2000 News Updates
- This will be my first Christmas "away from home". On one hand I'm sad that I won't be seeing my family and friends. On the other hand, I'm glad to miss out on the crowded airports and sub-zero temperatures back home. The Christmas forecast for San Diego is sunny and 70.
My latest wallpaper, "Passage", is now up for your review. It was inspired by a recent trip to the local mall. I hope you like it.
Jessie and I want to wish you all a joyous holiday. Please remember to buckle up when you're on the roads!
- A few items to report today.
I've been spending the past couple of days migrating all of my software to my new workstation. Actually, the new machine arrived last week but I didn't want to start messing with it until I had posted "Yuletide". If any of you are interested in the machine specs, here they are. I still have a few improvements I want to make to my latest uploads, so stay tuned for that.
- You all know I love using World Builder and Lightwave. Unfortunately, they just don't play together like I want them to. World Builder, it appears, was built to work with 3D Studio Max and Lightwave support was added as an afterthought. I've decided, then, to purchase a copy of 3D Studio Max. The fact that I could upgrade to 3DS Max 4 also played a big part in my decision. It looks way cool.
- Lastly, I received notice yesterday that Digital Blasphemy was chosen as one of Yahoo Internet Life's Top 100 websites for 2001. My mother (who has a subscription to the magazine) confirmed this for me last night. If you're interested, the magazine hits the newstands on December 19th. Needless to say, I'm honored.
- Hi folks. Just thought I would check in since it's been over a week since my last update. Here's the scoop:
I'm still fighting the good fight on the smoking front. I'd like to thank all of you who have written me with advice and encouragement. You've helped me a great deal and I hope to be able to answer all your letters in good time.
I'm sorry that my struggle has impacted the frequency of my posts. I am simply not sitting at my computer as much as I used to. I'm sleeping through the night instead of getting up at 2 a.m. to work. I'm taking more walks with Jessica ( it's easy not to smoke when I'm around her).
In short, I've been working less for the past few weeks, mainly to avoid the cravings.
I am working though, and I know a lot of you out there a looking forward to a holiday wallpaper or two.
I started working on something last week. The idea: a cozy little cabin on a winter night. That's pretty much the essence of what Christmas is all about for me; it's cold and dark outside but you're inside all warm with your friends and family. When I looked at the render, though, I was concerned that it didn't look enough like a "traditional" Christmas picture. There aren't any flashy lights or Santa Clauses.
So for the past few days I've been puzzling over what I could add to make it look more festive, and this morning I decided I had waited long enough. The new render, which I've titled simply "December", is up on the New Images page. Don't be surprised if you see another version before the year is out.
- First off I want to wish all my American friends a happy Thanksgiving. I'm staying put this year, but if you're travelling I wish you a safe journey.
Secondly, I'd like to direct your attention to the new images page. You'll find my latest upload at the top of the page: "Campfires 2000". As the title suggests, it is an update of the "Campfires" image I posted last year. I hope you like it.
Now I'd like to share something personal with you. You may or may not have noticed that my work has slowed somewhat in the past few weeks. There is a reason for this.
About three weeks ago I decided it was time to break my 10 year smoking habit. It hasn't been easy. Smoking was always a part of "the process" for me. I smoked when I worked and I still feel a strong "need" to smoke when I sit down at my computer to work. The mental energies that were going into my artwork now seem to be directed mainly at surpressing my urge to light up.
So I beg your patience while I sort this all out. I'm sure as time passes life will get back to normal for me and the artwork will start flowing again. If any of you would like to share your own success stories or encouragement, please send them along.
Again, I'm sorry if things slow down a bit for the next few weeks. Hopefully it will pay off in the long run.
- Sorry it's been so long since my last update. I've been working on finishing "City of the Dead" for the past 5 days, trying to get it as creepy as possible. I've also been putting the finishing touches on my CDROM (spurred on by countless emails asking when it would be available). The CDROM files and cover art are finally in the hands of my publisher, and my latest version of "City of the Dead" is finally available on the new images page. The first render is still available in the picklejar. Thanks to everyone for your comments on the first version, they really helped.
- I finally got around to mailing off my failed hard disk last week (see 9-17 below). A few days later I got the bad news: the disk is a total loss. Apperently the heads crashed and scratched up the platters. Nothing could be retrieved. Always back up your data folks.
- Are any of you fans of the band "Orgy"? If so and in case you're wondering, yes, that's "Chamelea" inside the cover of their latest CD. They contacted me a few months ago about using it but I didn't want to say anything until I saw it for myself. Pretty cool I guess.
- I've posted the foliage image I mentioned yesterday. It's called "Autumn Fire" and you'll find it on the new images page. Just for the record, this pic took 124 hours to render on my "old" PIII 550. I'd love to hear what you think about it, but don't expect any updates this week ;-)
- I'm going to turn now to finishing my 2nd Ed CDROM. I've made a few changes to "City of the Dead" but I want to work on it a little more before I post an update. Thanks for all the feedback!
- I've been busy lately with a number of different projects. I'm still in the middle of getting my 2nd edition CD-ROM ready, I'm working on a "fall foliage" image, and I want to do some darker wallpapers for Halloween (one of my favorite holidays).
