Digital vs Traditional process snobs

I want to do more digital painting next year. Actually, just more painting period.
Medea_PROCESS

Since taking up 3d printing, nothing I’ve been doing in other areas of art have been resonating with enough people to make it worthwhile – BUT – that’s if you follow the numbers and the metrics. Metrics can’t be the only way to make art. These days they help.

I’ve never really followed trends unless they did one or more of a few things

  • I learned something new
  • I made extra money
  • I helped someone
  • I grew as an artist or person

There’s a difference between that first item and the last one and usually it’s just a personal emotional thing and not an achievement unlocked thing.

But I have never really painted the way I really want to paint – something is always on the edge and almost there. And it’s just been a function of time and effort.

I use Gimp – an open source app – which a lot of people give me heat about. It’s not this, it doesn’t have that, only amateurs use it blah, blah blah. I get it – I use Adobe’s stuff too. At work. But the last time I checked I used Gimp on every single Emmy nomination I have ever had, and on the two VES awards I have so chew on that for a second.

I tweeted this earlier this week:

When I say you should stop caring about digital vs. traditional it means there is no longer a distinction between the two to the audience at a basic level. Digital artists often print their stuff on textured paper to make it “painterly” – traditional artists are digitizing their works to make prints for sale and sell them online – it’s more complicated than that but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Give me a break already. There are no more Rembrandt’s being made nor should there be.

If you want to argue an original painting in time MIGHT be worth millions someday, I’ll show you a digitally designed asset I make that’s worth something RIGHT NOW. Show me a digital painting with millions of colors and infinite resolution, and I’ll show you someone who can paint on GLASS in FILM NEGATIVE COLORS. NOTHING about the tools matter any more.

What matters is that connection to the people who see it. The people who care. Bitch about popularity all you want – I’ve already heard enough college kids for DECADES (I am 44 right now) spew about this – IT DOES NOT MATTER.

It only matters if you grew, you learned, you connected or you got PAID. Pick something and run with it. I chose not to let the process dictate the goal. Ever.

Want to know something else? I’ve been a digital artist for 20 years. That’s long enough for a car, movie or song to be considered a classic. Know what that makes the first digital works of art? In a way it makes them … traditional.

That’s a stretch for some people – they’d argue it doesn’t make them traditional but commonplace. You aren’t taken very seriously unless you use this tool or that – just like the stone masons didn’t take you seriously unless you used certain tools. In case you were wondering, that’s called a creative tradition. “It’s the way things have always been done” and if you are one of those newly minted, millennial kids getting out of school, digital tools are the way thing shave been done YOUR WHOLE LIFE. It’s TRADITION.

Case closed, go paint something.

P.S. Now this all sounds very angry, but it’s book-ended by an interesting year. I spent a lot of time listening to people harp on digital artists for having no ability to use “traditional tools” again. And I also listened to others harp on the future of art and the fundamental requirement that artists adopt more digital techniques. It was ridiculous. So I spent a full two months doing almost nothing but working traditionally – even using coffee as ink at one point.

Making the Steampunk XWing, Part 1

First of all, this project has some odd roots. I had never drawn anything remotely “steampunk” or much of anything very retro in style ever but noticed it’s rapidly growing popularity.

So the original concept for this was just an exercise in concept art. Beware, serious concept artist hopefuls – doing fan art like this is one of those things professionals tell you to stear clear of because you look like a fanboy.

Well screw that advice – I’m a 15 year working veteran in visual effects and I don’t think any of us would be here without Star Wars so “cut me some slack there ok bro?”

The original concept is still the most favorited thing I have ever posted online and judging by the number of people who have tumblr’d, re-grammed and otherwise copied and pasted it to various sites … you get the picture.

So the first part of this blog documenting the project is all about the concept.

XWing-12-13-11-SML

I did several Star Wars related steam/retro designs and the others were interesting as well in that I didn’t really know what I wanted out of these pieces other than to play with the retro and steampunk design tropes.

The T.I.E Fighter I did, actually, I preferred over the X-Wing because it seemed a little more flamboyant.

