Although I prepared that lovely frog image last Wednesday (when DC was supposed to release ) I am taking 1 deep breath and writing this straight. Spelling and punctuation may not be perfect so I apologise now.
Well I'm sure most of you have noticed that the new Depthcore pack (or whatever we're calling it now) has been released. It is by a long way the largest so far and is the first to have about as many photos as artworks (yeah photos are art too, but you know what I mean). I'll talk a bit more about Depthcore as an entity in a bit, but first what this pack was to me. I found the topic brought up rather uninspiring architectural images to mind at first, but soon realised that habitat could be much more than that. I decided to go back to basics for a bit and try some Photoshop abstracts, without the bells and whistles that crowded my submissions for Verve. The result was some fairly nice artworks, but more importantly a couple of powerful new techniques have been added to my repertoire. I've always been rather a technician, in terms of being fascinated with the various ways of manipulating imagery in Photoshop, and I think it would benefit everyone if we all shared our methods a bit more. I will write some tutorials on my own particular methods at some point, hopefully soon when I have more free time than at the moment. Maybe a few more people will bring their secrets into the open (yeah not those type please) , and by sharing we can push things even further, even faster.
Why I am so interested in 2D over 3D? Well I thought I should talk about this as I seem to see a lot of comments these days suggesting that perhaps 2D work is just a fad, and a step backwards from 3D. Well it sounds reasonable enough... I mean 3D compared to 2D? You have an extra dimension to play with surely... Well no not really. However fancy your 3D program is and immensely detailed your scene, at the end of the day you'll still reach for the render button, and end up with a flat picture. The only 3D involved in 3D programs is the method by which they store a scene's information. The multitude of '3D' abstracts that populate the art galleries are no more 3 dimensional than anything done in a raster, vector or fractal program; and yet the very name '3D' somehow seems to give them a superiority over the '2D' programs, one which I don't think exists. You have a 3D scene, you press the render button and end up with a 2D snapshot of the scene... sound familiar? Sounds a lot like what a camera does to me, and yet I never see photography submitted as 3D art, and it's much more common to see photos used in '2D' pieces then '3D'.
The fact is that 3D programs (when it comes to abstract) are often used as little more than plugin filters, massively advanced versions of Render > Clouds. A method to get yourself a bit of randomness as the basis for an image. The thing is that they are fantastically good at doing this though, the innate realism they have thanks to proper lighting, reflection, transparency etc. give them an air of professionalism that no 2D filters can touch. However I think I have realised over the years that there is more range available in '2D' artwork than in '3D' because of the ability to have realism, or to throw it out of the window. I love pictures that trick the eye through perspective or distorted forms, edges that the eye can't follow, shapes that seem to lack proper geometry etc. However nearly all pictures I see like this are '2D' based, because '3D' programs automatically impose proper lighting and geometry and perspective and vanishing points etc. etc. they lack the ability to not do this (easily anyway). Also the sheer range of 2D programs makes producing varied imagery massively easier. Although there are many top end 3D programs, they often overlap hugely in their functions, and as far as abstract go they barely differ in the shapes they produce. Photoshop is more different from Illustrator that is more different from Apophysis than say 3D studio max is from Maya. I guess this is because the real aim of the 3D programs is to simulate reality, whereas the 2D programs have very different aims.
This all sounds like I'm having a go at 3D programs, which I'm not really. It's more that I'm trying to pimp 2D programs, and get other people to see them as more than ways to finish off their renders. It may sound silly to say that I think the problem is that 3D programs are too easy, because I know they are incredibly complex, but at the low level this is true. Give a beginner a couple of days with Photoshop, and then a couple of days with Cinema 4D and I'm sure they could produce a far more impressive abstract shape in C4D. I don't think 2D is a phase or a step backward, in fact I think that 3D programs have had a surge in popularity, and now things will level out to a more even balance. Neither '2D' or '3D' is the future, they are just the 2 component pieces.
Now I said I would say something about Depthcore, because I have been thinking recently and I have noticed arguments and comments about the new direction the group has been taking. Firstly the arguments... some between DC members, some not. I don't like getting involved but all I can say is that I am disappointed, and more often than not, all the people arguing come off looking like prats. It honestly took me back to my days as an online gamer, like DC is a clan and you have the 'players' and the fans squabbling amongst themselves. I couldn't be bothered with it back then and I certainly wouldn't bother now. A lot of people need to grow up and start acting even close to their age. Wow this is a long ramble, if you are reading this and intend to reply, mention the word fickle 3 times and I'll know you have read this. On the plus side, at least there's a bit of passion. If people are willing to argue over it something must be going right, I keep thinking of all those other art groups [no names, no names... oh wait I can't remember any] who just trundle along depositing a grey formless pack every now and then. They copy each other, themselves, us, past masters or whoever and never really going anywhere outside of the boundaries they set themselves with their first releases. I do see a few new ones which have potential and ambition though, a great thing to see and I wish those ones a lot of luck. The ones happy to copy? They can die in peace as far as I care (the group, not the people).
Now for the art side of DC. This pack, as I said, contains a lot of photography. I have never really been interested in photos at all, stock photos for creating digital art are great but photos on their own? Nah... well I found that a few submissions to this pack really changed my mind (for now ). That is a pretty surprising (and good) thing, to suddenly see such... beauty in a medium I have paid little attention to before. So that's one thing I am happy with [Just to show you what I like, here are 3 of my favourite photos from Habitat: [link] [link] [link] so hard to choose though]. As for the art side of things, it may sounds a bit odd after what I have been saying but I would like to see more 3D work. Now push those core explosions from your mind, I'm not talking about those. We have a lot of 3D talent in DC, but a fair number of them are spending their time in 2D (while the 2D artists are spening their time in.... 2D as well, huh...) . Obviously this is their choice, but I almost fancy making 3D stuff myself now just to redress the balance. I would love to see some original 3D, it's been quite a while and I know if anyone can do it, these guys can.
Personally I feel that perhaps things are expanding a bit too fast... packs are growing in size at an exponential rate, and as you do that you start to lose a bit of quality control, and theme control. On top of that you present such a huge offering to the public at once, that I think only a dedicated few will bother to pick their way through the whole pack. I would like to see some tighter controls, not in refusing art, but suggesting that we take our time over pictures a bit more, and pick those that we feel fit in with the rest. Cohesion is no bad thing, but I feel that the energy we had in Verve has been diluted a little here... of course I may be alone in those feelings.
I plan to make a few suggestions in DC (when the site's working properly again ) but there's no secret to what I think would help so I'll say a bit here. I often feel that my work falls into two very obvious categories, proper and scribble, finished and rushed, deviation and scrap.. whatever you want to call them. I know one submission to the latest pack (Diseased heart of the city) was little more than a mad doodle, and yet it takes equal standings next to something I worked hard over (e.g. Chrysalis). Anyone else think a 2-category system would be a bad thing? Somewhere we can place our carefully crafted pictures, and another for our wild experiments. Which section it went into would be decided by the submitter, of course, but then if I want to submit 10 of my late night scribbles I don't want to feel guilty that they will be taking the attention away from someone's 30 hour masterpiece, just by sheer volume. Hmmm I guess I should have saved this stuff for DC.
Enough rambling now... no really, if you fancy reading my new tutorial on speeding up Photoshop you can find it here. I think I'll make a scrap section on my site soon to replace the now defunct 'work' section, for exactly the reasons I mentioned just above.
So in conclusion, eggs bad, chickens good, me for president, much love to my fickle fans and may sunshine everlasting warm your dry, goose pimpled skin Calloo Callay!