Will 3D ever be considered true "art"


This topic applies mainly to still (non animated) works created in 3D packages. I’ve seen some truly amazing things on these and other forums and I’m been wondering whether this medium will be elevated to true art in the mind of the general public.

Certainly those here would agree that it is true art but I have yet to see mainstream exibitions featuring this type of work. Or people hanging this work in homes, offices, etc. Or universities offering studies on interpretation of CG work. In essense, will it become a true artform at the level of traditional oil paintings, or even stage, or music. These mediums are all studied or admired based on their content but 3D work is usually only studied based on the technical techniques used to create it, not on the composition itself.

Given how new this field is, it normally would only be a matter of time before this recognition took place. For example, film was regarded as a non intellectual medium when it first appeared at the turn of the 20th century and was never compared in the same sentence with an established artform such as the stage. The same holds true for rock music, which at first was frowned upon by “respected” critics but is now considered a classic and important art form.

I think 3D cgi is still in this new state. The general public finds the imagery and stories of Pixar, etc entertaining and enjoys the benefits of visual effects in gaming, live action film, etc. But yet, few people outside of this field spend any time admiring the types of individual works we see on these forums and even fewer could consider putting a framed print of one in their home or taking a class which discusses the themes in 3D works.

One issue that comes to mind, and I know others may disagree, is that 3D art is easier that traditional media. I think this is especially true in the minds of those not involved in the field. For instance, when you look at a work by Rembradt or John Waterhouse, part of the appreciation of the work comes from the admiration of the skill of the artist. The work before you is obviously the result of years of learning, observation, artistic skill, and developing technique. Many people think that cgi is only a few steps above clicking the “make pretty picture” button and that the computer does a lot of the work for you.

And I think that is true for the most part. Not to say, that developing quality work does not require the same level of skill, observation, and technique, becuase it does. Compared to a traditional medium, such as oils, it requires many of the same skills; lighting, form, observation of references, texture, technique. However, I think the computer makes learning and reaching these skills much, much easier than doing so by a brush and canvas. I have attempted oils in the past and did not reach any level of sophistication. However, I have been using XSI for a year now and have produced far superior work in 6 months than I would have in years using a traditional medium.

This is not to discount the artists here because I am in awe of some of these works and they inspire me to continue building my skills. I realize their results display every bit of talent and technical knowledge that any “traditional” master would posses. I;m just wondering if this perception is exaggerated by others and will be fueled by the growing sophistication of 3D apps so that CGI work will never be as widely recognized and regarded as it should.


these are issues i’ve been thinking a lot about with my own work lately, that i am aiming actually at an audience outside these forums, though i hope people here like it too :slight_smile:

ultimately it will just take people actually making more of the sort of fine art with 3d to create the perception of it as a serious fine arts media… but that will happen more and more over time as tools continue to get more accessible. there is a ton of digital stuff in general happening in the fine art world, video, and so on, i think its just a matte of time before more people start using 3d as well. also there is a big underground art movement connected with graffitti and so on that is very open to commercial influences and styles, i think they just lack the knowledge to make 3d for the most part.

but most of the art on say this forum, is representational science fiction art, that wouldnt be in a gallery if it was an oil painting either. you see what i mean? if somebody made the sort of abstract or intentionally “unrealistic” work that you see in galleries, but authored it digitally, in 3d, and knew the art world well enough to get anything in a gallery at all, it would be in galleries too, i’m completely certain of that.

for example, i myself recently got a 3d piece in a local (but juried) art show, that was a really abstract toon style render, i guess i would say it doesnt matter, or certainly is not a bad thing, that 3d was involved with making this, to a fine art audience, because it looks unlike the realistic look of commercial 3d. but what do i know :slight_smile: i will have to ask the jurors when the show happens…

also as far as the peception that 3d is easy, i think it is up to the artist to make something which does not depend on the perception of technical skill to suceed as art. nobody likes toy story because they thought it was hard to make. and the reality is 3d does make many things easy, or at least possibel, that were impossible. so its up to the artist to bring their thinkinng to the next level and still figure out what would be impressive, if thats the area you want to impress people with. just doing a realistic still life, yeah thats probably boring for all sorts of reasons, even if its hard. or if you make it really good, people will see it as a good image, regardless of if it was a photo. you see what i mean here?

for example in my work here, i tried to make a design nobody would ever say was easy, if it was made in any media…

so basically i say, just do it, its always up to the artists to create the art. if you build it, they will write it up in history books 40 years later to explain to you what you did :slight_smile:


Oh damn it! I just had a nice reply all written out and then I accidently dragged a file into this window that cleared the page and wiped it. Oh well…

Basically what I was going to say is, does it really matter if you are considered an artist or not? Does ‘artist’ or ‘art’ have some sort of higher level of respect? Maybe the fact, more so, is whether people understand what goes into the work. Not necessarily whether it’s just art or not. Art can be a piece of cake…

The industry is still relatively young and I think the general awareness of it is improving due to many things such as this society, worldwide events, the media and so forth.

Do a search on the forums because similar points have been discussed a few times.


