New blog format, 3D/2D pros and cons

5 minutes read —

New blog format

I can’t help but notice that I have not updated this blog in quite a while despite my initial enthusiasm for it. How is that ? The content I posted so far have been mainly long-form articles. They covered topics relevant to the arts quest in the departments of psychology, productivity, and a pinch of philosophy. These posts neighbored the 15 minutes mark for reading time and as you might imagine, they required some dedication to produce, especially considering the density of information I was aiming at. Now, I, personally, love long-form writing. I surely enjoy the feeling of not having left any stone unturned. That being said, it is possible that this format was not appropriate for the amount of time I can reasonably dedicate to writing. I am after-all not predominantly a writer, and as much as I like to research and reflect, I also need to do. I therefore feel like in order to achieve and maintain consistency on that front, I might benefit from a shorter format. I will thus aim at a 5 minutes reading time for my next posts, which is around a thousand words per post, no more. This length should make it possible to write a post in a single sitting session. I found that this sort of immediacy is really beneficial to get into a flow state and should be aimed at in any discipline. An other shift that might occur in the coming posts is that I might rather discuss what I’m currently working on and tinkering with at the moment. This should reduce the friction between doing and writing and both would end-up co-existing in the present tense. Of course, I will not prevent myself from writing longer post should I feel like it, but “getting going” is a preliminary step to “getting good” or in this case writing longer and deeper content, that I should not forego.

3D strengths

Jumping right in ; I am busy integrating all my skills into an unified expression. At the moment, my focus is on merging my 3D skills with my illustration skills. I am currently figuring out a workflow that will work for me. Truth is, it has become quite common to use 3D especially for environment art and complex pieces. Some say it has become indispensable even. Fortunately I have such knowledge and for sure there are a couple of things 3D is very good at. I am willing to exploit those in my road towards the next quality leap.

The first one is re-usability. Producing 3D assets is often time consuming, however it tends to pay dividends the more the asset gets used. Let’s pretend you know for sure that you are going to need to produce images with guitars in the future ; you could either redraw a new guitar for each and every new image produced, or, if you have an existing 3D model of said guitar, you could output as many iterations on that guitar as you need for truly cheap. 3D is thus useful when producing series of illustration taking place in similar setting, or using similar props. I want to develop a personal mini-world, which will make for a strong visual identity and could absolutely benefit from that re-usability advantage.

The second one is composition. This one might not be obvious right away but I believe those who spent time toying in a 3D software would agree ; the benefit of being able to freely move a camera within a scene is priceless. You are able to visualize your subjects from limitless viewpoints and just pick the one that works best among the myriad of possibilities. 3D generously gives you options. With drawing, to test a new angle you would have to redraw all from scratch and that in itself can be an humbling test of your perspective skills. It ends up being extremely costly as far as time goes and still you might not end up with as strong a composition as could have been discovered using 3D. I should say, composition is very high on the list of what makes for a good image.

The third one is perspective. 3D software are very good at perspective. That is kind of what they are there for. As someone who have spent time studying perspective, my opinion is that good perspective can definitely be hand drawn, but it is also really time-consuming. Solid drawing, is probably #1 on the list for what makes a good image, before values and colors. A 3D software essentially ensures that part is legit before you can move on. All that brain power that is saved there can then be mobilized for other tasks and thus push the overall quality of the produced art piece.

3D weaknesses

That is not to say 3D is exempt of defaults. For one, it tends to subdue the art component in “artwork”. Lighting for example is best left for the painter I believe. Indeed, contrary to 3D software, painters do not exactly paint accurate lights. They paint believable lights, yes, but first and foremost, they paint engaging lights, even when that means pushing colors past where they should be or forcing values where they would better serve the image.

3D will also not produce any sort of brushwork for you, which is a huge part of what makes painting so visually appealing. Artworks heavily reliant on 3D can inadvertently look flat for that reason alone, which is why time is usually spent hiding the 3D layer under a coat of fresh paint.

Finally, some things are just not worth modeling as far as time efficiency goes. Characters for example are way way faster to draw than they would be to model and rig, especially for single use cases. Mannequins can be used for simple posing but anything else is probably counter-productive. Knowing when to switch from 3D to 2D as to not over-model is a difficult question that probably needs some experimenting to properly solve.

‘Till next time

That’s it for today, it is indeed quite a bit shorter than usual. Hopefully I will make this up by posting more frequently. Next time, I will likely discuss in more details what kind of 3D/2D workflow I’m envisioning and how it’s moving forward (or not). So stay tuned I guess. And yeah, I’m back. It feels good to write again !