The original plates I rendered months before I finished this project. As usual I was playing around with some stuff in Vue when it suddenly clicked. I knew I had something that deserved a shot. I also haven’t done any bigger scifi cityscape pics in a while. So this was a motivation to start and detail out the scene in Vue. Due to my mashing together of all kinds of models I crossed some limitations in filesizes Vue was able to correctly save. So I had to work with two scene files for different parts of the picture. Mainly splitted between foreground and hero object detail and less important stuff to flesh out the scene along with background elements. So in the initial stage of composition and setting up the scene I created a lot of junk data to keep alive all alternatives I had in mind for the scene. I wanted this one to be big. Much like “Phoenix Rising” or “Gates To Elysium”. Scale and detail was important for this one. Once I got my atmosphere, composition and scene ready… rendering time! Then… silence.
I had the renders done and when I looked at them I realized how much time I would need to get this to a point I would be happy with. I instantly saw a lot of parts that needed a lot of attention. Plus the fact that, while I worked on the pic, new ideas popped up on how to refine certain details even more. So I left the renders for a couple of weeks. Of course I couldn’t leave these renders alone. I already invested some serious time! I had to do something with it. The Photoshop stage then had a lot of overpainting, atmosphere and lighting tuning. I also got back into Vue and added new stuff to the scene. Ships, buildings and additional detail. I didn’t want to overload the image with stuff but I fear I lost that battle (again!). At least there is a lot to discover, wouldn’t you agree?
When it comes to a story then there is none. The only thing is the title. I can imagine, that the citizens of that city look at these huge structures, as if they would still be there, even after they are long gone. So they started to call them ‘The Eternals’. What they do? I have no idea. But maybe it fires up the imagination of the viewers and you people come up with great ideas. =D
This picture is part of The Luminarium’s latest Exhibit: Illuminate VI. A fantastic source of inspiration that can be found here. It also features a neat interview with me, about myself and how I approach my work.
Quick shout out to Nicolas Bramke who helped with some pointers and ideas. Your input is always appreciated.
This one was actually finished a couple of months ago. I started it late 2013 I think and I don’t really know anymore why. I guess there was no specific reason other than experimenting with Vue. As usual a sudden, unexpected creative spark fired up and I continued to work on it.
As usual I started with a simple setup in mind and ended up with more detail than I actually wanted. Even though it’s still pretty reduced to the basics. I guess I also wanted to play more with what DAZ characters can do. For the pose of our lady I started with a preset and invested quite some extra time to work on smaller details. Also wanted to streamline the process of using DAZ characters in my work. So it’s ultimately a learning piece I guess. In between testrenders I even had one atmosphere that was much darker but still kind of cool looking. I stepped away from it because the darker atmosphere and the highlights it created didn’t point to the spots in the pic that I wanted the viewer to see. That’s when I decided to stay daytime with some popping colours.
Technically it’s Vue, DAZ Studio and Photoshop for this one. Business as usual, I worked out a plate in Vue for later detail work in Photoshop. A lot of fixing of elements, overpainting and creating mood. I also worked with some displacement mapping in Vue, to get some waves into the pool to suggest that our lovely lady is walking, instead of just standing there. That process turned out to be a little tricky, but again… learning by doing. The result works I think. I definitely wanted this to be colourful and popping. The result certainly is colourful and I’m not sure if it’s really my taste because I usually enjoy a more balanced colourpalette. That’s ok though. Trying new stuff and playing around can’t be wrong if something a little decent comes from it.
In 2011 Jason Huls contacted me to create a picture for a shortfilm (Citizen In The Temple) he’s doing. He sent me the script and when I finished reading it I found it really good. So I picked out the descriptions for the scene and started something. As it normally turns out shortfilms, especially when worked on in spare time, take a while to get done. Everyone working on it has a real job to take care of as well and so it comes that often things get delayed a lot. Earlier this year I was organizing my harddrives and stumbled over the folder with the painting I did for the film. I still liked how it turned out but couldn’t stop myself from adding a little more detail. I contacted Jason asking if the project was still alive and sent him the refined version. The film is in its final production stages but still… good work needs time. =) I also saw that other artists did backgrounds as well… so the film should have some eyecandy for sure.
