Be forewarned, some of these files are LARGE!
Please feel free to download them for your personal enjoyment.
But all artwork is © Stephen Paul, and may not be reproduced without permission.
More to come!
All of these computer artworks were created by a process called 'Raytracing'. This is the same basic process used in your favorite special-effects in movies etc., for many years now
Computer raytracing is also how the computer generated movies 'Toystory' and 'Ants' and 'A Bug's Life' were created. Raytracing though a very complex process, is actually a great deal of fun to do.
Essentially, the computer artist has at his disposal a virtual film studio, with virtual camera, lenses, various types of lights, control over shadows, reflections, surfacing, and geometry, among other properties.
The Raytracer starts out by working in a program called a 'modeler'. Modelers can be extremely complex pieces of software which enable the animator to create anything from a human figure, to a dinosaur, to a dancing gas pump. (Actually, the artist creates a gas pump in the modeler, and it is only made to dance when finally animated.)
Once the model is completed, the artist goes to work usually by setting up lighting, and basic camera views. Depending on the type of animation required, a process known as 'placing bones' in the geometry of the model is often done. Though by no means the only method by which to make a model move, it is by far the most complex and flexible of methods.
Just as a human being has a skeleton, so must even an animated playing card require one if it is going to have a personality, and walk, run, jump, etc.. The other very popular method of creating certain types of animation, such as mouth movements to a synchronized audio track, is called 'morphing to targets'. This is a process where one pose (of the lips, for example) is given a name, another pose of the lips is given another name, and the computer is used to 'morph' smoothly between the two target positions.
Morphing is also the technique which most of you have seen used in movies, and commercials, to smoothly turn one face into another, or one object into another.
Bones often require a great deal of expertise and knowledge of special techniques and tricks to get them to behave properly. Bones and lighting are two of the most important things the 3-D artist must master in order to successfully accomplish the effect they're after.
Look for many great tutorials which will soon be in this section, mostly focusing on the animation package by NewTek called Lightwave' now one of the most popular professional 3-D animation products in the world and certainly in Hollywood. I have been animating in Lightwave for over five years, and while I have certainly had the opportunity to use other packages, some costing up to eight times more, I have found Lightwave to consistently give the best results and produce the best value for the money.
The newest version has many great new features which usually are not even found in the most expensive packages on earth. Features such as Radiosity (the property of nonreflective objects to tend to pick up a bit of the color and light nearby, as well as providing a model for the soft ambient reflectivity of light in the environment), Volumetrics (visible light beams, which are a result of various airborne particle scattering models, first described by an English physicist by the name of Rayleigh), as well as Hypervoxels, NewTek's name for surface and volumetric particle modeling software. Hypervoxels can create effects ranging from fire, to boulders, to lava, or clouds which can be flown through.
Another great feature of Lightwave is the fractal Sky Tracer, a module which I describe extensively in the information window which pops up when the 'Tolkien Tree' is clicked on and loaded.
Lightwave also includes many other cutting-edge features, such as complex repetitive motion control, gravity functions, film grain, soft-body dynamics (mimicing cloth and inertial effects) and the ability to process volumetric rendering with complex procedurally textured moving fractal noise in order to create the effect of lightbeams moving through fog, smoke, etc..
For those of you new to the 3-D world, feel free to call Built On Dreams or write us through the web site, and ask us anything you would like, if you are interested in finding out more about this fascinating pastime/profession, and maybe even trying your own hand at it!