Blogging from Loch Ness and another CGTweetup on the way in December

I'm taking a weekend away from working and spending it in a log cabin with the family on the shores of Loch Lochie in Scotland. Josh (5) has wanted to visit Loch Ness for some years now and is sure he can locate Nessie. His facts and evidence have been drawn together from Scooby Doo and the Blake Clan and from 'The Water Horse'. I'm actually quite convinced by him and who am I to squash his dream. We looked at the Google Earth shots that clearly show a monster swimming in the loch and after seeing that we booked the trip. He is beginning to understand natural selection and is very clued up on fossils and dinosaurs so he is looking for a Plesiosaur fossil whilst were here. He is also influenced by Pokemon so he keeps telling me there is a creature in every Loch in Scotland and that here on the shores of Loch Lochie I could find Latios and Latias.

Ok, back to reality I think. I had a great Thursday evening in the company of my good friend CGTweetups Ant Filice in the Baltic Fleet public house in Liverpool. We had organised a meeting to plan the next CGTweetup and we had arranged to meet in Circo in the Albert Dock. After receiving a text telling me Circo were holding a fashion show it was either a night in drag or a trip across the way to the Baltic Fleet. I look shit in heels so the Baltic won. We got together with the guys from Draw-the-line, Glenn from Sparkle Media and my new ZBrush-wielding buddy Abe.

The outcome of the meeting is that we are planning to hold a combined CGTweetup and Drawing event in Liverpool on the 4th of December! Thats right, a room full of 2D and 3D artists all getting drunk and chatting and drawing and did I mention getting drunk! What better time to meet like minded people and make some new freinds and discuss what you're working on and what you want to work on. Details will be coming soon via twitter and CGArtist daily

And whilst you're waiting why not join the next Draw-the-line event:

"Draw the Line" is a growing creative Liverpool art social event aimed at the everyman and artist alike to unite under one roof and enjoy a casual scribble.

Check here for information on upcoming events, look at photos from previous sessions and spot your own artistic contributions. Stay tuned and get involved.

Next Events:

Thursday 5th November - Django's Riff - 8PM onwards

Remember, Remember the 5th of November,

Drawings and Doodles; the lot!


Moving on to Cinema 4D and why.

Over the past decade I've tried out most of the highend 3D packages on the market. In this last week I've decided to adopt Maxons Cinema4D currently in version 11.5. I wanted to post a bit of an explanation as to why I decided to use C4D and the thought processes that got me here.
I cut my 3D teeth in the early 90's on 3DSdos on a 486 pc. I had been dabbling with an Amiga 1200 for years but never managed to create anything worthwhile. I liked the forerunner to max but I didn't really know any different. I learned all about NURBS with the amazing Rhino but quickly decided hard surface modeling wasn't for me. In 1999 I began to learn Lightwave and got very interested in a new program called ZBrush. Lightwave was a powerful subdivision modeling package but was missing some crucial tools at the time. Around the same time I was trying Caligari Truespace and an early version of Poser neither of which inspired me and I quickly stopped using them. ZBrush rocketed into the limelight with version 1.23b and grabbed the interest of the gaming world whilst Lightwave ambled into the new millennium with minimal changes and still missing things like ngons and a decent mirror function.
I really needed to find a solution to get my ZBrush sculpts into a rendering package and utilize displacement and normal maps. I've always thought of myself as an Illustrator who uses 3D, I don't animate and never want to. Having the ability to render your own characters and creatures is crucial and I just wasn't getting it.
I tried XSI, 3DSmax, Maya, Cinema4d and Modo but these were all big packages that can do much more than just model. I looked at the dedicated modeling packages at the time and tried Hexagon, Clay, Wings and Silo3d. For me, Silo won hands down and I've been modeling exclusively with it for over 5 years now. SO much so that I neglected to keep looking for the best render solution and focused just on my modeling skills.
So for the past few years any job I took worked like this: core polygon modeling all done in Silo. UV mapping in Headus UV. High polygon sculpting in ZBrush. Retopologizing done in Topogun or Silo. Texturing and map creation in ZBrush and Photoshop. Lighting, shaders and final renders.......errrrrr....And therein lies my issue!

Where to go from here. For some reason I've struggled to become proficient in any of the major rendering packages. I've been plugging away at Maya for years but find it hard to get good results at a speed that matches my modelling. Having spent a year working on improving my design skills including illustrator, toy design, pencil and ink work and marker work, I now need to firmly establish myself as a 3D illustrator by adding rendering to my skill set.
Hence a return to Cinema 4D, a package I had tried early in the decade and turned away from. Most of the people I've met this year in the toy design world are using C4D. Not exclusively but it was a high enough number to make me download the demo and take another look under the hood and Wow! was I impressed. It's easy to use. It's clearly laid out and it isn't hard to work out what everything does. It will take a lot to get me to stop using Silo as my core polygon modeling solution but this is the closest I've come. I was waiting for Blender 2.5 and I was hoping to adopt that package but having had a week with C4d my fate is sealed!.

As ever, theres people that help you along the way in life. For this little part of my journey I need to thank Dave Davidson, C4D guru. Glenn from Sparkle Media and my inspirational buddy Ant Filice. Pay it forward folks. You get more back in the end!


SouthernGFX is down but not out

I've been having major issues this week with SouthernGFX. It turns out that my host had an over capacity issue which has never happened in all the years he's kindly hosted for me. Apparently it's all fixed now at their end but I seem to be missing pretty much everything. No site, FTP access, linked images etc. All down at my end. I'm being told that by friends around the world that they can access the site but that it now has errors. Very weird! All my linked images at the forums I post on are currently missing which is frustrating for anyone reading any of my posts.

On a brighter not the character work for Sparkle Media on Spring Heeled Jack is going well. As I've said on my forum it is nice to be working on a projects that I can share as it progresses. I've been posting everything at Twitsketch but luckily I've mirrored it all in my Flickr account which isn't affected buy my server problems.


Draw the Line at Django's Riff in Liverpool

Anthony from CGArtist Daily and myself goodself took an evening off our busy schedules and made our way into the heart of Bohemian Liverpool on Thursday evening. We joined in with a Draw the Line event at Django's Riff right in the center of town. If you like relaxing with a group of artists from a wide range or backgrounds and skill levels it's worth a visit. It's held on the first Thursday of every month. I was surprised how friendly the atmosphere was and how comfortable if felt sitting in the middle of a club scribbling my doodles on a table top whilst having few scoops. Looking back my only issues is that I didn't take more photos of the end results. Video cam next time!. A big hand clap for Mike Snowden ( the organiser of the evening.


Dinosaurs rampaging around a German TV show

Dinos invading a German TV show. I love it!.


Spring Heeled Jack - Concepts

These shots are some concepts for Glenn at for a character called `Spring Heeled Jack. Very early days in concept terms and to be honest this is the result of my very first sketching session

Needed some 'BugEyed Alien Reference' so I ZBrushed a Sphere for half an hour. See the full forum thread here


My naughty Toys help launch theTwitsketch forums

I've just posted my 1000 Twitter message in 6 months! Not sure if that's good, bad or completely irrelevant. It took me 5 years to post a 1000 messages at ZBrush Central so I must have been waffling a lot this year.