Posts Tagged Rendering

The realism trap, and keeping your vision.

This week, I have a subject that I have to constantly challenge myself with because it is so easy for me to slip back into the bad habit of becoming a slave to realism.

I needed a good logo for this blog, and I had a good concept sketched out on digital paper for just that purpose.  I decided I’d use Maya to realize the end result, and so I went about the task of creating the model.  Visually, anything called the Inkwell Distillery should have some element of fire involved, and so I modeled stylized ‘flames’ to fill that void, but the test renders just weren’t showing potential.

Opting to experiment with Maya fluids to generate fire (more realistically) I started getting some fantastic looking flames, but for some odd reason this caused the rendering process to shut down when all the other visual elements were brought online.  This is immensely frustrating, but this is also where I started to lose focus on the end goal because…

I insisted that it should work and that I needed to find a solution to make it render because now the fire had to be realistic!  Had to!  I mean, look how cool that looks, right?


The fact that we can make stuff like this in seconds on our home PC's these days means we have to use it the way people use lens flares in Photoshop, right?

Forgetting that design isn’t about realism, but on sending a clear visual message  is a big stumbling block for a lot of illustrators and artists starting out.  Even knowing this myself for quite some time I still need to be reminded constantly of my goals.  If I don’t, I’ll get lost in a detail, never to find my way out, like I was starting to do here.

So what ended up happening?  Putting coolness (and realism) aside, I went back to the stylized version where I should have continued experimenting  in the first place.  And so I did end up finding a great solution involving a more complex shading network for the fire, but one that ended up rendering just fine and actually looking more like it belonged with all the other elements.

Like this...

But the end message to take out of this experience is that while experimentation is excellent,  you still have to keep it on the reservation, so to speak.  Getting lost in the details, and especially getting lost in the pursuit of realism over design, is a good way to never produce a finished work.  Or to produce something that looks like it came from two different universes.

This time I managed to shake myself out of it before getting discouraged of the project.  Next time I’ll think better of it before digging that hole in the first place.  Hopefully…



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