So you are interested in computer art but are scared…

So you are interested in computer art but are scared...

(A bit of a rant)

I started this blog with a few different aims. One was to publicise my novel (if I ever finish the damn thing). Another aim was to convince people that using computers to generate cool-looking art was easier than most people think.

Perhaps I’ve failed some of you in this second goal. (Not those of you who are already digital gurus)

I know from some of your comments that many of you look at some of my work and think “that’s way too hard!”

Thing is – as with most things it comes down to tools and experience.

Just say that you are hoping to do the following picture (one of mine).

In front of church
In front of church

The church in the background was created with an iPhone app called 123D Catch (free).  This involved taking about a dozen photos of a local church window on my iPhone and letting 123D Catch upload them, magically process them, and spit a 3D scene back at me. I then imported this (easy) into another piece of software on my PC called DAZ Studio (free). The figure is a free one (I think) used for training purposes. The most difficult thing was posing it. Imagine it like a rag doll that you have to pose by clicking it and dragging your mouse cursor. Well that’s it. Then I just set the camera (i.e. dragged computer view to a nice angle) and clicked “render”.

Cost = zero.

Skill level = if you can use an iPhone camera and a PC with a mouse then you can do this.

So easy yet pretty trendy eh?

In my 33 year career (mostly as an IT Professional) I’ve watched incredibly smart people get a glazed expression on their faces when confronted by a computer doing something somewhat unfamiliar to them. It’s like their brain has experienced its own blue screen of death. I’m frequently flabbergasted (I mean, you should really see how gasted my flabber has become on certain occasions).

But why? Do they think computers are beyond them? Do they have the wrong kind of brain (creative not logical)?

Fact is, when I was a teenager in the 70s I wanted to be one of:

  • an artist, or
  • a writer, or
  • a historian.

I was very much the arty type.

Unfortunately, being raised poor meant that I had to work during the day to pay for my university studies at night (Medieval history in my first degree). Funnily enough in my workplace they decided to apply the theory “He’s a kid. He must be whizz-bang with all these new-fangled gadgets coming into the office.” Obviously the study of medieval history was insufficient a clue for them.

Anyway I successfully took to computing like a fish to concrete and within a decade was an Information Systems Officer for a major Australian University. I even did a degree in computing once I finished my medieval history.

How this relates to some of you is this: just because you don’t immediately perceive yourselves as a “techy type” it does not mean that computer generated art is beyond you. If you are really interested in learning this, then start with DAZ Studio (as I said it’s free) and follow the many tutorials on YouTube (even some of mine). Trust me, a reasonable image is quite easy to make. After you become experienced with DAZ Studio, start experimenting with other programs. You will surprise yourself.

The reason I conquered computing (at my career peak I was a Senior Software Engineer) was not because of a natural bent (I am still pretty bad at all the techy jargon even though I can program better than a lot of my peers) but because I see computers as nothing more than a tool to achieve a goal – and tools aren’t scary. They are just damned frustrating.

So just give it a go if it looks interesting. Or not, if you are not interested. But don’t look at digital art, wish you could do it, but not even try for fear of computers and how hard it all looks. Then you are just cheating yourself.

Rant over

 

 

 

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9 Comments


  1. You have won me over. Still, I reckon Mekong medieval history is more in my line. I do have a degree in science. Police science that is.
    Never had to enter a lab, just perfect page after page of waffle
    What an achievement. Taught me the value of being verbose and the marvels of official ease.

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    1. Cool. Give it a try :) If you get DAZ Studio, and tell me what you want to start with then I can guide you :)

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  2. So really, how gasted was your flabber? (ROFL). And does your fish take to it like concrete in the same way a duck takes to double-entry accounting. Please don’t refer to your novel as your damn thing, though. I would like to see it finished someday, not as much for your techspertese, as your wit.

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    1. Thanks ☺ I will try to finish the novel. I think i did not understand the size of the story i undertook to write. I am also trying to write something that i would enjoy myself and that is a challenge too!

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  3. Thanks for your generous offer. If I decide to go for it I will certainly ask for your help.

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  4. I have seen a lot of people come into the animation/modeling community very excited about learning. Only to never see or hear anything from them again.

    I think the biggest thing is how patient you have to be in the learning stages. It does take a lot of time to get things down. Even years of experience to create some of these great things people see.

    It does pay off in the end though. I’d wish more people would give it time.

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    1. I agree. The payoff is worth the long journey. Every time I think to push myself a bit further I feel intimidated but go ahead anyway. The other thing though is how supportive fellow artists are. I love it. Its a great community, though I need to bravely get to know more people in it.

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      1. The support by other artist is amazing. And I think a lot of new people don’t realize this. Thus they never utilize the support they could have.

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        1. Very true ☺

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