My CD isn't available yet, and the foliage pic is still rendering after 3 days (I'm using Vue d'Esprit). All I have to show you right now is a preliminary look at my first Halloween wallpaper of 2000. The image is called "City of the Dead" and you can find it on the New Images page. I'm still working on it, so I'd love to hear your thoughts.
- "Fluorescence" was created primarily as a modeling experiment. I didn't know much yet about Lightwave textures and rendering, so I used Bryce to create the final output. People seemed to like it.
People liked it a lot actually. It's been downloaded over 1 million times since I posted it about a year ago.
That being the case, I'm sure some people will see it as sacrilege that I would change it. They needn't worry though, the "original" is still available and isn't going anywhere. I thought it would be fun to revisit the image using Lightwave's considerable texturing/rendering tools.
You can see the revision on the "New Images" page. I'd love to hear what you think about it. Please keep in mind that it was not my intention to create a carbon copy of the original, I wanted it to look different. That is how I'm presenting it now -- as something different. It is not mean't to replace the original.
- Since I could no longer work on any of my existing Lightwave projects, I decided start something new. Nothing takes your mind off of lost data like creating new data.
The result, Maelstrom, is now up for your review on the new images page (and in the Planetscapes gallery). It's my first attempt at modeling a whole galaxy, and your opinions are certainly welcome.
- First of all, I would like to thank everyone who wrote to wish me a happy birthday. It was wonderful. Jessie and I had a nice sunset dinner at Qwiig's in Ocean Beach and then we had some ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins. What more could one ask for? She got me some spiffy shirts too :-)
After my "big day" I immediately got back to work on "Subterranean". I liked the underwater effect (as did a lot of you, from the notes you sent me), but I didn't think it worked for the scene that I had created. I decided to start again from scratch and make a "dedicated" underwater pic (rather than a "converted" one). I've been working on it all week.
Now the bad part. You know how the experts always recommend you backup your hard disk? Usually I'm pretty good about it, but lately I've haven't been doing it as much as I should. Now it appears I'm going to pay for my laziness. My "data" disk, where I keep all my Lightwave meshes, textures, and scenes, has failed. It refuses to start up with the rest of my system and I cannot get at any of my data. Needless to say, I'm distressed. The only thing I can think of to do now is send the disc out to Ontrack to retrieve my lost data.
Fortunately, one render survived of the project I was working on all week. I rendered it on Friday, but I wanted to tweak a few things before I posted it. Looks like I won't get to...
The image is called "Rays from Above" and you'll find it on the New Images page. Hope you like it as is. I plan to finish it when I get my data situation straightened out.
Remember -- always back up your hard disk!
- A few items to report today.
I've been working on Subterranean for a few days now. There are a few versions available. The one on the New Images page was rendered back on Friday, but I wanted to try a few different things before I posted it. Saturday and Sunday I experimented with making it an underwater scene, and I've posted a couple of those renders in the Picklejar. Let me know if you have an opinions on this matter.
I also rendered one more version of my Hibiscus. I'm fairly certain this variety doesn't exist in nature (at least where I live).
Lastly, I'm celebrating my 29th birthday today. Feel free to drop me a line if you'd like to say "Happy Birthday". I'd love to hear from you.
- Thanks everyone for the great feedback on "Hibiscus"!. A lot of the comments I received centered on the stamen structure at the center. You thought, rightly so, that the stamen was just too smooth and regular looking. Yes. It was modeled that way on purpose.
My original intention was to apply a layer of fuzz to the stamen using my "Shave and a Haircut" software. I worked on it through the weekend, trying to see what was possible. The result is now up for your review on the New Images page. Comments appreciated.
I also did a little more "hand-painting" on the petals. I can definitely see where UV mapping will come in handy down the road. I learned a lot.
Depending on your feedback, I see at most one more Hibiscus render. I'm sort of itching to move on now.
Hope you like it!
- I've posted a second revision of "Hibiscus". The petals looked sort of plain in the original, so I've added some texture using Lightwave 6's UV mapping tools. I drew the bump map "by hand" in Photoshop. Hope you like it. Feedback appreciated.
- My mother flew out to visit this week and we had a wonderful time. Jessie, Mom, and I spent the week "seeing the sights", capping things off Wednesday night with a hot air balloon ride (my first) over Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe. Aside from a few moments of extreme terror (as I looked down over the side), it was a wonderful experience. We had a great time, but I'm sad that she had to go back to Illinois.
Anyway, I did manage to push a few pixels around this week and I've posted a few new renders today.
San Diego is filled with flowers all year round, so I guess it was only a matter of time before they crept into my artwork. "Hibiscus" is my first attempt at flower modeling. The blooms were modeled "by hand" in Lightwave and then rendered over a background plate that I put together in World Builder. What do you think?
"Hibiscus" is dedicated to my Mom so she'll remember her visit. Then again, this may have been memorable enough :-)
I've also posted two new revisions of "Pathway". I got lot of great comments on things to add, and I did spend quite a few hours trying out different things. Given the imaginative (and diverse) responses to my earlier question, I decided it would be best if I left the scene "empty". I decided to darken the scene somewhat to create a more brooding environment, and I took out the red and orange leaves (I'll save the fall theme for a later image). There are two new versions in the picklejar, one with red leaves and one with green. I hope you approve.
