledged as a world class digital artist and was the first artist in the world to have a virtual character sponsored by a major modeling agency (Elite) back in 1999.

Related Links
Steven Stahlberg Homepage (

Post your questions or request for critique
The "Meet the Artists" forum provides a conducive environment where CGTalk members can have the opportunity to speak to some of the finest digital art talents in the world! CGTalk members can post questions and artwork, and have them answered or critiqued by these master artists. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable insight from seasoned industry veterans!

Rules for Q&A/Critique:

Use your real name (edit your CGTalk profile in UserCP). Note: Anonymous postings may be removed at CGTalk's discretion.
Please be polite when asking questions or for critique.
Check the whole thread to see if your question has already been asked. Do not post duplicate questions.
When posting critique, please use the CGTalk Attachments feature so that the artwork remains accessible.
Note that the Artist is under no obligation to answer all questions or critique all work posted. It is at his/her sole discretion to answer questions or critique work.
If the Artist does not answer your question or critique your work, do not harass him/her.

04 April 2005, 07:51 AM
Hi Steven,

Just wondering if theres any differences between the way peoples doing things in Malaysia and Europe? How do u find it in Malaysia (peoples, cultures etc.)? Can Malaysian compete with other countries? And why you chose Malaysia?


04 April 2005, 08:00 AM
Steven, firstly I'd just like to say you will go down in history as one of the classic artists of our time. I'm not being flattering here, I honestly think that. Anyhoo... on to the questions:

Your style is very unique and consistantly tight. How long did it take to evolve into your visual style? All visual styles evolve, naturally, but at some point you must have progressed from varying styles to your own.
Do you have any drawings you did as a teenager or your younger years?
How do you block out your pieces? Do you just start modelling/painting or do you sketch out ideas first? Do you have examples of this you could show us from your past work?
Obviously women are your forte. What women inspire you to model such exquisite artwork?
What's your workspace like? How does it contribute to your focus and inspiration?

04 April 2005, 08:11 AM
wow...Steven Stahlberg on "meet the artists"...that's really great...can`t believe it

hm well first the usuall things... :
think I might mention that I love your work , Steven!
You're the one which showed me the love of 3d Characters when I was ... think ... 14 years old.since then I tried to do my own digital human characters and improve them till today!
you're my personal hero ... so my questions are :

-why did you get into 3d!?what was your personal dicision to make your art 3d?!
-who is/was your "personal hero"?!
-did you ever believe that you would be as popular as you are now?!

THX so much!!

04 April 2005, 08:27 AM
hi steven,glad to see this forum .i`m from malaysia actually,i know u are one of the kind to help 3d master here :thumbsup: .i`m very admire your artwork but unfortunely i`m not a maya user,anyway,just glad to meet u here... :bounce:

04 April 2005, 08:30 AM
My god! Stahlberg!!
you're the best artist ever for me :)
was so inspired by this pic with the fairy and the snake :)
ha your photo^^ you're nice man , great package for your ladie :p

LOL okok I stop now....

questions :

1) I see you've done great 3D cg arts , but you've also done some amazing pieces of 2D painting ...
have the 3D helped you to enhence your skills in 2D drawing (you know perspective , texturing render desired) ?

04 April 2005, 08:41 AM
Hi Steven!

I had a sneaking suspicion you'd be here and, well, here you are!

Here are my questions:

* When starting off, what were your primary focuses in learning?

* How did you get SO GOOD in both modelling AND painting? Do you work evenly in both of them, or do you apply the principles of one to the other? Which principles cross over to each?

* Which mistakes do you most often see younger artists doing?

* What were your influences starting out and what are they today?

I hope you're a fast typer, you'll have to be in order to keep up with all the questions!! By the way, I love the essays on your website, thanks for sharing the love! :D

04 April 2005, 08:50 AM
Hi Steve

Do you think going/getting a degree in CG is great idea?
Do you also think that getting in the Games industry (Art section) is hard or similar to other CG such as 3D?
What is your 2 favourite 3D Packages? :)
Your work is beyond good, very, very inspiring


04 April 2005, 09:17 AM
Hi there Steven,

first off, love your work, very cool, technically and creatively.

Just got 3 Questions,

1, Ive seen in most of your renders, your characters hair, seems geometry based, with maybe a texutre mapped as hair. I know you use Maya so why not the option to go for paint FX?

2, If there was a feature in Maya you would love to see what would it be.

and final one,

3, I remember hearing about a training facility you were setting up in Malaysia, just wanted to know, is that still going ahead?

Thanks for taking the time to do this, everyone here really appreciates it.

04 April 2005, 09:34 AM
Hi Steven Almighty

I have question about your bio. I read that you changed places a lot. I guess it was really hard to leave everything and move to other part of world. How did you do it? I mean did you already have place to stay and send your hardware there first or something. What about family and so.I'm sorry if it's to personal question I understand you won't answer.I'm courious because I also had to move from Poland to Cyprus and who knows what will happen in future where I will be.

04 April 2005, 09:53 AM

when are they gonna let you make the great psycho-erotic rendered movie? Something as elegant and powerful as the sword-fighting scene in Animatrix....

Keep up the great work.

04 April 2005, 10:18 AM
hi steven,
first of i'd like to say your work ROCKS.
one day i'll be as good as you :P

04 April 2005, 10:18 AM
Hi guys!
de_tomato - well Europe and Malaysia are very different in so many ways, especially when you compare it to Sweden (where I grew up). If I made a list of it this post would be too long, suffice to say I'm addicted to the food here, the people are friendler (on average), there's much more sunlight, I feel my family is safer here, and we have a huge pool in our condo, even though our rent is very cheap. Personally I prefer Malaysia to almost any other country I've lived in.
Can Malaysia compete with other countries, I assume you mean in content creation? Of course they can, and one day they will, but the day is perhaps not yet, and I don't really know how far off it might be. There are some hurdles to overcome.

erilaz, thanks! 1. I never really consciously worked on my visual style in 3d, it's always been more along the lines of 'hm I don't like that, have to fix it' kind of thing. How long? It's probably been with me from the start. Now in 2d things are different, I've tried almost every style under the sun and could never really find anything really distinctively mine. I guess it just means I was always meant to be a 3d artist, and not a 2d one.
2. Earlier work, sorry couldn't find any from my teens, this is the oldest I could find online, I was 25 and attending art school:
Silly thing, just another style exercise, as I mentioned I used to do a lot, especially in school... I do remember that my work from before I went to art school really sucked though, I'll try to scan something tomorrow.
3. Almost always sketch first. Here's 2:
4. I'm inspired by beautiful, intelligent, strong yet sensual women, maybe conflicted, perhaps a great sadness hidden away...
5. My workspace right now is isolated and quiet, relatively gloomy, and cool (good aircon a necessity here). I sit in a small room by myself, I like it that way. Sometimes I play music, but it's not always good, it can get in the way of my thoughts too.

tinitus, too kind! 1. I always wanted to get into 3d. That sounds strange, considering how old I am, but still. It's true. As soon as I found some hardware that could do what I wanted, and could afford it, I jumped on the opportunity like a starving man on food!
2. In my teens I was most inspired by Frank Frazetta, and I believe to this day that no one in history ever came close to his mastery of working with little or no reference. At least before his illness.
3. No, never. :)

xiao_x, thanks, glad to meet you too!

Neozoom, thanks! Great package for the ladies? I wish :D
1. Yes, the 3d has helped me develop my 2d skills, and vice versa. Just one example: I never really figured out how to paint skin properly, until I'd worked for years trying to replicate it in 3d.

paperclip, 1. You mean 2d or 3d? When I started out in 2d, my primary focus was drawing, anatomy and perspective and such... later I became obsessed with copying different styles. In 3d, my focus was, and still is, basically fighting the limitations of the software. I always wanted to do stuff that I found out it couldn't be done.
2. thanks... I think it's just a result of having 2d skills. I think the common denominator is seeing the proportions, outlines, forms, relationships. Which is what we practise when we practise either sculpting or drawing/painting... If I had to pick one, I think drawing is the best way to practise that.
3. Most common beginner's mistakes? Using geometry that is too simple and smooth, which is how it's created by default in the computer, unless we actively work against it. Lips that look like tapering cylinders tacked onto a face, face too flat, hands too thin, eyelids not creating an S-curve in the topview... They usually need to look closer at their subject, to see the subtleties there. (As do we all, me too.)
4. Influences: Frank Frazetta as mentioned, Roger Dean (way back), japanese manga and anime artists, some classical artists like Vermeer, Craig Mullins and many others, I can't remember... most recently, of course, Linda Bergkvist.

MWarsame, thanks, 1. Degree may be the only way to go sometimes, but they are usually expensive and there are alternatives. Think it through carefully before you make your decision. If you can, ask the people who may be hiring you later what they think (that's what I did when I decided which art school to go to - I called the company I wanted to work at, and asked the owner what degree he'd prefer a potential employee to have).
2. Sorry, I did work a while in a games company, but today I know very little about the American games industry, and about the 3d industry in general, except what I read on CGTalk. (edit: I see you're in the UK, well I guess I know even less about that) :)
3. I'd obviously say Maya, since I've been unusually monogamous as to what 3d software I use (I don't know any of the others very well), but for the second one I'd have to say Zbrush, it's definitely looking better and better.

04 April 2005, 10:58 AM
Hello Steven!

I recently started to practice again CG, with photoshop, I try to put something in the Daily Sketch forum when I have time. (I liked very much this sketch of Pippi Longstrom you did).

And of course, as I searched for inspiration and beautiful work, I immediately found your work. I like very much your way of painting, your palette, your subjects. Great source of inspiration, I have the cloud-lady as desktop background.

Could you please give us some info about your favorite way of painting 2D? (for example do you use line sketch or directly paint color masses with large brushes and refine more and more, do you use many different layers or not, do you use many custom brushes or more simpler ones, what canvas size in pixels do you prefer, do you like to make a color study before starting)

Sorry...too many questions :) I just see your post now, and the step by step Jealousy tutorial answer most of my questions. Do you always use this technique, black and white for shadows and highlights, and a color layer applied later?

04 April 2005, 11:05 AM
Phrenzy84, thank you. 1. I got used to geometry hair long before paintFX existed... after, it's partly habit perhaps, but also a feeling that I don't like the way the paintFX hair looks. It's ok for certain styles, but others it just can't do. I can control the geometry hair more precisely. Now Hair, is much better than PaintFX... but, it can't render in MR yet. Converting to polys seems to not work, produces too many... and that commercial plugin? I don't know, I have this feeling I shouldn't have to pay again to be able to use Hair.
2. A feature? Maya Hair renderable in Mental Ray. :)
3. The training facility has taken a big setback, we'll see, hopefully it can still be a reality one day, I just don't know right now. A tv series we were working on went belly-up due to the European owner ending up in jail for fraud(!), so we had to stop working on that. It's still too early to say exactly what is going to happen, I should know more in a few months.

lukx, it's not that hard to move. Just use a reputable international moving company, they can come in and do all your packing for you, and take it from door to door. COmputers, I sent them with Fedex last time, so they arrived shortly after me. Family, you just make sure you write "FAMILY" with big letters on the crate they're in, so you can find them... Seriously, the family is no problem. In fact, my wife helps me so much with the organizing of the move, it's amazing. We home-school the kids, which is tough on my wife, but no problem for the kids. (In fact it's overall better for them than normal school, imo.)

hertzchim, yeah, wouldn't I love to do something like that... :)

TheGreenMachine, thanks! :)

Guys I'm going for dinner with my family now, back in a couple hours!

04 April 2005, 11:18 AM
Ill ask the questions which everyone else secretly wants to know the answers to.

1) How often do you get disapproving looks from your girlfriend/wife? If I sat here drawing curvey naked girls all day, I would have several broken bones by now.

2) Considering the volume of tight panties in your imagery and the level of detail you put in, none of them suffer from camel toe. Do you do this consiously on grounds of taste?

3) Do you do much commercial work which isn't a young lady in one pose or another?, or have you become the guy which people call when they know they're going to need a semi-clothed redhead.

04 April 2005, 11:25 AM
Ha tkies for answer Stahl ;)

Ok , I see D is useful for improving 2d Skills...

BTW some other questions came to my mind regarding your work :

1) For Wich companies do you work? Do you live well with only your art skills? or do you need to do other kind of work? Free lance , or settled artist for a company?

2) I have hard time to paint skins.... and some texturing... I really start to master volume and forms in digit painting , but I must improve texturing process... in particular skins.
What would be your best advice to help me in the way? (I especially LOVE how YOU render skins (in 2D I mean) )

thx for all those precisions.

04 April 2005, 11:43 AM
Ah... MISTER Steven Stahlberg... quite an honour, sir! :D

I first noticed your wonderful art in the 3D community and became even more impressed when I began seeing your masterful work in 2D. You've honed your artistic skills to an amazing level and I'm appreciative you continue to challenge yourself (and in turn, the rest of us) to become better artists, regardless of the medium.

My question/s: Say one were looking to crack into the '2D concept art' side of game or movie production (or something along those lines)... what things would you like to see in a portfolio (if YOU were hiring, for the sake of argument)?

Also... what inspirational books would you recommend?
What's your favourite movie?
Who's your favourite artist?
Do you listen to music when you work? If so... what?
When you're not creating amazing bits of art... what do you like to do in your 'spare time'?

Thanks so much for participating in this 'Meet the Artist' section. You're an inspiration to so many of us.


04 April 2005, 12:34 PM
Hi mr stalhberg. Ive been a follower of some of your work, i have to say it rocks and it inspires me. Im still new to 3d and CGing but im keen on becoming better.

1. I notice youre located in malaysia and was wondering if you take n00bs under your wing or provide guidance hands on? or if you would.

2. Whats the chances of a CG/3d artist surviving in malaysia? im currently outside of malaysia at the moment. A career there is something im considering but rather much in doubt as well...

04 April 2005, 12:58 PM
hey there steven, thanks for your replies. Sorry to hear about your TV show going under.

One more question, well not question more like a minor request.

Would it be possible to show us some of your very very early works if you still have them. Stuff that probably isnt on your site and even not finshed. Just to show us some idea of some of the paths you took to show us what might noth be the best road for us to take etc. Any renders and wires would be great.

Again like to take this opportunity to thank you for doing this.


04 April 2005, 01:06 PM
Hello Steven,

nice to have an Q&A with you!

My questions:
1. Do you think it is necessary to have some good painting skills to do good 3D Art? Or does it just help to visualize things. I have seen the making of of "The Incredibles" and most of the artists did 2d long before 3d.

2. Since you are from Sweden, do you play table tennis? I mean a country with all the stars like Jan-Ove Walder doesn't that make someone interested in such things?

Thanks for your time you take for helping the folks around here (Topology thread) and for doing this Q&A.

Greetings from Germany


04 April 2005, 01:27 PM
you are the best cg artist for me.

04 April 2005, 01:49 PM
Hello Steven!

Okay, first of all I would like to say that I had no idea that you were from sweden?!
Always thought that your surname sounded english :)

Anyways, love your have a nice harem of women on your website by now:)

The thing I want to ask is, where did you go to school, and what company did you ask about what grade you needed?