TIE Fighter 12-16-11 SML

But since the X-Wing resonated with so many more people, I think it was a clear choice for the build. Ordinarily, I tend to rail against fan art of any kind. Truth be told, I don’t really find doing fan art does much more than hinder your true artistic development but these days, it seems no one will take you the least bit seriously as an artist UNLESS you do it. Completely backwards, but I have had a really long career NOT doing fan art so I think an occasional piece is merited.

I didn’t design any of these things with 3d printing in mind – which I think is the takeaway from this project. Although it helps to have a vertical process in 3d printing – going from concept to final with the 3d pinted result in mind – it’s not a deal breaker.

Even though I never thought about even OWNING a 3d printer when I drew these images in 2011, I didn’t even consider making them in CGI back then. But the entire process can still be considered to be vertical in that I will be completing all areas of the production.

So in making your own 3d printed objects from old concepts keep this in mind – it’s very likely that you did not design something with 3d printing in mind. But you must consider the basic physics of the design WHEN you want to print something.

Both the retro designs had something in common in that they are still largely based on the basic designs of real world, kit bashed, old school visual effects models. The original design topologies of the two fighter craft are recognizable almost anywhere in the world and they make sense to world immediately in that they are mechanical, solid, and constructed from real materials.

Next time, I’ll go over the CGI design process.

Gearing, working parts and 3d printing

I have only ever done a tiny bit of CAD. I had an old copy of TurboCAD for Windows which I barely used, but definitely should have kept using considering the project I have started this month.

I have as much experience calculating differentials as I do hang gliding, but it became absolutely necessary to at least configure the gearing mechanism required for the latest 3d printing project.

gearing

The first version of the mechanism showed me that I was thinking much to linearly and I eventually switched to something more complicated but definitely more elegant.

Essentially, the gearing mechanism rotates two planes away from each other – it operates a bit like a scissors.

gearing01
This is the first operational mechanism I have designed specifically for a 3d printing project and I am considering going to one or more of the open source CAD applications that are available. At least one of them however, is listed by Chrome as a piece of Malware – FreeCAD.

That’s sad – it looked pretty impressive. But I am sure I will settle on a CAD solution, but since I have learned well how to model at scale with fairly high precision, I might not need CAD immediately.

I think the more important issue is how CAD just isn’t as important in consumer level 3d printing – that it’s practically a non issue to many users who are remixing other models, projects etc. Why learn CAD, there are so many free 3d models of reasonably high quality you should be able to kitbash anything you want, right?

You could probably never run out of free things to print online. But just like I remember people using the first dot matrix printers to print out ascii versions of pictures, I think were still very much in that stage of 3d printing. There are definitely the differences between those times and now – some people are truly pushing the envelope but that entry level FFM user is still trying to wrap their head around making these things work reliably at all.

But like I said before, just being a decent 3d modeler is a huge advantage to 3d printing users. It’s pretty much the skeleton key to synthesizing any shape and therefore anything you want to print.

I’ll post more as this project develops.
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Headed to the bank. Sort of.

I literally spent the last week looking around my desk – not even my whole apartment – for thing I needed that could 3d print.

I came up with two things – a pencil and brush holder and a piggy bank. Since so much of my work is digital I don’t do a terribly good job of organizing my pencils and brushes.

Printed VERY clean, will make the next one larger and maybe modular #3dprinting #ultimaker #protopasta

A photo posted by Jesse Mesa Toves (@zeustoves) on

I do an even worse job of organizing loose change.

I spent some time in a previous post talking about the idea that 3d printing has different (not always better) economies of scale when compared to just going out and shopping or re-using something around the house.

In fact, if I am guilty of anything in this most recent exercise, it’s of particularly conspicuous consumption. But I have spent a lifetime designing so many things for other people, I should get a chance to do them for myself.

The largest single object to date that I have 3d printed is this piggy bank. I had originally thought it should be smaller but considering it kind of looks like a hand grenade, I changed my mind. It might be a good idea to print some ears as it is still sort of menacing in a way.

Almost there, will print the screw cap tonight. #3dprinting #ultimaker #protopasta

A photo posted by Jesse Mesa Toves (@zeustoves) on

The next big project might be settled – moving parts. Sound effects – I am sure the nerd rage regarding its design will cause overload. Hopefully it will be done by Christmas.

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