- A couple of new items today. The first, "Urchin", is an abstract that I created in Lightwave. I was trying to create a sea anemone, but somewhere along the line I decided it would look cooler if it were bio-luminescent. I don't think it looks much like a undersea creature anymore, and if it does I think I'll stay on the beach. You can download an animated version of this image (MPG format, 1.5 MB) from the Picklejar.
The second new image, "Pathway", continues my fascination with trees and fog. As you may or may not know, fog is the only interesting weather I get to see here in San Diego (aside from the rare thunderhead over the mountains to the East), so you'll have to pardon me if it creeps into my artwork from time to time.
Both of these images are works in proress and you'll likely see some changes to them before I'm "done". I'd be interested in hearing what you think I should add (if anything) to "Pathway". Drop me a line if you have any suggestions.
- My initial run of CD-ROMS finally sold out last week. Rather than run another copy of the same disc, I going to put together a new one containing everything I've done up to this point (over 450 images). The new disc should be available sometime next month, and it WILL ship internationally. The price should be the same as the old disc, with members receiving a $10 discount.
- Added "Canopy" to the gallery today, marking another chapter in my long struggle to master lighting in World Builder. This one is sort of a cross between "Misty Grove" and "Morning Light". Comments appreciated.
- As you can might have noticed, I've finally replaced the old "chair" login page with the new Flash animation. Thanks to everyone who sent me feedback.
- A couple of updates today. First, I posted another render of "First Snow". This one lacks the white haze and should be a little less blinding. You'll find it in the picklejar (it's called firstsnow3), because I stubbornly prefer the render I posted yesterday :-)
Second, I started messing with Joe Alter's cool "Shave and a Haircut" software. My goal was simple: to put some hair on the "swordman" model I posted last week. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know anything about "hairstyling", so please be understanding when you see my results. You can find my render on the new images page, and you'll find a "detail" render in the picklejar.
- I've posted a more colorful version of "Minutiae", in case you're interested. You can find it on the New Images page.
- I'm working on a little redesign for the "login page". Nothing too fancy, though it does require the Flash plugin to get the full effect.
Click here to check out a preview of the new login page I'm working on. You can see the old login page by clicking here. Comments appreciated (especially from those of you who don't have Flash installed).
- Added "First Snow" to the gallery today. It's a continuation of what I started with the "snowy" image that went up last week. I liked that one, but I felt the composition with a little cluttered. Hope you like this new arrangement better, but if not you can still grab the first draft (along with a few intermediate renders) in the picklejar. As always, feel free to write if you have comments or suggestions.
- Where do I start? After the (understandably) less than stellar reception to "Tablaeu" I really wanted to post something cool for a followup. I worked on few different projects but none of them really blew me away as being something that I would want to post as a "standalone". I would work through the night on a project and then render it during the day with the hopes of posting it that night. When the time came to post the image though, I would find a reason to work on it some more.
I've just finished posting 14 images. Some of them are new, some are pickles. Here's the list:
- Misty Grove/Bamboo Grove: This is really two different versions of the same landscape. "Misty Grove" was completed a couple of days ago but I decided that it was just too grey and depressing to post on it's own. I decided the scene needed to be more intimate and I replaced the trees with bamboo. Still kind of grey though :-)
- Far From Home: I started this project last weekend to see if I could create a planetscape using World Builder. I was hoping to use WB to model the moon's surface, but it turned out to be much more difficult than I had imagined. World Builder terrains look a lot better when they are covered with grass.
- Rocks: This is the project that turned into "Phaeralon" a few weeks ago. It was one of my first attempts at using Radiosity with Lightwave. The only element that made the transition from this scene to Phaeralon is the small figure added to give a sense of scale. There are two versions of this one available in the Picklejar
- Swordman: I modeled this sword in Lightwave and brought in a Poser to wield it. Rather than design a totally new environment for the fellow, I put him in "Phaeralon". There are three renders of this guy available. Two on the New Images page, and one in the Picklejar. The one in the Picklejar is quite dark, since I used a darker marble texture for the stairs.
I've also posted...
- Snowy: This image was created between "Relics" and "Song of the Sky". I basically turned the "summer forest" into a "winter forest" and added some calm water in the foreground to balance out the blinding snow. It was the transition from a summer image to a winter one that gave me the idea to add the Aurora.
- Phaeralon by Night: Some of your suggested a night version of "Phaeralon", lit only by the blue glow from the crystal parts on the statues. I tried it out.
- Orange Stellar:Some of you asked if I would do an orange version of "Stellar". Actually, I did the orange version before the blue one and I combined the two renders in photoshop to create the image I posted a couple of weeks ago. Here is the orange version. Get out your shades...
- Last and least -- Green Gargoyle: This one was a brief experiment in UV mapping that I did in Lightwave last week. It's pretty basic, but I figured if I was going to post all of this other stuff I might as well through it in.
So that's about it for now and I think I'm going to take a break from art for a few days to rest my brain. If you have any comments on any of these images, don't hesitate to send them over.
