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Posts from the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

Trials of Twin Motion

One of the things I have had to do most often for work is render out my designs.  This is predominately done using Sketchup as a modeler but I also use some Blender and MOI. The design is then rendered out using Thea render which works ok, but I’ve never really gotten it to do all it is capable of. This isn’t usually a problem as in the end I paint over the model anyway. That being said I would really like to get a better handle on the rendering side of things as it just makes it so much faster and time is money…

Back in the mid 2000’s I bought Luxllogies MODO specifically to do renderings. At the time Modo was reasonably priced and about the only program around that would do what was needed with a SU file exported as obj. I never got into its actual modeling features but for a few years it was how I did renderings.

Today there are numerous apps to do this. I’ve tried Vray to some success and a number of other stand alone render applications. They all have pros and cons. I am thinking that Blender’s Evie / Cycles may be my ultimate answer but I’m not that far in my immersion with the software yet…

Anyway recently I saw an opportunity to DL Twinmotion the real time rendering App. It’s owned by Epic Games and is basically a stripped down version of Unreal Engine. The deal was you could DL TM 2019 and just use it for free. The new version is a subscription model but this weekend I decided to break out the TM 2019 to see what it can do…

I would like to use it for the base renderings I need to produce for my final Universal work. I also think it could be very useful for future freelance projects as I’m gonna be heading into that world again very soon.

I figured the best way to learn and test would be using some old models I had laying around. I chose a speed form hover car I did a few years ago to test sub division modeling in sketchup and a piece of a set design I worked on last year…

One of the attractive features for TM is that you can import SU files directly into it. And supposedly updating the source file should update in TM. The files are easy enough to import and they appear on a base design space that looks like your outside of Vegas in the desert.

“ Bat Country “
Why is it way over there?

The interface is very bare bones and in my opinion not super intuitive. It’s almost as if it’s so simple it’s confusing. This happens to me all the time now I guess I’m just getting old :P. Anyways the geometry comes in pretty well and since I applied colors and textures in SU it’s easy to swap these out for nicer TW materials.

A concrete box

One thing I am excited to try is the function to import a SU asset such as a light source and save it as a user preference. This will be huge if I can make it work… I saw the technique on  CG Essentials a youtube channel which I watch. The guy has a ton of very helpful reviews and tutorials for a number of architectural 3D design related subjects you should check him out…

This first test was fine until I decided to try and update the SU file. I have no idea what happened here, but all the materials are whacked and the file became unresponsive. In the end I force quit the program…


I lost everything I had done and decided to try again with a simple scene using just the assets that come with TM.

Primitive shapes and a couch

These basic shapes and objects “ the red couch, Cyprus tree, etc “ come with the APP and as expected they work well. But my goal is to bring in original designs and render them. after playing with cubes, spheres and trees for a bit I brought the hover car in again to this scene.

Hover car on the grass

The model comes in fine and with some jiggling I maneuver it to a spot on the grass. TM doesn’t handle translation of imported models very well. I’m thinking at least for now the design models need to be complete and placed exactly where you need them because moving in the renderer is a pain.

I finally achieve a semblance of a car paint color. There is no preset for painted metals “ surprising “ and the method to achieve them is not clear. If I continue down this path will need to do a deep dive on materials.

Ok having shown some success with the previous test I decide to re import my concrete bunker which has now morphed into a small modern house because I can’t leave things alone… I’m am this time bringing in some terrain and a few SU trees and plants to see how well it plays with TM…

Doesn’t look like much in SU…
Looks much more fun inside TM
You can change the sky conditions as well
The built in environment materials and assets are quite nice…
The more extreme weather stuff is less impressive, at least at first glance…

Overall I’m reasonably impressed but have many questions and some doubts. The interface is just weird to me. I feel like it’s so busy trying to be intuitive it; at least for me,  is opaque. I tend to like to know exactly what a tool is doing, again this might just be because I need more time with it. My main gripe is related to what should be its best feature. The importing of my design model and ability to update the file in SU. It works, ……..sometimes… I ended up rebuilding this scene 4 times and reimporting it because I would get to a certain point and start getting weird behavior and this would eventually lead to a force quit.. Its a great idea but from what I see here now using version 2019 on my computer it’s pretty unstable. I think maybe the actual Unreal Engine would be preferable…

For a good portion of my career I have done most of my design work in SU, It’s industry standard now for television production because of is combo of accuracy ” if you know what youre doing ” and its speed. Since working for Universal I’ve actually returned to earlier techniques and been producing a lot of hand drawn design sketches. I’m really happy about that as I love to draw and for certain, clients like to see it… Since my end date with Universal is fast approaching I  know I need to get back into gear for freelance work again. I will be doing a lot more 3D again and this rendering engine could come in handy. That is Assuming I can ever get it to work reliably.

