Art Theory for 3D Artists?

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  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by Stahlberg: we can't seem to agree what either "art" or "art theory" is.

I don't think you mean we need to agree!! Surely, there is a confusion towards the original intent of the poster, and I addressed it previously like others did, but the discussion has drifted away into a real discourse of a real value. And I agree, we don't need to go into a loop of unnecessary back and forth on meaningless terminology. You can move the discussion into more appropriate area if you wish, but why asking to refrain from posting?
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by Stahlberg: I almost always edit mine in Photoshop, does that mean I have a weak understanding of what you're calling "3d art theory"?

Your not getting my point. I'm saying if someone has photoshop it makes it easier to not have to learn more about 3d rendering. Let say from the beginning of man cameras grew on trees, the the concept of drawing a sketch of someone on paper with a pencil to get a likeness would not make sense to anyone cuz you can just take a picture. Hense the development of drawing masters would be stunted because no know would think it would be worth the time to learn how to draw like a master. This idea is just a concept. I've already learned from this forum that the concept of "3d art theory" is out of the box thinking.

Last edited by tAstyBITs : 04 April 2005 at 05:55 PM.
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by JA-forreal: When I see specialty 3d software apps like Zbrush, Wings3d and Modo I applaud them for their ingenuity and efforts to aid 3d artist workflows. And I hope that these types of software tools stay as they are and leave our main 3d workflow apps to develop better overall 3d workflow methods.

I do to.

I think you get what I'm thinking.

plus the other comments have been inspiring.
  04 April 2005
3d art theories are probably all based on planning, producing and managing functional image output in some way or another.

If someone told a 2 dimensional digital artist to “make” them a picture of water dropping on a leaf a traditional artist may proceed by sketching out a illustration of this concept. Then they use thier drawing app to add more details, tones to represent light, colors that represent iridescence and hues and shape variation, etc. They may use color palates, layers, compositing effects, custom bushes, etc. All they have to do is jump into the work tweaking their strokes in line with applying their trained art design ideals to complete a finished 2d image. Job done. If the image doesn't work from one angle of view, they will have to start over again drawing the water drop at another angle.

If you asked a 3d artist to “make” a picture of water dropping on a leaf, the 3d artist may proceed by drawing a sketch to plan this work out. But.. they are “more” likely to gather photographic image data on the subject or video references to prepare to perform this task. Then they may scribble out a story board or concept sketch or not.

They will plan out whether to use one kind of a modeling process like subD's or nurbs, deformers, particles, metaballs, fluid dynamics, ambient occlusion lighting, three point lighting, colored lights or radiosity, environmental maps or raytraced reflection for the water, HDRI. non linear or key framed animation, bones or object deformers, etc. Finally, they must decide what collected production workflow methods will produce the water drop image still or animation render the fastest. They will probably want to set this work up as an animation so that they can toggle through the frames to find the best final render shot point later. Ya know, if they want to play with the shot a bit and “scratch” it into a framed shot, not just render it out. They may tweak lights or animation with a script or code to refine that a bit.

Likely, they will tweak their final render frames in a 2d compositing/video app for more effects like, adjusting colors, adding some sounds of water dropping, add a title animation, credits, etc. The art just happens whether they will it or the software creates it. As you tweak out the dynamic effects, lighting, camera angles, compositing effects, etc. art happens, realtime, on the fly. I you like a render, you keep it. They could look a some painting or film dropping water effects like in “Hero” or what not. But chances are, they will own this moment by going with what they feel. Then they render out maybe 20 or so camera perspective looks of the water drop scene and let you pick your favorite shot.

To the 3d artist, art can be a little more hip hop DJ than Monet. They often work on the fly and are very aware of the creative power that 3d software hands them. The wise artist learn as much as possible about all forms of art from paint to film. Any shape or subject can be used whether old or original. They know how to manipulate realistic lighting, artistic or creative lighting, materials and texture channel, motions and colors at their whims. They may feel that comic books are real art and that it would be cool if they mixed in some Shakespeare or Picaso with those comic book concepts.

3d artist are very modern, microwave cooking, cellphone using, pc coding, Bruce Lee DVD collecting folks who know that computer science is cool and that it makes great sub surface scattering skin materials on hot 3d female characters.

3d art is very modern so it calls for modern thinking to use it to the full. But we can still learn from art in the past. But like Techno music and online computer chatting, there ain't no real drums and no one is actually talking face to face, but it's still music and its still conversation. 3D is "the" modern computer art.

I think that some people forget that 3d works like this most of the time. Sorry if I went a bit wild on this one. Hehehe.

But I really don't think that modern cg 3d artist have to validate their place in the art world by representing the best art concepts that traditional art has to offer all of the time. I do feel that learning anything artistic from painting, glass blowing, sculpture, acting, photography, cooking, writing, etc. will enrich creative people. But then creative people have to grow beyond this and explore many new options or invent them as they go along.