What we have here is sort of an establishing shot that reveals where most of the story is taking place. The megacity of Nok Tiris. Eolan, the Planet itself, is pretty much dead and deserted. The fundament for the picture was again created with Vue and refined/detailed/overpainted with Photoshop.
This one started out as a commission. I just had done and finished up another one for that client but with my attempts on a second one I didn’t manage to hit the right look that they wanted. We decided to leave it be and I asked if I could use one of my attempts for a personal approach. We agreed, parted ways and I carried on working on my idea since I felt that I was on to something with that picture.
It surely paid off when I look at the final version now. I always wanted to try myself on some kind of park area. A bright, peaceful and not too stressy picture setup with some nice depth. Not sure if I succeeded with the ‘stressy’ part but the depth works really well I think. Again there’s not much of a story behind it but I sorta imagine this huge park area as some sort of point of escape for all the people living in the city that is lurking in the background. It must be a great place to relax your mind and body a bit. The lady we see even got out of her shoes and walks around barefoot. So I’m sure it’s a great place to find peace of mind and such.
Technically it’s my usual Vue & Photoshop combo. The terrains were done with Worldmachine and the big rocks with Sculptris. Sculptris is a neat tool by the zBrush people. It’s basically a reduced version of zBrush and ideal for 3d sculpting beginners. It was more than sufficient for what I needed it for in this project. I also worked with a lot of masks to align the trees for the park. There went a lot of fine tuning into it. Mainly to get the positions, order and number right. In Photoshop the usual fixing, overpainting and additional texturing happened. Ultimately the overall result is satisfying. It’s not perfect but at some point you have to stop working on a picture. I, in fact, stopped working on it an hour ago. After a longer break where I considered the picture final. But you can always find something to tune and fix. I basically force myself to stop working on it by releasing it to the public. =D
Enough babble… I hope you like this one and enjoy the view!
I have neglected my Comcept series for quite some time now. I started this series to play around with some things and create quick pictures to try out some things. It brought out some cool results every now and then. So here we have three Scifi cityscapes that are located on a Planet called Linestra. It’s one of the techologically most advanced places in its known universe. Well, I enjoy creating futuristic canyons of city and had some fun here. Smashed some scenes together in Vue to render out some plates to work from and refine in Photoshop. I wanted it all done very quickly and the rough look of the pics is absolutely intended. Playing around with styles.
A wallpaper pack with 1920×1200 & 1680×1050 versions of each pic can be found here.
Much like ‘Sanctuary’, my last project, I had no specific plan in mind when I started this one. I wanted to do a different kind of Scifi interior and just started to play around with shapes. This time I heavily used into Vue imported vector shapes to create the room and most of its contents. I also wanted to play with daylight/artificial light combinations inside the room. That part was interesting and fun. I don’t know if I would like to live with an architecture like the one in the picture. It has a certain flow that my eyes seem to appreciate though.
Technically it’s business as usual. In my recent projects I use a lot of vector shapes for some rudimentary/basic 3d modeling. I create these in Photoshop and save the shapes as a *.bmp. Then I load the *.bmp into Inkscape to create a vector shape with Inkscape’s tracing plugin to save it then as a *.eps file. Somehow it’s not possible to get Vue compatible vectors created with Photoshop. That’s why I always have to go through Inkscape. It’s very annoying. But it works and gets the right results. The lady is done with DAZ tools but modified in Vue and Photoshop.
This picture is also part of the KIBERNETIK Exhibit by The Luminarium. Thanks to all the members who voted it in! Very appreciated guys! And everyone else… please feel invited to check out this great collection of inspiring digital art! =)
It’s also the first picture I did on my new PC setup and I think it’s a great start. Hope there’s much more to come! =) For now enyjoy the view!
I started this one without having a specific plan. Except that I wanted to try myself on something similar to my Room With A View piece. And I wanted to do a night scene. Well, it looks like I had a plan… sorta.
