Is CG objective or subjective?

I’ve always thought that making CG was essentially a matter of “doing things in the right way”.

However, I’m coming to the realization that, ultimately, that’s certainly not the case.

Apparently there’s not a standard technique of doing anything in CG. Like, once you apply some basic concepts, there’s no such thing as a right or a wrong way of achieving a certain look.

In other words, CG is not objective. It’s purely subjective. Take sculpting for example, is there a right way to sculpting? No. A thousand artists will sculpt in a thousand different ways. Or what’s the exact amount of specular should we add to this skin in order to make it looks real? There’s none right? Instead, what counts is what each one of us subjectively think that looks better.

So what do you guys think about that?

The reason I’m saying all of that is because I’ve noticed that many times I found myself not plunging into, let’s say, sculpting (or any other area of CG) just cause I keep waiting for the right, best, perfect way of doing that.

It’s as if you wanna learn how to be a good swimmer. But because you don’t know the right technique, you don’t wanna risk wasting a lot of time practicing swimming in a wrong way, you know. Thank you.

There are “right” ways. However, there often are several “right” ways.

If you are working for a big studio, there are definitely some parts of CG workflow that are strictly just wrong to do, like using sRGB profile for rendering, or not naming your colletions the right way. Also the art director is always right regardless of if something is not realistic or not PBR, and he has right to ask you to make something less realistic, even if the goal of the project is realism.

If you are working for yourself only, you are free to do whatever you want. All tools were created to use them. However keep in mind that being able to create good art is a slightly differnent skill then detecting if something is a good art or not. What I mean by that is you can use whatever value you want for the skin specularity, however if you are not sure if it does look realistic (because you don’t have enough skill to tell that) you might want to consider checking what other artists do and why they do it like that.

Would this be different if you’re placing a 3D object into a live action scene, like in a movie? Or is sRGB no longer used for live action video, either?

CG can be objective if you have a point of reference.
If you are trying to reproduce something, you can say this result is closer to reference than this result.

But your workflow to obtain the result is your way.
And path you choose to take depends of your knowledge, your practice, your preferences.
That part is subjective.

But if you are slower than another artist to obtain same result ; there may be objectively a better technique used by that artist.
But if you are more successful by choosing a subject that complies to interest of many people, that is by definition, subjectivity. Interest of public may not last at same amplitude.

IMO, if you are doing CG art, you are confronted to both (objectivity and subjectivity).

however if you are not sure if it does look realistic (because you don’t have enough skill to tell that)

Very true. This is one of those things we instinctively think that “I know it when I see it”. But the truth is that if we don’t have a trained eye, we can’t tell for sure how realistic something looks like. It happens to me all the time. For this I try to observe as much references as possible.

Very good points. Totally agree.