I can understand certain media industries holding on to the belief of relying on more traditional concepts of art. They don't want to appear too different to the masses and risk not selling to the masses. But a far as individual 3d artist/companies and their projects, they can go in any direction they choose as long as their audience accepts it. I think that majority of successful 3d art producers know this already.

I say this because reading books on classic art and studying art only help you to get some general working ideas of good art structure and practice in your mind. It won't help you master 3d art in order to produce a perfect render of those fine art ideas. You have to learn to operate logically based, not always artistic, technical 3d art software production systems to do this.

It's a fun long road to take for the love of 3d art with many benefits at the end. When you arrive there, show your love for good art and pump out great art. Your art will define what 3d art is.

Have fun!
Modeling 3d objects on a 3d Beryl desktop. It's the 21st century, forreal.

Last edited by JA-forreal : 04 April 2005 at 04:59 AM.
  04 April 2005
Wow, how my little thread has grown and morphed into an new and interesting discussion.

Steven or Lunatique, if you'd like to change the original title of the thread to something more fittting of the new discussion, by all means please do. I see it caused some confusion. If you'd like to add a note to my 1st post to clear things up for new readers, that's cool too.

As for myself, I've decided that the Art Theory Links sticky is more along the lines of what I needed. I just need to learn the basics of traditional art so I can call myself an artist, 3D or whatever. Until then I'm just a 3D, hmmm, what is the term for someone who operates 3D software but without art training?

hmmm...I think I may have just thrown more gas on the fire...
__________________ - I'm available for hire.
  04 April 2005
Tocpe - Yeah, you're right. I went ahead and changed the thread title to something more fitting.

I just noticed your "My mom over-medicates me" title. Made me laugh.
  04 April 2005
Quote: hmmm, what is the term for someone who operates 3D software but without art training?


sorry j/k
  04 April 2005
lol! Good one.

I've been lucky in that my CG jobs have been technical in their execution, and didn't rely on an artistic flavor, so I can rely on my pre-CG training for those skills. I'd be screwed if I had to do what you or Robert have to do though.
__________________ - I'm available for hire.
  04 April 2005
Tocpe, don't be hard on yourself, you don't have the training? - if you say so, but you could have fooled me, so you must have something. Also, you're willing to search for it, and acquire it, which is more than can be said for many other 3d artists.
  04 April 2005
Thanks for the kind words there Steven. Yup, it's taken lots of hard work to get where I am right now, but I still thurst for more knowledge.

lol Guess that makes me a knowledge junkie.
__________________ - I'm available for hire.
  04 April 2005
Thanks for adjusting the title of the thread Lunatique! This will take us out of the loop into more focused discussion, I hope.

Many of you have presented valid arguments. The quest for a theory in 3D needs a specific scope to work with. Like most theories, a hypothesis is the foundation of that theory. In order to build that hypothesis, we will need to define our scope. We have two main domains in 3D that requires distinction:
  • Process
    • How is the process in 3D production different from 2D and/or similar to 2D?
      • Identifying the principles and the underpinnings of the process unique to 3D and 2D i.e. aesthetics
      • What is involved in that process? The pipeline from the initial double click to delivery.
      • The output from a representational view point.
  • Methods
    • This is a survey of current typological models in 3D methodologies. i.e.Various methods of building character geometry, Radiosity vs. FG/GI
    • Techniques by which these methods are applied and carried through. i.e. NURBS vs. SubD
As the scope is defined (if accepted), then we need to define the methodology of how to carry this research. This part of the theory is the most dynamic one. Each one of us is able to devise her/his own methodology and presents it as WIP hypothesis.

As you can see, the door is wide open for brain crunching..

Your thoughts

  04 April 2005
Well here is a list of design principles that I find many 3D artists do not understand fully yet.

Proportion seems to be the biggest stumper from what I've seen on CGTalk - but "form-blindness" is a curable disease. I went to college for Industrial Design and basically most of my sophomore year was spent being taught these basic principles. It seemed basic at the time, but now I find I use them all the time - especially when I have to explain why I did something graphically to my boss.

I would highly recommend learning these principles and then taking a few marker rendering classes to learn shadow and highlights (like the gnomon DVD's under Concept Design - Analog Series). I didn't take any myself, but looking back I would have loved to added a Photographic Lighting class or two to my list. I'll probably do that soon though, just as a nice refresher on real life application.

Good luck to everyone,

Last edited by dynamic duotone : 04 April 2005 at 07:35 PM.
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by dynamic duotone: Well here is a list of design principles that I find many 3D artists do not understand fully yet.

Proportion seems to be the biggest stumper from what I've seen on CGTalk - but "form-blindness" is a curable disease. I went to college for Industrial Design and basically most of my sophomore year was spent being taught these basic principles. It seemed basic at the time, but now I find I use them all the time - especially when I have to explain why I did something graphically to my boss.

