Welcome to the “software” themed issue of your free Digital Art Live magazine!
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Welcome to the “Software” issue of your free Digital Art Live magazine. We’re pleased to have an interview with Joel Simon, the wizard behind the amazing new Artbreeder service.
Then we talk in-depth with Virginie C., maker of vital DAZ Studio utilities such as Scene Optimizer and iRay Light Manager. Both interviewees are, in their own special ways, all about making digital creativity faster and easier, and thus more fun.
But what good is that, if your hardware runs like a slug? No worries on that, as in this issue we test a beast of a £7,000 12-core workstation — which you can buy today for £245! A week of work is in our 10-page review, and we hope it will be of special use to hobbyists — those who are on a tight budget and also keen to keep using their older and well-loved software.
Those on a tight budget are also helped by free and open source software, fast coming into its own. The field is led by Blender 2.8.x, now a major contender and with its Eevee real-time engine already in wide use. Pocket-money priced Blender plugins are also pouring out from small indie makers — one such can take your figure from DAZ Studio to Blender, and we hear that a Poser to Blender plugin is coming soon.
Close behind Blender is Krita 4.x, now a fine 2D painting, sketching and inking software — and light-years ahead of its creaky 3.x incarnation. Krita’s version of the G’MIC filters also give impressive and usable results. Comics makers wanting to filter 3D renders into line-art or a painterly style should investigate Krita’s G’MIC closely…
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Joel owns and runs the Artbreeder online service, which uses advanced machine-learning to give art unique new looks.
A.I. ART | ARTBREEDER
“Improved portraits, and landscapes with buildings, are [set to be added to Artbreeder]. Part of the challenge is predicting what new technologies will become available, as that determines what features will get built. I am keeping a close eye on generative video research.”
Virginie C. makes a wide range of vital scripts for use in DAZ Studio — including Scene Optimizer and iRay Light Manager.
SCRIPTING | DAZ STUDIO
“The Light Manager was actually one of the easiest of my tools to make, and took only a couple of hundreds of hours. [My other] tools took me at least several hundred hours, generally more than 600 hours — and some can take more than 1,000 hours.”
HP Z600 WORKSTATION
We take a deep-dive into reviewing a £245 12-core workstation, exploring all its capabilities with a big range of test renders.
VUE | POSER | DAZ
“All told, the HP Z600 is an affordable classic that does some marvellous things for Vue and Poser, and minor miracles for DAZ Studio … on relatively simple scenes DAZ can even run responsive real-time iRay in the main viewport, driven only by Z600’s dual Xeon CPUs.”
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When you experience lighting in the “real world” it tends to just well—happen! Without much effort from, the sun rises, you flick a switch, or you open the curtains and there we have it, light! You may put some thought into where you place a lamp, how you angle the blinds, or where you aim a torch, but much of the time your experience with light is generally a passive experience. Things are different in the 3D graphics world, where…Find out more »
Excerpt from our interview with Virginie C.
See the full interview in issue 47
DAL: V3D, welcome to the Digital Art Live magazine’s in-depth interview.
V3D: Thank you, I’m very happy and I feel honoured to be here, because I’ve been a reader of Digital Art Live since the beginning of this magazine, and I think it is a great platform to share about our passion for 3D art.
DAL: Super. First, thanks you so much for your Scene Optimizer tool. I’m sure I speak for many when I say it’s made iRay possible to use for many DAZ users. It makes iRay so much faster. And it also works wonderfully in combination with the new 2x CPU iRay speedup that a CPU-only user gets from using the latest DAZ Studio.
But… to step back in time a bit, where and how did you first become involved in digital art? Did you come to it via traditional art, or just dive straight in with some free software?
V3D: Well, it was by sheer chance that I discovered 3D art. I took a break from my previous work when my children were small, in order to raise them, but I felt I needed to keep my brain more active. So, I started to write a book, and when I realized that I also wanted to illustrate the book, I discovered 3D modelling via the free Blender. This was my first jump into 3D art, and then I never stopped.
DAL: I see. And how did you progress from there? Did you try a range of software?
V3D: Yes, I immediately became a totally enthusiast for 3D. While I still used Blender a lot, I very rapidly added E-on’s Vue to my toolbox, because of its ability to render impressive landscapes. At that time, Blender did not have the terrific render engines it has right now with 2.8, so Vue was a way to obtain a good render engine, even for scenes where there were no landscapes.
Then, when I looked for human figures to populate those landscapes or those scenes, I discovered Poser first, and then DAZ Studio, in fact I would say I found them at almost at the same time. I started using Poser and DAZ Studio this way. I did not use any other software until I decided that I would devise a new job from my passion for 3D. Then, later on, I tried a wider range of software, such as ZBrush, 3DStudio Max, Maya. But finally, Blender and ZBrush are now my favourites tools for anything related to modelling.
DAL: Thanks. You said you learned Vue. What was your learning process there?
V3D: I began to use Vue in 2011, Vue 9 at that time. I did not specifically have a learning process there. I opened the software, bought in a bit of content, and learned as I usually do, meaning by a lot of trial scenes, renders and mistakes. This is for me a good way to learn: trials and mistakes, and only when necessary, tutorials to help me for the eventual issues I’m not able to solve on my own.
When I struggle to obtain a result, I tend to remember better the way to reach it, rather than if I immediately watch a tutorial.
DAL: A good tip, thanks. What were your most successful pictures, at that time, the ones that started to get you attention online? Did you find useful forums to give you feedback?
V3D: I never gained a lot of attention online for my art, and that was not what I was looking for. I essentially made images for my own pleasure, and I opened a DeviantArt account at that time only because it was a very handy way to have an easy-to-browse portfolio. I just started it, and I did not imagine there was such a huge community in 3D art. Even if feedback was always appreciated to improve my art, I never really made efforts to solicit feedback on my art. What I loved, what I was interested in, was the creation process, the “path”, rather than the result. Well of course, I was happier if I liked the final image at the end of this path!
DAL: Right. And how did you then start to move into the technical and DAZ side of digital art — skins, their conversion, lights panels, scene optimisation and suchlike? Did you consciously want to start a store, or was it just the idea that “hey, making X would be useful for me, and perhaps also for others”?
V3D: After a break to raise my children I saw two choices ahead: either going back to my previous work, which was to be a physicist who specialised in light and light and matter interaction; or to quit that job and become a full time 3D artist. I took the gamble: if I created content that I — and other people — needed, then maybe it would be accepted in the marketplace, and then maybe this could become my new job. Thus, my purpose was to start a store where people could find things that, in my humble opinion, they needed. I try as much as possible to cover a need in each of my projects.