3d art as it is or as it can be driven by Blender.

After having some interesting discussions with artist as to our thoughts on 3d art theory, some points came up that made me wonder how 3d artist view the art process of 3d art and the reasons we use it to create art.

In that discussion 2d artist also voiced their opinions on the 3d art theory subject. The 2d artist were critical of a theoretical concept of 3d art and doubted it’s being separate in almost any form to the thinking processes that are involved in artistic creation in general.

Some of the individuals who were involved in the discussion felt that a 3d artist cannot attempt to create a valid form of visual art unless they apply traditional forms of art manipulation and intellect to their process.

As a 3d artist , I view the practice of creating 3d art with Blender as a process of observing what I see and a technical process of modeling and building those visions to the best of my ability to duplicate these visions into images in realtime digital environments. I can make this process as easy or as complex as I need it to be. But it always render out as an interesting visual even when I don’t put much thought into a piece.

All art attempts to duplicate visions into images whether these are mental, physical, illustrated or simulated. Lyrical musicians and writers use words to develop a mental illustration of their visions. Painters create perceptional sketches of their visions. Photographers and cinematographers create visions of reality as it is or as staged reality though the manipulation of objects, places and people.

3d artist can use many different artistic practices to develop their art but the main process involves direct realtime manipulation of those elements in a simulated realtime environment.

Along the way we may use painting to work with clients, prepare our concepts, as backdrop image drawings, texture our objects, as matte drawings to cut down render times or we may not use any form of drawing at all. 3d artist can make use of drawn art or photographs as image references or just look out of their window and model as they see the shapes and lighting around them. A 3d artist can use writing to prepare the concept for their work or option out writing. 3D artist can take the objects that they have modeled and stage them, light them, add materials and a camera in a complete simulated environment. Photographers and cinematographers can work like this in the real world but lack the total control over their environment.

3d artist can just jump into the work as they see fit without preparation. This is similar to the way way to sculptor approaches working with a block of wood with a carving knife on a sunny day out on the porch. 3d art gives us direct control over developing artistic vision like no other art form.

Dvgarage.com teaches 3d artist to work using the power of observation as their guide. For centuries artist have used their eyes, ears, mouths, heads, hands and hearts as their guides. This is the process that makes artist artist, not necessarily our technical operation which we use to develop our visions into artistic imagery.

Open source 3d artist can approach 3d art as a sand sculptor approaches making sand castles. They do not have to have a reason or validation to create art they can just make art based on any circumstantial personal motivations.

Maybe if you’re a person who only thinks that art must be academic or it’s value is only commercial you should try out building a sand castle when you visit a beach. Self expression is priceless and it requires no deep intellectual thought to have fun expressing yourself with art.

I think that Blender and software like Gimp are helping artist to value their art that is driven from personal motivation alone with no strings attached. If we pay thousands for software and this is no setback then we could feel the same way about any other full featured 3d app out there. But then again, we wouldn’t have the same type of ownership would we?

And some people question why we love Blender.

What do you feel about 3d art? Has Blender made you a 3d artist? Has using Blender been a creative healing process for you? If you are a 2d artist have you ever thought of how simple an object was to model and render out as beatuiful art in Blender but that the same work in 2d would have been more trouble to draw and result in lesser image quality? Are you just using Blender to experience it as the 3d open source adventure that it is? What has using Blender done for you?

I don’t draw that much of a distinction between 3d art and 2d. 3d art isn’t even 3d! It’s still being projected onto a 2d plane. I consider it just a very very good perspective program, eheh.

Still, both 2d and 3d art abide by many of the same rules that make a picture good. Composition, color harmony, texture, contour, form, and subject, are just a few examples.

3d art is just a very interactive tool to visually explore and build the space around things.

I do believe you should have a firm grasp in traditional art before you delve into the realms of 3d though. Reason being, it’s just much much easier to explore and understand concepts such as form and value with traditional media, as it gives you a real “feel” for the forms by drawing through observation.

Anyways, just to reiterate my first comment, its still 2d art. Just another way (another tool) of projecting 3d space onto a 2 dimensional plane.

What a great post JA-forreal :slight_smile:

I love Blender because it lets me create virtually anything. It’s the first program I’ve never felt limited by. It’s the first program I’ve really gotten to grow with: as I became better it also became more capable and reliable, thanks to the coding team, and I’ve even had occasional opportunities to try to influence its evolution through things like Python scripts I’ve made and code patches I’ve submitted for review.

The open source aspect of Blender is extremely amazing, since not only can the 3d artist exercise control over the environment in 3d space, but she or he can also help redefine how the environment’s environment (the entire program or just parts of it) works. As an artist and as a programmer, this interests me deeply and will help ensure Blender’s ability to grow to meet artists’ needs in the future should they want to take the extra steps to learn programming and refashion the source to meet their needs.