Maybe next post I will have more success to share…


The only thing constant is change

For four and a half years now I have been happily working full time for Universal Creative. I was hired to be part of the new Creative Core. The idea being to have an in-house design dept along the lines of Disney’s Imagineering.

Needless to say I was excited and very happy to be part of something like that. From 2016 to late in 2018 that’s exactly what it was. The studio was rapidly expanding and I got to work on tons of projects, most of which I cannot even mention here for obvious reasons.

I can say that I worked on the effort for Nintendo world producing key art, design sketches and some of the marketing art that’s been released.

I am also very proud that I did quite a lot of work for the recently released ” Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Official poster for the ride, not sure who did it…

I was actually put on this when I first came aboard. I worked alone for about a month and then a small team was created. At that time the effort was to come up with options for replacing the aging ” Dueling Dragons ” coaster. This was a challenge as that coaster was incredibly popular!

Old entrance to Dragons…

This effort eventually led to the current ride But by that time I was on other projects. I still produced a lot of design work for the ride. Some of which you can see below.

Working for the Core was kind of a dream gig, we were involved with every project Universal has in development. We even got to design the bluesky pre Concept for the future “ Epic Universe “. During this period I worked literally 5 minutes from home and really felt a sense of belonging. Great co workers great projects and a great environment!

Then everything changed, in one motion the entire studio was re organized and everyone was moved out to work on individual projects. It was a massive restructuring and now the core is just a shadow of itself. Don’t get me wrong I was happy to go join a team for The new park as it’s a chance to be part of something truly amazing! I can’t say much about it but rest assured it will be phenomenal, a real game changer…

Conceptual birdseye of the new park, pretty sure this was done by Pat Vogtli


Along came the Covid…

We’re still here, I’m still on the project, working from home since March. And I know how blessed we are to be able to do that… but the end date is fast approaching. It is obvious Universal along with everyone else in the world has been hard hit by this pandemic. People are sick and tired of feeling isolated and many of us desperately need to work to survive. This virus is pointing out serious flaws in our system. Our current federal leaderships incompetence has done nothing to solve the problem and people are scared. Our parks have opened up here in Florida a bit pre maturely IMO . But hey it’s Florida home of alligators on meth and ” Florida Man “.

The folks down the street ” Disney ” are being more cautious. Who’s correct remains to be seen, These are really challenging times and until we get a vaccine every move is a risk. At the end of the day they must do what’s best for the company to ensure its future and for now that means letting people go…

I am truly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Universal family. I’ve enjoyed working alongside some of the most talented creatives in the world on projects that have and will bring joy to so many people. I am looking forward to working for them again when things are better…

Working as a designer is a great job but you must remain flexible and ready to move with the flow because trust me these things move in cycles, Even if the Covid 19 had not thrown everything off kilter we were most likely headed to a downturn… who knows maybe once we get past this virus things will come roaring back. hopefully in November, America will have a change in leadership and we can get back to producing great work around the world…

If I could give one piece of advice to anyone who’s maybe a bit scared of what’s happening right now it would be this. Fear and worry will do you no good. It’s natural to be concerned in uncertain circumstances but you must try and remain positive. Take this down time and use it to your advantage if you can. Do some new paintings or designs, work on a personal project, take online courses, learn a new software etc etc… it doesn’t really matter what you do so long as it’s productive. This will help keep you in a good place mentally and spiritually. Then, when opportunity comes ” and it will ” you’ll be ready to act.

This is the third time I’ve seen the economy tank, 2000, 2008, and now 2020, it seems to be built into the system, what goes up must come down.

For my own sanity I am going to focus on preparation now. Update the portfolio, Re-organize the workspace, prepare my studio for efficient freelance and Begin to reach out to old and potential clients. I’m learning Blender 3D and have begun to explore VR on the Occulus. We are even planting a vegetable garden 🙂

Like I said, change is the only constant…

I hope whoever reads this is well and safe.

Talk soon

So You Want To Be An Artist part deux

So if you got this far I assume you must have decided that you really do want to be an artist. Truth be told its kind of a trick question. Artist really don’t get to choose. For some people its just what you are.

