Top 20 Blender artworks of the year: everything that is wrong with 3D art

In reference to :

Now, let me start by saying that I find all of these works to be technically amazing and very nice to look at. I can’t claim to have produced any finished works on that level, let’s be clear about that. I have a lot of respect for those artists’ technical abilities and hard-won skills. Individually all of those pieces are things to be very proud of.

However, this top 20 emphasizes a point that I have been considering about CG artwork for some time.

Nearly all 3D-CG artwork is completely intellectually sterile. There are no ideas being expressed in the vast bulk of pieces posted here (and not just here… check CGtalk!). To put it bluntly, these works are devoid of conceptual creativity.

In fact, 15/20 of these pieces could conceivably be executed with photography instead of CG. There would be no conceptual difference. Only 5/10 depict something that isn’t plain realism. The rest are caricature, mainstream sci-fi stuff ripped directly from Ridley Scott’s mind c. 20 years ago, or fan art.

We are students of a medium that can be used to create anything the mind’s eye can conceive. You can express, in minute detail, ANY IDEA that you can find a visual means to express. You can depict ANY scene you can imagine. You can convey any emotion, call into question anything you please. And yet the Finished Works page is clogged with robots, consumer electronics, naked women, and sports cars.

There is nothing wrong with depicting these things for a technical study. Everyone needs practice. I do it, everyone does it. Nothing wrong with it.

However. The year end’s “Top 20” is firmly entrenched in the same track. Nothing there that one could comfortably call “fine art”. Nothing that could ever be hung in a serious exhibition. Nothing to stimulate the mind. Now, I am relived to know that there have been more conceptually interesting pieces put out this year, by blender users, and they aren’t in this list. Fine. But the fact that the “best” art made with Blender this year lacks a depiction of a single interesting idea depresses me.

But seriously, consider the fact that this is ART. If you are making artwork for its own sake, then for god’s sake, use some creativity and don’t do another futuristic plasma rifle, “weird alien”, or Ferrari.

Anyway, I am not sure what people will think of these opinions, but I just wish people here would remember that they are learning how to use a tool not just for synthetic visualization, you are learning the technical skills needed to create ART! To express ideas! To communicate thoughts that cannot be expressed in any other way. Let’s not be afraid to do that once in a while.

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My impression is that whoever chose that top 20 is someone who had particular aesthetic priorities in mind. And for what it’s worth, while i can appreciate the sheer technical merit of those pictures, they also do very little for me on an emotional level. But that’s just me - and you, apparently.

My favourite Blender thing from 2012 was the “Park” short and the “Alive” project that’s coming along with it. What’s on your list?

Hmmm, I agree with you up to a point. I agree that there needs to be more imagination and intellectualism in our 3D renders, (mine for sure!) however it is not at all bad to try to recreate a photograph. Painters do it all the time, and they are never accused of a lack of creativity! (see Thomas Kinkade). Some of that art (I bet most of it) was created because the author wanted a challenge. For me personally, I wanted to see how close to a photo I could get. I will admit that I am very uncreative, yet I wound up wanting to be an artist. Also, good art should bring up an emotion or feeling, not just be intellectually stimulating.

Anyway, I’m super tired so none of this probably made sense.

Well, as “common” as those pictures may be, I’d take them over a “Modern Art” exhibit any day of the week. :stuck_out_tongue:

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That looks like a decent list to me.

As far as why people make that sort of stuff. Perhaps look at it from a different perspective.

Imagine you run a business and are selling a product and need to hire an artist to help out with advertising. They need someone who is going to make their product look good. Now going through that list with that mindset, are there not some art pieces that tend to stand out then? Different people hold different things to higher value.

Besides, true originality is very difficult to achieve. Most people won’t understand what you’re doing if you drift too far away from the familiar. Therefore, Everything is a remix and all that.

I can’t say I agree with everything you have said. One of best features from the last year HAS to be cycles - the ability to create photo realistic renders inside of Blender. I think that’s probably why there are more “Photography style” pictures, and very few “thinking outside of the box” - what’s the point in spending hours creating a photo realistic “plasma gun”, when the person looking at it knows that it doesn’t exist.

