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Vol. 2, Issue 10
February 17, 2000   Painting on Polygons:


by Rick "Flatness" Grossenbacher

ince I’m a bit backlogged with critiques on reader’s artwork, I thought I’d take this entire week to devote to that. Again, I’d like to stress that the opinions I give are based on my background in traditional and video game art. I’m not an authority on what is good or what is bad, but I think I’ve acquired enough experience over the years to give some good feedback. So, with that said, I’m going to jump right into it with a look at a graphic made by O.DOGG.

Here are some questions O.DOGG asked about his image:

How can I add more atmosphere to the image and how can I make the base seem more real and not so plastic-looking?

For the first question, there are several things you could do to make the base seem less plastic looking. For starters, you could definitely alter the material more and see if you can refine it to have a more realistic look such as messing with reflective parts, or tweaking settings using the Raytrace material (if you are using 3-D Studio MAX 2 or higher). But, this is a lot of tweaking little numbers and spinners to see if you can get something better. So, besides that, I would try another approach. I would not use the same material on the entire image. It looks like you used a plug in which adds little boxes and hi-tech looking gadgets on the mesh (I can’t remember what the name of this plug-in is offhand, but I’ve seen it before). Those boxes look pretty cool, actually, but besides that, what I think would really liven this image up is adding windows emanating light or just little lights scattered in certain places. To understand what I’m talking about, take a look at the Death Star from Star Wars. Because of all the lights, it really gives it a feeling of having ‘life’ to it.

Or another thing you might want to do is make the shape of the base more complex. Maybe make it much skinnier in the middle or have antennas or rods extending from it in certain places (which you kind of already have, but could add more to maybe). The high-tech boxes protruding from the skin of the base definitely make it look more complex, but I think the overall design needs more complexity rather than just making the outer skin complex (just a thought). But overall, I still think this image looks very cool.

How do I make it appear bigger, but still fit on the rendering?

To do this, I would mess with camera lenses. Specifically, altering the Field of View will really change how your 3-D images looks on the screen. With a really crazy field of view, you can make something tiny look gigantic. Again, this boils down to a bunch of tweaking of settings and seeing what looks best.

Somebody told me the explosion wasn't realistic. How can I make it more realistic?

This is a tough question for me to answer, actually. For one, I’m not sure if a human being has ever seen and explosion in outer space (other than a supernova, but that’s not what were talking about here). Maybe NASA has performed some weird experiment to see the properties explosive matter in space -- although I haven’t heard of it -- but considering that there is basically no oxygen in space I wouldn’t have a clue what it would really look like. Anyhwho... since this is science fiction, you really have to use you imagination to think one up. The one thing offhand that I would immediately do to make your explosion look more real is make chunks of metal flying out from the blast hole. Also, you might want to alter your mesh and make part of the base peeled back from the blast. Nice work on your graphic, I hope my advice helped.

On to the next critique...

This is an image sent in by Angus "froofy" McCann ([email protected]).

Angus sends word that it was created using 2b and 3b pencils, then scanned and cleaned up in Paint Shop Pro.

This is a really nice drawing. You can see that Angus spent a lot of time doing some nice detail work inside every part of the drawing. He also did a nice job getting the arms to extend outward and forward.

A few things that I can see that might make the robot look better is by making the legs longer. They are looking a bit stubby to me and could be extended downward quite a bit. Also, it would be nice to see the feet extend outward too. I think they wouldn’t be really be big enough to support the size and weight of the robot.

You definitely have some cool machinery going on this guy’s body and I particularly think the head is well created -- it’s kind of small for the body, but I personally think it looks cool that way. Another thing I was thinking is that the waist of the robot might be too big. I think there is just too much girth there -- looking from the armpits down to the waist, there isn’t much of a change (it kind of indents in, but could probably stand to go even further in). Instead of just having it gradiently pinch inward, maybe if it sort of steped in at one point. All in all this is very nice. You’re definitely on your way!

Well, that’s all the time I have this week. I hope this was helpful not only to the artists who sent their work in, but also for others. Critiques are a part of just about any college art course you take because they help people learn to see and understand art styles and techniques. Also, the best part is that it helps artists improve. Thank you very much to both O.DOGG and Angus for submitting their work.

- Rick "Flatness" Grossenbacher works on Gameboy Color games for Vicarious Visions.


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