Hoppas på svar snart :)


Mysterious X
04 April 2005, 01:52 PM
Hello mr.Stahlberg...I'm studying in Malaysia..and i'm not malaysian..and I really would love to work here after seeing this country and people question do you see the future of this place in CG and filmmaking ? and which is the most growing field ?...and let me finish and say your seriously one of my favourite atrists of all time..thank you for all this inspirational work :love:

04 April 2005, 02:14 PM
Hello Steven,

Good to hear of your new adventures. Your images are wonderful and highly polished. Do they crack and fall apart if/when you try to animate them? :eek:

For me, one who animates more than illustrates, Maya character rigging if often a time consuming, inexact science. :shrug:

In your case, I imagine your dream is to draw and design exciting compositions, and then have a team of great modelers, riggers and animators bring them to life. :)

Like the Art Directors at the large studios, they sit in a well lit rooms with drawing tables, not constantly zoned out in a dark room. :D

Enjoying your comments. Happiness,


04 April 2005, 02:27 PM
Hi Steven,

I was just wondering how much influence you derive from australia and australian culture because i understand you were born here, and also is there a way to see some of your current professional work? I would like to view your animations in particular as i dont think i have been able to find many of them as of yet. You are truly an inspiration to the whole community, and i hope you continue to have many successes in the future. Best wishes! :applause:

04 April 2005, 02:28 PM
Dranger, thanks... my 2d workflow, well it's usually mostly like that tutorial. Color is one of my weak points, it's easier if I take that part separately. Although occasionally the color choice is firmly in the original vision, or it's really simple. In these cases I might start adding color right from the start. I almost never do color studies, perhaps I should do a bunch every project, might improve my colors. Canvas size, usually start a bit bigger than my screen, upsizing it later if it turns out good enough that I want to 'take it all the way'. Layers, it changes a lot, usually not so many I guess. Brushes, I have a couple with heavy texture, but the ones I use the most are very simple: 1. hard edge, 2. hard edge, pressure sensitive opacity, 3. hard edge, press.sens. opacity and size

imashination, 1. LOL she doesn't care at all.
2. Sure, camel-toe is where I draw the line (or actually, don't draw it, haha)
3. My commercial work? I recenty product-replaced a can of beans. Yes, games companies usually ask me to do females, about 6 times out of 10, the rest is males and robots etc.

Neozoom, 1. The most well-known companies I've worked for would be Electronic Arts and Disney. So far my family's been able to live ok off it, either when I've been doing all freelance or when I've been on only a monthly salary.
2. Is your question about how to add texture to skin, in 2d? I never do that, I just focus on the tone and colors. Usually I even smooth the skin more than any other surface, you have to be very careful with texture on skin, especially on beautiful girls.

artjunkie, 1. I'd like to see stuff like what Feng Zhu does, you know... of course I wouldn't expect the same quality, but that type of sketchy concepts... not sketches of existing hardware, from either photos or other people's concepts, but original concepts. Maybe also a bit of storyboard, can be a good indicator of general art talent level...
2. Hm, I can only pick one? Impossible. here's a few off the top of my head: Princess Bride, Aliens, Predator, Star Wars ep.4, Space Balls...
3. Again, too hard. Ingres, Frazetta, Chichoni... it's like picking 1 dish out of all the world's cuisines...
4. Sometimes. Swedish radio, Spraydio, Radio Megapol, or my own collection of stuff from the 70's and 80's (when I grew up), rock, pop, blues, jazz, bossanova... I like variety.
5. Watch movies, play with the kids...
In fact, I'm going out jogging with them now. See you in a little while.

04 April 2005, 02:35 PM
Hi steven i'm one of your biggest fans
my question is
what is the next evolution after the 3d visual effects indusry in your opinion?
i mean can it be real one day:)

04 April 2005, 03:05 PM
Hi Steven, one thing ive noticed from reading your posts/answers here is that you still remain fairly family orientated/ that there a big part of your life. I find this inspiring because i spend nearly 20 hours a day, 7 days a week trying to improve my work on very little freelancing pay and my gf swears that she'd never father a child of mine for this reason! LOL
anyway, how tough has the freelancing/salary/3d/2d god/father/husband role been on the family and your health. what sort of hours do you work and have you ever gotten to a point where it all became too much.

04 April 2005, 03:54 PM
Well, I don't have any particular questions, but I would like to share something with you. I'm a student working towards a degree in 3D modeling, and that image of the girl on the swing was recently referred to by one of my instructors as 'the best example of drapery they had ever seen'. We all stared at it in awe as our egos withered away in face of the mastery, and I'm even more awed knowing that you're just a mortal like the rest of us!
I don't know what to say except that your work is beyond amazing.

04 April 2005, 04:29 PM
which artschool in sweden did you go to?
would love to get some recommendations from ya!

04 April 2005, 04:48 PM
Phrenzy84, you mean 2d or 3d? If 2d, I'll scan something really early tomorrow. If 3d, you can see my first female face, and subsequent evolution, here:

][ndy, 1. I hesitate just short of categorically stating it's necessary... but I suspect it might be. Maybe not painting skills per se, but some kind of generic artistic skill. The good news is we can acquire these skills, if we really want to.
2. LOL I did play table-tennis in my teens, and I was better at it than most other ball-sports, I really enjoyed it... doesn't say much though, I suck at anything requiring bodily coordination.

Farins, thanks.

Xform, I went to school in Adelaide (1 year) and Stockholm (2 years).
The company I asked was an illustrators agency in Stockholm, Rithuset, 1985.

Mysterious X, the future of Malaysia in CG and filmmaking right now might be good (can only get better right) :) but the situation today is not the best. One problem is, there's no local movie industry to speak of. Another is, locally made tv content is so cheap it just doesn't pay at all to try to do it in CG. Any CG studio into long form here has to turn to the international market, which is what POV does, and what we tried to do. Short form (tvc) is not a growth industry. Concerning games here, I just don't know, I'm not really into that.

Spinmeister, this pose is live, so to speak - no retouching, all done by rigging and automated deformations: Of course it's far from perfect, and she breaks even worse if pushed too far, but it's ok for now.

Noodlz, I only lived in Australia until I was 3, then my Swedish parents moved back home again. I went back to Australia when I was 19, left again at 21. My cultural background would be more Swedish than Australian, I think.
This is not done for a client, but it's my latest animation: My other latest work - still images - would be on my website, gallery one (3d) and three (2d).

Ahmed Hosny, next evolution after the 3d visual effects industry? Well I'm sure vfx will be fully able to fool anyone in most situations soon, but if you mean virtual characters, that's going to take a while longer I think. Anyway, my goal isn't to be photoreal anymore... I think once it was, for many years in fact... but ever since FFTSW I've had a growing conviction that's a dead-end, for original content creation at least (like if you want to make your own all-3d movie, not just mix some 3d into a live movie). I'm into contour rendering now (not cel-shading though, never really understood people's fascination with that). :)

BiGMaCHiNe, my hours aren't too bad. I work maybe 10 hours a day in my office, then more surfing and email-handling and maybe sketching etc at home. Like now for instance, everyone else just went to bed but I'll be up until 1 or 2 am.
I have to keep regular hours, I need to get home for dinner at the same time every day, otherwise it becomes impossible to control my diet (which the doctor has ordered me to do). If I'm really busy I can go back to the office after dinner (because it's just a 7 minute walk from the flat). But I rarely do that. The time after dinner is our quality family time.
It's never gotten to a point where it's too much really, not in the sense that I'd chuck it in, hide in my bedroom, or buy a ticket to Mongolia or something. I don't think it could ever get that bad with me. I've learned from some really hectic periods in Hong Kong (before we had kids, so I used to work much more, like 100 hour weeks) not to take on too many commitments, when to say no.

04 April 2005, 05:01 PM
Wow, I was not aware you were brought up in sweden!... Haha, that leaves 2 of my favorite artists on these forums to be swedish. And, to the boot beeing swedish myself.

I wanted to tell you that you've inspired me into good ways of visualising ideas in a simple form to later expand it in 3d, Thank you!.

So, questions was it!. Is there any other things that you want to try around the art area ?
Have you tried other software for 3d, or have you stuck with the same one ?

Ha en härlig dag! Och fortsätt att med ditt fantastiska arbete, låt kreativiteten flöda killen!


04 April 2005, 05:45 PM
The way this is going, we'll probably find out next week that Feng Zhu guessed it....swedish..
What's the deal with sweden and amazing artists!?

Maybe I should move there! My sister in law is finnish though, does that count? :)

04 April 2005, 06:15 PM
Hi Steven
Will you share your experience in facial rigging?thank you!
the girl's facial animation is amazing !!:thumbsup:

04 April 2005, 06:18 PM
Hey steven - ive admired your great work for years, and your great topology and modeling skills have been a big influence to me!

Heres my questions, if you dont mind.

1: Have you ever tried making charicatures? Yknow - stylised characters or cartoons? Your realistic girl characters are always great, but ive never seen you try anything that strays from attempts at realism. Id love to see your modeling skills applied to different, more unusual things. Maybe even animals, machines, creatures etc...

2: Do people frown at you for creating so many 'sexy girl' images? I know its an odd thing to say, but the endless amount of naked sexy CG chicks seen around here is getting a bit much!

3: Have you ever considered making an in-depth tutorial for creating a realistic stahlberg girl from scratch? Maybe even as a gnomon dvd?

Sorry if some of these questions sound a little cheeky - i mean no disrespect - but all of the questions i was going to ask have aready been said :scream:


04 April 2005, 06:33 PM
Hey Steven!

It's so cool to have you here at CGTalk Q&A, man! Awesome! I'm a huge huge huge huge huge fan of your work. It's just OUT OF THE WORLD!:buttrock: Believe me, it was your 'Fairy and Snake' still that really inspired me to get into 3D and learn it. I'm from India and am relatively very new to 3D. I am still working on my skills. I'm not very good at modelling. I have a lot to work upon. Could you please guide me as to how should go about approaching any model that I intend to make?

Furthermore, is there any way that I can request you to crit my work in future? I would be grateful if an artist like you could guide me.



04 April 2005, 06:58 PM
Wow, i'm really surprised hearing that you originate from sweden. I first got acquainted with your "Jealousy" piece, and it totally blew my mind, definitely one of my favorite images i've ever seen, might even stretch is as far as saying that it's the _best_ image i've ever seen!
Well, since this is a q&a forum, i might as well pose a question. Well, since your from sweden, you must know swedish, right?

04 April 2005, 07:46 PM
Personally, I think that if you were to make a full length CG movie with characters as detailed as your current work, movie goers would wonder why everyone made a fuss about Pixar and Dreamworks Movies! :D

I have a question:
[QUESTION INTRO]I always had a bit of skill with the pencil, and used to spend hours sketching characters on my notebooks back in school. I never kept at it though and nowadays all I can manage are sketches of incomplete images such as a face or a hand. If I attempt to draw a complete scene it either loses detail or my imagination just doesn't keep up. I feel like my imagination is this muscle that has been left idle for years.[/QUESTION INTRO]

How much of a commitment do you think would I have to put in so that I can render -with a pencil- detailed, visually balanced scenes? Would it take months? Years?(I guess you'd have to judge by looking at what I can do. check the sketch for that). This is not my destiny, I'm taking up sketching just for the love of seeing something go from your head to the outside world i.e it's just a hobby. So no need to take the question too seriously :)

It's good to hear you have a happy family life, that's important. Good luck with any dreams you wish to fulfill and we sure appreciate your opening up to us n00bs!

04 April 2005, 08:36 PM
Hello Steven,

I must say I really love your work and look forward to seeing what you come up with next.

I just have one quick question. On your site you link to a place where you can buy prints/posters of your work. Do you have any intention of putting 'One Last Time' or 'Psycho Girlfriend' into print too? I personally would love to purchase these in poster form if possible. Esspecilly 'One Last Time' as any time I see more of your work I go back to your site and just look at that one over and over again. It is truely a work of art. (pun only partially intended ;-)


04 April 2005, 09:44 PM
Hi Steven,

Well first of let me say that it was one of your images that inspired me to give up my job and go back to uni to re-train as a 3d artist. So its kinda cool that i have a chance to just say thank you. Hopefully one day i'll be as great as you and will inspire other people with my work, in the way you have for me.

Eddie Ellis

04 April 2005, 09:46 PM
Hi Steven...

It was your site some time ago that really kindled my interest in 3D human figures..and photorealism, if you will, although I think that may be an incorrect manifestation of 3D modeling. I would rather see things that are humanoid and real, but not necessarily photo-real.

Where are you going with your work. How "real" do you intend to get...

04 April 2005, 09:50 PM
Hi Steven,

dont know what to say... maybe in can start like this..
If someone would ask me if i have any idols i would probably answer
Carlos Santana at the guitar and Steven Stahlberg at the mouse. :cool:
My favorite picture from you is this vargas style girl, its a breeze.


btw. i have a family with 2 children as well, its always nice to know that
there are others daring to do 2 of the most time consuming enterprises
at the same time. :D

04 April 2005, 10:46 PM
Hi steven!

I lost my artistic identity, although I'm not sure I never had it...I don't feel like I'm going anywhere else than making cool characters, buildings, textures, etc. for games or whatever.

The thing is that when it comes to personal artwork I don't resolve my renders successfully...I feel inspired and then I make a a cool character or something...later, when it comes to the important stuff...I lose everything with mood, composition, in fact: my style sucks!

any tips?

btw you are one of my favourites! You make the most difficult thing, making a great body become something more than that.

Thanks man :D

04 April 2005, 11:08 PM
Hi Mr. Stahlberg,:)

first of I'd like to say that I admire your skill and diligence and inteligent approach to making art. You adapt very fast and well to new things. I also really enjoy the kind of women you make model paint. :thumbsup: I have a few general questions actually. For now that is:rolleyes:.

1. You mentioned you copied styles for a while. I'm very curious as to what styles artists and maybe artworks have had a profound inspriational effect on you personally?

2. I heard from time to time about shorts Optidigit would be creating, and series and similar. How's that coming along, if I may be so bold?

3. What is Optidigit? I know you run it or are a co-founder of it. But I really don't know what it is as a whole.

And of-course! Thanks for being a help and inspiration to us! I found the resources you provide an excellent starting point. And some of the threads you've started are abominably helpful, if I hadn't learned about toppology after getting on the internet, I would've been in a bad shape 3d wise.:)


04 April 2005, 11:09 PM
Hi Steven,

What do you think of upcoming spectral renderers such as Maxwell? How do you think these "ultra realistic" renderers will change 3D?



04 April 2005, 01:16 AM
Hey Steven. My Question has to do with your interest in SSS, skin shaders, and the stool girl.

Do you think you may ever try to get her to look as real in color as you have in B&W? :)

04 April 2005, 02:02 AM
"Family, you just make sure you write "FAMILY" with big letters on the crate they're in, so you can find them"

lol - I did that once, though I labled the box "misc attic." Life has been so much more relaxing... (j/k)

Just reading everyone's questions and your responses. Nothing really to ask in particular. Just wanted to say I love your work and especially your way of constently switching from 3d to 2d in your work. It's nice to see an artist who uses all the tools available to him.

Thanks for taking the time to take part in this forum! It really adds to everyone's database of Knowledge and Information.

