Just What is it that You Do? What is that 3d stuff?

I made this page for friends and family who have no idea what this world of graphics   is all about.

I made a Christmas card years ago, to illustrate in a small, condensed way, what computer 3d art is:

99xmascard.jpg (106486 bytes)

This card will give you SOME idea of how a 3D computer image I is CONSTRUCTED.   Everything in the image above is an actual 3D model - the deer, the fireplace, stockings, decorations, tree and even the ground!  The upper left of this picture shows the wire-frame view, the middle shows the "shaded" (think skin covering the wire frame) view, and the bottom right is the final "rendered" color image.

See the "wire frame" deer?  Think of how a wire frame is created for either applying strips of wet paper mache or sculpture's clay.  That is what I start with - in a computer program that creates the 'wire frame'-like 3D "mesh".   The "mesh" wire frame is in a 3 dimensional space IN the computer!!

I then put "skin" over the wire frame... like the strips of paper in paper mache over the wire frame... and then I PAINT over that for the actual "clothes, face" etc... like you would use a paint brush on the now dry paper mache or clay figure!  To do this,  for a computer generated figure the "skin" has to be painted on a mapping "template" made by another program, and then applied (think of dressing the figure) by still another program!   (some programs that make the wire mesh also automatically put skin over the mesh, but I am trying to keep this in layman's terms)

It is a complex process that takes several programs to create the final model figure and yet another program to bring it all together - the completed figure, it's "clothes", to be finally "posed"  - meaning to put it's body parts into a particular position.   Then the posed figures are taken into ANOTHER program of 3 dimensional space for an environment - be that a landscape, or inside a building!  It has taken me YEARS to learn from the community, teach myself... and one 6 week long class at a Junior College to learn how to use Photoshop for the painting part.... but I love it!

"Rendering" is what a 3d program does as it "colors" the objects in a scene by bouncing light off all the sides of the objects with the colors or materials you assign to everything.  I can watch an image "render".... it looks like wire frame, then it kind of "rolls down" line by line of color.. first really rough and jaggy.. then another pass to smooth it out more and another... kind of like an ink jet printer making many passes over the same line to create the layers of color and smooth it out!  It's hard to explain unless you see it in person.  It takes a computer doing "math" - calculating all sorts of well, calculations! -  to do this!  I just sit there amazed, and don't try TOO hard to understand it all... I mean.. we turn on the light switch and the light goes on... if we think on HOW that happens too long it can boggle the mind.. well it's a 1000 times more mind boggling to try and understand how a computer's "0's and 1's" make up this stuff... and that it all resides in the computer or on a disk... and that the community can SELL the resulting products on line!!!

If you ever get a chance to see "the making of" Stuart Little, or something like Jurassic Park, or Star Wars, etc.. you will see parts that explain the creation of the wire mesh figures that they make, dress, and animate. I stop short of animation... I just do "stills".... And what I do is "lower end hobby" level 3d models and art... nothing like the powerful computers and programs used these days in major movies!

Back to my Self Portrait Page

Back to my Home Page