People never considered graffiti art untill a while ago.


Fine art is something that is evolving all the time, i have to agree completely with yenvalmar´s opinion. Digital media is just a tool, a medium where you express what ever you want to say. Last november i had a video on an exibithion on the CCCB (center of contemporary culpture of Barcelona) And it was made mainly of cg.There were great opinions about it and there was not a single complaint about cg. and there is a realy tough jury to get something there
I paint for a living, but i did that piece on cg because it was the optimal way for saying what i wanted to say. Cg is like any other media on art. There are good painitings and bad paintings, and the quality of the piece is not related to the hard work and effort that someone putted on creating it. You can paint a portrait, make a great effort and still not create something that you can call art. Sometimes on these forums i see pieces called art just based on the “effort” made by the author. In fine art, you just cannot do that, because there are more points to consider when observing a piece, like the concept and the meaning.
Something that is really apreciated is if you are “investigating” on the field of aesthetics and the language of perception (think of any of the great names, Picasso, Dali, Pollock,Bacon.All of them have been recognized because of their contribution and the changes that they made to the way we see things, and not only because they where tallented painters, Picasso is not Picasso because he started painting at the age of 12 -There are many artists on history that have done it even earlier and with great results,He became “Picasso” and only became important when he did the first cubist painting, and when he did the first collage.It was a breaktrhoug on the aesthetics of its time, it was pure investigation, and it generated a lot of more movements on painting and sculpture. The same with Piet Mondrian and all the great names, any of them.
Thats why you see some perffect anatomical drawings that still cannot be called art. They might be good pieces, but not “art”. They still lack that meaning, and they are not offering something new. They just offer effort, and some misconception of the word beauty (beauty is not necesarely art, and the other way around).For the same reason, a piece of cake cannot be art just like that. It might be, but it has to be, very , very very well justified. Because believeme, on that world everything has to be well, and elegantly justified, even the media (painting, sculpture, cg or what ever).


I think it will… I read somewhere that when Photography first appeared it was not considered true art… but over the years that has changed.


Untill people actually try creating 3d artworks themselves they will never consider them artforms. Photography and grafitti art can gain respect much more easily because they are a much more accessable form of art. Since cameras are much more available to people and pens and paper for grafitti, its easier for them to see the amount of skill it takes.

I go to school with art teachers who literally think that anything that comes from a computer is automated (as im sure you all know - nothing new), it continues to disgust me that an upturned urinal in an art gallery can be studied in class for 2 months but when it comes to absolutely amazing works of 3d art people dont care in the slightest, no matter how great it is - which is COMPLETELY hypocritical as they are teaching you to break conventions YOU DONT EVEN KNOW ABOUT YET!

What makes painting so respectable, how is it any more of a creative artform than 3d?, it isnt, but people understand the amount of precision and skill it takes because they would have atleast once in their lives tried it themselves. I dont think 3d will ever be considered true art, not like photography, but it will definately gain a little more respect when generations die off and art students who respect 3d now as well as traditional art grow and teach and use examples of it. As far as im concerned we are artistic colonys tucked down in our creative bunkers creating for the colony and not the world, which obviously is true with the amount of respect from most of the world we are given…rant rant rant…


the question gets asked too many times…

fine art is usually associated with traditional media,why? because its been around for centuries,thats right guys,thousands upon thousands ,even millions of years,people fail to realise that CG,even technology as a whole is pretty new it will be quite some time before it sneaks it wat into the fine art category.

Its is art however and excellent at that.You can’t expect a fine artist whos been doing tradtional for years before the digital era to just like cg work,allot of people here say allot of my teachers things cg is just a click of a button blah blah,i hate her blah but how does your teacher know any better? your job is to show him her what can be done any maybe they can develop an interest,if they don’t want to,fine move on,an artists will be an artist.


Actually, I think we are looking from the wrong side of the whole mess.
CG is just another technique. I don’t think that the chosen technique should be ever questioned, as long as it serves the purpose right.
But I am totally aware, that everybody should realise that computers are tools, are not making the thing. Thing that most of the snobs reject.


Ug not another one of these threads… :scream:

Let me leave you with a question. If you know the basic principles of art and know how to apply them effectively in the 3D medium, what stops you from applying the same principles on a canvas and real paint? I’m aure some of the greatest digital painters came from a traditional backround and could just as easily go back to oils and canvas if they wished. If you have that type of skill and talent and background, I doubt the question of (whether 3D will ever be viewed as true art) will ever cross your mind because I doubt you would care so much. If an artist wishes to create something physical and everlasting and with value, then they will simply do it non CG.

One day when software is capable of producing solid, physical results, think Z-Brush-like software which would spit out a textured mold from a laser or something similiar. Not that out there of an idea, we already have software that fabricates machine parts/mechanics.

Anyone seen those touchscreen videos going around on the web? Imagine one day being able to paint on a surface much like a canvas with real paints and materials but then having software,via replaceable screen or something producing a digital replica in 3D. Then you could have a work worth value as well as a digital version.