Anyway the question of how to become a successful one still stands. Unless you were born a genius prodigy  ” pretty rare ”  you will need training to make it work. In the old days ” art history here ” talented youth mostly wealthy later sons of wealthy families ” the one who didn’t get sent to the church and weren’t suitable for the military ” would be apprenticed to a master artist for years to learn the fundamentals and become an artist. Thankfully today education is a lot more available and less creepy. The training you need depends greatly on your ultimate goal but the fundamentals are the same for pretty much any artistic career path. As I mentioned in the first post the basics include

  • drawing ” sketching “
  • painting ” mixing of paint and use of tools, materials etc…
  • color theory ” understanding how color works and how to control it in your work “
  • composition and basic design principles
  • perspective ” the method you use to show 3D form on a 2D medium
  • figure drawing ” human and animal anatomy “

Theres more to this but by the time you have mastered these basics you will be well on your way to specialized training where you can expand upon what you know and add the specific skills needed for you discipline. Designers will follow a different path then say illustrators or Graphics Specialist.

Throughout the process you will be working with computers, printers, scanners photographic equipment etc… The current and future artist / Designer must be up to speed on all the industry standard equipment and technologies software packages etc. that you can. As somebody who came to the computer late in my development I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this. When I began working things were still being done mostly by hand, I made the transition to digital art about 2 years after graduation. Luckily thanks to my good friend Mat, I bought a Mac Clone the last term at school and he and I kind of taught ourselves Photoshop… I had friends who were already mastering serious 3D and animation software at the time, if I could do it all over I would spend the time down in that computer lab!

Anyway at this point its not even a question you will be using computers to produce most professional work.

Where to get your training is the real question and my answer is from many sources. While your still in high school take advantage of your schools arts programs. The more you learn early on the faster you can develop and the more enjoyable the process will be.

Here are some things to look at using in your training plan. Art of any type is not a cheap undertaking, unless you have the good fortune of well heeled parents you’re going to need to be strategic in your planning.

Make use of as much free or cheap training as you possibly can.

  • The library can be an amazing resource. look for classes and workshops. For example here in Orlando the downtown library offers training in beginner and advanced 2D and 3D graphics. For the price of the workshop which is just a few bucks you have access to thousands of dollars worth of equipment and an instructor.
  • art clubs and local artist associations.Almost every city is going to have some local artist. Connect with them, the advice and help they can provide is priceless
  • Online instruction sites and youtube. You tube is packed with an insane amount of tutorials and videos to teach you pretty much anything your interested in. Not all of its great but a surprising amount of it is very professionally produced and presented by working artist . Thats unbeatable! Then you have sites like Udemy and Skillshare that offer even more training for a very reasonable amount of money.
  • Artist blogs and podcast, I don’t do tutorials maybe some day I will but there are good artist that do. These people are sharing their knowledge and experience for a multitude of reasons. Its inspiring and instructive here are a few of the ones I watch
  • Fung Zhu Design, this guys work is amazing, he went to ACCD a few years before me…
  • Trent Kaniuga art Video Blog – I found this guy while trying to figure out some function in Sketchbook Pro my favorite sketch app which also happens to be free 😛
  • Bob Ross – This may be ancient history but the guy still has something to say…
  • Blender Basics – good 3D tutorials even for an old guy like me
  • The Craftsman – I am not sure how to describe this show? But the guy is a lot of fun and full of great info especially for being creative on a budget…

Point of this is that there are an almost unbelievable sources for artist to learn new things online. This didn’t exist 20 years ago when I was a student. Be sure to take advantage of it.

Back to the core question should you go to school?

You don’t actually have too! I work right now next to an incredible artist for Universal Creative that as far as I know is self taught. He’s at the top of his game in fact most of the marketing art you have seen for Universal Studios theme park is his work so…  At the same time most people do not have that particular brand of self discipline so you will most likely need some instruction.

On to School

Try your local community college. You will be amazed to find that some amazing artist instruct at Community college. Its a fraction of the cost and you can usually transfer your units to an expensive school if thats your ultimate goal. Do as much of your undergrad work here as is available. You don’t want to be paying Art School tuition for basic english and history classes if you can avoid it.

While your preparing the undergrad stuff really start to narrow down what kind of program you want. Not all schools are created equal and one school might be great for illustration and really weak for Graphic Design. Ask around and find the school you will really like.