The “professional” CG world wants things to be believable. How would “The Hobbit” have looked if Gollum didn’t look real, or if the backgrounds stood out (I mean, tune into the SyFy Channel for some good 80’s B movie CGI, everyone can see it isn’t photo realistic) - Everyone who wants CGI done, wants it to look like CGI hasn’t been done - that it actually exists. The best way to do that, is to mimic reality. Modelling that Beetle at number 17, the Ferrari and Opel, the Green woods, they all look like they are photographs. And surely that’s the point in CGI? Who really wants to look at piece of artwork that doesn’t actually resemble anything? (I could load up some of my artwork if you want :stuck_out_tongue: )

I know what you are saying - I’m a big Sci-Fi geek at heart, and must say I love all the spaceship stuff, and thinking out of the box, and those types of art do have a place in CGI. But if it’s one thing we all know about CGI is that you are taught to cheat at every opportunity. Don’t need that face? Get rid. Don’t need to model that body under those clothes? Don’t. Not sure how to model the nose on that spacecraft well? Load in a background image you found online to get some ideas. Everyones ideas come from some sort of inspiration. If they don’t, you tend to get labelled as a genius / visionary. Hell, look at the work of H.R Giger (creator of the “Alien”) - No inspiration - hence people call him a genius / visionary.

I’m not saying no one around here is a genius, but I just think that everyone needs to get inspiration from time to time. You don’t have to copy 100%, I understand that, but if you want to model a Ferrari, whats the point of putting an afterburner on it?

Though I can understand your point about art in general, I think this case is built on what art employers would want to see - and for the record, very few want to see original ideas, but rather how well you can express yourself in the specialty you work in. Modeling is one thing, lighting another, and texturing another still - yet all these entries combined all of that to put out very good CG art with Blender, finally. I mean, there were great bits here and there in the past with Andy and Basse, and Bassam has some really cool stuff that was a little more ‘arty’ than the stuff on this list… but I distinctly remember a thread not long ago complaining that the quality of Blender art was sub par to all the stuff on CG Society. Not so anymore, and it is very inspiring to see this come along. I’m still trying to wrap my head around creating something as cool as Elephants Dream, yet I keep having to relearn blender to try to catch up lol!!

Take it for what it is, and maybe some will still yet look at creating more of the intellectual instead of the technically proficient.

The problem here is a big misunderstanding of the meaning (and use) of the term “art”, I’m afraid.

Some reasonable points I guess, but at the end of the day it’s just Andrew with his particular interests picking out 20 images. 20 very effort filled images that the artists probably had a lot of fun creating.

I’m sure I’m not alone when sometimes I feel like I’ve done a year worth of commercial work and not a whole lot of ‘art’ to add to the portfolio. But that is what drives some people to come home after a day’s work and ‘work’ to get something done they are passionate about.

Some days that might be something meaningful or deep, other days it might be rendering something detailed and realistic just because you’ve been working with text animation or lip sync all week and the brain craves a bit of a technical challenge. Sometimes I want to thrash out a new feature in Blender simply because it wasn’t there the day/week/decade before.

Anyway, hats off to the creators of those very well executed images and a prosperous and creative 2013 to all!

As it has been pointed out, a lot of these realistic product or architectural renders are what you need in a portfolio in order to bid on certain kinds of jobs. The images where selected not for their artistic appeal, but for their technical merit and the fact that they where realized in Blender. None of these images where meant to be art exhibits, so there is no point in criticizing them for what they are.

In CG, approaching realism is still one of the major goals a lot of artist are striving for. You can observe in art history that before impressionism and expressionism, there was the perfection of realistic painting. Maybe CG requires a similar transition.

On a whole I do agree, there isn’t a lot of CG that is really good art. Maybe the wrong people are doing CG, maybe the medium just hasn’t arrived at the right people yet.

Personally I’d make a thick line in CG between art and production. On some rare occasions it becomes one though.

Art pleases the mind, production earns money.
Reasonable assumption, that people train their production skills foremost, and at one point can afford the luxury of pure artistry - if that’s what they’re after.

As for artistry - it’s a stretchable term. One might find surrealism artistic, while someone else sees the pinnacle of art in pure claysculpts and the next one in photorealistic textures.

There are people who have photos and paintings of sportscars on their walls which escapes my sense of aesthetics. But what’s ones sterile production is someone elses art…

I don’t care if it’s production or art, or both or neither. As long as the piece speaks to me, pleases me, inspires me or whatever it’s cool, and if it doesn’t for me but someone else, it has it’s right of existence.
The worst thing is to judge if somethings art or not by one owns standards.

real and true art is = photorealism


sorry, double post

I agree with everyone that working on commercial stuff with the aim of landing jobs/gigs is totally reasonable.

My critique is really of the entire world of CG/3D, with the top 20 as an example. I understand we all need to make a living somehow… but I don’t think it’s proper or necessary for SO MUCH of the work out there to be produced with that mindset. Why is it that there is an entire artistic medium, which 1000s of people use, and most of the NON-commercial work art has no apparent interest in being “Art” with a capital A?