- A second version of "Tableau" is up for your review. You can still see the first version inside the pickle jar. I thought these scene might make a nice home for the Pagoda I designed earlier this year...
- As mentioned yesterday, my new render is up and available. Unfortunately it did not turn out quite as I had planned. I noticed some things looking at the 1600 x 1200 render that I didn't like so I've been doing some revisions already. The second version is rendering right now, but I think this first draft is decent enough to share. The tentative title is "Tableau" and you can check it out on the New Images page.
Thematically, image was inspired by a photo I saw in a book called "Spectacular China". Technically, this image was inspired by some of the comments I received about "Relics" in which some of you suggested that the guns would look more realistic if they had some plants growing out of them. This image was about trying to grow a plants on an imported mesh (like a chia pet). World Builder 3 plans to have this feature, but I had to work out a hack using the current software. As you can see, I figured it out (the tall rocks in this image were modeled in Lightwave).
The next version of this image should be up either late tonight or early tomorrow. Hopefully some of the rough edges will be smoothed over by then.
- Sorry for being out of touch recently. First of all I want to thank everyone for the wonderful comments you sent me regarding "Song of the Sky". I spent a few days last week tinkering with it before coming to the conclusion that it should stand as is. So many of you seemed to like it that I didn't have the heart to make any changes. Of course, I may feel different down the road...
I spent the latter part of the week practicing my modeling skills with Lightwave, trying to learn a bit of software called Macroform. Most of my spare time is spent learning how to create my own meshes.
Yesterday I started working on a new landscape image, and it is rendering as I write this. The first draft should be up by tonight (Monday morning at the latest). Hope you stop back to check it out!
That's the status report for now. Just wanted to touch base a let you know that I am alive and rendering...
- Back when I was in college I took a road trip to northern Minnesota for a "hiking class". On the way up I caught a display of the Northern Lights. I didn't know what it was at first. The sky was glowing green and shimmering. It was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen.
I heard that over the weekend you could see the Northern Lights as far south as Denver (can anyone confirm this?). I really wanted to see the aurora, but unfortunately I live too far south.
My point? I spent all of last week tweaking "Relics", trying lots of different stuff. None of the images really struck me as a major improvement though, so I kept at it. Last Friday I heard about the impending electronmagnetic storm and to assuage my disappointment as missing the Northern Lights I decided it would be cool if I added them to the image I was working on. The result, at long last, is entitled "Song of the Sky" and can be found on the New Images page and in the Night Scenery Gallery. The image turned out almost exactly like what I saw that night in Minnesota seven years ago. What do you think?
I've also posted what this image looked like last week before I decided to add the aurora. You'll find it in the Picklejar.
- If anyone is interested, the folks at Animatek have posted some of the new features they are working on for World Builder 3.0. It's interesting in that it not only details what is to come (I'm drooling), but it also highlights some of the current version's shortcomings. I may have to pick up a copy of Max. . .
- My second hi-res render of "Spire City" is now up for your review on the New Images page. As you can see, the city is growing. I'm still painting with broad strokes on this one and I'll be playing around with it some more before the everything falls into place and I start concentrating on little details.
Thanks to everyone who sent me comments and suggestions so far. Most of you wanted to see a darker image, so I've toned down the sunlight somewhat. My mom (of all people) wrote me and said that some bridges would look cool, so I added two simple ones.
Anyway, there's still lots to do with this one. Hope you like where it's going.
- As mentioned last time, I am working on a new cityscape. I've posted my first hi-res test render on the New Images page for your review. Unlike "Gotham 1999" I'm trying to model each building individually instead of using clones, so this one is taking a little more time than my average wallpaper. Gotham '99 used maybe three different building meshes, this one has over 12 so far.
I plan on adding a lot more to this image. The ocean is really just a placeholder and I plan on adding more architecture to the scene, along with better atmospheric effects. I'd also like to see a few flying craft zipping about here and there. Maybe some billboards...
Anyway, the gist of what I am saying here is that this image is in the rough stages. I'd love to hear your comments on it though.
- Stars are pretty easy to make when they are far away. All you need is a white dot or maybe a little lens flare. Up close, however, they're a little more complicated. Still, I wanted to give it a shot and you can see the result in "Stellar", my latest upload. It can be found on the New Images page and in the Planetscapes gallery.
I thought about adding more elements to this one, but in the end I decided the "simple look" made the best wallpaper. I think the biggest challenge was making a "realistic" looking star that didn't blind you when you looked at it. Anyway, what do you think?
- Vue d'Esprit simply refuses to render a 1600 x 1200 version of "Overlord". I'll try again when they update their beta.
- Coming up next: a new cityscape. Stay tuned.
- Ever since I heard that Vue d'Esprit 3.1 was multi-threaded, I've wanted to try it out. Sunday I downloaded the latest beta (Ver. 6), installed it, and got busy setting up a scene to show off this "citidel-looking" mesh that I had built in Lightwave. I was hoping to post it for you back on Monday, but unfortunately that was not to be.
To make a long story short, Vue 3.1.6 seems to have a nasty bug. From what I can tell, a memory leak occurs during the last anti-aliasing pass. It slows the render to a crawl, and then crashes the program entirely just when the render is complete. As you might imagine, it is no fun to render an image for 12-14 hours only to lose it all at the very last moment. This has happened to me 4 times this week and, of course, the files created with the new beta will not open in previous versions of the software.
The bug only occurs when I try a "render to screen" at 1600 x 1200. Vue has another option ("render to disk"), but for some strange reason the render times are multiplied by 10 whenever it's used. I decided to render the image at 1152 x 864 using my main workstation, and render it to disk at 1600 x 1200 using one of my other computers.
Hopefully that explains why this latest image, Overlord is a couple days late and a size smaller than I usually post. The 1600 x 1200 version will be up shortly (I hope). I didn't intend for this to be a big time consumer, just a fun refresher exercise with a neat software package that I've been neglecting. The fun part, I guess, was in putting the scene together. Hopefully it shows and you'll enjoy the wallpaper.
I'd love to hear your comments on this image, and/or Vue d'Esprit, so don't hesitate to drop me a line.
I think I'll move on to something else now....
- Some of you were quite adamant that the statues in Phaeralon should stay. They are back in my latest renders. There are two versions, one with the familiar "white marble" texture applied throughout and the latest (featured) version with a faster rendering texture on the architecture.
- Added another "Synapse" render to the picklejar, based on the "unnumbered" version featured on the new images page.
- I've been working a little more on Phaeralon these past few days. Don't get me wrong, I liked the first version. From the letters a lot of you wrote me, I can tell that you did too. Still, I felt the image was incomplete the way it was. I wasn't thrilled with the scene behind the first set of columns, where things started repeating. I wanted something a little more interesting in the background.
I added some architecture in the background and widened the front hall so you could see it better. In opening up the foreground, I also decided that the statues should go. They had to be moved farther off-center in the new hall and I just didn't like how they looked from the new camera angle. They are still present in the 2nd version (in the pickle jar), but in my latest render I've removed them in favor of two reflecting pools on either site of the walkway.
I don't think this image is complete yet, but it's been a week now since I posted anything new (where does the time go???) and that's really longer than I want to take between updates. You're more than welcome to send over any comments or suggestions you might have on my revisions.
- Thanks to all of you who wrote me about Synapse (the series). It seems most of you liked version 1 and version 4 the best, with a smattering of applause for versions 2 and 3. Interestingly, only a few of you liked the one that I chose to feature on the new images page. Hmmm. I guess that's why I post multiple versions, so you can use the one you like.
- Added Phaeralon today to the Day Scenery gallery. This one is basically an experiment to see if Lightwave 6 can handle radiosity (indirect lighting) on a "grand scale". Looks good to me, what do you think?
- Jove is new today. There are a lot of things to like about living in San Diego, but exciting weather is not one of them. I miss huge thunderstorms rolling across the prairie, with lightning arcing from cloud to cloud. All we get in SD is an occasional fog bank. Very boring. Oh well, I guess that's why I moved here...
Anyway, "Jove" uses techniques that I think will come in handy later on. If you are familiar with my work, then you know that I have an affinity for puffy clouds. Bryce could do puffy clouds, but it took something like 24-48 hours to render a screen full of them. Lightwave 5 was big improvement but your control over the cloud texture was limited. Lightwave 6, finally, renders reasonably fast and allows full control. Jove (and it's derivatives) rendered in less that 4 hours on 2 processors. Not bad.
Because it rendered so "fast" I was able to render several hi-res cloudscapes to see how they looked. You can check out the rest in the Picklejar and if you have any comments you can send them my way.
- Shallows is new today. Check out the Picklejar and you'll see that this started as a very different image. I've been working on this scene for the past three or four days, but this last version did not materialize until just this morning. What do you think?
- A few new items today...
I spent yesterday trying to figure out Hypervoxels 3.0, and how it's different than 2.0. I did a few renders of an abstract nature and I've posted them for your review. I chose one to display on the new images page and put the rest in the Picklejar, along with an animated version of the scene. The animation is MPG encoded, and it should run on just about every OS. Let me know if you have problems though (try saving the file to your hard disk rather than "streaming" it).
- I've added an animated version of "Morning Light". Once again, this is in MPG format.
- I've added a slightly different version of "Neptune's Garden" in the Pickejar.
- I've added an updated version of "Escort" to the Picklejar.
- I've added 1600 x 1200 versions of "Planetfall" and "Sleepwalker".
- I've added a second view of "Pyre" to the Picklejar.
- I've made some cosmetic changes to "Morning Light". Nothing too radical, but I did think that the camera angle was a little off in the first version, and that the grass was a little too sparse up close.
- Thanks to everyone who wrote with comments on "Pyre". Most of you seemed to like it, and those that didn't seemed to simply want a blue version. Ok, if you want a blue version, you'll find it in the Pickle Jar.
- My project this week has been to learn World Builder's "Z-Buffer Composer". It basically allows you to render a scene in WB and then use Lightwave (or MAX or Maya) to add in additional elements.
What makes this different from "Photoshopping" the image is that the Z-buffer data allows you to render objects correctly in 3D space (hidden by near objects and in front of ones far away). The process is two-way, meaning you can render a scene in Lightwave and export the render with extra Z (depth) data to World Builder.
