08 August 2019

My work in the D-ART gallery

The International Conference Computer Graphics Imaging and Visualization (CGIV) is being held again, this year in Paris, France and Adelaide, Australia. I wrote a paper on the history of computer art and submitted it, but it was not accepted. However, they did put my work on D-ART, their online gallery, and published my paper there. I thought it was pretty good. I based a lot of the information in my paper on the research I did for my History of Computer Art class I did last year. There's some really interesting stuff in there. A lot of the steps that have been taken in the development of art and modern technology are fascinating, and some are quite funny. 

19 February 2019

New video tutorial

There are many techniques that I teach in my classes and I've done so many times. The end result is a combination of tools and approaches that I've refined over the years. For some reason, my students can't find similar tutorials out there, so I decided to start making videos of them to share. This first one is how to cover a textured wall with some sort of painted or applied image. The hope is to end up with a fully photo-realistic image. Many important and sometimes little-used tools are demonstrated, with the goal of working as non-destructively as possible, something I stress all the time. Enjoy!

14 January 2019

My work from 2018

It's that time again, the time to share a year's worth of work. I don't get to do as much as I might like to, with a full teaching schedule and all. I even had a class over the summer; it brought in a bit more income and gave the the chance to dive back into good, old-fashioned drawing. 

My first official freelance illustration of the year was actually a 4-part series. It took a good bit of work and was challenging to put the scene together correctly, as I didn't really have good photos of the worksite. That makes things much harder and it takes longer, too. Of course, with Photoshop, some parts only have to get done once. That's one of the benefits of working digitally, especially with layers. 

Here is another version that shows a previous step in the building process. The dirt gets built up in various levels, getting closer and closer to the roadway. This image shows a lower dirt terrace, along with some interior structure of the retaining wall being built. I did quite a few images for this series, but these two will suffice for here.

This is a render from a 3D model I had to build for an animation. As usual with something like this, I work with another artist who builds most of the models. My job is usually to fine-tune and organize the geometry, texture it, light it, and render the final frames. Often, I edit the final video and motion graphics for the deliverable video. Only a little of this model was in the animation, and then again, not for very long. But I was pleased with my work here, so I'm including it.

The final video looked something like this. I had to do a lot of test rendering to get it to look good. Some background elements were purchased as stock models. That can be good, but quality can vary quite a bit. I had to go back in and rebuild some pieces because the geometry was so low-poly. This scene came out nicely. I was pleased with the tracks I was able to cut out of the dirt, which was oddly much harder than I thought it should be.

Now here's something different. This is basically a personal project, done mainly as an in-class demo for my first ever digital illustration class. This was for a portrait assignment and I was showing some basic ways of how to craft the illustration. I chose this image of Brian Cranston that I found randomly. The purpose was to show that a portrait could be impactful and interesting without being what we might consider as classically beautiful. The many lines and wrinkles here add so much character to the face and are fun to paint. And no, I really didn't exaggerate anything here.

Now here's something you probably didn't expect: a drawing on actual paper. This came from my summer figure drawing class I taught. I was able to schedule some good models for the class and had a good time as the instructor instead of as the student. This was one of my favorites. After she was done and the class was over, I stayed working on it for another hour or two, mainly finishing up the chair. Unlike people, chairs don't care how long they pose for you. I have other good drawings from these sessions, but this is the most finished. I did submit this to a drawing competition later in the year, but unfortunately, it wasn't chosen. I still like it, though.

What we have next is probably one of the most complex and challenging 3D animations I have done so far. I had to build outdoor environments, create an expansive and realistic landscape backdrop, and deal with scenes that became increasingly more and more difficult to work with as the poly count rose higher. I blame these darn trees. I'm just including this frame from this very long animation. It looks pretty good, but there was a lot more to show. I try to learn and do something new each time I have to work in 3D.

Back to a simple illustration for this one. Well, it's not so simple, I guess. The source images I had were pretty good. It's somewhat conceptual and I guess it's okay, but I don't love this image as much as I would like to. The inner scene of the overall pipe plant looks good, but somehow, the whole composition didn't come together as strongly. If the upper left corner looks a bit rough, that's because it is. In the ad layout, the entire left side was covered with a translucent block for text and other ad content, so it wouldn't really show. These things take so long that I don't want to spend any more time on them than I have to.
Another still from another animation. Except this wasn't really an animated video. I just rendered out various stills and then used them as source images for a video created in After Effects. The idea was to simulate a 3D rendered video without having to pay for the usual render farm that we use. For the most part, the geometry I used was free or stock models. My job was to texture and light various scenes. For this project, I was really trying hard to get some realistic lighting and textures. It did take a lot of test renders, but as I was only doing single frames, I was able to do it all with my hardware.

