Since my introduction to 3D software sometime in the last century, technology and practices have changed quite a bit. The calibre of CG has evolved dramatically across film, television and video games, moving ever closer towards photo realism. The arrival of new software, upgrades and overhauled interfaces mean that each year we are faced with a continually changing environment in which to meet our artistic endeavours.
Having worked across both 2D and 3D, I have had the experience of using software affiliated with both disciplines, but it is perhaps Photoshop that has remained the stable backbone of much of what I do. Despite the traditional upgrade each year, the interface and toolsets remain much as they did when I first used it. This sense of familiarity is always a welcome break from the elaborate tools and modifier panels typical in 3D packages and although being very sophisticated, Photoshop remains remarkably intuitive and concise. It is perhaps for this reason that it has become so widely used as both a painting package and as a texturing tool. Almost every games company and post-production studio will utilize Photoshop to some degree and as someone who once worked as a texture artist, this was my principal software. When I was asked to write this introduction, I began to consider the extent of its value within a 3D pipeline and how it has always occupied a supporting role.
From matte painting through to texturing environments, characters and props, Photoshop has proved an invaluable part of how we view CG in all fields. It has also been adopted by many as a post-production tool and a way of compositing and refining renders. There was a time when many 3D artists would rarely venture into Photoshop to finish or enhance their renders, and special effects were added in video post etc. To do otherwise was almost looked upon as cheating.
Nowadays the story is somewhat different, with almost everyone tweaking and compositing passes in Photoshop to some degree. There are instances where some artists will export flat shaded geometry and reserve the entire texturing process for Photoshop, as Aleksandar Jovanovic demonstrates later in this book with his Alchemist’s Chamber. In The Breakdown Gallery chapter we also get a glimpse of this in Neil Maccormack’s contributing image, which has been partially textured this way but also incorporates atmospheric effects, lighting and smoke. Of course these practices are severely restricted where animation is concerned, but in the case of production art, concept art and stills, it has proved an economical and effective way of achieving the desired results.
With the ever-growing complexity and scope of CG within the film industry, and the expansion of the games sector, artists are being put under increasing pressure to meet deadlines and complete work. Techniques used to save time and assist in this process are a welcome addition to anyone’s repertoire and Photoshop is a tool that comfortably fulfils such a role.
Throughout these pages we shall be shown an array of techniques used to aid 3D practices and streamline an artist’s workflow. From using custom brushes to develop a tangible design through to post-production, each author will share their experience and knowledge, revealing their industry-proven methods.
2D/3D artist, 3DTotal