With the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to think about what new digital skills you want to learn. We concentrate mostly on Painter and Photoshop here at Digital Image Magazine, but today we’ll look at some different ways to generate images. And the cost to try this new software? Zero or very little. Let’s start with the only program in this little group that isn’t free: Fractal Science Kit.
Fractal Science Kit, like the programs reviewed in this past article, is a fractal generator. It actually does cost nothing, for the first thirty days, and if you decide to keep it, it’s $30 USD. This is a Windows-only program, unfortunately for those of us on Macs. Fractal generators are a way to make create images that use complex math, without your having to know the math. Fractal Science Kit comes with hundreds of pre-written programs. Each program has variables and settings that you adjust through FSK’s windows. Since I’m on a Mac, I couldn’t road-test it, but it seems to be one of the more user-friendly fractal generators out there. Getting a stunning image out of such a program takes lots of time and tweaking, and a good amount of luck. But I imagine this program could become quite addictive, and a lot of fun. If you’re on a PC, give it a shot!
You can see more work by Ross Hilbert, creator of Fractal Science Kit (and the image at the top of article, too) on his Deviant Art page: http://rosshilbert.deviantart.com.
Understanding what Vue is can be difficult, unless you’re aware of 3D software and what it can do. This article is a good introduction. It explains how you can use backgrounds created in Vue in your Photoshop compositions. Vue is, in my opinion, the finest of the “landscape generators” available (the others being Bryce, Terragen, and Mojoworld). While the more well-known 3D programs, such as Maya and 3DS Max, are used to create 3D models, Vue is designed to create landscapes, period. You can create mountains with it, but not cars or people. So, it’s meant to be used in conjunction with other programs. You can import people from Poser, for instance, into your Vue scenes. Or you can just use it to create a stunning landscape image. The realism this program can achieve is something you have to see to believe. There is quite a learning curve, but Vue comes in a free version, called Pioneer. The catch is that your images will contain a logo in the corner, along with some other limitations. But it’s really not all that different from the full version, which runs near $1000 USD. It’s a great way to get your feet wet. For $30, you can get the Pioneer SE edition, which renders images without a logo and is usable for commercial use, and comes with a full-color 120-page starter guide. This software has been used in many popular movies, and it’s available to OWN for free. What a deal!
Sculptris allows you to create 3D models using digital clay. If you’ve never heard of apps such as ZBrush and Mudbox, you should check out this quick video , showing Sculptris in action. Using Sculptris is like playing with clay: you push, pull, smooth, dig, all with your cursor (mouse or tablet). Instead of pushing pixels, you’re manipulating voxels: three dimensional pixels. Though the program is made for Windows, you can download a Mac-enabled version here, though it has a tendency to lock up. (If it does, just click on something else, such as Finder, and then return. That usually unlocks it.) I gave it a try earlier today, and it was a blast. You start out with a ball, and start working it with various tools. It’s very easy and intuitive, and I had created a monkey face (not exactly what I had in mind, but…) in no time. It’s truly an amazing program. And it’s free.
Once your monkey head or tree or space alien is done, you can paint it. You’re painting it in 3D, spinning it around in space just as you would a clay model. Then you can export the model and bring it into Vue or any other 3D program. If you’ve ever dreamed of making up monsters out of clay, here’s your chance. People do that for a living (they call it character design). The technology behind 3D sculpting is beginning to mature. Now’s a great time to check it out. Playing with clay on the computer! Who’d a thunk it?
Our last item today is free training, in the form of an online webinar from the good folks over at the Painter Talk forum. Click here to register. The webinar is December 10, at 9am, and is scheduled to run for an hour. For more on Photowork Shop, check out this article from a few weeks ago. See you at the webinar!
- Resources: Online Training for Digital Painting
- Resources: CS5 Brushes and Training to Get You Moving
- Resources: Free Blueprints Online
- Resources: 25 Free 3D Model Sites
- A Gold Mine of Free Stock Photos for Fantasy Images
- If It Seems Too Good to Be True…It’s CGI
- Tools: Free 3D Applications Available for Download