I chose a simple scene for my first attempt, a tornado. You can check out a hi-res render and an accompanying animation in the Picklejar. I've only spent a couple of days on this, but I think it looks interesting enough to share if only for the wind blowing through the trees :-) The texturing on the clouds needs some serious work, I know.
- I was never really happy with where I left "Neptune's Garden". I liked the over all environment, but I didn't like the columns and fish that I had added (see neptune4.jpg in the Picklejar). They added some contrast to the scene, but I thought they looked too fake. Yesterday I started reworking the image, essentially scrapping everything but the lighting from the first version. You can find the new render on the "New Images" page and in the Underwater Gallery. If you have any comments, be sure to send them my way.
- I've added 1600 x 1200 versions of "Brainstorm" and "Snowtop".
I also unearthed an old Bryce render that I'm sure you haven't seen yet. I don't know why I never posted this back when I created it last May. The image is titled, simply, "Gecko" and you can check it out in the 1999 Day Scenery Gallery. The Gecko model came off of the Ray Dream Studio CD-ROM. Yes, the gecko does have a mouth, it's just hard to see :-)
- Thanks to all of you who shared their thoughts on "Threesome". It looks like (as usual) Jessie was right. The dark version is by far more popular.
Immediately after posting "Threesome" I set to work on a new space image. The result is "Companion Star", which is available now on the New Images page. This image has gone through a lot of tweaking, and you can see some of the early renditions in the Picklejar. I'm sure opinions will differ on whether my tweaking was effective. Please feel free to share your thoughts.
- I decided, after working like a madman to bring this server back up, that I should take it easy for a few days. That means, of course, that I immediately starting playing around with Lightwave 6. Originally I was going to see if I could make any improvements to "Escort", but I couldn't get away from the fact that I didn't like the little submarines that I had made. I took them out, leaving just the dolphins.
There are two versions of this image available (both in the Picklejar). Jessie liked the darker image but I preferred the brighter one. Both images make use of Lightwave 6's Radiosity and Caustic effects (don't worry if this is meaningless to you). Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.
- Escort is new today, along with a few related pickles. This is still very rough (only a day or so old) and I still have more in store for this scene. Your comments are more than welcome.
Unfortunately I've been rather tied up recently with ancillary duties and I haven't had as much "creative time" as I would have liked. My security upgrades (see below) had the intended effect of stopping the dictionary attacks, but I still have a few security releated issues to tackle. I hope you bear will bear with me. Don't worry though, if I do my job right you won't even notice the difference when I'm done.
- Security. I've finally grown tired of the script kiddies with their little "hacking" programs. These programs basically bombard this server with login requests using a premade list of usernames and passwords. I've done some research into this and I've noticed that most of the hack programs do not support SSL.
I've gone ahead and removed the "public" link to the member's gallery from the homepage on this server, replacing it with a link to a page in a password protected area of my secure server. If you click the link on the homepage, you will be asked for your username and password as usual and once you have entered it you will be redirected to this page whereupon you will need to enter the username and password once more to continue. This should stop most of the crack attempts cold (though not all) because the crackers will not have a non-SSL URL against which to fling their login attempts. Their programs will not be able to use the URL I give them.
Not a 100% solution, but it's a start.
You can get around all of that by bookmarking this page and not using the homepage link to access the members gallery. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments please write me. I'd remove the public link altogether, but I need to think of those members who only visit once in a great while and may not rembember (or have bookmarked) the proper URL. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and I assure you that my actions are in the interest of better download speeds for all (and a better night's sleep for me).
- Added Idyllic to the Day Scenery gallery. Your comments are welcome, but I should note that the latest beta version of World Builder totally ate this project when I last tried to save it, so you probably won't see any updates in the near future. Progress can be a double-edged sword.
- Something green for your desktop?
- A quick note about the pickles I posted earlier this week. The "Red Rocks" image (available here) is not a new version of "Red Planet". It was rendered in Bryce last November. Unfortunately there were too many rocks in the scene and Bryce refused to open the scene file so I could work more on it.
The torch (available here) was modeled for "Omadon" (using Amorphium). Each statue is holding one.
Your comments were pretty much unanimous that the second Jelly Fish was the better of the two. I tend to agree with you, and I've added it to the Underwater Gallery.
- Looking for software demos? Metacreations has released a trial version of Poser 4 and E-onsoftware has released a trial version of Vue D'Esprit 3. E-onsoftware sent me a newsletter yesterday in which they hinted that Vue 3.1 would be available soon and that it will support dual-processor rendering. Oh yeah!
- Added Jellies today. Quite a few of you wrote me after I released "Fluorescence" and asked if I could do a picture of Jellyfish. Here they are. Comments welcome, especially if you can think of a better name for the picture.
- My copy of Station X Studio's Messiah arrived on Saturday. Messiah is mainly an animation tool, but I think it will have significant applications in my still work.
- Thanks to everyone who expressed their opinion about Minutiae. Most of you seemed to like the second one better, and I have to agree with you.
- The 2000 gallery is up, sort of. I've made an effort to choose my favorites out of the projects that I've been working on, but you may have different opinion on what should be included. I have taken into account all of your feedback about the different versions in making my picks. I am also posting PNG versions (at 1600 x 1200) of the selected images.
