Learning Perspective

Perspective for Artists, by Rex Vicat Cole. This little book isn’t for the faint of heart. It is packed with information on how to properly draw objects in perspective. It covers shadows and reflections in perspective, how to draw curves in perspective, how to use architectural plans and it even covers some history. There is something to learn on every page. It’s not a simple ’step-by-step’ kind of book without explanations. It covers the theory as well as the practice and so is indispensible in learning about perspective.


Just a clarification, for those of you who have written or are thinking about writing regarding my last blog entry. I have nothing against the nude human figure, male or female. I understand and agree that we need to study the figure in order to become better artists (just as a doctor needs to study the body in order to become a better doctor). Notice I previously said that the human body is beautiful.

My issue is with displaying art thinking that the only impact or interest it will have is a technical one. Art affects people. The internet is a community of the world. It is obviously filled with people of many different beliefs, world views and interests. Here we have images of the female body that were originally intended to degrade a beautiful thing. Now they are reproduced for technical reasons, but seemingly no thought is given to their original intent and to the affect they may have on visitors. Nothing fundamental has changed regarding the artwork. The artist’s intent was to create pornography. The artwork was intended to make men look at women as they would a piece of meat. The fact that it is now displayed to show technical ability is inconsequential to many who will visit the site. What they will see are images that were used to (and so still do) degrade what is beautiful.

Whether you agree with me or not, the least they could do is to put the images on a separate page warning people that some of the images may be inappropriate for some viewers.

Nuff said – I hope…

Ethics and Morals in the Artistic Community

So just exactly where are our ethics and morals these days? Here are three recent examples of questionable practices that no one seems to bat an eye at in our animation community:

1. Richard Williams’ Thief and the Cobbler released on the internet for free (www.cartoonbrew.com)
2. Copying and trading bootlegged TV episodes on the internet (www.fpsmagazine.com under Buried Anime Treasure).
3. Playboy ‘art’ posted on the Hollywood Animation Archive Blog (www.animationarchive.org)

The ‘justification’ for releasing an illegal copy of a feature length film is that it is for non-profit. Since when does the copyright law allow people to release other people’s work for free on the internet just because it is not for profit? Not only is it illegal but it’s also unethical. Here we have Williams who has worked on this for over 20 years and someone just takes it, makes it his own (so to speak), cuts it together and releases a version of it for free. I wonder how Dick feels about this? Having had my work/products pirated and bootleged I would hazard a guess that it doesn’t make him very happy. Did he give permission for this to be released? There seems to be no indication of this…

Then there is the justification of copying and trading other people’s work for your own benefit (for trade – which, as far as I’m concerned is the same as for money). The justification for continuing such an illegal action was “the copyright police never came a-knocking”. Here it is obvious that the person intended to do what he knew was wrong, but because he didn’t get caught it made it right. Oh brother!

The thing that surprised me the most about both of these incidents is that the criminals (and they are criminals if they are bootlegging things they have no business giving away) revealed their identities with impunity.

Lastly, where do we draw the line between pornography and art? It’s sad how many immoral and unethical things are committed under the name of Art. That’s because Art has no meaning anymore. Art has been so defined that anything can fall under its umbrella. Art is now a synonym for the word ‘everything’. That, of course, is nonsense. Of course if you disapprove you are automatically labeled a prude and simply dismissed – as if that makes any kind of rational argument valid. Ad hominems, last I looked, were still a logical fallacy.

Please don’t encourage bootlegging of any sort. The art is devalued. It hurts all of us. It hurts the buyer, the seller and the original maker of the material. Please don’t desensitize our youth and encourage perversion of any sort… the human body is beautiful, but it isn’t meant to be degraded.

Realtime GI and Subd

You know when you press ‘render’ in Max, Lightwave or Maya and it takes minutes to render because you are using displacement maps on your subdivision surfaces and global illumination to get those nice images? Well, now there is a game engine which supports this in real time… amazing. The visual line between cinema and games is blurring very quickly.



Then Came The Promise*

(Click image for larger version)

This beauty was part of a double rainbow seen out the same direction as the lightning shots below. You can sort of see the second rainbow off to the mid right of the main rainbow. An interesting thing I noticed after taking this shot was that the sky to the right of the rainbow is darker than to the left. It almost looks fake.

*”This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth” – Genesis 9:17.

Stormy Night

(Click images for larger version)

Here are some photos I took at around 2:00am last night. A bit of a storm pushed through our area and so we enjoyed the light show for about an hour. So instead of trying to sleep through the thunder and lightning, I grabbed my Nikon D70 propped it up on the headboard and took a bunch of photos out of our bedroom window.

The trick was to keep the focus, catch the lightning and keep it steady. Having it on top of the headboard I placed the lens hood right against the window – that made a makeshift tripod which took care of the steadiness problem. In order to capture the lightning I took a lot of 2 to 4 second exposures at bulb setting one after the other… I just opened the shutter then counted 1 to 4 (or so) let the shutter close and immediately opened it again. After about 20 shots I went through and deleted any images that didn’t work out (of course this was when the neatest lightning decided to strike). For focus I set the focus at infinity – well actually just a little before the infinity symbol (play around with your camera during the day to know exactly where the actual infinity focus is – it varies from camera to camera and can be a little bit before or after the infinity symbol). The wonder of digital cameras!

This morning I marveled not only at the pictures and awesome wonder of lightning, but that I could actually do all those things half asleep!

A Couple of Updates

My Palomino pencils arrived the other day – and, for those who care, I still like my Tombow the best. It just has such a nice dark if you need it and it’s smooth as silk (not as smooth as a Colerase), but overall I like the Tombow pencil the best. There are a couple of close seconds, but please don’t take away my Tombow!

Apart from my daily play (err… work) for my current client(s) I’ve been slowly going through the Famous Artists Course – the 1954 version (the one that includes Norman Rockwell as one of the instructors!). There are a lot of gems in this set of books if you can still find the volumes. I found mine on eBay. Anyway, I’m not enrolled in the actual course or anything (there is still a modern day version of this course where your work is critiqued on a regular basis), but instead I’m just going through the books. Nothing to show yet, just copying a lot of photographs and sketches in order to train my eye/brain/hand.

On the game creation front, I’ve decided on a very cool game engine. There are only two main drawbacks that I’ve encountered so far… The first is that the development environment is on a Mac. But, oh boy, what a development enviroment! So now I have a cool dual core intel Mac. The neat thing is that you can create the game executable not only for the Mac, but also for Windows. The second drawback is that it’s only OpenGL. When Windows Vista comes out it seems like OpenGL will run ‘under’ DirectX. Hopefully that won’t be the case, but if it is then that shouldn’t be too much of a problem because I have also decided to reduce the scope of my first game. I’m coinciding the game with a children’s book I’m writing and illustrating in my “spare” time. As for the game engine, the support is good and the community is growing.

If you like Linux or ever wanted to play around with it without messing up your current Windows installation, you can burn a CD or DVD with Knoppix (Debian Kernel 2.6.17) and then boot from the CD or DVD! It’s a neat way to be able to learn/play/work with Linux without worrying about dual boot or having an extra machine to load Linux on… the only real requirement is having a bootable CD or DVD player.

One other note of interest, if you haven’t heard. Popeye the Sailor Man is coming to DVD in 2007!

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