@Jonathan L : people accuse Kincade of lacking imagination all the time. He’s considered middlebrow at best, I thought? In fact, the history of art since about 1910 is substantially motivated by the notion that realistic painting is overly limiting in conceptual creativity. E.g. Picasso?

@phoenix492: Nothing wrong with professional work hiding its tracks. But my criticism would not be of people using photoshop for work failing to express themselves. My criticism is more like: why doesn’t ANYONE use photoshop to produce a single interesting artwork instead of 10,000,000 technical exercises? But, in fact, in the 2D world you see plenty of people trying for stronger concepts. There is no real shortage of 2D digital artwork in museums. But in the 3D world, I haven’t found much of that. Maybe I am not looking hard enough.

Also, giger may have had inspiration, his skill is either in coming up with something de novo or maybe he’s just good at covering his tracks!

@arexma: I agree with you. I guess my complaint is more specifically that I see very, very few pieces that “speak” to me personally, which is a bit selfish. But I also see very few pieces that take good advantage of the medium of 3D. Blender in conjunction with other software is arguably one of the most flexible artistic media in history. So why imitate photography so much?

Yep, it’s a pretty bland list… probably just Andrew’s skew though… I’m sure there could be a more well rounded pick but 2012 was super busy for me with very little time to keep up with blender… so not sure what he may have missed!

I think that the content doesn’t really reflect blender in the last year… other than maybe a plethora of cycles.

17/20 on that list leave me cold… all are very well realised though.

Some are little more than test renders… indeed I think that the dyntopo thread and UV sculpting thread have many more interesting results than in this list…

Tears of steel would certainly make an entry for me…

Art is in the eye of the beholder… (or anything we do that isn’t to survive or reproduce). That last definition is a favourite!

That depends on which era you’re talking about. Take for instance, 1850 to 1890. Photo-realism was the height of art.

These days, art can include pretty much anything an artist can create. We have every style and era to pick from for inspiration. I can only hope you made this statement as a jest or to throw a sarcastic slant into the exchange.

Yes, he is throwing a bone out there to see if anyone else smiles :slight_smile:

Good point that we can make art, but it is still dependent on the intended viewer’s perception as to how good it is… if I paint a good oil painting, it might never approach the photo realism that we can get in Blender, but it would be art nonetheless to the party that bought it. Photographs might also be considered art, and there might be all kinds of dark room editing to digital editing before it gets there. I see the ‘realistic’ cg as akin to that, working with photo elements to arrive at art that is like electronically manipulated photographs. Maybe I’m wrong, but I see all of it as art, but still dependent on the consideration of the enduser. I don’t like all art, and I can honestly say not everything I produce is ‘art’, though I aim high :slight_smile:

BTW, as to the sci-fi not being art : I contend that it is closer to art by the OP definition- full of imagination, if it doesn’t exist except in our minds, is that not imagination? If you mean that it must express and idea to be art, then I contend it is hope for the future, and we have seen all these things we have now in past imaginations in story lines from Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers…

I won’t argue for or against the artistic quality or content in the list, nor that found in other forums, but sometimes I feel like the technical knowledge required to do something fantastic can sometimes stiffle the artistic side of the brain. At least for me, I used to spend hours a day drawing and painting anything my imagination could conceive. But now, I spend so much time trying to learn how to do something that by the time I figure it out, there is some new tool or technique to play with. There is a lot of stuff I need to know before I can really feel comfortable doing something for real. I think I’m getting there, but it’s a fair ways off yet. I liken it to learning a new language. You aren’t going to write a novel at first, but you read and study and mimic the text book until you think you understand.

It really seems like an extreme stretch of logic to take a list of someone else’s favorite images and use it as evidence of “everything that is wrong with 3D art”. At best you could use it to argue about that one person’s taste in art.

I’m pretty certain that you could find some other group of images that you could be use as evidence of everything that you think is right with 3D art. Or just make your own grouping of images to prove almost anything you want.

Think of it this way, the ability to make any kind of photorealistic visualization you want with a 3D program affords the user a freedom that you can’t really get by traveling to various locations with a camera.

It’s a lot cheaper for instance, you can make the interiors as luxurious as you like, since you’re making it digitally, you don’t need to mess with long-distance travel only to find the owner of the place not allowing you to get a shot of his apartment. You also don’t have to spend time and money to construct miniatures and you don’t even have to confine things to the principles of sturdy architecture or the laws of physics.

But in a way, I agree that there could be some more creativity expressed in the type of photorealism seen here, especially if you’re one of those who want to create a scene that differentiates from the thousands of architectural visualizations that are currently out there.