If you find problems in the new pages, or have any comments about them please drop me a line!
My next order of business is to tackle the Pickle Jar and somehow integrate it with the rest of my collection so you can browse my gallery and easily see the revisions when you choose to do so.
- Posted a minor update to Sub-Tropic. Nothing too dramatic. I Increased the complexity of the ocean mesh in an attempt to get rid of some of the jagged lines from the first version. I also rearranged the foreground a little.
- My copy of Lightwave 6 arrived on Friday. I've installed it but have purposely kept myself from digging in too deep until I've taken care of some unfinished business. Of course, I've been waiting for months to get my hands on this new version, so I guess a little while longer won't hurt.
- Part of my unfinished business involves writing some code. However, before I put on my programmer's hat I wanted to post at least one more wallpaper. There are three new images for you to check out today. The first two are "atmospheric" variations on "The Red Planet". The third image is a my first crack at using World Builder to create surf. I call it "Sub-Tropic". I may have one or two more renders of this one to show you later...
Hope you like!
- "Frozen" is new today in the Pickle Jar and on the New Images page. This is my first "space scene" developed 100% inside Lightwave. There are lots of things which could go in the foreground of this image, and I'll be thinking hard about that, but for now I think it makes a nice background all by itself. Simple.
- Good news and bad news this morning. First the bad news: no 2000 gallery yet. My addition of the Picklejar has made things a little more complicated then simply extending the galleries that are already present. I assure you that it is a priority.
Now the good news. I just posted 2 new images, and a few different renders of some older works.
"The Gardener" is the first of the new works. My point here was to experiment more with Deep Paint 3D and try out "interior design" using World Builder. There are two "alternate" versions available in the Pickle Jar.
Also new is "Ripples", another "learning exercise" using the same software which created the Ocean for "Two Ships". The true power of the software can better be seen in this short animation (ripples.avi [an error occurred while processing this directive] download).
I've also posted a couple of earlier renders of "the Sentinels" and a couple of extra renders from "the ships".
- I hope you all are having a wonderful Valentine's Day (if you celebrate that sort of thing). Since last week I've been up to my eyes in "Deep Paint 3D", trying to figure out how to texture my Lightwave objects and then have that same texture work in World Builder. Not as simple as it may sound. My efforts in this area should lead to improved versions of the Pagoda and Neptune's Garden soon.
For now, however, I have my first "tester" image to show you. It's called, originally enough, "Sentinels 2000" and it is available in the Pickle Jar and on the New Images page.
I've also honored a some of your requests. You can now download a "shipless" version of "Ships Passing", and I've made my "CD Cover" available as a wallpaper. Both of these images are available (for now) in the Pickle Jar. Enjoy!
- Added two final versions of my first water test. Most of you seemed to like the second one that I posted, which is essentially the same as the first accept for a few thin clouds. I, on the other hand, agreed with the minority that sun shining from the center of the image made it too bright to look at. As one member put it "I have to wear shades to look at it".
Of course, the cool thing about the Pickle Jar is that you are free to chose whichever version you want. The fourth revision is sort of a comprimise between the 2 and 3rd in that I toned down the haze somewhat and brightened the sun. The fifth version is a "noon" shot and is available in the Pickle Jar. I just wanted to see what the scene would look like brightly lit. Both versions are on the New Images page and in the Picklejar.
- I know, sometimes I don't know when to leave well enough alone. One of the things, though, that bothered me about my last post was that lacked any sort of "atmosphere". Lightwave, of course, was never designed to be "world building" software. Most of the images you'll see done with it are either simple still life renders (one object) or are interior scenes. Well, I wanted to add clouds to the sky in "Two Ships Passing" but I just couldn't find a good way of doing it. The water/haze plugin I used to create that nifty ocean environment is very picky about what objects can cast/receive shadows and reflections. I doesn't allow you to add clouds to the sky (like in Bryce for example), so you need to use another plugin for that. The problem is, plugins don't always get along with each other. I think I managed to find a happy medium though.
Anyway, many crashes and failed attempts later, I've posted two new versions of my "Ships". The version I am happiest with is posted on my New Images page, and all three are available in the Pickle Jar. I've love to hear your ideas on which one you like best
I've also added another animation featuring the new ocean environment and you are welcome to download it. It's a 480 x 360 animation and is [an error occurred while processing this directive] to download. Hope you like!
- Some of you have written asking how you can use the animations on your destkop. Right now the only way I can think of is by downloading a screensaver which will your animation files full screen. There is a nice free one available for downloading at http://www.stanford.edu/~bfcarter/aviss/index.html
- Thanks everyone for your feedback regarding "In Bloom". Most of you thought as Jessie did, that the version marked #2 was better than the rest. Actually, I felt the same, but I guess I didn't want to admit it. You see, version 2 was the first one I did (put together in about 3 hours), and then I went back and added various things to make versions 1 and 3. I should have left it alone I guess. Oh well. All three versions are still up for display in the Pickle Jar, so you can take your pick. I will be posting version 2 in my permanent 2000 collection (when I've put a few more complete projects together).