If an artist wishes to create something physical and everlasting and with value, then they will simply do it non CG

What about Mozart, whose works of everlasting value were only preserved by cryptic scribblings on staffed lines? Or Thelonius Monk’s improvisational musings converted by analog circuitry into scratched lines on vinyl?
Is Shakespeare’s art in the paper and ink from his hand? If it is then none of us have ever experienced a Shakespeare play.
Is William Burrough’s typewriter a better art producer than William Styron’s word processor?
I can go see Van Gogh’s Starry Night any day I wish. Does that mean our friends in Australia can feel nothing about Van Gogh because they can’t make it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art?

A dancer’s body moving through space.
Christo’s Gates fluttering for a few weeks in Central Park
Kong’s eyes going lifeless as he loses his grip on the Empire State building.
The only way the masses experience these things are through recordings of some type.

Chuck Close used to tell me a painter is a performing artist, only no one ever sees his performance. All that we are left is a recording of that performance - the painting.

Some thoughts, anyway.


That would be acquiesing that 3D is not and will never be a respected art form. That is what I am questioning. In all rights, it should be.

Saying you would transfer your work to another medium is not accurate. I am somewhat experienced as a 3D artist and am slowly gaining an understanding of artistic principles. Yet I am I totally inept with oils and canvas. Similarly, someone else may excel at watercolors but would also be unable to produce the same level of work with oils. Or someone may be talented at charcoals but do not have skill if have them reproduce their work in sculpture.

And on another note, the look of CG itself gives each piece a look unto itself. Just as watercolors have their unique look, so does 3D. You may be able to capture the composition in another medium but you could not capture the look. So as a simple example, if a still life displays paint clumps and brush strokes, it is highly regarded. If the exact same still life composition contains rendered pixels, it is not highly regarded. It does not matter that the subject is identical.

What makes this more interesting is the upturned urinals mentioned in an earlier post. Yes, I have seen a similar exhibit, and have seen other works such as an entire large format canvas simply painted a solid shade of blue. And yet people discuss and ponder such works. I am not an art student but in some cases, I simply have to say, “the emperor has no clothes”.

So if someone could disregard the front page work in these forums but admire a “blue canvas”. Well, I must only yield in utter confusion.


Heh on the same note do you think Ballet is an art form? And in your answer do you think animation will one day be up there with ballet?


I haven’t read through all the posts here, but I don’t see why 3D shouldn’t be recognized as art. It all depends on how it’s done. Again it comes down to the eternal question of what art really is.

Having browsed through the 3D choice gallery, I must admit that there are very few things that I would like to hang on my walls. The ones I would definately concider are Meats and Peter Fendrick.

I think that if you want to make your 3D “art”, then make it your own style. Few people would like to hang a perfectly rendered car or an interior design on their walls.

But those who really try to make something personal - I can’t see why they shouldn’t be concidered in the art world even up against traditional things.


ray caesar isnt doing too badly…


Of course 3d should be (and one day will be)
Respected and treated as a art form

But, with each new software release, these 3d programs are developing tools that make some types of 3d art produced years ago redundant , in the fact that they can be done easier

in 5 years, or 10 years, 3d might be only worth while as a story telling medium, because the computer does a lot of the stuff for you

And because a lot of new comers to the field of 3d take too much advantage of this, people see that it is the computer doing the work for them

(ok, my examples will be crap, but nevertheless, here they are:

grass , water, generators, zbrush - use of alpha textures to instantly detail models, detail generators (greeble), dynamics simulators, explosions and special effects simulators)

they are just a few, and as the years go by and computer become ever more complex, everyone will be using Maya, with renderman and will be using many generators to create there art, and then it will become more difficult for true 3d masters to stand out from the crowd

I don’t believe that modelling and animation will be superseded by the cpu, of course not, but many important factors in peoples images are not there own, they buy extra models, use scripts and basically go the lazy man’s way of creating images

And they will because it would be pointless not to



I think if anything is gonna rise up in the perception of 3d as art it will come from the film world.

After all, many films are considered works of art (art films funnily enough rather than blockbusters). Since the film world is far more forgiving when it comes to technique (and even to a degree technical ability) I think you’ll soon start to see many films made with 3d regarded as true “art films” due to their content, meaning, mesage, etc, and probably due to their being created (in some cases) by a single person.

Basically wat Im saying is that this will rovide 3d with its initial foot-hold in the “art” world. Whether or not it continues to climb is anyone’s guess.


to answer your question, 3D Art is already considered a valid medium . Its only a matter of time until more 3D artists emerge into the scene…

Below is a link to an amazing 3D artist named Ray Ceasar - his work is shown in art exhibitions.

a cool article about him


i’m glad somebody brought up film. in fact, both of them are amazing animators who later went into live action, but i think you see my point. tools that make it easier to create what you can imagine can only be a good thing for people with true artistic vision. the genre will define itself much as film, photography, painting, and sculpture have. maybe terry gilliam’s films aren’t shown in art galleries but he has certainly found an audience that i think most of us would be glad to reach 1/10th of :slight_smile: