Sunday, August 03, 2008

Stuck In A 2D World

I didn’t accomplish much of anything yesterday. I did some sketches for an idea I had, but nothing much came of it, other than some really crappy sketches, each one worse than the last, annd each one bearing little resemblance to the last; consistency: I don’t has it.
Well, not in a good way, at least.
Today I’ve been a bit more productive, but only on the totally pragmatic, non-creative side of things.
I went out into the world and gassed up, then did some grocery shopping. Now I’m doing the laundry.
So yeah, it’s not some artistic masterpiece or the great American novel, but it’s important stuff that needs to get done, and, more importantly, it’s important stuff that I can actually accomplish.
Oh, one thing I did yesterday was finally get around to signing up with Facebook.
There’s no real reason for me to do so – I’ll probably just ignore it the way I do MySpace – but I figured I might as well, and I’ve been meaning to do it for a while.
Really the only reason I thought I should was so that I could have another spot on the Web to post a link to Heroic Portraits, not that doing so on MySpace has done me any good.
Anyway, if you’re on Facebook, you can look me up to add me as one of your friends. I sent out requests to a few people that I know are on it, but beyond that I haven’t made any effort to increase my number of friends (so far my niece Jourdan is my only friend).
But like I said, I’ll most likely just ignore the thing and will only check it when I see that some spammer has asked to be my friend or if someone leaves a comment or something, but I won’t be on there every day pimping my page or sending out various virtual whatnots to people or anything like that.
Social networks aren’t really that compelling to people who are anti-social.
Speaking of Heroic Portraits and my half-assed efforts to promote it, yesterday I ordered some business cards for it. I’m sure that will generate me all kinds of business.
There are a lot of things I would like to do with Heroic Portraits, but I’m not really able to because I lack the money, ambition, and skills to do them, and ultimately, I’m not sure my efforts would be worthwhile. At this point – especially if you consider the time invested into it – I’m well into the negative numbers as far as money goes. The profit from my one sale has been offset by the costs of hosting and printing.
So I can’t help but wonder which is the better approach: spending more time and money on it, or spending less?
Anyway, now that I mention the business cards, I guess I accomplished a little bit more yesterday than I thought, at least for some broadly-defined value of “accomplished.”
Every so often I get it into my head that I should do more stuff with 3D modeling software, which is to say that I get it into my head that I should do something with 3D modeling software.
Off and on over the years I’ve messed around with a program called Poser, which lets you render and pose 3D figures of humans and various animals.
Given that I don’t have anyone to model for me, I’m generally forced to rely on reference images that I can find online (or conjure in my head) when I draw, which is sort of limiting, in that if I have a particular pose in mind, I have to try to find a reference image of someone in that particular position and hope that if I do find an image of someone suitably posed, she (this is, after all, me that we’re talking about; it’s pretty much always going to be a “she”) has the body type that I’m looking for, and that there isn’t a bunch of distracting crap, like weird props, a puppy – there are far too many pictures of hot celebrities holding puppies – or some attempt at “artistry” by the photographer that involves using grainy, black and white photography and covering the model with some kind of dirt.
(This is, by the way, a common tactic used by photographers for Playboy. If a famous actress or model poses for Playboy, it’s almost guaranteed that the pictures will involve her being covered from head to toe in mud, and they’ll appear to have been taken using a Civil War-era camera.)
So, yeah, it would be very cool if I could generate my own fully-poseable 3D models.
In any case, yesterday I found a free human modeling program that I decided to try out, hoping that it would be easier to use and be an improvement over Poser.
No dice.
The biggest problem I’ve had with 3D apps is that the interface is appalling and as counter-intuitive as possible. For example, you might think, “Okay, if I click onto her hand and drag it up, it should raise her arm,” but you find that doing this somehow pushes the figure completely off “camera,” and there’s no way to find where it went or to bring it back.
The other problem comes up after you manage to figure out what the various tools in the interface actually do (as opposed to what you think they ought to do), the results are usually grotesque, as the program doesn’t seem to have any sort of built-in collision detection. So, for example, if you pose a figure of a woman so that she’s standing with her hands at her sides, there’s a good chance that her arms will have merged with her ribcage, and her fingers are buried into her thighs. Oh, and if you try bending her knee and rotating it slightly, the skin will twist around like the she’s gotten the world’s most severe Indian Burn.
Now, clearly there are ways around these limitations – otherwise CGI characters in movies would look like they have some mutant form of arthritis and their skin is melting – but I don’t know what they are, and my level of frustration skyrockets the second I try to lift a figure’s arm slightly and it ends up bent all the way over to the other side and sticking through its head and so it becomes difficult to try to force myself to learn, and the solution is never immediately, or even eventually, apparent.
Anyway, this new program I tried doesn’t seem to be any easier to use or provide substantially better results than anything else I’ve tried.
So I guess I’ll be sticking to using reference photos for the foreseeable future.


Merlin T Wizard said...

How hard can it be for these companies to develop 3D modeling software based on human skeletons and muscles with hard set boundaries at, oh I don't know, the skin level to prevent collision? It doesn't seem like it would be that difficult.

Heimdall said...

Apparently it is.
Of course, I also think it wouldn't be that hard to set up a system that allows you to just type in the parameters of the body type (height, weight, etc.), and then just render based on that.
But what do I know?