- My second "water test" is now up for your review. This one employs "Digital Nature Tools" from Dynamic-Realities (which came in the mail on Wednesday). I wanted something in the upper half of the image, so I whipped up a "flying oceanliner" in Lightwave. The wallpaper is called "Two Ships Passing" and you can view it on the new images page or in the Pickle Jar.
If you like the "static" version, check out these two animations I created of the scene. The first is a 320 x 240 movie showing the two ships passing by each other. ([an error occurred while processing this directive] AVI) The second clip is at 480 x 360 and it shows one ship doing a sort of turnabout. ([an error occurred while processing this directive] AVI) Both animations are 8 seconds in duration. There is also a smaller (320 x 240) clip with just the water and waves. ([an error occurred while processing this directive] AVI)
I've also added a 480 x 360 flythrough of "To Be". ([an error occurred while processing this directive] AVI)
Hope you like! If you have comments I'd love to hear them.
- Sorry I've been out of touch the last few days. Don't take that to mean that I've just been sitting around though. I've been keeping myself rather busy in my continuing quest to learn Lightwave, while waiting for my Deep Paint software to arrive so I can properly texture my creations. It arrived yesterday and I've only just now started working with it. It looks pretty straight-forward though, so I also managed to set up ScreamerNet on my home network (Lightwave's "render farm" software). Much to my chagrin, it doesn't look like ScreamerNet will do much for rendering single frames (like my wallpapers), but you should see it crank through animations. I hope to have some cool stuff to show on you that front soon.
Of course, I know animations aren't why you signed up as a member, so I went back to World Builder yesterday with the goal of creating a pleasant floral image (Valentine's Day is coming up). There are three minor variations on this image now available in the Pickle Jar. I chose one of them for the New Images page, but the choice was completely arbitrary. If you like this image, then I would really like to hear which of the three you prefer, because I can't decide.
For those of you not interested in flowers, I've updated "To Be". If you don't like the additions, you can always find the first edition in the Pickle Jar.
Speaking of which... I've also posted three early versions of the "Chamber" design that later became the background for "To Be". The whole thing really grew out of me wanting to design a
"Fire Pot" which would actually spew fire (using Particle Storm and Hypervoxels). You can see my first attempt in the Pickle Jar in an image called "Blue Fire". I decided after that to try out orange fire, and that lead to the image I'll informally call "First Chamber". I added "Mr. Zard" for scale. Good thing too, because I can claim that it is his magic causing the firepots to levitate slightly off of the floor :-) I may do another render of this image with every firmly grounded....
What's coming up? Look for "final" versions of "Pagoda" and "Neptune's Garden", for some new space imagery and an updated "Conjunction". Look for a few more "double-wide" wallpapers, and finally, look for some prints to be available before too long. I also plan to start annotating my images and create more intuitive indexing system for my search engine (search by subject, date, colors, software used, etc). I have a lot of other ideas too. Stay tuned!
- A significant anniversary passed a couple of days ago and but I was too busy to notice. One year ago February 1st was my first day without a "real job". It seemed like a very risky proposition at the time and I keenly remember the butterflies in my stomach as I tendered my resignation at the old job. Without going into specifics, I can safely say that it was the best decision I ever made. Thank you all for making my dream a reality!
- In case you are wondering, both "Neptune's Garden", "Pagoda" and "Avalon" are all on hold temporarily. I discovered, after much trial and error, that my Lightwave objects were not compatible with the texturing system used by World Builder (Lightwave Objects do not have UV maps assigned). I have some software on the way which will remedy that situation (and do much much more), called Deep Paint 3D.
So I've been spending this week practicing my Lightwave skills. There hasn't been much in the way of complete works to show for it (sorry), but I thought this latest one came out kind of nice. I call it "To Be", and you can check it out on the New Images page or in the Pickle Jar.
- The final version of "Neptune's Garden" is starting to take shape, but we're not there yet. You can see where I'm at by downloading the fourth render, which I just posted this morning. You can click the thumbnail above or go to the New Images page. The revision history is available in the Pickle Jar.
- A newer render of "Neptune's Garden" is up for your review. You can still view the first version in the Pickle Jar
- A slightly new look on the member's home page today. As I'm sure you've noticed by now, I've added small thumbnail links to my latest four images. They are arranged by date from left to right with the newest image always on the far left side. I'm still working out which images I will post there (given that I do revisions in a non-linear fashion). You'll always find the extra versions in the Pickle Jar.
Currently the newest image is "Neptune's Garden I". I spent most of yesterday working with World Builder on my first underwater image of the year, and this is the result. There are still some things that I'm planning to add, but I thought this was nice "resting point" and that you would like to see a preview. Your comments, as always, are appreciated.
- Added a newer version of the Pagoda. A little foggier this time around, and the trees are a little smaller. The flowers were Jessie's suggestion. You can view the new version on the New Images page or in the Pickle Jar.
- A second Gargoyle render is up for your review in the Pickle Jar.
- I've gotten quite a few letters from people asking if I could possibly render a wallpaper that would fit across two monitors. If you are one of them, please check out the double-wide test render of "Rogue Element" that I've posted in the Pickle Jar. The file is called "re2x.jpg". I'd appreciate any feedback you might have on this one since I don't have my own dual-monitor setup to test it on.