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Digital Texturing & Painting by Owen Demers

COW Library : Maxon Cinema 4D : Curtis Thompson : Digital Texturing & Painting by Owen Demers
Digital Texturing & Painting by Owen Demers



A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review



Digital Texturing & Painting
Curtis Tompson
email: Curtis Thompson
Creative Cow Technical Director
Berkeley, California USA

C2002 Curtis Thompson and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.


Article Focus:
CreativeCOW Technical Director, Curtis Thompson examines Digital Texturing & Painting by Owen Demers. This book is published by New Riders. Read why Curtis gives rates this book 5 COWs!



I'll never forget the first time I watched Toy Story. I'd seen 3D movies before and had always been impressed with the quality. One thing I often found lacking, though, was the attention to detail in the models and the environments. There were numerous attempts to increase the realism of the presentation via texturing and tweaking surfaces to create more "natural" objects, but it always seemed to be lacking in one way or another. Toy Story, however, was the first movie I walked away from where I found myself just amazed by the attention to detail in the lighting and texturing.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that the movie was not necessarily going for the lofty "photo real" look, but even in the cartoon-esque world of that story, the opportunities for the little things were everywhere, and the fine folks at Pixar had seemingly not missed a single one of them. The most prevalent example in my memory has always been the floorboards in the hallways and rooms. The cheap solution is stick your board object onto the base of the wall and maybe roughen the edges up a bit. That would have been the easy way, though, and that's where (in my mind) Toy Story stopped being just another 3D movie. The rich collection of paint chips, dings, scratches and years of abuse that was shown in those floorboards made so many shots turn from just a fly-by to a whole different visual experience. It not only added to the presentation, but it showed that the creators cared about the little things, and in turn, my sense of enjoyment by watching increased ten-fold.

The interesting thing about digital texturing is that it's not as easy as it seems. Those lovely floorboards were so much more than just a slapped on texture. There were bump maps, displacement maps, rough edges, surfaces, colors, and dozens of other little touches that all went into the final presentation. It's those details that so many 3D artists blur over or disregard. Not through their own faults, however, but because by default, the human eye tends to ignore the finer details in things it sees. You have to tell your eyes to study objects that you see, and that persistence is something that a lot of beginning 3D artists tend to not fully appreciate.

So is all hope abandoned for the beginning 3D artist? Are they forced to wait for the experience to kick in before they can begin to understand all these concepts? Fortunately, no, and we have this fantastic piece from Own Demers to thank for this. A pleasantly easy read, this book walks the reader through the concepts with a patience and discernable eagerness that keeps everybody excited. Even the potentially deathly-boring and complex concepts behind color theory are presented in a way that keeps you learning without losing focus on the overall goal of the book.

In addition to the introductions to the basic concepts behind color and presentation, Demers provides many tips for artists on all levels on how to begin the process of training their eyes and their minds to see the subtle nuances in the world's endless collection of textures. The nice thing is that this training, while not an overnight process, can be achieved by anybody willing to spend the time it takes to study, understand and practice at the concepts.

Also enjoyable was the real-world application and technical breakdown of how to work with and apply your textures. While Demers used Maya and Photoshop for his work, the examples are easily transferable to your software of choice. The concepts are the focus, and the author assumes that you have a solid understanding of your tools of choice. Because of this, many individual steps are not needed. There are many other works (such as the manuals for the software) that can be used to learn how to use the programs, and thankfully Demers didn't bog down his discussions with those unnecessary details. The accompanying CD offers all the textures and examples referenced in the book, along with a few models for programs such as 3DS Max and SoftImage.



Demers provides many tips for artists on all levels on how to begin the process of training their eyes and their minds to see the subtle nuances in the world's endless collection of textures.

I give it 5 out of 5 cows.


In conclusion, while I think this is a must-read for any beginning (and probably quite a few experienced) 3D artists, it should be mentioned that the concepts here are somewhat complex. I think that new 3D artists should focus first on modeling and other basics and then get into the texturing; however, the texturing should undoubtedly be a part of the process. With just a bit of practice and effort, a piece can evolve from your viewers noting that your work is "great, but it just doesn't look quite right" to "that it just amazing - how did you get that to look so lifelike?" - and when that does happen, you can just look at them and smile, knowing that, with the help of Digital Texturing & Painting, you've taken one of the most important steps to becoming the best 3D artist that you can possibly be.

Curtis Thompson
6.December.2k2





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