04 April 2005, 02:45 AM
Hello Steven.
How are you?
Your work has been my inspiration.

I remember long back in MMU school time (second week in school) you came to give a talk.I was learning how to import image plane and split polygon and you were talking about writing shader, floats and so advance stuff that almost bored me to sleep.Forgive me.How I wish I could ride back the time and I will be seating in the front row, open my eyes and ear as big as possible.I had good times in school with Jerry (if you do remember him) around.Best teacher!

Always sad to hear about ya projects broken up.Here in Malaysia we still have many obstacles to overcome before we see creative and beautiful contents.You know best.I have couple of question.

How much polygon in most of your detail character? D ya fancy nurbs?

What do you do when you face a huge amounts of stress and uncertainties in dealing with time, projects, works, technical difficulties?

Thank you Steve!:)

04 April 2005, 03:51 AM
Just wanted to chime in briefly on some not so well-known facts about Steven. I don't think most people know this, but Steven is not just an artist, but also a writer, photographer, and musician as well. When we worked together, I got to read quite a bit of his screenplays, synopsis..etc and he's got a great instinct for sci-fi comedy. When we collaborated on creating/writing a sci-fi comedy/adventure TV series, his synopsis for some of the episodes were just brilliant. His glamour photography from his younger days were quite nice too--it had that 80's Playboy lushness to them. I wish he'd pick it up again.

04 April 2005, 04:23 AM
Empath, wow don't know what to say, except thanks... :)

eparts, the art school in Stockholm was RMHI Berghs, Graphic Design and Illustration.

mireneye, tack ska du ha! 1. I'd like to try anything with film, like directing, writing, editing, rigging pyrotechnics, even stunts if that was all they'd let me do... or make their coffee... I was an extra once, in a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, hehe, crappy movie, spent all day waiting to do a take, but I just LOVED it. I love movies and everything about them, always have.
2. Tried Max, and Zbrush, didn't like Max much, but I'll definitely get Zbrush one day!

lyppeter, my facial animation rig is relatively simple, all Blendshapes (morftargets in Maya), this one 39 targets, but less controls than that, since some targets are automated. Also, several targets are split in left and right, yet normally you'd animate them as 1, so I only count them as one animatable control. In all I think I used only 23 such controls for this animation. Examples: Smile, Gape, Sneer, Eek, upperlip up/down, lowerlip up/down, mouthcorners in, mouthcorners up/down, etc. If you play the animation slowly, you can see her jaw move in and out at one time, and even a little bit sideways. I worked extra hard on the MBP visemes, not making them a single control but using 3 or 4, so each one is a little different. There's about 7 bumpmaps connected to some of the controls, but I think we only see one of them clearly (the chin).

Andy H, thanks, love your bunnygirl too. 1. I've made tons of charicatures and cartoons in 2d, a few in 3d. There was a rooster, and this cartoony male character... but these were jobs, and I never really liked them myself. They had to look so safe, tame, cute and smiling, it's sickening. :) Sure, I've considered doing something in similar style to your bunny girl... one way or another I'm going to have to let go of the photoreal obsession. I've known that for a long time. There are so many different directions to take it though, once you do that. Right now I'm looking into contour rendering.
2. I'm sure some people do, haven't noticed much frowning lately but I guess if I was dumb enough to ask for a poll we'd hear from them. :)
3. I will make a gnomon DVD one day, and it's hopefully going to be soon, but I'm not sure how in-depth it will be. I haven't planned it out yet, one reason why I can't start yet. I was thinking maybe skin shading, and shading in general, first. Then maybe some modeling advice, something about face rigging... There are so many great hyper-real and high-res modeling dvd's now, I don't know if watching me model a relatively low-res model would be terribly interesting and/or helpful.

shivboy, thanks. Well you can email me, and I'll do my best, but I prefer if people only send me like 1 image a week to crit, because of my high volume of email.

vANON, tackar, jo jag kan svenska. Det är mitt forsta språk.

mashakos, thanks. The answer to your question is in your intro; I think you're definitely right, the imagination is exactly like a muscle and needs to be used to grow. So, just go ahead and practise with it, try to have fun with it. I think you may also have something akin to what writers call writer's block. You just have to find a subject that really inspires you to put in the hard work it will take... then it will just flow, it won't let you rest until it's finished. Your sample drawing shows that you have talent, you just need more practise. How long? That's hard to say as it depends on many factors. How often, how long, and exactly how you practise. If you practised for an hour or two each day drawing from life, I'm sure you'd see steady improvement every month or two... a year later, there will be a huge difference.

EscapeYourMind, the 'One Last Time' should be available there as a poster, it's just that their stupid site has a rating system that hides all my stuff with a bit of nudity in it from everyone by default, you have to explicitly ask for a higher rating when you sign up, and that option is hidden away. Idiots... 'Psycho Girlfriend' isn't available there though.

eddieellis, man! I checked out your M&S thread, that's brilliant! And hilarious! :)

daveso, I am already backing off from full realism, and I'll be exploring that further in the future.

Matze4d, thanks! :)

DDS, your problem is a typical one, it's a problem for me too, for every 3d artist I think. 3d is so technically difficult it often completely overshadows any artistic considerations... You have to fight back. This is what I use my initial sketch for. You have to try to see the vision of the finished work in your mind, as clearly as possible, before you begin, because as soon as you begin the 3d work, the app will start pulling you off-course, like gravity. Use the sketch like a lighthouse to aim for in the fog. Experiment LATER, AFTER you've reached your target and the 3d image is looking enough like the sketch.
This all means the sketch has to be clear, especially with the lighting issues, and the color. That's the hard part, of course, but again - practise is the answer. Start loose, refine later, sketch gestures, basic shapes... don't get too complex with the lighting, keep it simple. Study the work of artists you like (comics, movies, Rembrandt, whatever).

jimBoekstein, 1. I've copied Herge, Moebius, Frazetta, Renoir, Drew Struzan, Robert Heindel, Blackburn, Peake, Gaugin, Durer, many others... they all influenced me. (My specialty as an illustrator was "any style, any media". I could have been a pretty good fine-art forger.) :)
2. Optidigit is on hold right now, it won't be closing but at the moment there are no projects planned. We simply have no investors. We've had a run of bad luck with past funding sources, you could say.
3. Optidigit is simply my friend and partner's company since over 7 years back, focused on 3d and editing.

Pin_pal, in the short term it may seem to some that these ultra-real and easy to use softwares are shortcuts, 1-button-wonders that will only allow more mediochre art to be created, but imo that's irrelevant. In the long term they will remove some of the 'red tape' from the 3d artist's day, and make it easier for him/her to get his vision through.

onlooker, maybe today, when I have access to a better sss. Not back then. And, it follows, if I wait a while longer I'll have access to an even better skin shader and she'd look even better in color. So, one day, yes I think so. :)

tevih, I should try that... dam I can't, haven't got an attic...

capirossi, hi, you mean back when MMU was in Melacca? Or here in KL? Yeah, I remember Jerry!
1. I don't recommend using NURBS for any organic branching geometry, that is, if it's got a Y-junction anywhere. LIke legs, or tree branches... I use polys now, almost exclusively. But NURBS are still great for smooth artificial surfaces that can be described as a rectangle when unwrapped, such as the panels of a car, parts of an airplane, simple objects like pots and pans etc. They're great for controlling the curvature in such objects very exactly, still keeping them smooth.
2. I deal with stress from deadlines by not thinking too much about it, focusing on the road just under my feet and the next step, not on the big hill I have to climb... Also, I know my speed pretty well, so I will not agree to do anything now that I think I can't do.
I want to say this to everyone: it's a matter of our sanity and our health - the most important thing we have. Don't let a boss or client bully you into getting an ulcer and a nervous breakdown just because he's a moron and can't plan ahead. Cover your ass by putting in writing from the start that the timing is too tight, then do your best (without worrying, learn to be fatalistic about it). If you miss the deadline, you were right and you have it in writing. If you get fired, so be it, in some countries you can sue the boss or client for that though. If you make the deadline, well everyone's happy. But sometimes in these cases, it might be better for you if you didn't make the deadline, because otherwise there's a big chance the client or boss will make you go through the same thing again and again...

Hi Luna!

04 April 2005, 05:34 AM
OMG!!! steven!!!
i come from malaysia,u r so famous in malaysia. how come u can model out such a amazing character.Just wondering where u get the ideas from? did u ever run out of ideas?

04 April 2005, 07:26 AM
The ideas come when they want to usually, I can do certain things which may speed up the coming, or clear the path for them, and occasionally I can squeeze an idea out of thin air on demand... but usually they just pop up, at the most unexpected times. And rarely does one come alone, but in groups. I think this is because the subconscious works in its own mysterious ways, and on its own weird time frame. Like when you're trying to think of an actor's name, and there's a total block... you struggle until you're red in the face... you give up.
Then, 6.35 minutes later, you think, damn why couldn't I rembember that guy - bling! and the name is right there. It's like some archivist in your subconscious has been secretly busy for the last few minutes, digging up the info, getting it ready.

04 April 2005, 08:12 AM
Hi Steven.My sincere congratulations. Many of your works hit me seriously...thanks:)

04 April 2005, 08:51 AM
Hi Steven:),

I didnt know you gave a talk when MMU was way back in Melacca.
I attend your talk in KL. Unfortunately good times doesnt last long.
I was so lucky yet stupit.

1) May I know how many polygons is your completed character before smooth or convert to SubD? Just the body mesh including arms and legs.
How many polygon you consider is the limit (before smooth) when the character is going to be heavily animated?

2) Do you have any future plan such as doing a short animated feature which open to all CG volunteer especially here in Malaysia?

I sincerely thank you for your time and advice.It gave me lots of stuff to think.:D:thumbsup:

04 April 2005, 09:22 AM
It's the Icecream Man! Olijosman, I love your work.

capirossi, 1. The latest version of my basic female body, I sometimes call her Summer, is about 3400 polys in the body, about as much in the head. But she could be much heavier than that, since I don't use Subd's but Smooth Proxy. I probably shouldn't get too software specific here, but I discuss it in this thread:
I know that's a very very long thread by now, and some of the first images I'm showing look crappy to me now, but check through it up to about page 40 or 50 or so, others are contributing also.
2. No, not right now.

04 April 2005, 11:37 AM
Hi Steven,most people around here,and in the profession will agree(it's been stated),your name will go down in history as a pioneer of cg arts.

It's great to get to know you in such a direct way that the internet provides.


Of the artists of the past centuries(or current one),have any of them influenced you in your directions?Who and why?


04 April 2005, 12:41 PM
Hi Steven.

Great to have the opportunity to ask you some questions! Your Fairy Queen is still on my desktop, one of my favourite pieces! You mentioned earlier that you just focus on the tone and colors when creating a skin shader for your characters, is that correct? You also mention that one has to be careful not to go OTT when creating skin for beautiful girls (which I agree with).

You also expressed interest in Zbrush at some point. Based on this board alone people seem to use Zbrush for adding huge amounts of detail to a low-poly mesh, and in some cases generating impressive base geometry with zspheres. Here's my question: How do you see Zbrush fitting into your workflow? Would you use it for relatively quick models (mock-up and concept) or purely as a detailing/texturing tool? Also, regarding shaders, does this mean we'll get to see some characters where your awesome 3D chops are brought to bear on more detailed shaders?

Thanks for any answers, you continue to be a huge inspiration.

04 April 2005, 01:03 PM
hi, am quite young (17) and from belgium.

first off all, i admire your work, in fact i admire all the work of different great artists on this forum. I like to draw, but never did it at home, only at art school. But now i broke up with my girlfriend, i was devestated, and started to draw. What i saw was that i could draw beter than before, true feelings and good works. if anyone sees them (only my bestest of friends) they find it very good, but am looking for improvement. First of all, i want my faces to be more emotional, i mean, there not bad, but something is missing. sometimes i see a picture here and i think waauw, how did they do this. Do you have any tips, i mean in general, to draw (not real techniques but advice you can give me because you're a pro, and you probably know beter than i do how to start drawing and what do you keep in mind). I could use some generals advice about that + also about on what i draw and with what. can you recomend me something that i should try because i only draw with pencil paper and maybe charbon. Maybe you could open my mind a little to some advangtages of other ways, and with some advice.
i learnt a lot from this forum, when see a good picture i try to make the same, and it works, no problem, with pencil and than maaaaaaaaybe colour it with charbon. but a true artist is the person who can make this just like that. by trying to draw the same i try to develop my sense in perspective and everythin too, because i need practice. But the finished work isn't really mine than. My skills are improving and maybe i am going to draw something myself and post it here dunno. But first i need an answer on this.
btw sorry for weird text or things i say twice :p.

04 April 2005, 01:32 PM
Hi Steven,

There's probably going to be a few corny questions from me. But, meh! :p

Well, i got my first job last month. (Intern at a studio here.). And basicly it's been a great experience, i've been learning tons here. Did some animations for them.

They also asked me to model a character for them, she's supposed to be a manager of a football team.
Well, i've been working on it and, yesterday, they had a look at it. And they REALLY, really, hated it. They told me i upset them because i didn't reach thier expectations.
It's a bit upsetting to hear that, as i really, really want to work in the industry, modelling, etc. But i just never seem to be improving.

My question to you is, when you were around my age (17) and growing up in the industry. How did you become what you are? I mean, churn out amazing models and stuff?
Most people say practice, which i don't doubt, but, was there more?

Just hoping to pick up some tips to improve. :)

Have a nice day. And i'm really sorry for this question which you probably get from everyone. :hmm:

04 April 2005, 01:46 PM
Hi mr.Steven...
Thank u for your availability on CgTalk! Thank u still for your work in Cg... All artists Can give a hand to all others, simply with an image submission, and u give us this kind of emotions a lot of time, and it's special...
I have 2-3 questions about your work...

1- How do u rig your models? Do u paint weights, in Maya, or u make all skeleton and singles muscles? Paintin'weights is not so simple if u want to give a real deformation with all moviments without influence objects... Tell us...

2- How do u work with clothes? How do u model them, and how do u animate them?

3- Are your eyelashes fur or what? They're wonderful

Thank u for all and sorry 4 my bad english...!

Francesco G. (Italy)

04 April 2005, 03:15 PM
First of all.....Stevie!! *Hugssss* I adore your arts.....You sit together with my idol, Boris Vallejo................there up peaceful. :scream:

2. I deal with stress from deadlines by not thinking too much about it, focusing on the road just under my feet and the next step, not on the big hill I have to climb... Also, I know my speed pretty well, so I will not agree to do anything now that I think I can't do.
I want to say this to everyone: it's a matter of our sanity and our health - the most important thing we have. Don't let a boss or client bully you into getting an ulcer and a nervous breakdown just because he's a moron and can't plan ahead. Cover your ass by putting in writing from the start that the timing is too tight, then do your best (without worrying, learn to be fatalistic about it). If you miss the deadline, you were right and you have it in writing. If you get fired, so be it, in some countries you can sue the boss or client for that though. If you make the deadline, well everyone's happy. But sometimes in these cases, it might be better for you if you didn't make the deadline, because otherwise there's a big chance the client or boss will make you go through the same thing again and again...

