Welcome to Issue 9
Blender is a comprehensive and free 3D modelling and animation suite. It has a wide set of functions that allow creation of video games, 3D printed models, excellent still artwork and animated movies. It’s installable on many platforms.
Python scripting allows you to customize Blender to build specific tools for your own projects or to assist others. The license allows you to modify the software.
It has a neat interface with a minimalist theme applied throughout. Customisation is possible allowing you to help set up things for your own environment and speeding up your workflow.
Read this issue to gain the creative stories of three Blender artists and browse their portfolios.
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In this issue:-
Colin is an accomplished artist and musician who models and animates with Blender, in the sci-fi and fantasy genres.
BLENDER | PHOTOSHOP
“When modelling I start with a pencil sketch. If I just dive straight into Blender it tends to channel me down the path of least resistance, whereas pencil is a medium I am totally at home with…”
Thomas models in Blender and then makes impressive Blender animations of his epic space stations and craft.
BLENDER | PHOTOSHOP
“I decided at some point that my Blender exercises should all keep to the theme of space, and to make a series of videos called Space Oddities — featuring 3D events in space, all of them oddities of some kind…”
Shane has developed a Blender-based workflow to 3D-print a series of Lovecraftian monster sculptures!
BLENDER | 3D PRINTING
“If you know 3D software and modelling and topology, you have a great headstart in 3D printing. Much bad press I see about 3D printing can be directly attributed to a lack of understanding of the 3D workflow.”
Sample Interview from Issue 9
DAL: Colin, welcome to Digital Art Live. Many thanks for this in-depth interview.
CM: You are very welcome, I am flattered to have such an interest taken in my work. I have had a look at some of the back copies of your magazine, and am impressed by the standard of the contributions, not to mention recognising the names of quite a few of the artists featured. I suddenly find myself in very august company!
DAL: Thanks. Could you first tell us, please, how you first encountered the visual arts?
CM: I was born in Germany at the end of the 1950s, and my German mother tells me that I started drawing at the age of five. At the time we lived with my grandparents in a small town outside the major city of Hamburg, and she would often take me out to look at the ships sailing up the Kiel Canal — which is a surreal sight as because the canal is held in by huge dykes, it is above the level of surrounding countryside. And so these massive vessels would apparently be ‘sailing over’ ploughed fields. Drawing ships was my first love. Later when my father, who was on active service with the British Army, returned from a posting to Malaya, and we moved into Army quarters. We were attached to a tank regiment in Paderborn in Germany, so I got to see a lot of the military hardware — which is of course going to be fascinating to a young kid, and this also ended up in a lot of my drawings.
DAL: Was there anyone special, teaching art?
CM: Yes. My family moved to England in 1967, after my father retired from the Army. I went to a secondary school in the town of Basingstoke, where I was lucky enough to have an inspirational art teacher. I spent a lot of my free time in the art studio, when most of my classmates were playing football or smoking ‘behind the bike sheds’. It never seemed like schoolwork, to me.
Also around this time I started reading a lot of sci-fi, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven, along with the likes of Andre Norton, John Wyndham and Anne McCaffrey. Bearing in mind, that I was a teenager. I also read The Lord of the Rings around this time, and of course that is a book that stays with you forever.
DAL: Absolutely. Amazing to think LOTR had a very lukewarm critical reception when it was first published, with the poet W.H. Auden serving as the book’s only firm champion in the press.
CM: Concerning the sci-fi though, this was the end of the period when the idea of a spacecraft was still something that looked like a V2 rocket on steroids. If you remember the covers of the original Herge’s Adventures of Tintin book, you will know the type of rocket I mean. The artist who I remember changing all that, in a big way, was Chris Foss. I bought the Isaac Asimov Foundation and Empire trilogies on the strength of his fantastic — in every sense — British paperback covers. He was very influenced by naval architecture, and you can see it in these wonderful evocations of flying machines the size of battleships. People now take this kind of thing for granted, but at the time it was utterly new and mind-blowing. I remember spending hours on end in my local W.H. Smiths’ bookshop, just looking at these amazing book covers.
DAL: Many covers had paintings that have ‘stood the test of time’, it’s true. The UK publisher Panther produced many of the best, along with Sphere. They introduced an entire British generation to the very best of literary sci-fi — giving them the mental tools to think about the future, and teaching their readers to develop their imaginations along the way.
Then you trained in fine art and graphic design in Bristol, an old port city in the west of England, in the early 1980s. That was a heady time to be alive and in England. What are your memories?
CM: It was certainly an eventful time, there was a lot that was good, but also a lot that was not so good. I did my original Foundation [pre-university degree] course at Winchester School of Art, The best thing I can say about it was that the social life was good. It was a fine art school — in the sense that it rose above such mundane considerations as commerce. The lecturers were left over from the 1960s and “art for art’s sake” was the mantra. Any learning of technique was considered passe. One incident sticks in my mind which sums up that year for me.
One lunchtime with friends I noticed that one third-year student was at the other end of the bar of a pub, with his mates and having something of a party. They were still hard at it when we went back to our classes. I thought nothing more about it, until when I looked out of the window that afternoon and saw the same chap had come out on the roof of the building next door, pursued by two of the school porters. He was throwing small pots of paint secreted on his person, into the car park below. Soon the whole class, including the lecturer where standing at the window, watching this guy’s antics. When I looked down, I noticed that there was a large square of canvas laid out in between the cars, and some of the paint had landed on it. Eventually the porters caught the guy, and bundled him through the door. Later there was talk of expulsion, and possible prosecution by the police, for wilful damage, but in the event nothing happened. By the end of the year, he was putting up his degree display, and the centrepiece was that canvas. The one that had been in the car-park.
The point of that story? He got a first-class degree. I, on the other hand, was told that I did not have what it takes to be a fine artist and should consider a career in graphic design. You can thus draw your own conclusions on what my views of the art establishment of the 1960s and onwards might be.