I do not think Blender or any program can, on its own, make a person an artist, only to give them the opportunity to discover and advance their artistic potential, which I believe everyone has. I think that is happening right now in this forum and has been happening for a while.

What GIMP did for 2d, Blender is doing for 3d. I think having Blender has enabled a new generation of potential 3D artists that might have never existed given the expensiveness of the other 3d programs and their platform requirements and limitations. Blender’s ability to run on top notch workstations or much older computers is an incredible fact. Few other programs could claim that.

Ultimately, Blender enables anyone to become a 3D artist eventually, if they’re intent on becoming one and are willing to sacrifice and experience the full range of emotions/ challenges/frustrations/successes/ failures/ advances/praise/criticism/etc. – the rest is really up each person. Blender gives us the door, but we still have to walk through it, individually. Although, we are never left to walk the way completely alone, at least in the beginning, thanks to the presence of this community.


I´m both a 3d & 2d “artist”. I´ve attended art schools for the 2d-bit
to learn to be more expressive and “think” before I create. It also gives
some tools that makes it easier to express what one thinks…but enough
about that…I want to answer your question :slight_smile:

I feel Blender has set me free…sort of.

I used to pay a fortune for expensive tools like 3dstudio max
that crashed constantly and had virtually NO-support from the
company in charge that time - at all! Mostly they denied all problems
and blamed everyone else - until they finally acknowledged the problems
and asked for 1000 dollars for an upgrade …fixing bugs that should have
been fixed in the previous versions.

Feeling small…puny…and not listened to I desperately wanted to switch
to another package, but soon realized that other companies suffered from
the same problems in other areas with their software etc…and they had
virtually the same “woes” as me. (unless they where fortunate enough
to work for a Big-time game-company or a movie company)…Most of
those people “pushed” their-favourite software in return for “sweet deals”
most of us mere mortals never would get.

There was an “elitist” community there as well.

With Blender…there are no “elitist” community,
Blender coders listens to the “average artist” and doesn´t
care for your wallet or if you´re a big-shot or not.

I remember…not getting hired with 3dstudio max no matter how
good I got…now while that can be explained with simply “NOT” beeing
good enough perhaps…it is worth mentioning - Once I abandonned
ship for Blender…the work started to come in, why that is …remains
a puzzle to me…but it IS a good thing.

I also remember having a serious problem with Blender that I
immedately told the Blender community…immedately…2-3 days
later - the issue was adressed and the problem was fixed.

*** WOW ***

This kind of dedication I’ve yet to see in the “commercial” world
of 3d. They constantly “bitch” about not having the manpower to fix
all the problems or listen to everyone…while Blender actually have
less “manpower” than the big companies with their hundreds of coders.

And then…

The evolution of Blender have made such progress that I´ve been able
to deliver commercial grade work for the industry and earned a living
for almost a year doing advertisment graphics & art for packages etc.
Not a fat living…still poor as heck…but hey, it´s in progress.

This “community” feel has made me write huge tutorials in our
local language (Danish) absolutely free for everyone to read and
people often ask me “WHY OH WHY do you do all that for free?”

Well - The Blender community has proven to me (and others) that it
DOES work and its philosophy works! It just plain and simple works!

Blender is also the LEAST crash prone 3d software I´ve ever had the
pleasure of using.

So I guess the answer is…Yes Blender has most certainly made my
life better - in almost every way.

I’ve mentioned this more than a few times on the message board that I’m writing an article about this same thing, while it focuses more on the “what I wish I had known when I first started” theme. It’s just about done so I might post it today for you guys to review.

It’s a good point that has been made that Blender allows people to become potential 3D artists.

The difference that makes a technically good picture from a really good picture is that the artist applied the principles and elements of design. Being an artist is more about making an image that you’ll want to stand a look at for a while then making a photorealistic image.

I love that comment :). In the traditional sense, a 3D artist is a sculpturer. But everywhere I look people that use 3D modeling programs are referred to as 3D artists. I guess that’s because the process is similar. You are creating a 3D object, either in real life or in a computer.

I don’t know how I feel about that comment. I’m probably taking it out of context. I’m assuming you mean that a 3D artist doesn’t have to prepare canvas and paints. I’d say the preperation is different because it is a different tool, in the same way that oil paints are a different tool and cutters and sanders are different tools.

The largest majority of the preperation, such as sketching and all that other jazz that you should do before you start cutting/painting/modeling, is no different. And this is where a lot of new 3D artists fall.

I do beleive that a majority of people that do 3D art as hobbyists, or even as professionals for that matter, would really benefit from taking a few college level art classes. There is so much that some people just don’t know about. I’ve seen pictures made by people that could barely even control a paintbrush, and their objects were deformed, and the perspective was wrong, but it was still fun to look at because it was well designed!

Just to tease you all a little bit, here’s an excerpt from the article that I’m working on that illustrates how important good design is.

