In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Two months is what I spent reading and experimenting my way through 3D. Much longer than I wanted to take for getting the basics down in my spare time. Even being on guard, I had severely underestimated the microcosm that is 3D art and design, not to mention the entertainment industry towering above it. My brain has adapted to now remain in a perpetually molten state – why waste energy assuming you’re done learning anything. Every time I discover an amazing designer, I’m forced to trash and reconstruct my perspective about all kinds of things. It also makes the gap between us painfully clear to see, as well as what it takes to fill it. Other than work, my future doesn’t seem to hold much.

What is surprising is how valuable photography experience turns out to be. It is only now that I start to appreciate what it has taught me. Obtaining an eye for composition strikes me as absolutely necessary in design, especially when working in three-dimensional space. Creating a scene is similar to creating that perfect shutter moment you’d encounter shooting outside; one has to have a feeling for what lighting conditions that encompasses for a particular subject, the science of pleasing proportions, speaking in contrast, and establishing harmony between all planes to allow for any overarching message to emerge. Having at least some practice composing with a camera really helped me with the technically arduous learning process. My favourite thing to do in 3D at the moment is probably sculpting. The worst is UV mapping and (re)topology; creating maps that properly work for all channels when you export to a 3D package, seams and grouping, etc. At least I can already feel myself getting passionate over rennaissance sculptors. All the anatomy materials I’ve collected will certainly come in handy, either when I learn to properly sculpt human(oid)s, or when I get down to doing serious illustration and drawing work, which is something I’ve always neglected and want to finally practice once time permits. Since my procedural modeling knowledge is still weak, however, I’m suspecting that the possibilities offered by understanding how to create more intricate node networks, combined with particle dynamics and true-to-life physics, will eclipse most other things when it comes to excitement. I wish I had the funds to upgrade my machine.

Something I’m glad about is that my instincts turned out to be right. A problem doing only photography in the past was that I always had this inkling that it wasn’t entirely the right platformm for me. I studied just about every ressource I could find online, even going into optics and the construction of lens elements, but always felt like there was no chance I would ever be truly satisfied with what I could do within the medium, even if I reached a much, much higher level of skill. I found myself drifting to abstraction, weird lighting techniques, and digital manipulation often, because photography was not quite how I wanted to interact with reality. Diving into 3D seems to confirm that – it presents itself a sandbox for the imagination, governed by the same mechanics, but bestowing infinitely more freedom upon you. Something that probably suits me better. There is a limit to how magical you can make something in a cold, urban environment, even when you’re Ernst Haas. In 3D, you don’t need the fancy studio, the exotic, adventure-y locations, or the breathtaking girls, to make something that feels otherworldly and interesting, which I’ve come to believe is part of my core aspiration. You can combine it in wonderful ways with 2D, and then, of course, you can actually print and assemble the stuff. Given time, and effort (and GPU performance), you can bring things to life in four dimensions. Assuming animation timelines count. That’s pretty insane. Regardless of where my career as a creative will take me, this is something I don’t want to miss for many years to come. That is not to say that photography doesn’t continue to be a beloved tool. I take a lot of inspiration from photographers, especially the ones with subtle, moody styles. To me, its most beautiful aspect may be that of documentation, or of showing unbridled reality. Clichéd as it sounds, I think it’s a medium made for those who want to show off the actual world and its ups or downs, as opposed to a visionary one.

The project I’m working on now is a mobile/web app design, to get something UI/UX under the belt. I will be including a CAD-based hard-surface model, some sort of conceptual AR feature, and more effort into making a good case study – my projects so far weren’t really suited for it, but I realize the need for people less interested in design to have a proper, and well layed-out, grid-based, description of what is going on in a piece of work. Do check out the new Avalon posters I’ve put into the portfolio and, if you have time; your thoughts are always much appreciated. I’m training myself to love criticism. In order to improve.

Kenneth

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