I couldnt agree more on the above, Steven...I had a lot of bad experiance working with impossible people doing impossible things.....but now with you saying that...i know that i wont be doing the wrong thing if i come across the same situation again.....:)

I have one question though, Mr. Stahlberg.

I have always dream to do an artwork that can change how the world goes....for the better. Arts that make people change the way they live....the way they build policies. Like an illustration showing a contrasting situation in the dying Sudan and some food-wasting festival in some countries at the same time at the same moment.....and do it so effectively....people will stop wasting their food and start turning serious head towards feeding this dying people in sudan......

The question is, Mr. Stahlberg.....Is it possible? with what we have now?

Maybe its just me with my impossible dream....i just want to know what you would say.

Thank you Mr. Stahlberg and CGTalk for this opportunity......

04 April 2005, 05:16 PM
Thankyou Mr. Stahlberg and cgtalk for the chance that we talk with you.

This is my first year working in the industry. Truely find out that what I need the most important in the industry is networking, talent is always as a backup. I am totally lack of social skills. Mainly because I am full of the shadow of chinese and HK life style. Alittle strange and quiet. Love playing video game soo much. I just don't know what should I do. Parents and ppl keep saying that i should go out more. But I have a huge barrier in emotion that I don't want to hang out with the ppl that I don't feel comfortable.

Everyday after work, I just don't want to see anymore XSI or photoshop interface. Do you ever have this experience? Although I understand that i should always keep up my own work and update my own demo. But it is just imposible.

Im happy with my job, I am happy with my pay check. But it is very depressing with my lifestyle. I feel something is missing. Maybe is the meaning of life. I can't find a definition on that.

I am not sure..... kinda lost here.

04 April 2005, 05:26 PM
Hello Mr. Stahlberg,

I must say that after coming to CGTalk a few ago, I have nothing but the most respect for your work and everything (I loved the giant woman concept). After I recently graduated from college with a degree in Computer Animation (I am only 21, and self taught in 3D modeling and animation at age 11), I still have the love of computer graphics and want to keep learning. On the side, I am also a screenwriter and novelist trying to make my first CG short. And like you, photorealism is not a goal for me.

My question is do you believe Computer Graphics will be fully appreciated amongst the generated public as a legitimate art form? After watching alot of CG films, like Finding Nemo (which Pixar is a source of my inspiration) I feel that some people of the general public do not appreciate it enough yet.

And also do you have any advice for young indy filmmakers like myself using CG as a medium? But also to have a localised CG business?

Thanks for your time, and you ROCK!! :) :thumbsup:

04 April 2005, 05:37 PM
StephanD, I've been influenced by many many artists, some I don't even know the name of, and some who have deeply impressed me but who haven't influenced my work much because I simply consider them masters of a style I just can't do (Zorn would be a good example). But the most important ones that have actually influenced my own work, would be - not in this order -
Herge (his Tintin series)... because it's just so damn unique, decorative yet clear and precise
Moebius... not a fountain of creativity - a supernova. Plus an amazing draughtsman.
Miyazaki... a film-making genius, as well as a designer of the coolest characters and hardware and worlds anywhere
Roger Dean... unique style and design that transports you to a strange, magical, silent and totally beautiful universe
Frank Frazetta (pre-illness)... master of exaggerated anatomy, color and wild brushstrokes - I never saw anything with more energy and emotion
Many others I love: Wayne Barlowe, Adam Huges, Arthur Rackham, Sorayama, Rhodin and his wife, David (the painter), and all the others I mentioned earlier, and many others...

Nightwing, 1. for skin shading in 3d I've found that the most important aspect is Hue, and how the Hue changes across the surface (from the shadow to the light). Saturation is also important, but it comes second. Last is Value, which is automatically fairly okay by default.
More in my skin shading tutorial, and a greatly expanded version of it will appear in the D'Artiste 2 book I'm working on now, with Pascal Blanche and Fransisco Cortina.
2. I would use it for modelling, including morftargets, then bringing that back into Maya on the low-res cage, as a normal map, perhaps with a displacement map fading in from the edges (as explained in the Maya rendering forum, I don't remember the thread now but do a search on normal mapping there). And I'd also use it for textures of course. Detailed shaders, I guess you mean monster-skin or the like... yeah, sure, why not. :)

wumanrui, Pencil and charcoal is great, it's all you need if you want to draw, and not color. But - if you want to sketch in a public place, with a smaller more discreet notebook, then charcoal can be a bit messy. A few pencils, H HB and B and an eraser, can certainly be enough then.
Drawing should be fun, draw things you like, anything from real life, humans are the hardest so maybe start with something simpler. Carry a notebook with you all the time, for those sudden ideas, or when you see some weirdo you just have to draw... If you find you have trouble remembering to draw, make a decision to draw a certain amount of time every day, at the same time, so it becomes a habit - say half an hour in the morning, or evening. This is where a regular class can be helpful. It also helps to see other artists struggling with the same issues, and if you have a good teacher, even better.
Try different things, try really fast sketches, and more detailed ones.
Check out the VERY useful links in the "Art Theory Links" in the Art Discussion forum here. Especially read the Loomis books.

Admiral Ra: "when you were around my age (17) and growing up in the industry. How did you become what you are? Most people say practice, which i don't doubt, but, was there more?"
First of all, I didn't grow up in the industry. :) I wish... When I was 17 there was no industry, this was 1977, in a small town (or large village)... I was a pimply nerd sitting in my bedroom drawing awful derivative comics with really stupid dialogue. I applied to an art school at 18, and didn't get in, that's how bad I was. So I practised... and at 26 I finally made it into the best art school in Sweden. Then, of course, more practise - that's what school is after all. But I didn't get into cg until I was around 34. Again, my first efforts were awful, as you can see on my website > tutorials > evolution. But again, practise practise. And here I am, 11 years later. Sorry to say it, but - no, there's not much more than practise to it. :)
Although I probably had a tiny little advantage: my mother, and her father before her, were both quite artistically inclined at an early age, as was I, which seems to indicate I probably inherited something from them. Still, it's not so much what you have but what you do with it.

neofg, 1. I don't paint weights. I hate that, it's so tedious and so easily ruined, then you have to redo it. I don't use muscle systems either, not yet, and no Wrap deformer anymore. Instead I just use Blendshapes to control all joint deformations of the body. Blendshapes controlled by the joint rotation, applied to the Smooth Proxy.
2. I model tight clothes. Easiest way is to copy the body, cut it up and expand it a bit, then use it as a base to model from (deleting and adding edges, moving vertices). As for looser clothing, well I try to avoid that, haven't had time to mess too much with Syflex.
3- Are your eyelashes fur or what? They're wonderful
thanks, they're a mix of simple polygon cylinders (single strands), and bigger wider shapes that represent several strands (transparency mapped). None of them attached in any way to the lid, just made to follow by paying attention to the respective Blendshapes. This method gives richness and variety and control, is lighter than all polygon cylinders, and still casts some shadows.

maranello55: "Is it possible? with what we have now?"
Maybe, but being an old cynical man I suspect not... :) But you should definitely try, don't listen to me, your energy may help someone even if you never know it.

04 April 2005, 05:47 PM
Hi, Steve

I'm a 17-year student from Oulu, Finland and I'm heading for some kind of an art career and studies (graphic design, advertisement). I find it really hard to arrange time for improving my painting/drawing skills. School and hobbies take so much time :sad:.

These are actually the same questions I asked from Linda Bergkvist in the previous thread, but I think these are the main things (besides the painting technique of an artist, which you've already explained well :)) which I'm concerned right now.

1) When did you start to paint "seriously" and how did you find time for it then?

You know, art/painting isn't something you just can arrange time, like "I have 50 minutes between this and this, I could practise then". Art (at least for me) is something you just should have a LOT of time for. Some people already asked about combining your work and family life, but I would like to get a student's viewpoint (if you remember when you were about 17)

2) Could you recommend some book/author regarding human anatomy?

I would especially want to learn about drawing faces and hands. Also, proportions/perspective is something I quite don't handle yet. Your own tips are also OK if you prefer :).

Hälsningar från Finland
and keep up the good work :D

PS. Wow, these threads are so great, especially how the artists answer to everyone so carefully.

EDIT: I just saw your latest answers and you basically answered the first question. You also mentioned Loomis and the Art Theory thread here on CGTalk (just like Linda). Any other books/authors you could recommend?

04 April 2005, 06:32 PM
Mr. Stahlberg,
Andy H asked a question along these lines... and I'd like it answered more thoroughly.

How do you defend your work as ART against critics who might take a passing look and dismiss it as titillation, derivative, flashy, hollow, formal, stale, et cetera?

Kind of a tough question, I know. I wouldnt relish the thought of answering it myself and it's more than okay if you can't to sink a bunch of hours on one guy's post.
However, I've been very curious lately about CG's place in the larger art community... and about how people like you, the greatest practitioners of our time, will go down in art history.


04 April 2005, 12:22 AM
Hi Steven,

I sometimes agree on your points and others I don't, but I always enjoy the firey passionate tone when you address your point in the art forum.

I have two questions about your work:

Your concept seems to be well established (designed) at an early stage, and the final work is finely tuned in every aspect of the painting or the rendering. In many ways, I compare your work to a building designed with a clear form and function. While painting usually is very forgiving to the 'accidental' and unintended effects along the way, do you tolerate such accidents in your work, or you are strict about getting the intended effect, regardless of what it takes?
This industry is attracting a lot of young guns for whom their career will be shaped by the achievements of artists like you, leading edge if you will. How do you see yourself taking a leap into the next level where not many have been before? i.e your future objectives.
Thanks for the opportunity of one-on-one Q&A, and wish you the best,

a.k.a. Ali Shakarchi

04 April 2005, 04:36 AM
HapZungLam, many people feel like you do, kind of anti-social, more comfortable alone or with closest family... including me. I think a lot of artists are like that. I don't think there's anything wrong with us. I think we're just different. I'm a lone wolf, quite content to spend weeks just talking to myself (or I was; now I'd miss my family).
It's not that I dislike people, I don't, I like almost everyone I meet. But in a social situation, with strangers, I just have a tendency to either be too quiet, or blabber on, which of course embarrases me. I don't know, maybe I'm too sensitive as well.
That's another thing that causes a lot of stress for many artists, being too sensitive. A walking bundle of exposed nerves. I've learned to hide my feelings, I had to, you know how cruel kids can be. I did it so well the kids used to call me 'Stone Face' - but of course it doesn't make the feelings go away. You just have to realize that you're different, not screwed up, and look at it as an advantage instead of a liability. Which it is, on the whole, once you're an adult. Today, most of my ultra-cool bully class-mates are nobodies with dead-end jobs, some are even alcoholics. (I recently met them, it was really sad.)
Don't let it get you depressed. Networking is not THAT important, trust your feelings and don't feel guilty.

HaloAnimator (thanks): Yes, I'm sure CG will be seen as a legitimate artform by everyone one day, definitely. It has to. Of course it could take quite a few years.
Advice for indy filmmakers who use CG? Hard, a field I don't know much about. Okay, some ideas - but you probably thought of this yourself already... if budget is a huge concern, try open source software. CGTalk has forums for most softwares. It also has a forum for indy projects.

jtuulos, 1. I started drawing 'seriously' probably when I was 3. Remember how I said I'm a loner... I have AD/HD, under control now but not so much when I was a kid. Also, we moved around a few times, which doesn't promote socialising for children. After school, I used to spend all my time indoors, either reading, building plastic models, or drawing. Well, at least before puberty. After that, I tried to get out a bit more, if only to meet girls. :) But I still drew and painted all the time, I kind of "knew" that I was destined to be an artist. Hard to explain...
2. Anatomy is very hard to learn from a book. I never managed to learn the name of every muscle, no matter how good the book was. And those drawings, rarely as accurate as the real thing. Best is study from real life. Bodybuilder's magazines are great for this. You want to know what the body looks like with the skin still on...
Still, if you really feel like you want a book, check these out, I don't actually own any of
them but many look promising. The first one there, for instance, after reading the table of contents, seems very thorough. The cover also is promising, using a photo with a drawing on top, instead of a plain drawing.
Another link, again the top one seems very promising:
About some tips on drawing hands, I have some on my site, tutorials section

HenningK, I'm not sure I entirely disagree with critics who might say that... so it's kind of hard to defend it. I'm working towards moving away from all that, perhaps not entirely successfully, perhaps I'll never be, but hope springs eternal. :) Still, I could defend it this way: At least it's 100% honest and true to myself.

ashakarc, cool, thanks, 1. It depends. 99% of the time I'm very strict as you say, but accidents will happen and I always stop a moment to consider - is this helpful or not? Sometimes - rarely - it is, and then I keep it. There's also the matter of shortcuts... perhaps I planned to have 10 buildings in the background. But it's a lot of work, it's taking too long, and I notice that it looks just as good with 7. Like that.
2. Future objectives, hm, tricky... I'd like to direct my own short to start with. But I'd have to win the lottery, or software has to be a lot more powerful, to be able to do that. I'd also like to be able to render more painterly in the future, or at least less 'computery' and photoreal, but as we know there are many technical issues to be resolved. It makes it hard to make longterm plans regarding artistic goals. Plus, I mean, I'm just a guy trying to do cool stuff, really. :)

04 April 2005, 07:38 AM
Think someone mentioned wanting to see early work, they probably meant 3d but here's the earliest 2d work I could find - 1979. I was 19. Note the general crappiness... it started out in oil, but at the end I was using ballpoint pen and correction fluid! The clouds are ok, because I had reference for them.

04 April 2005, 07:54 AM
Hey Stahlberg. I'm a bit late on this one, but hopefully my questions haven't been asked yet. :)

For starters, do you find that you still learn a lot from CGTalk? For me, its been one of the greatest resources in learning CG. I learn a lot just by helping other people here and following along with WIPs. And seeing other people's work certainly serves as a major source of inspiration. But it seems that there would be a certain point where you wouldn't learn a whole lot more from a community like this. There's always more for all of us to learn (a LOT more) of course. But would you say that you keep hanging around here more to learn more about CG, or for something else perhaps?

apZungLam, many people feel like you do, kind of anti-social, more comfortable alone or with closest family... including me. I think a lot of artists are like that. I don't think there's anything wrong with us. I think we're just different. I'm a lone wolf, quite content to spend weeks just talking to myself (or I was; now I'd miss my family).
It's not that I dislike people, I don't, I like almost everyone I meet. But in a social situation, with strangers, I just have a tendency to either be too quiet, or blabber on, which of course embarrases me. I don't know, maybe I'm too sensitive as well.
That's another thing that causes a lot of stress for many artists, being too sensitive. A walking bundle of exposed nerves. I've learned to hide my feelings, I had to, you know how cruel kids can be. I did it so well the kids used to call me 'Stone Face' - but of course it doesn't make the feelings go away. You just have to realize that you're different, not screwed up, and look at it as an advantage instead of a liability. Which it is, on the whole, once you're an adult. Today, most of my ultra-cool bully class-mates are nobodies with dead-end jobs, some are even alcoholics. (I recently met them, it was really sad.)
Don't let it get you depressed. Networking is not THAT important, trust your feelings and don't feel guilty.
I think this really gets at a good point. When you browse through all of the threads around here where the 'pros' give tips to the new guys looking to break into the industry, one of the most common things you hear (second only to pure skill) is people talking about the importance of networking in this industry.
Though I've never let the thought hold me back from pursuing the career I want, it's one of those things that has always kinda been at the back of my minding, worrying me a bit. I'm an extremely shy and quiet person (the most timid person you'll ever meet, many people would say). I wasn't bullied as I was growing up or anything, it's just the way I've always been. People can change a lot of things about themselves, but I've come to believe that this is just one of those things that's always going to stick with me. It's not completely debilitating; give me a couple months with someone, and I'll open up. But it certainly worries me as far as getting contacts and whatnot in the industry goes.
You suggest, though, that "networking is not THAT important." So I'm curious, is that just the way that its managed to work out for you, or do you have an experiences that really show this as the truth for the industry? Would you say that for a more competitive location for CG (the San Francisco bay area, perhaps?) this great emphasis on "networking" is being over-exaggerated?

