Meet the Artist: Steven Stahlberg

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  04 April 2005
Hi Steven,

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



Last edited by Pin_pal : 04 April 2005 at 02:57 AM.
  04 April 2005
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?
Dimebag Darrell
08/20/1966 - 12/8/2004

I got CULT status baby!
  04 April 2005
"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
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
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
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
hi steven

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
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
Hi Steven.My sincere congratulations. Many of your works hit me seriously...thanks

delicious ice creams for cold times!
  04 April 2005
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.

  04 April 2005
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
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
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
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 .
  04 April 2005
Hi Steven,

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

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.

Last edited by Ollarin : 04 April 2005 at 02:07 PM.
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