I used this one to dig a little deeper into using Vue and vector shapes to create some architecture. The lady was implemented with help of DAZ3d tools. A lot of planning went into the look of the room and the balkony. Of course I wanted it futuristic and a little shiny. I had some fun playing with lights and creating the mood. Again the creation and rendering of the scene basically happened in two parts. On step for the city background and one step for the front. In Photoshop I brought it all together and did some major refinements to the room and city. Beside general fixes, refining and overpainting I also tried to add more detail to the dress our lady here is wearing. I also played with an idea I always wanted to try. A hologram display implemented into the windows. In this scene it’s basically turned off and only shows the name of the building complex. I enjoyed playing with that part.
Is there a larger story behind this one? Not this time to be honest. What’s the character doing? No idea. It looks as if she just came home from shopping and is calling a friend to tell about the newest stuff she was able to hunt down. Maybe her boyfriend is calling to take her out for dinner. I have no idea. =) Let your imagination decide.
The first new one for 2014 and right at first I want to apologize for this novel of a description. This one has just a too special history to leave it to rott in the back of my brain waiting to be forgotten. So where do I start…? Let’s start with some numbers.
298 hours – 33 minutes – 22 seconds. Originally planned as a ‘less is more’ side project, just to play around with a couple of ideas, it turned out to be the longest render I’ve ever had. Not having a renderfarm, that would help getting it done much faster, I had to rely on my 4 year old machine to get the job done. I must also admit that it was not planned at all, to create a scene that would take ages to render. But yeah, in the end it turned out to be an almost 300 hours render. Let’s just say that again I learned a lot!
My initial intention was to play around with a couple of fractal 3d objects I created with Xenodream. I wanted to try myself in some abstract 3d stuff and did a couple of render tests. I wasn’t really happy. What I saw instead was a possible Scifi scene that would be perfect to incorporate both elements… the Scifi component I always love to do… and the fractal component I was initially going for. I started to look at the project differently and treated it more like a scene instead of a 3d fractal experiment. Soon I found a nice lighting setup. After extending the fractals and optimizing the composition, I still needed a striking atmosphere. Now here is where it became tricky. Crazy like I am, I was aiming for a larger size image (as usual), to get a nice print quality from it. Larger picture equals longer render times. Of course! Now while looking for an atmosphere I started thinking about adding clouds to the whole setup. The scene itself rendered pretty fast up to that point. I thought there would be some room for volumetric clouds to spice it up a bit.
Dear Lord I did not expect what came next. After adding some clouds and doing some testrenders (which took forever and should have been a warning sign!) I found the clouds bring the whole thing together and create a tighter feel. I prepared the render and started it with my usual quality settings. I killed it after 8 hours when for 30 minutes nothing happened anymore and the render stopped to make progress. Damn! Eight hours wasted. I hate it when that happens. Again… the testrenders should have been the perfect warning indicator. I reduced my quality settings and concentrated purely on rendering out the clouds in an acceptable quality, along with a mask for easy editing later in Photoshop. After restarting the render it all did move a little faster than previously. But nothing prepared me for the odyssey I had to go through for the next two weeks! I must laugh just thinking about it.
I admit I’m not the most experienced guy when it comes to clouds and Vue. What I know is that it’s not uncommon that rendering of volumetric materials (like clouds) can take a lot lot lot of time. In Vue you can turn down the quality quite a bit with the clouds still looking perfectly fine. But the rest of the scene will suffer. So it’s best to render the clouds in a separate pass and combine scene and clouds later in Photoshop. The thing that drove me crazy was that you could not predict how long the render would probably take. Some areas of the picture are not influenced by the clouds and render much faster. Then later the render is working through cloud influenced areas again and massively slows down. Really painful to watch.
Up to a certain point I was able to pause the render process and save the scene to render again later. It must have been after 60% of the render was done when I wasn’t able to use the so called ‘resume’ option anymore and had to keep my machine running until the render finished. Reminding you that I don’t have a second machine to outsource my rendering to. So I sat there and tried not to do things that would cause the render to crash. Luckily four years ago I really invested some time into getting the right parts for this pc. So it never disappointed me when it came to rendering. It may take time but it gets the job done. So I moved over to my even older laptop – leaving the big machine alone to get the render through.
Eventually it got done… after almost 300 hours. Holy crap. Seriously. I was so happy when the picture was saved properly and was something I could work with. Then I became a little crazed out, because now I really had the pressure to do something cool with it! I mean, just imagine having a picture that took 300hrs to render and you wouldn’t be able to make use of it! A nightmare! And honestly, after a couple of days looking at the render, it started to look boring. MORE PRESSURE! =D
Yes, the infamous cloud render does look bland and boring but it was just one component of a bigger idea. After having that monster out of the way I was able to create and render the actual scene. The big cruiser hanging in the middle of these weird rock structures along with the smaller ships zipping about. Luckily the Photoshop work was a blast and I managed to get something done with help of the cloud render. Of course there was a lot of overpainting and refining. Especially when it came to the couds. The render gave me a good starting point to move on from.
If you ask me what we’re seeing in the scene I couldn’t give you a direct answer. From my point of view it’s a deep space exploration (hence the ship name DSE Scynthia) endeavour having fun exploring this weird planet. But is it a planet? Maybe it’s a giant asteroid field hanging in some sort of very dense nebula cloud thing? It could also be a secret pirate operation and the big ship is a sort of mobile base/hiding place. A friend of mine even said the rock formations could be molecules or DNA string like stuff. I leave it to your imagination and really hope you enjoy the view. Seriously! I really hope you enjoy it!
Thanks out to some friends and Nick, Michael Magin, David Luong for some finishing advice.
I cannot believe that this is the first fractal piece since 2009. Where the hell has time been? Anyways… this one was done for a book workshop. I haven’t had the chance to go for a fractal picture in a while and really enjoyed playing with this one. Goal of the workshop was to show how to work with Apophysis, create some nice fractal plates and then to go with them into Photoshop to combine them into something cool looking. I hope the workshop will open some new creative ways for the readers since Apophysis, from my point of view, deserves more than the niche it’s in now.
Here I want to thank Georg Kiehne, the creator of Apophysis 7X, for the help and advice. Also a thanks to the crew at Galileo Design which is always a pleasure to work with. Beside my fractal workshop entry there are also workshops for Photography, Painting and Manipulation in the book. Even some stuff that I can learn, which is a good sign for quality, in my humble opinion! The book itself comes in really good quality paper and is pretty heavy. You know you are holding quality when you have the book in your hands!
So if your german is any good then I recommend checking out the book here:
With this one we have another more experimental piece. After doing my Arcady’s Epiphany piece I still wanted to do something with the fractal 3d object I made with Xenodream. The Scifi nut that I am, it went into that realm again. The initial idea to the pic came when I had a sleepless night. You know these nights, when too many things go around in your head. The first pic I had in my head was just a hole in the ground with some structure in the middle of it. Later then came the idea making the structure some sort of scientific expedition, looking for something or investigating weird rock formations. I even started to write a short story but decided to post it later on my site. That story really needs polishing and who knows if I can find the time for it.
From a technical viewpoint this one was a monster. Sometimes I wonder how my computer manages to handle the stuff I throw at it. The pic was created through several separate Vue scene files. Basically separate files for the building and landscape. And one big file that contained all objects and was used for the render. The big one had 3gb size in the end. That’s huge even for my standards. A separate cloud pass (took almost 44hrs to render) was rendered to enhance the atmosphere on the surface. This pic was also the first one where I heavily used 3d lights directly in the scene. Normally I tend to add this stuff via Photoshop. First testrenders indicated that it wouldn’t work for this one and the look I was going for. The terrain was created with Worldmachine and did a nice job with the overall detail. Speaking of detail… there is a crazy load of it in there. I don’t know what was going on with me. Especially considering how painful it can be to implement certain details. I even tracked down the font that was used on the USS Sulaco in the movie Aliens. I wanted that for the names of my stations as well. Check out the print detail preview on the bottom of the post to see what I mean. Crazy, right? Last but not least of course Photoshop was used to basically pimp up the render with some postwork, effects and slight overpainting here and there.