Lastly, we all know how well-informed the average joe is on the way that CG works. Half the population thinks there's a magic "make real" button on computers, and that computers can really do virtually all of the work by themselves, so it's really like us CG artists just play games all day. Do you encounter people expressing these views very often, and if so what's your usual reaction? Can you just shrug it off, or do you feel the need to 'educate' them? I always find it to be quite frustrating, since I know all too well how much work really goes into a well-developed piece of CG art.

04 April 2005, 09:07 AM
Hi Steven,it's great to have u here..i remember seeing your work 5 years ago..i think it was 3d cafe..i was blown away by your artwork and had to try 3d myself..i found out that 3d isn't really for me may be in the future

i'm with apZungLam and Vormav about the networking issue and the importance of knowing people in the field..i'm also very quite type except that i'm not even in the field yet but would like to get into it someday
i'm the only one in my family that is into art and none of my friends are into art..but i'm starting to wonder how i'm gonna ever get a job someday doing art (illustration specificly) when i just have zero connections..i'm wondering if u have some advice on how to make that first step

i also have another question about school..i took few basic classes before like drawing and design and they helped me a lot and i'm planning to continue my art education..last year i applied at ringling school because i know it's an exellent school and it will also help me to know people in the field and stuff..i got acepted but i changed my mind at the last moment and went back to community college..i just felt it was too expensive and i was doing a big the end they will only instruct me and i'll still do all the work to improve myself..
i was wondering what's your advice on getting good traditional art education..besides teaching myself,reading books and practice of u think expensive schools really worth it or a public art school is a better choice..or is there are any other options u can suggest

thnx for your time Steven, i apreciate it and wish u the best in your future

04 April 2005, 10:12 AM
Thank u for your answers...Very thank u!

Now I must find a tutorial for how assign blendshapes to joints modifications...

Good art Steven!

04 April 2005, 10:44 AM
Hi, just wondering where in Adelaide you studied? At one of the Universities?

04 April 2005, 11:46 AM
Hi Steven, I have a couple of questions. Your work is quite awe inspiring, having just recently come across it since joining this forum. I've always been exceptionally fond of painters who use little reference, using only their imagination. How much do you experiment in the process of an image? A lot of what you do will come through years of practice and hard slogging, I understand, and though I'm still young (only 26), and my art has come on so much over even the past year, I wonder do you still learn from every painting you do, still discover things as you paint?

Your skills with colour and light are stunning considering you use no reference. Was this just learned through trial and error? Are there any sources (such as books, article, other artists) that helped you understand colour better that you could pass on to a novice?

And one final question. I currently work as a graphic designer, but I really would love to get into a more artistic (in the traditional drawing sense) job. I'm working towards putting a portfolio togther, and I'd like ask your opinion of whether developing a style is important, or whether it would be better to try and encompass many different styles. I've always loved trying loads of different media and styles, but I feel like I'm not developing something I could call MY art style, if that makes any sense, because I'm trying to broaden my horizons artistically.

And I'd just like to say thanks for giving some of your time to help us out. Being the obviously busy man you are, it's a great gesture that shows you sincerely care about your trade.

04 April 2005, 12:21 PM
Hi there.
How are you, steven ? (heheh nobody asked that yet :)) I´ve just replying to say that I am a big fan of your works, 2D or 3D, and the womans that you model are a great reference for any person who wishes to be a 3D modeler. Lest´s get to the question then:

1- You said that you will leave the realistic type of modeling, why is that ? any special reason ?

2- what kind of references do you use to model, photos ? can you post something here for us ?

3- what about your plans for the future?

4- May I send some of my Female modeling for you to criticise ?

best regards.

-Rafael Ely

04 April 2005, 12:57 PM
Just you're amazing artist!!:thumbsup: :thumbsup:


04 April 2005, 02:26 PM
i dont really have a question for you steven, or do i ?! hmm, well see you lots in the forums, aldo this is a good idear, still your are one hell of a poster ,so your are around here often;)

but i do have a question for you, it has been some time you had done the skin shading tutorial, and now its pretty outdated, and ive seen you using other stuff in there.

maybe its time for another skin shading brake down ? i think thats a thing that will contribute lots. aldo people admire you for the modelling, aldo it aint about the modelling skills in your work. its about the styl and skill of portraing things, there are always better modellers around ;) but you put the skills you have to good use, and i admire that.

but a new skin shading brake down would be nice. package independent, preferable

04 April 2005, 02:47 PM
Hi steve

Another question:D
*From you experience.working at EA and that Famous companes what is the advantage and disadvantage of working there?

04 April 2005, 03:16 PM
Hey, Steve, I was just reading through some of your responses and you mentioned you were diagnosed with ADD. I suspect a lot of artists on this forum knowingly or unknowingly share the trait (it lends itself to creativity).
If you ever wanted to understand what it actually is (it is most definately NOT a 'disorder') I would suggest you try and get your hands on a book titled:
ADD, A Different Perspective
by Thom Hartmann
There's too much amazing information in it for me to summarize here, but it's helped me understand myself and I think you might find some eye openers in it as well!

04 April 2005, 04:24 PM
:scream: Hello Mr. Stahlberg yes you are one of favorite Cg artist:arteest:, I've read your Biography and shown you some of the work that i'm working on, none compared to what your capable of doing, :Di'm still a freshmen heading into my sophmore year in college, and boy i can't wait until i start my Major. i've always love to do animation in cg and here in Pratt i can get the opportunity to do so. I've seen many of your 2d and 3d artwork online. Exquisite work. i'm currently learning 3dsmax,Maya6, And photoshop, on my own. however i still ask friends or tutors if they know a certain part i can't solve in any one of these softwares.

Being an Animator or just an Artist,v is by l earing and exploring many tools and understanding their functions. there capabilities are important to the source you provide it to.:buttrock:

Thank You Mr. Stahlberg For not only being an inspiration to what i'm doing at this moment but showing the cg world how much you care for all the little fans out there:bowdown: lol.

i would love to show you more of my work if you don't Mind :) :curious:

04 April 2005, 05:36 PM

I've been a long time fan of your work, and really admire you as an artist. I don't have any specific questions, you've answered a ton already with some really great info.

Thanks again, and keep up the amazing work.

04 April 2005, 05:41 PM
-Vormav-, 1. Yes I still learn from CGTalk, that's what's so great about it. I only recently started using Mental Ray for instance, and the manual that ships with Maya is worse than useless (because it makes me so mad it probably shortens my life every time I even think about it), especially for someone like me. But the Maya render forum here is full of knowledge, probably more than at Alias headquarters.
2. Okay, let me clarify. Networking can be important, but not THAT important - not more important than your mental and physical wellbeing. Not more important than being true to yourself. I don't particularly like wasting time getting killed in multiplayer, or talking about sports or drinking beer in a smokey noisy pub. I'd rather work, or watch a movie, or read, or jog, or play a Gnomon DVD, or sleep. Anyway, I do all my networking online. That's how I've gotten all the cg jobs I've ever had, except my very first one.
3. See, I very rarely get to talk about my work with strangers, because of my lack of networking/socialising - I very rarely meet strangers in situations where I should explain what I do. Whenever that happens though, it's enough of a barrier between me and the rest of the human race to be just another reason why I shouldn't go to cocktail parties. :)

Stealth Pharaoh, 1. I think you should try to network more online, than in person. You can meet more people online, from a wider geographical and demographical range. Of course there's more people competing for the attention, but if you're good enough you'll get it... if not just practise until you are. Get a website, look for indy projects to join, try to get in some galleries and competitions, post a lot in some big forum (hint hint).
2. Those type of schools are very expensive, that's true. They have drawbacks and advantages. I've never been to one myself so maybe I'm not the right one to give advice on it. I just know that it is possible to do it all at home, in your spare time. Now traditional art training, that's a different matter, not like cg. Traditional art schools are often cheaper than the big famous cg schools, or there are things like night or evening classes.

neofg, it's easy, just use Set Driven Key, check the manual how. Simply connect the slider of each Blendshape to the right attribute on the joint - for instance, to the Z rotation of the knee from 0 to 90.

Oscar63, North Adelaide School of Art I think was the name, something like that. It could be gone, this was 20 years ago.

Zepyhri, 1. I experimented a lot in art school, not so much today, due to lack of time. Yes, I do learn something from every work, whether it fails or not.
2. Thanks, but I do use some reference, sometimes. (I recommend trying to use it as much as possible, it always improves an image. I see it as a lazy bad habit to rush forward and skip the searching for - or creating - reference stage.)
I guess it's been trial and error, and much use of reference. In the long run reference also works as a sort of practise; if you paint a lot of horses from reference, soon you will be able to paint very good ones without it. And - I'm not very good with color, yes I can make skin look like skin but I think color is one of my weaker areas. (That's why I sometimes start with black&white, to make it easier.) Linda Bergkvist for instance kicks my butt with colors... I just don't know how she does it. :)
3. You should relax and not worry about the styles, yours will come by itself, when it's good and ready. I used to have the same problem I thought. It's not really a problem. If you want to do many styles, then you should do so. Or if you want to focus on one style, then do that. The world needs both kinds of artists.

Rakhan, 1. Yes - imo perfect photorealism for cg that is not to be mixed with real elements, is a dead end, a waste of time, Don Quixote tilting at windmills. Look up the 'Uncanny Valley' on Google, you'll see what I mean. It's fairly easy to reach 80% realism. But to reach 90 will take as long as it took to reach 80. And to reach 95 will take 3 times as long... then you try for 97, and it takes 4 times as long... and so on. Meanwhile, people you show it to think it's looking scarier and yuckier the closer to realism you get. It's just not cost effective, when real people can reach 100% realism in no time at all. Furthermore, if, in 20 - 30 years we can do it - everything looks exactly like a photo, where's the art? Where's the personality, the hand, the style of the artist?
2. references -the best place
3. no solid plans, I'd love to work on a feature film some day.
4. Sure, just don't send too many images at once. :)

alexfalchi, thanks! :)

Ibah, I have an updated skin tutorial, it will be published in the "D'Artiste 2" book. Though it's not so much a breakdown of my current shader (which changes all the time), but more on the theory and general principles.

Ahmed Hosny, I didn't work there in person, I did it over the internet, as a freelancer. For EA, for instance, I worked on 3 different projects, for 2 different art directors.

Empath, thanks, I should get that book. Yeah, basically I don't see it as a liability either. One aspect is, it allows me to hyperfocus on some things, at the price of not being able to focus on other things. Give and take.

04 April 2005, 07:27 PM
Hello Steven,

Congratulations about your work, you are one of my favorites artist...
perfect work till now....keep going....
Greetings from UK and Greece

04 April 2005, 07:57 PM
Hello Mr. Stahlberg.
I am quite new at modeling in 3D. Finished just 1 project.
I always wanted to be part of a game design team. but I wanted to know if it is smart to attend Game Design school. (I live in the netherlands, and there is only 1 here). Do company's give more about a degree or a portfolio? I am also a bit afraid that there won't be any work in this industry over a few years. (I am 17 now). I am really doubbing about this..
Can you give me some advice?

your work looks really astonishing and very inspiring.

Best Regards

04 April 2005, 08:22 PM
hello Steven . I have seen in another thread that you did not care about that all quad kill all triangles theory . is that because you convert your poly models to subdis? Would you not care if you would use them as smoothed polys? Also, what do other people say to it, for example an animator that has to work with your mesh? do they ever complain? Im asking this because I get a little confused. I see your amazing models and I see they deform well but my teachers when I have taken Maya classes have always made triangles and 5 sided polys look like The Devil and have insisted a lot on loops around mouth, eyes and nose, they say for better deformations. I am currently working on my demo reel and while modeling a character I sometimes want to leave some triangles for the sake of shape and lightness but I am afraid if I show the meshes in the demo and they have lots of triangles no one will hire me to model....?

sorry if this is a silly question

04 April 2005, 01:32 AM
Hi Steven,

Glad to have this chance to know you better. I'm one amongst many who appreciate your work. Actually, your first illustration that I saw was the image of a girl with a bazooka and a cigar - that you sent to the international 3D festival Pixxelpoint a couple of years ago. It was a really funny situation: your work was displayed right beside mine in the gallery in Gorizia - and I thought "this man is a genius for 3D graphics, he deserves to be awarded all the awards in this contest, not just one!". But strangely enough, my work (that in my opinion was rather simple and nothing special) got awarded first place by the public while yours was left without an award, (not sure, correct me if I'm wrong)... It was the first time that I actually felt ashamed by winning an award on a CG contest! :) Well I'm still seeing you as the moral winner of that contest and I've been inspired by your work ever since.

I don't have a question or questions for you (people before me in this thread asked you many interesting things already). I just wanted to say hello and to thank you for being what you are and doing what you do. I was amazed (and very glad, finding out that I'm not a strange exception and a black sheep amongst "3D professionals/artists") by reading your answers in this thread and seeing how many we two have in common, even though we have never met. From background in 2D illustration and photography, not being much interested in games industry and general goings-on in the 3D industry (that many 3d bluffers find so important and like to talk about today), having the same attitude towards work with bosses/clients, liking warm climate, 3D-photorealism and sexy female bodies (ok this last preference is not such a rare case in this forum, I guess :) ) ... and I could go on and on. Well, apart from the fact, that unlike you I'm not a family type of man - I live happily with my girlfriend who's an architect and share the same views as I do regarding importance of creative work and simple, minimalistic, non-distractive and as non-demanding as posible, life.

I hope you are not serious about quitting with your excellent photorealistic work and digital beauties and that we will have the privilege to see many new examples of it in the years to come.

04 April 2005, 07:07 AM
Dowayne, thanks. Sure, go ahead.

Pi3141 and pearl3d, thank you.

ISAF, I'm not really familiar with the field of Game Design, and any schools that teach it. Normally I should think a company looking for artists would hire the artist with the better work and attitude, but there are always eccentric bosses out there I suppose.
Worrying about if there will be work for you in a few years is like worrying if people will ever stop buying movies or games. They never will. Sales can slow down temporarily, for many many different reasons, but only the end of the world could make it stop. So please don't worry about that anymore.

erpel, my method is this: I just don't feel it necessary to keep the base mesh all-quads. Not for my female bodies and faces, anyway. I do care about quads and triangles and 5-sides, I place them quite carefully, with much testing and thinking, where each type will do the most good.
When the Smooth Proxy is applied (I don't like using Subd's anymore, for other reasons), even with just one level of smoothing, everything turns into quads anyway. Check out that Topology thread in the Maya forum for more detailed info. I know it's 90 pages long, but I recommend to read all or most of it.
So in short, if you're afraid to show something that's not all quads, just smooth it once.
The reason some teachers warn against non-quads so strongly, I'm not sure, I guess they just haven't done their own R&D into the matter. There are disadvantages with non-quads, of course, but as with everything there are advantages too. In my case I feel the advantages are bigger than the disadvantages.