Good luck to everyone,

In 3d to get proper proportion you can model objects that are properly sized in a correct size/distance relationship to other objects. It you model a chair and a character to size these two objects in a scene right you have to make sure that their sizes match, then the character must fit into the chair. You can use math or just line stuff up with your grid line, reference images, drawings and eyeball it.

Most 3d software's use cameras. You have to treat these cameras like real world cameras and not like binoculars, windows or a picture frame canvas. You have to get technical. Read up on how to adjust proper camera settings in photography books, film making books etc. Then when you master the usage of sizing and working your cameras in your 3d software you can apply some type of artistic perspective methodology to your 3d scene perspectives. You just have to choose a 50mm or 70mm lens, etc.

You will only have Alice and Wonderland sized scenes if you want them after you “eat” or “drink” down some healthy information on the usage of cameras as far as setting up your 3d scene perspectives.

Imagination and visual technology can work together just fine. And your boss or client will understand your explanations on 3d perspective if you "show" them the live scenes with different camera angles and distances, different sized object relationships, etc. 3d software allows you to show people your beautifully simulated sets in realtime. People can more easily understand what they see than any 3d tech or artistic jargon we could throw at them. We have to reserve the jargon for the stage when we want to impress them with the deep stuff. You can even let them hit the render button.

Have fun!
Modeling 3d objects on a 3d Beryl desktop. It's the 21st century, forreal.

Last edited by JA-forreal : 04 April 2005 at 08:38 PM.
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by Stahlberg: "Unemployed"?

sorry j/k

I just want to add some more to this.

Back in the day, many of the original 3d software users never saw the inside of an art school and many of those folks are still in business today. Drawing and art are not "only possible" through art school training. People are naturally creative.

Some people need guides to develop their creativity into something great and others do not. That's why we have self trained 3d art masters who are mostly entrepreneurs, and a growing base of well trained 3d art students who are able to work for these innovative 3d self starters 3d media companies. 3d artist who have gone to art school and graduated also project a good sign that they are dedicated to the task of creating 3d art. If their demo reel can back up their skill, all the better.

3d self starters are usually very academic and read and learn about everything. Some of these folks are from other development industries in which they applied 2d art such as web design. Then these folks discovered 3d software as a demo app or on a store shelf. Later after many weekends and years of trial and success, they have yet another viable visual computer media tool, 3d software to work with. I have been around before the 3d scene had the luxury of countless art schools when your only training came from a class that offered instruction on the basic usage of 3d software, a book and the web. Most of the early 3d artist did stuff like make animated logos and still logos for promotions. Many other created game companies or moded game levels ans content and later worked for game companies.

As I said before, TV and film companies begin to focus on more traditional artist methodologies and "standards" for 3d art to keep things more exclusive. But in reality, anybody and their dog can do 3d art. 2d software art is more manual in it's approach to developing art. This can allow for simple line drawing art or very complex traditional art fine styles. The results are more predictable and immediate than 3d art.

3d art is based on more automated goal driven principals for artistic development that are only realized when you render your scene. You don't have to understand stuff like shadow perspectives, shadows are rendered with shadow enabled scene lamps and shadows fall away from light sources much as they do in the real world. You do have to understand how 3d software works. An understanding of traditional art will aid your design development greatly but your visual observation method application of what you see in the world around you can be just as powerful for 3d art development.

So 3d gives the artist, that is anybody and their dog, who are working to create something that is visually enticing, an opportunity to be a artist and create something visual. But as with anything technical and artistic on a computer only a few who can endure learning 3d enough to master it on their own. Only a few will become the amazing self starting 3d artist without any former art training. The rest will have to head to art school to learn how to refine themselves or to think visually as an artist.

Your employment and businessare opportunities are only as good as your ability to persuade your audience visually with the end result of your artwork. I hope that with this forum all of us will find ways to work toward this goal technically and artistically.
Modeling 3d objects on a 3d Beryl desktop. It's the 21st century, forreal.
  04 April 2005
If I were just starting out in 3d art now I would download every 3d software demo from Maya to XSI or open source apps like Wings3d, Blender and Yafray. I would buy the CG talk sponsored books, Gnomon DVD's, check out books at the library and book stores on cg. Then I would learn the basics of 3d software to see if I could get the hang of it on my own. If not, I would enroll in a class or cg school some place and get busy.

I would watch and analyze every 3d cg film and TV show that I could to see 3d cg in action.

Above all I would hang out here on CGtalk and talk with some of the 3d art masters who write the books on 3d cg and inspire the craft daily.

Have fun!
Modeling 3d objects on a 3d Beryl desktop. It's the 21st century, forreal.

Last edited by JA-forreal : 04 April 2005 at 10:25 PM.
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