Why is it that while walking through a gallery we stop and look at a painting? Is it because we are interested in the subject matter or that it’s photorealistic? Most of the time none of above are true. The painting could be about anything and sometimes the shapes are very abstract. But still we stop and look anyway.

Something about this painting drew us in.

Our eyes flow through the painting as if the artist opened a door into the scene. He leads us around to some of the little details until we get to the main subject. We are guided around in circles again and again, continuously returning to the focal point. After showing us around the artist gently shows us the way out. We are not led to the next painting on the wall, but rather through the top, leaving us wanting to go through it again.

That is good design. The subject matter of that painting could have been about anything. But it is what the artist did with the subject matter that made it a great work of art. 3D art is no different.

Who doesn’t want their work to give their viewers that kind of experience. That is why knowing the principles and elements of design is so important. That is what makes a good artist.

Understanding these processes helps you to develop your artistic visions with precision. When you take the guessing work out of what type of color to use to bring out a piece or how to best highlight a subject, then your art can work for you. This kind of knowledge helps us to think professionally about our work.

But I still like to see what people can come up with by thinking outside the box when their only goal behind a work is driven by their artistic impulses and not by method. So many great forms of new processes for visualization can be discovered this way.

Creatively beautiful discoveries in 3d are never mistakes, we just have to discover what makes these works interesting.

I like how a 3d artist can set up basic lighting environment scenes and then go wild modeling scenes with shapes for objects and worlds. Later on they can merge these two scenes together and make artistic discoveries. They can tweak things out until they feel that the elements all work together. The 3d softwares nature of dimensional space, lighting, color interaction can expose details of objects and shapes that are only revealed when we render out an image.

Anyone can explore this possibility of visual discovery with 3d software. And we don’t have to visit hidden landscapes in deserts or on an island with a camera to find new imagery, we don’t even need a plan. We can just start modeling and see what our lighting setups, materials and polygon shapes reveal at render time.

If you have problems with setting up complex 3d lighting use a donated .blend scene file with an interesting lighting setup. If you have trouble with other settings, use a .blend with good lighting, camera, etc settings. Then just make sure that everything fits in the camera view as you model out you masterpiece. See what you can come up with. Learn about your creative side.

I would urge anyone with a creative side to follow this path when they first start using Blender. We all have our own artistic goals when we approach Blender. I always encourage people to explore those goals with Blender and open a door of artistic opportunity that you never knew existed within your mind.

Later you can refine this creative side with traditional art ideals and modern 3d professional practices so that you can learn to control your own 3d software with professional creativity.

I thank all of you for the enlightening views in your post on this thread topic.

I love that comment :). In the traditional sense, a 3D artist is a sculpturer. But everywhere I look people that use 3D modeling programs are referred to as 3D artists. I guess that’s because the process is similar. You are creating a 3D object, either in real life or in a computer.[/quote]

I love this comment too, because it’s the most important step in learning the whole thing. (Certainly animation when time is tight). Basically at the end all you have is a list of colours, so who cares how you got there? If you think about “great 3D CG” it almost always has extensive 2D post production performed on it.

I’m definitely in the camp of “couldn’t care how you did it or how long it took, it’s all about if the results look good” which means using your eyes, not looking for particular demonstrations of features added in the latest revision of the software of your preference.

What you have in 3D now is people just trying to push technicalities. Once the ever elusive “photorealism” is achieved it will instantly become boring (see the history of painting) and people will start to desire more interesting work. After all, why painstakingly model reality when you can go outside or grab a lump of clay?

All the most interesting 3D work right now is in commercials and broadcast graphics, simply because in those areas they are much more artistically adventurous.

On the “self expression” point, I empathise but don’t agree. I play the piano. Really badly. I still love doing it. What I make with a piano is definitely not art.

I totally agree with Metsys on the “pre-3D” points, ie sketching etc. If I’m ever in the position to hire art/graphics staff I will ask for a sketchbook of hand prepared stuff first. If they can’t make that interesting then all the tools knowhow isn’t going to help. And using a Wacom pad and Photoshop is not the same as pencil and paper. You can train good artists in new tools, you can’t make proficient operators into artists.

Hey JA-forreal, great topic. :slight_smile:
3D is a world away from 2D. The mind set is just different. Draw a perspective view in 2D and you have to actually think about it. But 3D is definitely not just a 2D projection. A while back I wanted to build a tree house / swing set and so I decided to build a virtual blue print. I actually modeled most of the environment and then added the swings. I was able to move the objects where I wanted and see what would fit where. And then I could fly around and over the scene. A very realistic simulation. Maybe that isn’t art, but the experience is one you couldn’t otherwise get without hiring a helicopter. That’s the biggest reason I use 3D. I’ll never get published in any way and there’s no vanity involved with the images I’m creating so the question is why even bother. But with 3D you are there. In the world you create. The 2D scene that draws you in is great, but actually being there is better.