Big D, thanks, it's so cool to meet people with a lot in common like this online. :) I remember that Pixxelpoint thing, no you're right I didn't win anything. I seem to remember that all the winners had something that could be called a more 'fine art' look to them, than my silly little pinup anyway.
I'm not going to quit making digital beauties, I'm just trying to find a better way to present them. Here's my first real attempt, still a WIP:

Based on a 2d image I did. This one could be animated I think, though I haven't done so yet. I think the rendering is a bit slow, so I'd have to optimize it first. I also want to work more on the face and the skin, the skin shader is now nothing but a plain Lambert with a touch of red ambient.

04 April 2005, 07:34 AM
How To Express It In English?

04 April 2005, 07:53 AM

Thank you for the very informative replys to our questions.

In reference to your statement

"thanks, they're a mix of simple polygon cylinders (single strands), and bigger wider shapes that represent several strands (transparency mapped)...This method gives richness and variety and control, is lighter than all polygon cylinders..."

I am a bit confused when you speak of "simple poly cylinders" as opposed to "all poly cylinders" aren't they the same thing? Please clerify.

Have you found this approach to be successful for eyebrows and hair as well or, if not, could you explain your technique re. hair.

Thank you,


04 April 2005, 08:04 AM
I am a bit confused when you speak of "simple poly cylinders" as opposed to "all poly cylinders" aren't they the same thing?

Sorry, I just meant, having SOME fully modeled lashes (curved tapering poly cylinder) together with some simpler mapped geometry, is lighter than making ALL the lashes fully modeled. :) But the main advantages are
1. you can use the transparency mapping in the shader of the mapped geometry to instantly give her more or less mascara, wider or tightly spaced lashes, thicker and thinner, and other effects.
2. The whole thing looks more irregular and 'blobby', like lashes stuck together etc, if you just use fully modeled lashes it's easy to make them too regular and doll-like.

04 April 2005, 08:21 AM
This might be a common question you get asked-- but is your stuff poly by poly or box modeled?? I could never really get the hang of box modeling and poly by poly always seems to catch me out when I go around curves. I probably just need practice though... any tips?
I use Max.

04 April 2005, 08:37 AM
Thank u Steven! You are very kind!
Good art!

04 April 2005, 09:15 AM
paperclip, I use boxmodeling most of the time. Or at least starting from some kind of primitive, box, cylinder, sphere. Depends on the object. Yeah, practise is always good. :) I suppose modeling a tree or part of one would be excellent practise in this type of modeling. What part of box-modeling is hard for you? Planning how the branching will happen?

04 April 2005, 09:37 AM
Hi Stephen :] You’re one of those artists that finally got me interested in 3D artwork. I kept my distance and eyed it suspiciously for a long while, only getting on contact with Poser and Bryce work from my vantage point – and I never quite got a feel for it :shameful: I greatly admire you for both your paintings and your models. Very inspiring.

Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the techniques of the 3D artists, and though I don’t want to get into it myself, I feel that incorporating things like the texture thoughts and the way some use light into my own work has really helped.

Anyway, what I wanted to ask (and if this has been asked before, please ignore me), do you feel that being both a 3D and a 2D artist is a great benefit for you? You have a grasp of the female anatomy (and I don’t mean that in the kinky way) unlike any other artist I know: it’s quite flawless. Both 3D and 2D show an understanding of every slightest curve and texture and skin tone, and it’s beyond impressive - I just get this feel that because you work three dimensionally as well as ‘flat’, you combine the best of two worlds.

I always see people asking if good painting skills are a necessity for good 3D skills, but I’m thinking a little the other way around: good 3D skills seem to be a real benefit for a painter.

Also… is it Stahlberg… or Ståhlberg? :D

04 April 2005, 09:56 AM
Hi Steven,

i watch your progress for quite some time now, one of the first places i found your work was Are you still active there?
Back then was a lot about ascii art (cool!) and graffity style things. How did you fit in there?
Anyway, all the best to you!

p.s. *Stupidity on* Is it just my opinion or has northern europe an above average amount of cool artists? Does it have something to do with the weather :-)

04 April 2005, 04:21 PM
Enayla, thanks, you're too kind! Your art inspires me too, more and more every time I see it... one of the reasons I joined the DSG, and an inspiration for my "Fairy Catcher". And you're improving so fast, and still so young... where will it end? :)
Yes I definitely feel 3d has helped my 2d. You can't struggle for a decade to sculpt something, and study it every chance you get (on the street, on tv, paintings, photos, classical sculpture, whatever), and not get better at drawing and painting it.
Same thing with skin - many years of struggling with skin shading has most definitely helped me paint it better.
And yes, it's Ståhlberg.

logotomie, invited me many years ago, I had no idea what they were or what they stood for, I simply accepted and mailed some work to them every month. I'm sorry to say I haven't been very good at visiting and posting at the site, I did a little, but not enough I think.
Does it have something to do with the weather
I think so - 9 months of dark and cold, hunkering inside with too much time (Scandinavia has most spare time in the world), only sex, alcohol and the arts to keep depression away... what do you expect? :)

04 April 2005, 05:58 PM
Hello Steven,
I absolutely love your work. You are truly a master of your art.
When this "Meet the artists" forum was announced I read something about the guest artist critiqueing submitted works. Is this still possible? I have learned a lot from reading Linda's and your answers to all these questions but I would really like to have you give me some feedback on my art.

BTW your "Jealousy" painting is just too good.

Thanks either way,

04 April 2005, 07:11 PM
Staaaaahlberg! Been wanting to chat with you for a time now :bounce:
Love your work of course, though got some questions (duh :P)

1. Where in Sweden did you grow up (if you dont mind me asking)? I'm guessing not Udevalla where I live but still, near Gothenburg perhaps?

2. Will you ever be visiting Sweden in the near future? :)

3. I got one question about the tutorial ("jealousy step-by-step) on your website which has helped me getting started in Digital Painting (I only know painting in real life, so I thought I'd give digitally a try aswell). When you go from this image =>
To this image => how do you actually make the smooth transitions? I mean, when painting (using a wacom pad, with pressure-sensetive opacity) I get as the before image, where you can see the brush strokes, and the only way I can achieve that kind of smooth transition is to cheat with soft brushes.

4. Have you conciderat (pardon my spelling, I'm swedish as you know by now :P) making a DVD perhaps? Which is basically the same as you tutorial but where people can practise along watching you do it? I'd buy it in a second, and I'm sure others would aswell :love:

Anyways, that was all I have to say, aswell as well as wishing you the best of luck in the future (or how you say it in english heh).

04 April 2005, 07:34 PM

Thank you for the clerification re. the eyelashes.

Is the female WIP shader on page 6 an example of the contour rendering technique mentioned earlier?

What technique do you find most effective for hair?

Thanks again!


04 April 2005, 09:15 PM
Hi Steven, I have little time so if you posted this answer before then please just ignore this message. I am trying to start out as a painter. Though I have the advantage of the more refined new age technology, how did you promote yourself when you first started out in this field. Are there any very important or nice insightful keys that you would like to point out about being a painter, and trying to survive in this field? I am also at a disadvantage being a digital painter, when I think they pay more for a real painting. What pointers could you give a digital painter?

04 April 2005, 11:53 PM
I only want to express my sincere admiration, you are one of the artists that more they have impelled the CG, congratulations.

04 April 2005, 11:54 PM
I'm just posting to say that I think very highly of you and your efforts in the CG community. You, Sir, are a living legend.:beer:

Also, I'm glad you have posted your earlier works - the one with the Castle in perticular. Your signature theme is usually the female( I must sound like a wildlife show presenter! ), but I cannot recall seeing a "landscape" picture before. I was wondering...what was the motivation behind this perticular work?

04 April 2005, 12:17 AM
Hi Stahlberg!

First off I’d like to say I was looking through a library for 3d graphics and the only book held local was an old book on computer graphics showcasing the best female 3d art of the time. Obvious to say within a quick look through the index I was able to find your older works published, it was really cool! I have to say u have always been an excellent 3d artist and one of the best in the industry.

There are so many 3d artists trying to make a name for themselves now, what do you think separates the best and allows them to elevate to the type of recognition you receive?
Your models are very lifelike even before the fancy technology and advanced shaders. Do you find yourself playing/studying with a particular shader for long periods of time until you can get it right? Would you consider yourself a perfectionist?
What has been your biggest challenge throughout your 3d career thus far, what do you think will be your next biggest challenge to overcome?
What is the hardest part of modeling characters for you? What is the easiest?
How long do you find yourself having to work on 3d everyday, is it hard to stop once you are working on an interesting project? What does your family think or your work?

And for the random questions ^^”

How many languages do you speak and which ones? What made you want to live In Malaysia; I think it must be fun to live there. What is your favorite place to visit in the world? :)

Whats your favorite music/artists? What types do you listen too? Any Malaysian artists you would recommend?

Can you review my latest WIP, in my challenge thread? ( ) Do you think I have a future in 3d or should find a day job? I’m really young ~ and poor~ lol (18 years, but I almost have 3 college degrees because I started college at 15) so I’m still really new to finding work… What is the best way to find clients; I have to ask… do u have any suggestions of places I could find work? Thnx ^^

04 April 2005, 01:56 AM
Hi Mr. Stahlberg!!

One more question if i may and ignore this if it has already been asked.

Is it a good idea to exhibit digital art in an old fashion way - Organise an exhibition and pop up a bottle or two? I think somehow we lack the flesh and faces when interacting in this venture.
I dont know....Just and idea...:shrug:

What do you think?

04 April 2005, 03:24 AM
Jose Pardo, sure! go ahead and post it here and I'll do my best.

Pvt.Jackson, 1. Bollnas (1 hours drive north from Gavle, 2 hours north from Uppsala, 3 from Stockholm... and I've lived in all those places too) :)
2. Depends, it costs a lot of money, especially if I want to bring the family, which I should since it's been a while we were all back... no more cheap flights for the kids, they pay adult fares now. We all want to, but not sure when we'll be able to.
3. I did that by smudging. Trying to do it by airbrushing or some other soft brush, is just very difficult and time consuming, especially in complex areas. Note how the very textured and grainy sketch has disappeared, that's very easy and quick with a pressure sensitive smudge brush. Hard edged or soft edged, up to you - the soft edged is good for bigger areas, the hard edged good for smaller thinner areas where you want to be careful to leave something nearby un-smudged. This means you can paint very roughly, which is liberating, and sometimes causes 'serendipity' - "lucky accidents" - that you want to keep un-smudged.

roberte, yes that's right, that's a contour rendering, though it's a bit hard to see cause I'm trying to keep it subtle. For hair, I haven't found a technique I'm really happy with yet, I get the most control from using geometry, but of course Maya's new Hair module would be better, if I could make it work properly.

snowkiwi, promoting my traditional stuff took legwork and lots of phonecalls, and I also printed up a little brochure of my images. As for digital, I started out making a simple website for myself, back in 1996, it was mostly for fun, but soon different gallery owners contacted me asking if I would let them display my images, most notably 1997. That was so fun I went looking for more galleries myself. Forums like these didn't really exist, that all started happening around 2000. My advice on how to do it today, well it's different now, so much competition... I guess all we can do is keep trying to improve ourselves, keep trying to make good stuff, post it in as many places as possible, establish a 'presence' on the internet... by that I mean, you should probably not use different nicknames in different forums, pick a memorable nickname - or even your real name - and use it everywhere, even on your website. Post only positive constructive posts, or try to (I know the temptations to loose ones temper)... post a lot, but try to have something useful to say each time. If asking questions, make sure you can't find the answer yourself, some other way. Join competitions, maybe join an indy project.

siquier, thank you.

Boone, thanks! The reason for that castle painting was a novel I wrote back then, those 2 people flying on the Pegasii are the main characters. The inspiration would be all the fantasy books I'd read, including of course Lord of the Rings. :)

Junpei, 1. Oops, trick question. :) Let me rephrase that: what separates the ones I would most like to hire, from the rest? Solid traditional skills (not necessarily 2d, sculpting also good)... problem-solving skills - ability to notice problems, run diagnostics to pinpoint cause, and find alternate solutions... good knowledge of software, obviously, but this is very common today... self-starter, motivated, etc.
2. Yes, definitely, on both questions.
3. The first big challenge was the modeling, then joint deformation. Then we have skin-shading, good progress but not yet there. The motion; for realistic characters good mocap is a necessity, at least as a basis; not much for me personally to do about that. The next big challenges would be cloth and hair. And perhaps, as I mentioned, some sort of NPR that isn't quite photo-realism.
4. The hardest part of modeling? It has varied... at first it was getting the proportions right, especially back then when very little good reference was available. Shoulders, upper torso, very difficult. Forearms were tricky at first, not much in the way of landmarks there on women, usually. The face has always been a problem - never got it as beautiful as I wanted it. And getting the subtle curves exactly right on the butt, and the pelvic girdle... Overall, the most difficult aspect of 3d modeling is to get the cross-sectional shape just right.
Joint deformations, another frustrating item: no matter how long I spend on it, it always breaks in some pose or other.
The easy part: feet, hands and ears.
5. Some days I spend way too much time on CGTalk and don't get much done. :) But usually I try to get a good 8 hours or more on art (both 2d and 3d) every day. If I'm in the Zone - hyper-focused, using my 'right brain' - it's very hard to stop. My family understands though; they're proud of me and support me all the way, and I manage to spend a good amount of time with them anyway.
6. I speak Swedish, English, French, fluently or nearly... I can speak a bit of German and Cantonese as well.
7. I just ended up in Malaysia because my partner moved here, he did so because he loves it, and I found that I do too.
8. Favorite place to visit? Right now Sweden and Australia, I have family in both places.
9. Musicians from the 70's (when I was a teenager). Deep Purple classics for instance, gotta love it. But I can enjoy almost anything done by talented musicians, as long as they're talented enough, and left alone to do their own thing... for instance BB King, or Ryuchi Sakamoto. I don't really know any Malaysian artists, I know a girl called Angun, but I think she might be Indonesian, not sure. Very nice voice, good music, LOVE her version of Bowie's Life on Mars.
Sure, I looked at your thread (excellent stuff!), I'll reply there.
Finding clients? Not sure, where I once had to run around all over town, today they come to me... but see my notes above, about promoting yourself. I think that's a good starting point. Then... I guess it's a question of zeroing in on who you want your clients to be, do stuff that they'll want to see, and try to find them, contact them, getting them to see your work somehow... email, mail, phone, personal visits, all's fair in love, war and self-promotion.

04 April 2005, 03:58 AM
Is it a good idea to exhibit digital art in an old fashion way - Organise an exhibition and pop up a bottle or two? I think somehow we lack the flesh and faces when interacting in this venture.
Do you know Craig Mullins? If anyone here doesn't know his work, I recommend going to right now and have a long look at it. This man has god-like powers when it comes to painting.
He recently held his first ever solo exhibition, with digital prints.
He promoted the event, about 85 people came. They drank his champagne, ate his food... and not one single one of those idiots bought anything. Pah! (He posts images on page 2)

Meanwhile, total hacks like Thomas Kinkaid ("The Painter Of Light") make truckloads of money selling garbage to these same people... also prints, also some of it from physical galleries. But not digital originally.
So, check that thread I linked to, many good points concerning digital and traditional there.

04 April 2005, 04:01 AM
Hi Steven,

How are you? I'm a great fan of yours and your work really rocks:thumbsup: .

My question is

1.Does Hand drawing really Help in a big way in 3D modeling?

2.Which one is the best for modeling -NURBS or POLYGONS? and what do you prefer normally while modeling.

Sorry if my english is bad.

04 April 2005, 04:51 AM
Hi, Steven.. This is the event that I'm waiting for...
I'm a newbie here.. and I'm just a new starter to this industry...

1. I need you to critics on my work here..
Please Can you help me with the lighting..? did i do something wrong and fatal? Or did I do anatomically mistake? :( I do it with photo reference.. but I do minor changes and I scare that I make it awfull...

2. Me and My friend are living in Singapore. Can we make an appointment to meet you sometimes(only if you're not bussy), just to say hello, or little chit chat... lalala.. :P If you said okay.. then how we can contact you? do u mind if we come to ur office? may i know the address... hehe.. i'm not good with my english :P I can't wait to meet my senior in this industry for real.
thank you for the help.. I really appreciate that

04 April 2005, 06:24 AM
Hi Mr. Steven :) i'm also ur great fan like others here. want some feedback from u on my work, should i post it here ? pls let me a newbie at digital art and even at realistic figuretive drawings too.
I hope my post will be visible to u :D
thanx in advance.
btw if u have some time..u can click on the links which i have given below :D i hope u dont mind :)

04 April 2005, 07:03 AM
sen2raj, 1. Yes I think it helps in a big way.
2. NURBS definitely, for organic forms, especially if they have 'branching' parts.

dareevan, I have nothing really to critisize in this image. The lighting seems ok, skin color ok, maybe a bit reddish but that could be the light, proportions - well the chin is very small and the nose is very big, but there's nothing wrong with that. I assume you're making him look more wolf-like (since the name is lone wolf), and it seems to work, for me anyway. The whole image is a bit soft and blurry, if you like that good, but if you want it sharper try the Unsharp Mask filter. The sclera (white of the eyeball) on our left, the left side of it seems maybe a touch too bright. The 'bag' underneath the eye on our right, the right side could go a bit further right out into the cheekbone, but this is nitpicking.

shyamshriram, sure post it here. and I'll check those links now

04 April 2005, 07:15 AM
WOW thanx a lot for the quick reply Sir :) here is my WIP...doing from quite a long time *sigh*

still doing this...want to be close to perfection...:( damn tough...but will try !
sorry for the big size :D

thanx in advance once again Sir :)

04 April 2005, 07:52 AM
paperclip, I use boxmodeling most of the time. Or at least starting from some kind of primitive, box, cylinder, sphere. Depends on the object. Yeah, practise is always good. :) I suppose modeling a tree or part of one would be excellent practise in this type of modeling. What part of box-modeling is hard for you? Planning how the branching will happen?

Something like that, yeah. I find that I start out OK but when it comes to branching out, the branches always end up being oddly shaped and the 'trunk' has way too many cuts in odd places.
I just need practice.... ahh, the long road. :D

04 April 2005, 09:07 AM
dareevan, sorry I forgot your second question; I'm going down to Singapore tomorrow night to see Rob Coleman talk about his Star Wars work. Are you going there too? Otherwise, feel free to come up to KL anytime.

shyamsrhiram, looks great so far, interesting to see it finished.
She looks like a goddess, but sits on a theater prop like a human, a little confusing, or maybe it's for fun? Her eyes are very intense, mostly due to the low angled eyebrows (which is ok if you want it that way), but I also think the eyelid creases are a bit too heavy and/or dark.
The tip of the nose, the lips and the chin should be moved a few pixels to our right, they seem a little off center in the face. The nose seems a bit too shiny. The smallest blue jewels around her neck should angle back more. I like her hand on our left. The background is very nice. Good anatomy.

paperclip, you can delete and add edges, fairly easily, in Max right? I do that a lot, I never get it right from the start. :)

04 April 2005, 09:39 AM
shyamsrhiram, looks great so far, interesting to see it finished.
She looks like a goddess, but sits on a theater prop like a human, a little confusing, or maybe it's for fun? Her eyes are very intense, mostly due to the low angled eyebrows (which is ok if you want it that way), but I also think the eyelid creases are a bit too heavy and/or dark.
The tip of the nose, the lips and the chin should be moved a few pixels to our right, they seem a little off center in the face. The nose seems a bit too shiny. The smallest blue jewels around her neck should angle back more. I like her hand on our left. The background is very nice. Good anatomy.

Thanx a million Sir for ur in depth feedback on my work. are soo kind :love: btw i dont want to show her like a goddess..and obviously its not for fun :D im trying to fix her from quite long time..... my intention was to show her an angel kind of women...but will try to fix the things which you have mentioned.
i wish i could live near from ur native place *sigh* :sad:

Thanx once again Sir !!

04 April 2005, 10:16 AM
Thanks steven for your reply.

So should i concentrate on NURBS patch modeling instead of Polygons.I'm a starter in MAYA.Started working in Polygons as for now.Which one is advisable? It will be of great help if you can guide me with this:)

04 April 2005, 10:21 AM
Aha, I was thinking 'godess' because of the blue tint, which I understood to indicate deity, but maybe it just means 'more than human'?
Now that I look again, I think you should lower the brightness of the moon, because it's creating very strong contrast all around its edges, distracting from your beautiful woman.

04 April 2005, 10:42 AM
send2raj, if you want to model cars, airplanes, missiles, rockets, submarines, ships, vases, pillars, etc - anything with a very smoothly curving shape, and a rectangular toplogy - you should use NURBS. You can use polygons but NURBS will be easier.
If you want to model humans, trees, animals, pitchforks, candelabras, or anything with branching geometry, that ISN'T very smooth, you should use polygons. You could use NURBS but then you have to use stitching, and that is a pain.
If you want to be able to model everything in the future, practise both. Some people say NURBS helps them to understand topology better, I don't really know about that.

RanZ Cross
04 April 2005, 10:49 AM
Dear Mr Stahlberg...

u'r work are amazing....totally !! :thumbsup:
u'r indepedent and have that unique kind of art...n the most of it...u're my inspiration !! :twisted:
i like to learn more about 3d, n any other arts...cause i believe there is no stop for learning..
hmm...may i ask u some questions :

1. what studies that have helped u gone this far...? example, anatomy, photography ?
2. how many years have u spent learning arts...? about 10 years ?
3. What is u'r current goal...?

Thanks very much... :D

Best Regards...

04 April 2005, 11:46 AM
Aha, I was thinking 'godess' because of the blue tint, which I understood to indicate deity, but maybe it just means 'more than human'?
Now that I look again, I think you should lower the brightness of the moon, because it's creating very strong contrast all around its edges, distracting from your beautiful woman.

Oh that blue tint..sorry, but at first there was no intention to show her more than human...i made this from an ugly sketch of mine which is done in Painter, its just a ugly doodle...but after some work i made my mind that i want show her like an Angel

here is the ugly scrap...the first version of my HONEY...don't be scared :D

anyways...thanx a lot again for ur time and feedback Mr. Steven, will minimise the contrast of the moon :) thanx, thanx for the inspiration.

take care always

shyam s. deshpande

04 April 2005, 12:06 PM
dareevan, sorry I forgot your second question; I'm going down to Singapore tomorrow night to see Rob Coleman talk about his Star Wars work. Are you going there too? Otherwise, feel free to come up to KL anytime.

Thank you.. Sir... thank you
The critiques help me alot.... :P
By the way... U GO TO SINGAPORE Saturday Night?? Wha.. wow... It must be great to see you here!! but,... I have no idea how to contact you.. maybe I'll send you a private message though... ^^ hehe.. don't forget to reply it please :P

04 April 2005, 12:14 PM
The great SS himself,

an honour to speak to you directly man,

Just one question, what do you think about the small siggraph they're setting up in Malaysia?
Is it worth joining? Are you aware of it or are involved in any way?


04 April 2005, 12:38 PM
Thanks Steven,

I am attaching three, if that is too much just crit the worst one.

In your debt!

04 April 2005, 01:09 PM
Hei "søta bror!" Greets from Norway, I was just wondering if you're ever gonna make some imperfect, chubby or voluptous girls? I'd really like too see them, and how you do it.. :)

Since others posted their images, I thought I would too, it would be nice to get crit from a pro :)
Backyarc baby image (

04 April 2005, 02:14 PM
Hello Steven, :)

Won't ask to critique anything of mine :D , I just have a few questions (although most of them have already been answered):

1. In your traditional arts background, did you work with sculpting (clay, scuply, etc.) and how much of that helped you at 3D modelling?

2. One of your works I greatly admire is your Fairy&Snake illustration; I'm kinda curious as too why you decided to create it in both 2D and 3D. (which version came first and why you decided to recreate it in the other medium)

04 April 2005, 02:27 PM
Thanks for the reply Steven :)! This will improve my digital side alot. Though I have one last question if you dont mind answering.

4. Have you conciderat (pardon my spelling, I'm swedish as you probably know by now :P) making a DVD perhaps? Which is basically the same as your tutorial but where people can practise along watching you do it? I'd buy it in a second, and I'm sure others would aswell :love:

I dunno what to say more then what allready has been said, besides that you're my greatest inspiration, and I'm your greatest fan :blush:.

Also (to freshen up your swedish :thumbsup: ) -- Du är lysande och en äkta konstnär.

04 April 2005, 02:59 PM
hi Steven.. In your body topology thread you had spent a lot of time rigging the shoulder area, I was wondering what other area/part was also time consuming and maybe a struggle to rig? What was the easist? The woman's face in your avatar and also the smiling render in the topology thread are both beautiful I think. Love your fairy n snake 2d and 3d versions.. I was curious about what specifically inspired that scene. And have you viewed an image and thought you wished you had done it?.. inspired n motivated you? Oops, one more, how do you usually feel about your work some months afterwards?

04 April 2005, 03:27 PM
Hi Steven,

This is a fantastic Q&A you have going here. After a long time as a fly on the wall here at CgTalk, you're finally bringing me out into the light. Thank you for being such an inpiration. OK, enough of that stuff...

I'm currently at the value study stage, but looking at your posts here I think I'm WAY too contrasty. next I intend to do a study for color without worrying much about contrast. then the final painting and adding details. ???? sound right? ????

BTW - the story is that the giant has escaped and after ransacking his prison he chases down the man who was his enslaver. (read: i'm frustrated at work) ...but that's what I'm TRYING to convey. I've also wound up with a bit of a heaven/hell sky thing going on to sort of set a mood for where he's been and where he's going.

thanks again for the great Q&A,

link to pic below:

04 April 2005, 04:35 PM
Hi im a really big fan but i know you have alot heh
if your goal is to get your girls to digital perfection i think youv done it heh really great art and imagination too

1. First question is have you taken classes in southeast asia if so, do you know any in thailand(bangkok). I know its not malasia but its been hard for me to find any school 2D or 3D.

2. How long have you been doing CG?

-Forgot somthing...I love you cloud tutorial! :applause:

04 April 2005, 06:08 PM
RanZ Cross, 1. I did do some photography, and it may have helped me a little with lighting. Though I didn't do so very much of it... Studying anatomy, like for instance in Life Drawing class, bodybuilding magazines, and medical pictures etc, has really helped a lot.
2. I started at 3, so I was kind of self-learning for over 20 years, then I studied art formally for 3 years, then I practised as a professional illustrator for 10 years (which could also be seen as learning).
3. I'd like to work on a great movie project, like LOTR was. :)

azmin, don't join... my partner and me tried our best to start it up and get it going, but as of now, over a year later, there has been very little help from other industry leaders or the government, and attendance and interest is falling... I think we're just about to give up on it, sorry.

Jose Pardo, 1. Good epic feeling. I think the hues in the background are too varied: purple, yellow, white, orange, red, all of them quite saturated... I'd tone the bottom half to be a bit more like that cool beige/yellow on the left. The purplish clouds are nice. The white should be toned down (to beige or peach), especially since it doesn't seem to match the lighting in the scene: the light on the characters seems to come from our left. The lightning bolt acts as an arrow to lead our eyes out of the scene, try to mute the brightest part of it. On the left, the smoke rising from the vent could be made stronger, to lead the eye more upwards, instead now the eye follows the horizon out of the frame. The minotaur's axe on our left is good, maybe even darker - the one on our right could catch a big highlight right across it, and become a secondary focal point, I think that would look nice composition wise, it would make sense lighting-wise, and also we would see right away that he's holding 2 axes instead of 1, it took me a while... the castle battlements, if you make the 'teeth' along them smaller the castle will look bigger.

2. Nice character study, her personality or attitude really shows. But she has some anatomy and lighting problems, like her left hand too small, neck too long, elbow too rounded and 'bulgy'... spine seems quite long, and I'm not sure we'd actually see the butt cheek at all from this angle. I think you need reference for this, it's VERY hard to do without it, I certainly wouldn't like to try. :) It can be as simple as a friend of yours in a rolled-up t-shirt, with a desklamp from the front, click. Done. I really recommend it, nothing beats reference you shoot yourself, and it's quick, cheap, easy and fun.

3. Cool idea, I really like the background, but the foreground is very 'busy' in terms of shadows and highlights and colors and forms, lots of contrast and complexity. See if you can simplify that a little, maybe put her more in silhouette, maybe only lit by those explosions behind her, and a bluish helmet light inside the helmet (like in "Outland" or "Aliens" or something - in fact I recommend buying or renting movies just for reference). That would improve the clarity, the compositon, and increase the drama.

InKraBid, good drawing, cool style, I like the color scheme and the composition... not sure what is going on though, maybe it's designed to be viewed within some kind of context? Seems to be a perspective problem on the stone rim, at the bottom of the image. The black shadow in the face, while graphic and strong, seems a little out of place, maybe it should be slightly lighter, like a dark grey? Or else a black shadow from her body on the water and wall behind her. The direction of the light... if the face is in this much shadow, I think also the breasts and the skirt would throw more shadow downwards. And for some reason I'd like to increase that bright area at the top, not sure why. Widen it, make the whole wall brighter along the upper edge. This image inspires me, good job.

ArtisticVisions, 1. I've done no sculpting at all in art school, in fact none at all since I was a teen.
2. The 2d of the Fairy&Snake came first, it was always planned as a 3d, but I got carried away on the sketching stage... :)

Pvt. Jackson, tackar! Yes, I'm thinking about doing a DVD for Gnomon, I shall do my very best to get going on that.

