Tuesday, January 26, 2010

the digital art elephants need their daily walk

Just in time, they're awake and need their exercise.
Art elephants are like sheep the way they nuzzle each other.....wait, elephants do that, I get confused they have the texture thing down, biggest sheep I ever saw.

Let me paint the picture. Microsoft is a huge tech city, hurried, crowded, multi-layered and fingers in every direction. Apple is small to mid-sized town of diverse but laid-back folks. Linuxville is a vast open savanna with enclaves, hamlets, homesteads. The one I live in is small in surface appearance, but deep down there are catacombs (cave of wonder), labs, gardens, etc; all connected by an intricate network of tunnels, at least till I get the physical presents transference machine online.

Yeah I know all about the genetics of art elephants but still you need a good gene mapper (gene = pixel, get it?!). Most folks in Linuxville know of Blender 3D, it has even been used to make movie effects and animations. What troubles me is that folks who went through the curve to learn Blender 3D are stuck on it because now they know it. This is cool but becomes a right of passage under the must have banner. Another trouble is that the assumption that a 3D graphics application has to be game art worthy, animation art worthy to get praise. Excuse me if I don't ride my art elephant off into the sunset.

On the other horizon are 3D applications that need more exploration. K-3D looks good and in need a village of pixel practitioners to get into it. Also Equinox-3D, which looks very promising and attractive to me. Ah, the allure of an interface. When you look at the interface, does it invite you to come and play?

Blender opening screen and a work session.

Equinox-3D first screen and work session.

K-3D first screen and work session.

As you can guess, I care more for interior design and architecture than game graphics and cartoon animation. Same tools but the focus is different. When doing the more engineering related graphics, you want something a little more streamlined in the process and straightforward in the interface. No matter which application you use, chances are once you get used to using it, you will say it is easier than other applications to use. These 3 graphics programs can accomplish a broad sweep of outcomes but there is another more focused approach. The targeted graphics tool. One is called Sweet Home 3D and it is for interior design. It looks like this:

Sweet Home 3D first screen and work session.

Let me explain pixel science this way. There are the graphics algorithms which are embedded by means of some programing language for better or worse and an interface (tools) so that the user can interact and get output. It does not matter how good the science behind it is if the tools to use them are awkward and the process to get the output is too multi-layered. The 3D approach to drawing is much more complex than 2D vector drawing and much much more than 2D raster.

You listen to the developers and users and viewing screenshots hoping to get all your questions answered. Still you must try them out along with your inquiry to user communities. Realize that the Blender community is older and a bit biased because it is sooooooooooo cool for so long. You might discover an underrated gem, a diamond in the ruff, in the other applications. If you got the time to get into it, you can start your own rock group instead of jumping on the band wagon.
It can be lonely, a user sharpening the cutting edge yourself. Any benefit to you being the software proving ground? Yeah, in the words of Henry Jones Sr. (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) when asked what did he get, "illumination!".

And don't forget the rule, if you live to tell the tale, don't forget the pictures.

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