I ended up rendering several still images for this animation, mainly indoor settings which are sometimes hard to light and make look good. For this interior shot looking out a window, I used Photoshop to composite the pieces and do some final adjustments. For me, it was easier to solve these problems in 2D, rather than in 3D.

My last illustration of the year. This one was tough. Some of the equipment was done from pretty good source material, but the overall scene was pretty complex and I had to make much of that up. The problem is that with all the levels and the four different rigs I had to include, the photos I was given weren't all at the right angles. I did what I could, but didn't have much time. Actually, I was up against a tight deadline. I made it (with a bit of an extension), but then of all things, the magazine kicked the ad back because it wasn't the right kind of equipment for their publication. Great. It did eventually get used in another magazine and I made a poster out of it, but I ruined my fall break trying to finish it on time.

And there's finally this one. For some reason, I thought I didn't have much to post for last year, so I did a quick little painting based on photos I took while biking around Vancouver over the summer. I was there for Siggraph and found a little time one evening to get out and do something. It was a hazy, smoky day, which made for an impressive effect as the sun went down. I tried to capture it and I think it came out well. But, it didn't take too much time to do.

26 November 2018

Speaking at UNG

Earlier this month, I spoke at the University of North Georgia Symposium on Innovation, Research, and Engagement (SOIRE). They were looking for instructors from our department that could share topics at this one-day conference to showcase faculty and staff achievements.

Having just a few minutes, I spoke about techniques I first taught earlier in the year in my Digital Visual Effects class. As an example, I showed footage I created as demos for the class and I had a couple of my digital paintings on display as well. It was a good event to attend and I made some good contacts. There is some interesting and innovative work being done here. I look forward to seeing what else I can get involved in as time goes by.

Click here to read about this year's SOIRE.

18 September 2018

Good news, everyone!


Something surprising has happened recently. Before last school year ended, I was offered the chance to go onto tenure track at the University of North Georgia. This is what I was hoping for, but it came along much sooner than I had expected. Even though the position was offered, I still had to apply (while I was in Vancouver, Canada no less) and meet with the hiring committee. But the official offer letter has come and now I am an assistant professor. The teaching is about the same, but now I have to get involved in service opportunities, outside professional accomplishments, and other projects that would benefit the department or school. I'm already working on some right now, so I'll keep everyone updated if anything happens. But needless to say, this is quite exciting. The track lasts five years, with a review after three, so that's the road I'm on for a while.

03 August 2018

Work from this summer

I taught a class this summer, and for the first time ever, it was a figure drawing class. I have taken many as a student in the past, and had various teachers. There were some classes where I thought that perhaps I could do a better job. Well, I finally got my chance. It was an interesting experience, different from my point of view as a teacher as opposed to a student. Enrollment was small, but I think we had a good time and I tried to get a lot across in this short but intensive class. We worked with a variety of good models and I was able to get some nice sketches and drawings in, which is one of the best parts of having a class like this. Even as a digital artist, you need to keep up the traditional drawing skills. Here is one of my favorites from one of our longer drawing sessions.

15 June 2018

A warning to freelancers

I'm teaching a life drawing class this summer. It's quick and intense; next week is our last week. I'll post some of my drawings that turned out okay. But I'm always looking for freelance or remote work, so I'll share a recent negative experience in hopes of keeping others from my same fate.

I found a remote job working for Vimeo posted on my local Craigslist. Maybe that should have been my first red flag. I was selected for an interview, and went through a fairly intensive online set of questions. After a bit, I was told I had the job. They were going to provide the hardware and software, but as a freelancer, I had to purchase it in my name. Vimeo would send me the funds to do this. Maybe you can see where this is going. Unfortunately, I didn't.

Anyway, the end result is that it was all a scam. Vimeo doesn't hire like this. I have lost thousands of dollars through a loophole in banking regulations that lets you purchase secured funds (a cashier's check) with unsecured funds (a questionable check that has been deposited). So a warning to all of you out there: don't do it. Don't send anyone (a client, new employer, business partner) a cashier's check. You can't stop payment on it and if you are the victim of a scam, you are on the hook for whatever has been stolen from you. Your bank probably won't help you out.