Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Making It All Work
3D art is not easy.
Putting together a single scene in 3D involves many different disciplines. As in many art forms, you first try to visualize what your end result should look like. This involves deciding the mood, the focus, the color scheme, the emotion and probably many other things I'm forgetting.
You build your models (which include principal actors or a focus), which involves an understanding of scale, spatial relationships, thinking in more than two dimensions, an attention to detail and understanding complex shapes.
Texturing objects involves understanding the physical properties of materials, how light reacts with an object, be it how color is affected, the mysteries of reflection, specular and gloss, light absorption, refraction, diffuse and other properties of light.
Laying out a scene involves, orienting and placing each object,
as well as a main camera, in order to match as closely as possible what you originally visualized. Understand space and scale and how the eye works in general is critical.
Lighting the scene takes into consideration not just your sun or moon,
but also the different properties of different man made light, as well as how light bounces of objects and in a sense, travels around your scene.
Animation, maybe the most popular of the disciplines, involves a strict understanding of natural motion, physics, acting, and concepts related to telling a story.
Each one of these steps is incredibly involved. Many books have been written by artists great and not so great, and many larger studios employ teams of people to handle each one of these stages.
I've somewhat wrapped my head around modeling, both hard-body and organic (although I could stand to get better), I understand the fundamentals of UV/Texture mapping, again, with much room for improvement.
However, there are the three other things that I'm still learning how to do.
Because of the fact that I haven't really attempted much animation, I'm saving that for last, but for the life of me, I can't figure out scene layout and lighting. I've bought books on lighting in the past, but most of it still alludes me.
Falloffs, intensity, the difference between the effect of an area light, an omni directional light, a linear light...
The difference between ray traced shadows and shadow map based shadows...
Global illumination, HDR imaging...
Then of course, there's layouts. What's the scale? How do you define scale in an image? What about the backdrop? How does the atmosphere and the time of day come into place?
I think that if i figure out the concepts behind all these things, maybe I can fly off this plateau that I've found myself grounded on for so long. I want to put things together, not just objects, but scenes. I want to put together little tiny bits of reality, one piece at a time. I want it to look damn good.
And I don't know what I'm doing wrong so far...