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Welcome to the “Oceans” issue of your regular free magazine.
Underwater and oceanic science-fiction is rather difficult to recall with much fondness, at least in terms of examples from screen media. There were old TV series such as Stingray, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Man From Atlantis and SeaQuest DSV. These were popular enough when TVs only had four channels, but things have moved on. There are also a few “good try” movies such as The Abyss, and er… then you get to the infamous disaster of Waterworld. After that one has to start veering into the “living in a tin-can” submarine movies which have a bit of a spy-tech thriller plot. Or to a few wannabe Jaws “monster vs. submarine” movies, of a type which has always failed to please both audiences and the critics.
Of course, many will now point to the first Aquaman movie and say “Ah, but now at last we have the CG to do it properly”. True, that five-minute ‘entering the underwater city’ sequence in Aquaman was superb. Yet the trend with such live-action is always likely to veer toward fantasy — evil Capt. Nemo-like submariners, haughty Atlantean princes, pretty mermaids and armies of fearsome crab-people.
What I would like to see on the screen is high-concept science-fiction entertainment about a likely ocean future. I’m thinking here of novels such as Arthur C. Clarke’s The Deep Range (1957), a thoughtful vision of Earth’s future aquaculture industry. But perhaps that will always be the province of novelists and graphic-novelists. Pretty mermaids and mer-princes sell tickets, while octopus farming… doesn’t.
Turkey‟s Ali Eser uses Blender to create his enticing vision of a bright sunlit coastline, dotted with ancient crumbling towers.
BLENDER | PS | UNREAL
“I’ve discovered the 3D + 2D workflow is a better fit for my brain. It allows me to focus on a single asset, without having to worry too much about the image itself. Of course I‟m always concerned with the image as a whole … but I get to offload some of that and focus on a single asset.”
Cliodna vividly imagined time-travelling ecologists, for a series that was part of her university degree thesis on paleo-art.
2D | PALEOART
“My nation of Estonia has no dinosaurs but has excellent fossilised strata of the Paleozoic. This means that, under my feet, were once shallow tropical seas. Oceans inhabited by everything from forests of sea-lilies to giant sea-scorpions and armored fish.”
“Obsessed by the ocean” proclaims his DeviantArt gallery. We talk with EM about ocean art, and his new game Core Keeper.
2D | DAZ | PS | GAMES
“In the past I definitely relied on SketchUp and DAZ 3D for better perspective and lighting. But I stepped away from that for a long time, as I wanted to become better at these things on my own … that comes mostly from drawing from life or studying references.”
- RYZOM: GALLERY
- RYZOM: GET POSER .FBX FROM BLENDER
- BACK ISSUE INDEX
- MAKING OF: NAWAN JUNHASIRI
We’re pleased to interview Ali Esa
Inspired by his local Mediterranean coastline, Ali has crafted a superb series of pictures blending 3D and 2D.
DAL: Ali, welcome. We‟re very pleased to have a young digital artist of your obvious talents for this “Ocean” themed issue.
AE: Thanks for having me, it‟s a pleasure.
DAL: How did you get started on the road to digital creativity? Are you perhaps self-taught? Because I know you use Blender and Photoshop, which is perhaps not quite the sort of combination a graduate might come out of university with? At least here in the UK.
AE: Yes, I guess I can say I’m self-taught. I did start a university program in art, but I ended up dropping out because it was really disappointing. The bulk of my learning was done sitting in front of my computer, absorbing knowledge that‟s on the Internet…
Then trying to apply that knowledge. My priority back then, as a 2D artist, was learning art fundamentals. All of that software knowledge, learning any digital tools or 3D in general… that came later in my process.
DAL: Ah, I see. The series of pictures we show here are superbly crafted. Really very good workmanship. And you’re combining different software, and must be juggling a lot of details and lighting. What is the general workflow?
AE: Thank you! Well, it starts with a vague image or a mood in my mind. I sketch this down roughly, „note keeping‟ for my visual ideas. These sketches are usually left unrefined, since their purpose is to remind my future-self of the mood I imagined at the time. After that, I collect some reference pictures which seem to reflect the ideas I had in the initial sketch. These can be anything from a scene to a texture to a lighting reference. But for Rhythma — my series — I already have thousands of reference images, most of which I made myself on my trips, and these are all neatly organized into types and context. I then just browse those and collect the ones that fits for the specific image.
DAL: Wonderful. Yes, good quick reference library is very useful, once you know what your themes are. “Quick” being the operative word there, so one doesn‟t spend hours searching the Interwebz.
AE: After that, my favorite part of the process is to create a “to-do” list. I list down everything I need to make / design / assemble to create the scene, whether it’s an architectural asset, a nature asset, a character, or something I need to learn and figure out first. I put it all down in a list, and then work through it one by one. These days I almost always work with 3D, and I‟ve discovered that the 3D + 2D workflow is a much better fit for my brain. What I love about it is that it allows me to focus on a single asset, without having to worry too much about the image itself.
Of course I‟m always concerned with the image as a whole and the relationship between the parts, but I get to offload some of that and focus on a single asset. So in a way, I prefer to build the scene from parts, and look around to find some interesting compositions, like a photographer would in real world — instead of nailing the composition and the image as a whole first, then moving in to work on each piece that makes the image, like a painter would.
After I build everything needed and assemble the scene, I look around for interesting compositions, I play around with lighting and grab some screenshots. I like to work with multiple shots for each scene — I usually take too many renders and end up omitting half of them! So I render those out and move on to paintover stage.