I've created hundreds of wallpapers over the years, but one in particular has proven to be the most popular. I'm talking about my "Fluorescence" glowing mushrooms. I imagine the greater part of their popularity is due to the fact that they bring to mind psychedlic mushrooms (though those were not the original inspiration). For my part I have enjoyed rendering them as a way to try out new techniques.
Here is the history...
I rendered the original version in 1999 using Bryce. Bryce was my rendering tool of choice before I started my Members Gallery because it was very inexpensive. After people started signing up in 1999 I was able to add some more sophisticated tool to my 3D arsenal.
I modeled the mushrooms in Inspire3D (an early version of Newtek's Lightwave) as a way of teaching myself the "lathe" and "magnet" tools. I was more comfortable using the Bryce renderer at the time so I used that program to texture, position and render the objects. I then added the glow in Photoshop.
By 2000 I had signed up quite a few more Members and could afford the full version of Lightwave. I left Bryce behind in 2000 and did most of my rendering using Lightwave, World Builder, and Vue d'Esprit. The bracketed "" in the title refers to the version of Lightwave I used to render the scene (Newtek bracketed their number as well).
This is the version of "Fluorescence the most people are probably familar with. I transported my objects back into Lightwave "Layout" and retextured everything using Lightwave's much more advanced interface. I was particularly pleased with the new (at-the-time) "Angle of Incidence" gradient controls which I used to create the edge lighting/transparency in this version.
In 2001 I used my rudimentary knowledge of Lightwave gradient functions to create a "Christmas" version of Fluorescence. This was the first version of the mushrooms that I rendered using radiosity (so they light the surrounding terrain with their own illumination).
"Animated Fluorescence (2007)"
In 2007 I rode the short-lived Windows Vista Ultimate "Dreamscapes" craze by rendering a looping animated version.
I didn't really do any new versions of the mushrooms during the mid-00s. In 2009 I decided to apply what I had learned about texturing during the preceding 8 year and do a sharper/cleaner version. By this time I was aware that the mushrooms had become something of a minor icon so I chose to keep the original models.
I rendered a traditional blue version and...
"Rainbow Fluorescence (2009)"
...I rendered a multicolored version using techniques similar to Holiday Fluorescence (experimenting with sub-surface lighting as well).
"Fluorescence (Visited by Reddit Aliens) (2011)"
In late 2011 I decided to do an AMA on Reddit. I had no idea whether anyone on that site would know or care about my work but I was pleasantly surprised. It was great fun reconnecting with a lot of fans that had used my site in the past but had, for whatever reason, moved on over the years.
So many mentioned that they had used Fluorescence "back-in-the-day" that when I was asked to "draw a Reddit Alien" I thought it would be a fun idea to combine the two. I modelled the little alien in Lightwave.
The image was received enthusiastically by the Reddit community. I was especially thrilled to hear that one of the founders of Reddit has been a fan of my work since high school and that I had "rocked is world" by incorporating his alien into my work.
"Dark Fluorescence (2012)"
January 18th was "SOPA Protest" day online and a number of sites were "going dark" in response to draconian new "anti-piracy" measures going through the US Congress. I didn't really want to "go dark", especially since I had just been featured in a popular blog as the web's "Most Popular Wallpaper Website".
I decided instead to "darken" one of my most iconic images to make my point.
A couple of weeks later I lost my Dad to a fatal accident so the darkening served a dual-purpose.
It occurred to me that I've done versions lit from within, from the front, and versions without illumination. I hadn't done one where the mushrooms were backlit. I setup and rendered this version on my laptop while my main machine was busy rendering "Perserverance".