As far as Blender as the driving force? Blender isn’t the best app out there. It isn’t bad but there is much better software available. If you haven’t driven in a limo then you just can’t compare. I really like your comment about freedom from overhead costs though. It’s true, there’s no sense of, “damn, I’m going to have to upgrade in 3 months or get left behind.” Letting go of that treadmill really does give one a deeper sense of freedom of expression. Interesting thoughts.

Another thought I had on this topic this morning, is that while currently 3D renders usally result in 2D images, that is images projected on a flat surface like a screen, this will not be the case in the future as 3D displays become more commonplace and advanced.

There’s already a laptop (which I alluded to in another thread) that can project objects in 3D before the screen without the need for special glasses. I don’t know if it works with Blender, but just imagine the possibilities at the modeling phase alone, let alone final renders.

But even now, what Stefano (S68) and Macouno and others have done with panoramic virtual reality projects demonstrate for us another potential for 3D art.

There have been walk- and flythroughs in the past, interactive 3D, and of course 3D games, but in terms of artistic presentation there’s still a lot of untapped potential, which may be allievated in part by technologies similar to those powering that 3D laptop. Also, 3D printing is still in its early stages and not widely avaliable.

So I think we haven’t really exhausted the true potential of 3D imagery yet, not as artists at least. As the technology advances, a 3D artist will have more options yet, and I think a lot of 2D artists will also expand their efforts into 3D as they see new possibilities to express their ideas.

Recent advances in Photoshop CS2, for example, with the new vanishing point feature, are introducing 3D elements in a 2D setting. Not the first time this has happened, I think, but probably a trend that will continue.

Which brings up another point with regards to 2D based on my experience: 2d digital artists don’t just work on a single flat plane. They use layers dynamically, bringing items “forward” and “backward,” rotating or skewing them, warping and morphing objects (even using a control “mesh” to manually warp objects as in the case with a program like Paint Shop Pro 9), adjusting perspective, working with Bezier curves (in vector art programs like Inkscape and Illustrator) and often working with such things as projected light sources and different types of materials in “natural media” environments such as Corel Painter.

I’m bouncing between 2d and 3d work a lot more these days, and it’s amazing how one can affect the perception of the other and cause you to see and consider things you might have never realized before.

It’s a great time to be creative, having all these options!


Much of my goals and focuses using Blender are around building up a strong base of media operations and gaining a foundation that will house a 3d software based production team. Blender is more than stable enough to support operations like this now and has been this way for a long time. I also try to encourage people to seek out their own goals in any way they can using Blender as a guide to move them along in at least some productive direction. Blender is just getting better with every new build.

When I arrive a point where I need others to share in my work I would prefer to hire people who learned 3d software on their own and streamlined it’s use in a effective way for commercially visual cg backed productions and promotions. I admire 3d designers who’s work supports a real world marketable product or service of their own originality. I would favor a web designer who has had success in using 3d in this capacity. A person who had landed a job at a cg based company based on self taught 3d skills would be someone that I would consider also.

It is an indisputable fact that people like this know how to convince other people to buy or use 3d software based products and services. They did not take another persons word as far as their opinions on success with 3d media they took charge on their own and forged a niche in the cg marketplace for themselves. I don’t think that schools can produce people like this automatically, but I know that life experience and entrepreneurial motivation does.

Open source seems to nurture individuals like this so I am attracted to most open source development communities. I think that people who work in this way are the ones that will move Blenders developments into greater areas of application beyond the concepts of “only” using 3d for cg film markets and 3d gaming, etc.

Maybe this is why I feel that the greatest asset that any artist using Blender could have would be to approach using Blender in the most innovative way that they could imagine.

This type of outlook will improve Blender as a product and enhance our gaols as working productive Blender artist.

Use everything that you can to improve your experience as a 3d artist. Take the classes on art, study computer science, learn about the business side of 3d and programing. It wouldn’t hurt now a days to learn about the laws that govern open source software. We may need lawyers on our side one day.

When I was talking about defining what Blender means to us as a 3d art software I was thinking along these lines. So what can using blender really do for us?

In todays 3d cg productions definition is everything. If a cg company hopes to stay involved in cg media they must quickly adapt to new technologies and ways of operation. They can redefine themselves with each move.

Blender is poised to move in any direction with many options for definition as a 3d software product. The Blender team seems to be moving in the right direction. We have to move along with it and do our parts to keep it in the right direction. This may call for us to learn a little python scripting, C++ coding, computer science, tutorials on Blenders workflow, etc. Later some of these operations that we now can try participate in may become profitable for all of us in one way or another. But mainly our work in these areas will improve Blender as a whole.

“Hey, I’m not watching TV, I’m Blending!”

Blend on! And move on.