Into 3D

This week I’ve been talking a lot about possibly getting into 3D modeling. If you asked me where I got the idea, I’d have to say I must’ve seen something that struck me around last Saturday but I’m not entirely sure. I don’t remember specifically what I was looking for on google but I came across this program by Maxxon called Cinema 4D.

Here’s their video:

Now even just a few weeks ago I would’ve found this whole thing completely boring, but I think since 3D modeling and animation programs have gotten a little older, they’ve gotten much more realistic, which is something I’m very interested in. I still don’t know exactly what I plan to accomplish with this type of program long-term but I can definitely think of some instances with my conceptual work where CG might come in-handy.

This comes back to the use of stock images, to make a photomanipulation, or even when just matching two images together in Photoshop, it’s much easier to do when both photos have the same lighting and perspective. What I run into frequently, and this is what turns me off to using most stock images, is that the images that I want to use are of the right subject, but the angle of view and lighting aren’t what I wanted. What I’ve been thinking is that if I got into 3D modeling I could just CG myself the elements of the image that I couldn’t find or easily put together with stocks. In short, I could sort of “play god” and finally have a medium where I could make anything I wanted. Although I am partial to photorealism, I don’t think that would be much of an obstacle for me if I import any renders I create into Photoshop.

Cinema 4D seems like it wouldn’t be too hard to pickup because the workspace is laid out similar to Photoshop, and it uses a lot of the same concepts but under different headings. So I know I want to learn this program but I took some time to think of how to go about learning it. If I recall back to ’09 when I was getting into photography I only had a point and shoot and a big huge book on the basics of photography. The book talks about aperture and f/stops, shutterspeed and a lot about film. At the time a lot of that type of stuff was over my head but I read it anyway because I was interested. I figured I would just stick it out and learn all this information even though I couldn’t really apply it right away because my point and shoot didn’t have a manual mode. About a year later I got my first DSLR and I thought I wouldn’t really get the hang of it but then I remembered I already learned a lot of the concepts like aperture, shutterspeed, and ISO. All I had to do was connect what I had already learned and put it to use on my camera. There’s still a learning curve with this type of approach, but, for me, learning as much I could before applying it really mitigated a lot of the learning curves and stumbling blocks because I already understood what I could do and how to do it. At this point I just had to put everything into practice and it seems to have worked out pretty well so far.

This week, before even installing any Cinema 4D trials or anything, I decided to find some resources online to help familiarize me with the program so I could sort of “hit the ground running”. I’m currently about halfway through Greyscalegorilla’s into to cinema 4D series and it’s been awesome. Probably the worst thing you can do is open a new program totally cold turkey and start messing around, that’s fine for some, but not for me. I think doing that wastes a lot of time but luckily with the internet there’s pretty much nothing you can’t learn if you go about it the right way. I think I’m going to enjoy using Cinema 4D and maybe even some other 3D applications. Cinema can do not only modeling but animation and has After Effects and Photoshop integration. It’s almost like a missing link for visual artists and it seems like a good “next step” in visual arts because I can use it to do new things with my Photography but it also covers some new ground elsewhere by being 3D and also animation capable. I’m never one for completely beating a dead horse, it’s nice to push what you’re doing to the next level while also trying new things if you can and I think I’m doing that. Also it’s getting to be that, depending on the job, it’s easier for a company to hire a CG artist rather than a Photographer because the lighting setup or concept would be almost impossible to create without heavy Photoshop work. Ultimately, it comes down to, not so much time and money, but who can do a better end result and sometimes a CG artist wins over a photographer. It might just be a good idea to have this type of skill on the back burner.

If you’d like to see some work that I’m inspired by so that you can get handle on the CG work I’m referring to, you can look HERE and HERE as well as some of these:

The level of realism on some of these images is impressive and I’m curious to see what happens with my work in the next few months. it looks like you can almost CG anything you can imagine but I’d like to see it for myself and in my own work. Maybe I’ll watch a few more Pixar films to hold me over until then.

Onward.

-Alex

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