Grand Space Opera 3D Entry: Ryan Watkins


This is an over all critique of the work submitted to this challenge. I’m writing it as a general over view of the work. This critique came about when I started to examine all of the shortcomings and points that I missed in my work.

After submitting my final I began to look over all the entries both in 2D and 3D. In doing so I found that the most striking and interesting work was done in the 2D challenge. That body of work used color, composition and lighting to a better effect.

        Artist in both challenge start there work the same, by make concept sketches. This is the most important steep in creating a strong work of art. It is through these drawings that the artist will explore different composition, colors, lighting and other element important to the work. The 2D artist will complete a final concept sketch that will be the foundation for the piece, it will be very thought out in terms of composition and what the artist is trying to convey. The artists will then begin to build all the elements for the artwork on top of final drawing never leaving that final drawing.

On the 3D side however the artist may start out in the same manner by sketching the full layout of the scene along with sketches of other elements of the final composition. But in most cases these drawings are not as thought out in terms of a final work of art and a final concept is not full developed. The 3D art seems more focused on the technical aspect of the scene elements. Although these are the bases for creating in 3D it is important to think about the over all scene when building the elements and not to get too carried away with showing every thing all at once with every detail. Detail is what makes models and scenes striking, but with to much detail in every object and in every pixel on screen the main focus of the work is lost. If we take a look at the most successful 3D work both stills and in film, we will notice that they all have the most amount of detail were they want the viewers focus to be and the lest amount in the background or in the supporting elements. As 3D artist we must never leave that final drawing of the scene and always keep in mind what is the most important element for the work and keep that as the focus.

In this medium the artist is free to create with out limitation we have the entire universe under our control; changing gravity, the properties of light and bending the laws of physics is all under our control. In no other medium can an artist create so freely, let us use that freedom to expanded our imagination and break away from the limitation of the past.



I have said it dozens of times to my friends that the most on target images to the theme of the challenge were in the 2D category. This is because it is one hundred percent composition. They don’t have to care about why there are glows there in that part of the picture they just paint a fuzzy sphere. A ship is a stroke of black, with fine lined details where you are painting literaly the highlights where you want them. In 3D you don’t have that freedom. You have to make the form, then position a light, change the dynamics of light after many revisions you might get something that looked similar to the 2D painting but it would not be easy. I will give you an example. Pick any 2D entry in this competition in its final form, and attempt to reproduce the exact effect in 3D. Now I am not suggesting you ever do anything with that picture except look at it for yourself or talk to the artist who created the 2D picture before posting it anywhere. Plagerism sucks, but the challenge of reacreating that effect in 3D will take you more than you think. Also if you do this under the principal of form, you might create very different shapes in the refinement of details. How much effort to put into something 3 pixels big in the finally, it will never be closer or bigger so go for it make it a white triangle, but in 3D when you want to have it zoom by your head or be close and far, it is what is required, full detail, down to the muzzle on the gun.


I agree with you in that 3d is a more challenging medium then 2D, but for a challenge like this the final images in both categories are all 2d, there is no ship that starts in the background and zooms to the foreground so this type of detail is not necessary in making a good final image. (all though it would be for animation or a game.) I’m simply saying that good composition is key for creating good images and that this can be accomplished in 3D animation, stills and in games; but as artist we must always work with composition in mind and make decisions based on good composition.


I agree that works in 2d challenge are much better. I also was amazed by many of them. I was thinking about it, and I think that it is easier to create a 2d image. You only need a painting talent for taht, and some knowledge about lighting and composition. In 3d beside the skills from 2d, you need to know techniques and software. In my opinion It’s hard to know the software on such a level to create stunning works. And 3d somposition is much more difficult, because it’s harder to cheat. In 2d works you don’t care that much about many things, you only paint as something should look like in your opinion. And in 3d when you set up a scene and choose a camera view, there is always some elements which don’t look good, but are placed as they should be. The best example is my picture!! Many, many objects are placed wrong! they face the wrong direction, they are there where they should be on the final composition, not there where they should be. Besides farther from the camera, I had to scale them down to get a better results. he air battle is also cheating:) the same with flying dropshis(those close to the camera, it would be impossible to place them there, but they were rendered separetly, and look good in the composition). Next thing… in 3d you need to have some science knowledge(I mean the top artoists with top works). I agree about the concept, in 3d most of us underestimate it. I think that I stayed close to my poor sketch, and it paid off. And for sure our(3d freaks:)) biggest problem is giving too much interest to the models and textures. Not thinking about lighting, colors and composition. The best example is Virtuoso for me. Wonderful guy, a master in modeling and texturing, but in my opinion his final composition, lighting and colors should be better(I don’t want to offend you Michael, I have a great respect to you and your work, it’s just my opinion). And the next thing is that most of 3d dudes here are amators… I’m one as well and am still learning. And that is why such challanges are needed, and have so big varioety of different level of works. ANd the next thing that 3d guys gives a small interest to the subject. They mostly want to create a nice cool 3d image. I think that many of 3d works don’t fit to the subject. And 2d wirks I think all do fit… or most of them. Next thought is about motion, it’s easier to capture motion on 2d image, because you just paint it as it should look like in your eyes. And when you set some motion blur in 3d, it often looks not real, but is a proper motion in fact.
Sorry for chaotic opinions, but I wrote what came to my mind.
So 3d arists, be less 3d and be more artists:)


Hey Ryan,
First of all I liked your general critique of the 2d and 3d entries. I too noticed that the 2d images were very striking,didn’t think about it too much but I agree composition is the key.
That is something I wished I concentrated more on , maybe the next challenge.
I like your image by the way, Good luck to you.


[font=Times New Roman]I defiantly can see were creating cool looking models and textures can be so engrossing, I sent more time reworking and experimenting with textures and lighting and modeling then working towards a final image. But hopefully as my skills improve these things will become second thought and my main concern will be making the final image[/font]


hi enochian,

this is a very interesting topic you are talking about.

in fact it needs much more effort to create convincing images in 3d than in 2d. I was asked by nuclearman why I didn´t try to create a 3d image of my sketch 1.0. Though working as industrial designer for years (with knowledge in rhino and some in 3dsmax) I knew I wouldn´t have the knowledge to do it. Especially in terms of atmosphere and depth.

But I would like to emphasise that no one endows you the ability to paint something in 2d. It needs a lot of practice to give things in 2d a convincing look. So don´t underestimate the complexity of a 2d image. I often have images in mind which my hands aren´t able to create as I wish they should do. :cry:. Particularly in terms of perspective/point of view/the right scales/ lightning…things you don´t have to worry about when you work in 3d.

I´m sure 2d knowledge assist 3d artists to create much more convincing 3d images than without. (e.g. Kory, Monsit). And in the beginning of the challenge I somehow had the impression that the some/most 3d challengers tried to get around sketching. Just tell me if I have the wrong impression.

best regards


Most artist really talented in the field master 2D and 3D artwork at the same time.

Making art for 2D is pretty complex… Just painting a box with lighting surrounding it is very complex. I can also do simple 3D art. I dont even have 3D program at home so id rather be involved in 2D artwork.

But you guys must also remember that changing compositions and layout is much more easier in 3D artwork… Also changing camera angles. Just drag and drop. Theyre really hard to tackle in 2D since you have to stick with them from the very beginning and hope it was cool idea.

It also takes years of experience just draw couple lines and make things look like they work.

Usually stuff end up looking like mustard ketchup artwork if there is no such knowledge of basic hilites and shapes and the way they react to different kind of lighting enviroments.


As being a Fine Artist for the last four years, I know the challenges of creating convincing 2d art ( all thou my fine art does have sculptural elements). I would say that creating images both in 3d and 2d are equally challenging, both have many technical aspects, they may be very different but the also share may others (lighting, color, texture, form, line and composition are all challenges that all artist face when creating art in any media.)

Both 3d and 2d have there advantages and disadvantages as well. Creating perspective and changing scale and layout is much easier with 3d as Falcor_ pointed out. And with 2d an artist can create forms and variation of form, color and texture much quicker and without the numerous steps that it takes in 3d.

Artist in all mediums should never forget that all great works of art all share the same fundamentals (lighting, color, texture, form, line and composition) and the best way to improve on our skills as artist is to draw.

I’m glad to have some opions from the 2d artist keep up the great work.



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