The exciting evolution of 3D art
The world of 3D design and rendering has traditionally been associated with the more functional side of commerce and trade. Its development has been rooted in architecture, animation, and product design. But what was once an actor in the wings – the world of 3D art is now turning heads everywhere.
Here at Firedog, we have always been attracted to the 3D genre. From early turn of the century 3D logos to animated educational films, to the more recent creation of a variable organic brand device; 3D production has been a notable asset in our capabilities.
At first, 3D apps started out as clunky affairs. Mechanical in their logic they were adept at straight lines but lacked the toolsets to model more organic forms. Then animation studios such as Pixar started to push the boundaries and demanded more from software providers. 3D production environments rapidly evolved to handle organic forms such as skin, fur, hair and all the assets required in an animated movie. What was traditionally an engineering application fast metamorphosized into a sculptural tool.
Alongside the de rigueur of paid production environments grew the smaller (and often pirated) indie user. These were 3D software users who spent their time between projects hacking systems to see what future possibilities could bring. From hobbyists to talented producers, a group of users became the dreamers – defining a roadmap of how the software could be further developed and evolved. Their experimental nature created an environment of excitement and infinite potential. Add in the development of free and open-source software platform, Blender 3D and very quickly you have a burgeoning creative community.
And this is where what was traditionally a commercial tool grew lofty in purpose, becoming an accessory of the contemporary artist. Behance is an Adobe owned portfolio site for global talent specialising in design, illustration, photography and a raft of creative disciplines. It has been truly amazing to watch the 3D Art Creative Field evolve over time. Each week brings a new set of fresh and fabulous creations. Furthermore, what may have been historically machine generated is now far more nuanced and very much more human.
What is profoundly noticeable is the renewed fascination in sci-fi subject matter. I’ve always been a sci-fi fan and I’m so glad to see a new renaissance of the genre in art and creativity. It harps back to fifties Americana when the B movie was king of the drive in. This romantic obsession with infinite possibility inspired generations into science and technology and part explains our rapid evolution as a species over the last fifty years.
There are several creative expressions in 3D which are desperately exciting. At the most simplistic level, tweaking rendering engines gives the digital artist bold new ways in creating abstract forms. These Henry Moore like shapes create simple yet beautiful canvases harnessing colour, volume and form.
Then, fascination in the otherworldliness of space travel and discovery creates a new genre of sci-fi art. Digital creators are tapping into their dreams and creating the most amazing off planet environments. This is like the grandchild of airbrush artists born of the sixties and seventies. It presents the viewer with new visuals, new worlds and challenges the audience to imagine the impossible.
Developers and coders have been quietly integral to the development of 3D production environments. Applications like 3D Studio Max and Maya ship with their own script languages enabling artists to lay mathematics over art heralding a new era of Generative Art. This equips the artist with the most notable of tools: Random chance. Like a spilt ink drop providing a new and unexpected opportunity, code going wrong is providing the most exciting opportunities for artistic discovery. Most creative folks will fondly recall the horrific deep dream imagery in Google’s first foray into AI based art generation.
And this brings me to my favourite style of 3D art. The talented 3D artist and producer using the playful art of chance combined with generative techniques and a healthy dose of learned skills to create the most amazing and fresh imagery. It’s a completely different mindset, something far more akin to Picasso’s challenge of “how to remain an artist once we grow up”. It cherishes the abandonment of expectation, commercial commission, and creative intent. The challenge to jump off that cliff and take the heady plunge into pure artistic experimentation.
How noble and paradoxically human.