DivineRAiN, 1. I think rigging the face is the easiest part. Knee, ankle, maybe elbow, also fairly easy, though the elbow is complicated by the extreme amount of twist the neighbouring joints have to be able to do. THe hardest is definitely the shoulder/biceproll, the hip comes in a distant second (not at all as mobile as the shoulder.
2. Oh yes, many times. Pretty much all of Linda's work for instance, just to take an example close to home. :)
3. Because I spend so much time and effort on each piece, I usually feel about the same some months later. Also, I've learned to see more clearly, than I did say 20 years ago. Even 10 years ago.

anzibon, hehe, fun idea! Is that a tornado in the background? Is that what released the prisoner?
The light direction, I think the whole chest, stomach, and his right arm and leg (except maybe the foot), would all be in full shadow, as the suns rays would not be able to reach them. As I've mentioned before, I think some reference would be great here, mainly for the landscape, but also maybe some extreme bodybuilder images. If you look through enough of them, maybe you can even find one that has similar lighting and pose. The giant's anatomy looks good so far, but it's always better to have reference. Good luck with the challenge.

Jeremyi, thanks! 1. No, sorry, no classes here in Asia, and I don't know any in Thailand.
2. About 11 years.

04 April 2005, 06:20 PM
Thanks Steven.

04 April 2005, 07:40 PM
Thanks for the detailed crit, really appreciate it! I will probably leave these alone but will try to apply these thoughts to my next few pieces.


04 April 2005, 01:53 AM
I was wondering if the mesh that you use as a base mesh for all of your female models resembles your girlfriend. ( how closely ? )
If not, does she somehow compare herself to your 'ideal' model ?
Lastly, do you use her for reference ( video footage that you take on a frame by frame basis etc ... or do you just use a mirror. )

Sorry if this has been asked before. ( Too lazy to read 9 pages )

Thanks for the inspiration Steven !

04 April 2005, 04:30 AM
Vegan, my mesh doesn't look like my wife, I never used her as reference. She doesn't care.
I've used video reference three times, two of those were shot in the sound studio as we recorded the voice talent.

04 April 2005, 06:28 AM
"Would you like to collaborate with me/make me a logo for my site/chat with us on ICQ? Why not?
No, I'm sorry, I'd really love to be able to do everything, but I just don't have time to do anything right now except 1. work, 2. spend time with my family, and 3. work."

First off, Thank you very much for taking the time for this.

Secondly, I thought I'd mention where I had seen you work prior to cgtalk.
Bikergirl and walking gun were the first few digital images I had seen when I first started to find out about 3d. At the time I was studying mechanical engineering and just recently changed my major to something art related. Anyhow Since Im learning on my own, I wanted to ask you these questions.

Would you mind sharing a few techniques on your workflow process? (modeling and your skin shader.)
I remember a while back reading something in regard to optidigit doing some sort of online training of the sort-cant remember the exact details-what happened?
What advice would you give to someone on their first cg related job?
Cant access the cript on your home page.
and the last one, can you make me a logo?:D j/k


04 April 2005, 10:16 AM
Hi Mr. Stahlberg, it's awesome you found some time to answer so many questions :thumbsup:

I've got few questions myself; hopefully they haven't been asked yet. If they have, just ignore them :) (although I've read the whole thread and haven't noticed any similar ones). Anyway:

1. are there any particular maya scripts/plugins you couldn't live without?
2. what is the most annoying maya issue/bug/problem that keeps you bugging all the time and makes you swear at maya? or do you find maya to be a perfect app?
3. why did you start using maya? was it because there was not much of a choice back then or maybe you simply liked it most..
4. do you enjoy playing video games? or is it a total waste of time for you?
5. what inspires you most: music, books, movies? or maybe nothing in particular, you find your inspiration when meeting with other people, looking through the window or just walking the dog (if you have one)

thanks a lot for your time! :)

04 April 2005, 01:24 PM
I'm taking the train to Singapore in a few minutes, I'll try to get online tomorrow to reply here. :)

04 April 2005, 03:00 PM
Hi there steven,

I've been watching your work for some time now. I really like the illustration you made. It really inspires me in many ways. I've got some question for you regarding the 3d industry in malaysia. I'm a fresh graduate and was wondering how the industry was like. How do they pay and the types of jobs available and also the opportunity compare to singapore and also the other countries like canada and US. I'm a 3d animator by the way. Thank you so much for your time. Have a great time in singapore.


04 April 2005, 07:33 PM
Hie Mr. Stalhberg,

Thanks for the links on Craig Mullins and introduce me to Thomas Kinkaid.

What happened to Craig is unfortunate. Nothing wrong with the art it seems, only the people surrounded it during the exhibition. It is very sad tho.
Like one guy said on that thread that this is just a beginning. People tumbles first before they can stand up and climb.

And Thomas comments.

One more questio if i may,

I think color is important. (duh!) Can you tell us about your approach to color or the process to get the color. A tutorial, if you can to give us mere mortal a lesson in live.

What are you doing in Spore? (thats two questions and the second one is reeally none of my business ...heheh?)


04 April 2005, 02:13 AM
Okay just a quickie now because I'm at a 5 star hotel and they're charging 50 Singapore cents per minute. The reason I'm here is to hear Rob Coleman talk.

FUG1T1VE, 1. Hm, workflow on modeling... I usually either start with a sketch, one for shape and one for topology, or if I don't I usually have to do that halfway into the modeling anyway. I use polygonal box modeling most of the time, with a lot of deleting and adding of edges, to finetune topology. Skinshading, well there's my tutorial, and there's a better one coming out soon, in the "D'Artiste 2" book.

2.The training center we were planning wasn't online, it was going to be physical, here. I mentioned elsewhere in this thread that these plans are shelved for an undetermined period.

3. What advice would you give to someone on their first cg related job? Hard to answer, really... I suppose just go ahead and work hard, and do what the boss is expecting, without letting him suck up all your sparetime. Try to find a balance.

dirty, 1. I use the MJ_PolyTools a lot when modeling. There's a really great SmoothFlood plugin that helps a lot if you want to avoid weight painting (which I do). But otherwise, plugins can be trouble, for instance when a new version maya comes out, or you have to work on a different machine.
2. I would really like the Hair to render with MR without outside plugins... there's a few other minor things too I can't remember right now. Oh, the way joint rotations are calculated, I think they call it quaternions...
3. I ended up with Alias only because it shipped bundled with my first computer.
4. I mostly only enjoy Halo and Max Payne, though I'm going to try Doom3 on the Xbox too.
5. what inspires you most: music, books, movies? Books... then movies. and traveling.
Ok, that's it for now, more later.

04 April 2005, 02:55 AM
Rob Coleman??
The Star Wars guy??
So he's done with the Episode III??
Heres there in Spore??

Sorry to many question :scream:

04 April 2005, 11:22 AM
This has been a great thread to follow. It is wonderful too see an artist of your stature take the time to inspire and inform in such a candid way.
There have been a great many illustrators in the past and I would like to encourage the artist's here in this forum to go and investigate these great artists. Norman Rockwell, N.C.Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, J.C. Leyendecker, Charles Dana Gibson. The list goes on and on. They are a great source for styles, story telling and paintng techniques that could provide insight into the possibilities of 3D.

I couldn't agree more about your comments on Greg's show and what's more "The Painter of Light". This is only a true testiment to a great agent that guy has to fool so many people.

I do have one question for you Steven. You mentioned that you get all you work online. Which would seem to me you are dealing with clients from all over the world . My question is what is your step by step process that insures you get the work to them and how do you insure you get paid?
Are you getting a deposit and the balance upon completion of the job etc etc?

Ok, so that is three questions.

Thanks again for your help in the past!

04 April 2005, 12:48 AM
jengkins, the opportunities in Malaysia and Singapore seem roughly the same, I talked with a couple other guys about this here yesterday, and they seem to agree. Compared to USA, Canada etc... well there's not much of a comparison, is there. I mean, look at how active Siggraph is in USA, compared to Kuala Lumpur... just one indicator...

Maranello 55, my approach to color is mostly intuitive, but I've learned from experience that I have to try to keep saturation to a minimum, in most of my images, and save the really hot saturation for a few very small areas. Tutorials are really hard to write when it comes to color, all you can basically say in the end is, I used this color here, and not that one, because I kind of... felt... it looked better. That's what I do anyway. There's a link to some more theoretical info on color in our Art Theory and Tutorials links. Also, if you check Linda's "Meet the Artist" thread, I'm not sure but I think she talked some about colors too.

Yes, it's the Star Wars Rob Coleman, and yes they're done with Ep3! His talk was great, and he's such a nice guy himself. He's been so long in the industry, he joined ILM during JP 1. I just can't believe he said "I know this guy!" to me when I met him. And listen to this: he said he checks CGTalk out from time to time! So play nice, boys and girls, we never know who's reading our posts here.

El Quistador, the process is usually, they email me, we discuss, they send a contract by email, I sign and fax back, they send another copy back signed by them in normal mail or Fedex, meanwhile I've started the job. I keep in regular contact with the art director, and send them updates and get feedback. Then I send the finished item, and then they pay. guess I should take more care in ensuring I'm paid, but so far it's only gone wrong once, and that was years ago when the company I was working for got caught in the IT bubble burst. I wasn't even finished with the work I was supposed to deliver anyway.

04 April 2005, 01:00 AM
Hi all,

Here's your last chance to ask Steven Stahlberg questions or have work critiqued. Will close this Q&A session at the end of Monday 25 April 2005 (worldwide).



04 April 2005, 01:39 AM
One last question Mr. Stalhberg!

Whats your goal in your CG venture?

Thanks for being patience answering all our question and my mortal stupid questions....You're an excellent artist and a nice person....

See you around!

04 April 2005, 02:39 AM
Ok, I'm doing the one thing I had said before that I wouldn't ask you to do... I'm asking you to critique my work. :argh: Not that I'm thrilled to be doing this (who ever wants to ask for someone to critique there work?), but I've realized that in order to become better, I need to ask the opinions of those who are better than me. :)

Specifically, I'm asking your opinion on one of my character concept paintings for the current Challenge; it's located here (, at the bottom of the page (the girl).

Thank you. :)

04 April 2005, 07:08 AM
Hello Mr. Stalhberg,
Most of my questions are being answered here, but i'm here to tell u that you have been my inspiration to really dig into the CG world. I found out ur work about 2-3 years ago when i was 16/17years old. Back then i thought things that you do are not possible and u know some kind of magic ( i still think that though). Now i started to know those things can be done. I wanna thank you for inspireing me and giving me hope that i'mpossible can be achived.

Thank You again

RanZ Cross
04 April 2005, 08:35 AM
THank u very much, Mr Stahlberg.. :p

04 April 2005, 09:15 AM
Would you mind criticising this for me?

I know the nose is rather too wide & low down. Also, please ignore the logo on her forehead, it was for a DSG. But apart from that, feel free to crit away :)

04 April 2005, 10:36 AM

Would you please explain your thinking re. contour rendering as opposed to the ultra realism of your direction until now. I recently read some of the articles relative to the "Uncanny Valley" principle and in part agree with them.

For me, the artists job is to interpret reality, not to become a camera, however, the concept of being able to create believable charactors for a script I have written, cast them in a movie based upon my vision and have it be perceived as "real" is, I must admit, a very enticing proposition.

Contour rendered charactors, would instead be a stylized version of that and I am curious what your thoughts are relative to each approach.

Thank you for the excellent insights you have offered into your approach to the creative process.

04 April 2005, 01:07 PM
Verkligen kul att se at en av dom större här på CG-talk är svensk :thumbsup: Kan bara säga att du totalknäcker med dina bilder, sen fann jag mycket intressant i din skinshader tråd. Tack ska du ha Ståhlberg!


04 April 2005, 02:23 AM
maranello55, several people have asked me that recently, and I don't have a really clear answer. Like most others, I want to work on something really cool, to me that means like feature film or short film, or an unusually cool TV series... not games so much, I've done that.

ArtisticVisions, The nose and the lips are good, just the skintone seems a bit too pale and yellowish. The eyes and eyebrows need a bit of touch-up, check out Linda's eye painting tutorial in the Art Discussion forum, that should give some hints. The eyebrows: they seem light grey now (not sure if the character is supposed to have silver eyebrows?), maybe colorpick the color from the darkest shadow on the nose and use that to paint the brows... don't paint every hair, squint at your reference and try to paint the blurry version you see. The eye on our left: it's too almond shaped, needs to narrow on the outside. Both eyes have lower lashes that seem too thick and black. Also, the dark ring around the iris seems too black... but a good start, overall proportions seem ok. This 45 degree angle is very difficult.

overcontrast and RanZ Cross, thanks.

paperclip, the red of the shadows doesn't seem to go with the greenish lighting... the black lines outside the nostrils should probably be softened. The chin seems an odd shape, no dip under the lower lip... the eye on our right seems bigger than the other. Ears seem a bit too flat against the head. Basic shape of the head is good.

roberte, "Would you please explain your thinking re. contour rendering as opposed to the ultra realism of your direction until now. I recently read some of the articles relative to the "Uncanny Valley" principle and in part agree with them."
Yes the 'Uncanny Valley' effect is part of it.

"For me, the artists job is to interpret reality, not to become a camera"
Yes I agree completely.

"being able to create believable charactors for a script I have written, cast them in a movie based upon my vision and have it be perceived as real"
The first part, yes, but that last part about 'real' - it would be just as cool, or maybe even cooler, if the movie is just one notch more stylized than reality, I think. 'Sky Captain' was a good example of this (though the soft-lens effect may have been a litte strong for some).
I'm trying to find a good compromise. I believe I can find one, where the lines are actually making the imagery more beautiful, yet still keeping the overall feeling very close to reality.

warcross, thanks, glad to help! :)

I think this will be my last reply here, so let me just say it's been a pleasure, thank you everybody, and most of all Leonard for inviting me.

04 April 2005, 06:14 AM
heh thanks no problem though ill keep looking.
Im accualy from California Just liveing here.

11 Years is a long time ill keep that in mind when im angry at myself for not haveing anything to draw or cant get something right :D

04 April 2005, 10:11 PM

I'm glad you said what you did re."real" as I realized that I wasn't exactly clear in how I phrased my statement.
The sky captain example is excellent in that it is an example of an experience that creates exactly the kind of "reality" I am interested in. An alternative, interpretive stylization which is believable on it's own terms but is neither a strict copy of existing reality or something so far removed from the possible that it can only be accepted as fantasy, or sci fi. It is why Gollem is such a captivating character. There is enough humanity in the character to be able to appreciate the variance from the norm as being something entirely plausible.

I look forward to your exploration of these issues in your future work.


04 April 2005, 11:12 PM
Thanks for taking the time to look over that, Steven. :) In regards to you question, yeah, the eyebrows were suppose to be platinum-silver; I didn't think painting each hair would really work, but I had never done digital painting before, so I wasn't sure how it would turn out.
Don't know if I'll stay with that "realistic" style for the Challenge (my current sketching is leading me in another direction), but it was good practice and I'm glad to have gotten your input on it.

Thank you again. :)

04 April 2005, 12:59 AM
how long do u normally take to finish your work from start to finish?

04 April 2005, 04:55 AM
OK folks, time to wrap this up. We've given ample time for everyone to post questions and have Steven answer them.

A big thanks to Steven Stahlberg for taking the time to participate in this Q&A session!