3D picture books

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  01 January 2013
3D picture books

I would like to write a 3D picture book for children. I already have the text for it. It's a story about the beach. My main concerns were the water (I don't know or have Real Flow), hair and clothes, but I figured I could just create basic models and textures in Maya/Photoshop, then either hire a professional painter to paint over the images in Painter or try to do it myself. So the ocean would be painted, as well as hair, clothes, and other things I didn't want to model.

But before I engage in this seemingly large project, I wanted to get some advice from the experts. I haven't seen many 3D picture books. I guess the only ones that might be out there would be from movies like Toy Story or something. Most children's picture books are drawn or painted by traditional means. Why is this? Is 3D just too much work? Picture books usually are around 32 pages. That's 32 images, unless you have a few that take up two pages in a spread.

Do you think my project sounds unrealistic for one artist (or two given I hire a painter)? Any tips or advice is welcomed. Also, why aren't there more 3D picture books out there? I think there are a few 3D comic books, so the idea doesn't sound too far fetched.

Thanks.

scj
 
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by scottcjohnson: I haven't seen many 3D picture books. I guess the only ones that might be out there would be from movies like Toy Story or something. Most children's picture books are drawn or painted by traditional means. Why is this? Is 3D just too much work? Picture books usually are around 32 pages. That's 32 images, unless you have a few that take up two pages in a spread.

Do you think my project sounds unrealistic for one artist (or two given I hire a painter)? Any tips or advice is welcomed. Also, why aren't there more 3D picture books out there? I think there are a few 3D comic books, so the idea doesn't sound too far fetched.

scj


One of my favorite books as a child was a lenticular 3D book involving stuffed animals having a picnic. I absolutely loved that book, and can say that it probably even had something to do with my lifelong love of miniatures, models, and all types of 3D imaging/photography.

But I don't see many books like that, perhaps not one since.

It is hard to say if this is too big a project for one artist, certainly I've seen many 3D artists who could do something like this in just weeks or months. You haven't really said how you would create the images, or how ambitious the characters or settings you intend to depict.

CG or miniatures will produce the most believable 3D in the shortest time. Most techniques for hand drawing 3D simply place images at different depths like a paper diorama. I don't know of any programs that automate this process, aside from Colors! 3D for the Nintendo 3DS. I wish you luck though, as this is the kind of thing I have always enjoyed.
 
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by scottcjohnson: But before I engage in this seemingly large project, I wanted to get some advice from the experts. I haven't seen many 3D picture books. I guess the only ones that might be out there would be from movies like Toy Story or something. Most children's picture books are drawn or painted by traditional means. Why is this? Is 3D just too much work? Picture books usually are around 32 pages. That's 32 images, unless you have a few that take up two pages in a spread.


Check out the app store, there's a fair sized handful of CG books for IPad out there. I interned at readImagine, a start-up doing CG children's books. The one released so far is here: http://www.shipofdreamsapp.com/. That particular book is mostly 2d paintings with a few 3d effects; some of the upcoming ones have more extensive 3d: http://readimagine.com/.
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  01 January 2013
My apologies if you were not referring to a 3d print process for your book.
 
  01 January 2013
I have, at times, contemplated doing a 3D (not stereoscopic) kid's book myself. I have a 7 year old, and so have been through a pretty fair amount of children's books and have made a few observations. It's rare that I find a book's 3D artwork as captivating as most 2D books. I'd say the reason there are so few good 3D books is that it is more time-consuming to produce art that way. If you are doing the book as a boutique or art project (as opposed to a money-making one), that may or may not matter to you. A skilled 2D illustrator could potentially crank out several books a year, but I think even a skilled 3D artist would be very hard-pressed to meet a similar schedule, and the results will likely not be as dynamic or interesting.

My son is obsessed with Star Wars right now and has been reading the books based on The Clone Wars cartoon series. They are awful looking, imho. The character designs are fine, if stylized, but the lighting and staging of the 3D characters are atrocious. Most 3D books I've seen suffer from similar layout and composition problems. I think this points to a weakness in the 3D artist's basic art skills, which is not uncommon. On the other hand, the best 2D books have art that leaps off the page and is just a pleasure to look at.

The problems with 3D is that it's hard to sculpt and stage and light 3D characters and sets that have the same emotional impact as well-drawn or painted 2D images. It certainly depends on the character design, but the amount of work that even a highly skilled artist needs to do to get the same emotional range (if that's something you are after) as 2D characters is exponentially greater.

Bottom line is, if timeliness and profitability are factors, 2D seems a better choice. If you just like the look of 3D art and have the time, then go for it.
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  01 January 2013
From my explorations into the children's book arena, the dominating factor is overall budget. On average, budgets are very tight for an average 32 page book. So visuals are approached so that they can be turned around within a 2 to 3 months of total man hours actual time in. The edit - review process takes about 6 to 8 months.
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Perry Shulak
Design, Illustration, writing and interactive media
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  01 January 2013
This is a great topic, one I have been thinking about as well lately. If one was to make a 3D book, does anyone have any recommendations on what engines are good for doing that, especially if you are looking to do some interactivity with the reader?

@scj - I think if you really want to do it, just go for it if you have the time. Even if you don't mind doing it as a side project, just completing such a task can be very self-rewarding. There are a lot of books and other apps out there already, but it takes just one good well-polished idea that can make a big difference.
 
  01 January 2013
3D interactive Ipad App childrens books

Take a look at this place Moonbotstudios.
They created an interactive children's book (The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore) as an IPad app that has a combination of 3D animation, miniature modeled environment and 2D illustration. It's very well done and my children loved it.
 
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by scottcjohnson: I would like to write a 3D picture book for children. I already have the text for it. It's a story about the beach. My main concerns were the water (I don't know or have Real Flow), hair and clothes, but I figured I could just create basic models and textures in Maya/Photoshop, then either hire a professional painter to paint over the images in Painter or try to do it myself. So the ocean would be painted, as well as hair, clothes, and other things I didn't want to model.


Most 3D apps have textures for water, so that shouldn't be a problem. You can also consider purchasing some models - people, hair, clothes, etc. - and refurbishing them to save time and effort. Also, depending upon how many sets you may need, one well-constructing location can be used for (perhaps) most of your settings. Using programs like Poser or DAZ Studio - creatively - can be very helpful and not take forever. Not to mention that the use of various filters/shaders can help alter the look of plain objects or characters and make them "pop."
 
  01 January 2013
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