Remember there are public Universities with great art programs which will be much easier on the budget.

My opinion is that dedicated Art Schools are a positive thing for an aspiring artist but not necessarily for the reasons you see on their marketing materials.

Some things to consider

  • Art School can be extremely expensive ” think $100,000 plus for any top rated school ” and realize that when you graduate that bill comes due ” more on this later “
  • It takes self discipline. Everybody thinks ” from the outside ” that artist because they love their work have it easy. It’s the furthest thing from the truth. Being involved creatively is exhausting physically mentally and emotionally. Outside of my time in the Navy I have never worked harder then I did at ACCD…
  • Some schools are a rip off ” Trump University anyone “
  • Some schools do not prepare you for the real world of Art / Design ” Theres more to being a successful artist then the quality of your work “

For the top schools you’re talking private institutions and they aren’t cheap… Choose this route and you will be hit with a bill that in other schools lands you a doctor or Lawyers credentials. It was the same for me but at this point probably 2 to 3 times more money… Remember that point about getting all the classes you can before heading to the expensive school?

Scholarships and grants can help, they are hard to get but if your serious about it they can make the impossible, possible. Take advantage or whatever programs you can. For example, If you happen to be a young Latina who’s interested in design, think of applying for a program where most applicants are males like product or transportation design. The school and whatever industries support them will jump at the chance to help you… Don’t be too proud this is going to be tough enough…

Make sure to check with the school you want to complete your training with to find out what their requirements are. They will help you if you ask…

One of the main benefits you can receive from attending a top end school is the name recognition of the school. Its hard to pinpoint exactly but there is definitely an effect on potential employers. Top schools also require you to compete for placement. Competition is good and if you approach it positively it will make you a better artist / designer / whatever…

Access to the latest technology and techniques is also a factor ” this is especially true for people working with heavy computer driven industries like 3D graphics or animation

Obviously the best schools should have the best instructors. Look for schools that use working professional as teachers. There is nothing wrong with dedicated teachers but  the people actually doing the work in the market are the true experts.

And finally your peers. In my experience you will actually learn more from your classmates then most of your instructors. Not to mention you are building your network. Believe me when I tell you it matters who you know! In my experience the vast majority of the work I have done comes through people I know not necessarily classmates but some of them are in there too. Your network is a vital part of your artistic career…

Some examples of high end schools, this is by no means an exhaustive list but it should help to make a start

Rhode Island School of Design

Art Center College of Design

Cal Arts


University of Cincinnati College of Architecture

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

A note on financial realities. If you are like most people you are going to need to consider your budget and the cost of your education versus its benefit. I speak from experience here, I had no money and no support other then my GI bill which lasted me all of one term at school. I applied for and won a half scholarship and then increased it through a review process. Its the only way I could ever have gone to ACCD. I also was a completely naive about money and credit etc… I literally knew nothing as with my background it just wasn’t available.

I applied for credit cards ” they specifically target students or at least they did back in the 90s.”  Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t living large I just used the money to pay for supplies and live, the problem comes later when its time to pay it back.

A few things to consider

Your education may end up costing way more then you will realistically earn when it comes time to start paying that loan. A great teacher we had Andy Ogden told us this in our 2nd term. He said when he graduated in the 1980’s he owed $50,000 and got hired as a designer for Honda at a salary of $45,000. He then said ” we ” would graduate owing around $ 100,000 and if we were lucky get a job paying $ 45,000… That was in 1994…

Andy wasn’t wrong, his point was that if you are in this career for the money you’re in the wrong place. Keep in mind that over time you will earn more money as you progress but this is not like being a lawyer or a plastic surgeon. Theres a reason we have the term ” starving artist ”

do this because you  love it and it will be a great life. Do it to get rich and you may be disappointed.

Credit and loans can be a great tool but you should treat them like the deadly objects they are. Only take out what you really need and be frugal. As an example use cheaper art supplies in the beginning. There is a difference between a Windsor Newton series 7 brush and a cheaper alternate but as a student you will not get the benefit. Save your money and buy the other supplies you will need 😛

Series 7 – about 350 bucks for 4 brushes

I really do not mean to scare anyone off or depress you, I simply wish someone had taken the time to explain some of this to me when I was starting out.

” learn from the mistakes of others, you will not live long enough to make them all yourself ” Eleanor Roosevelt…

Frank Abagnale is an FBI agent that was also a successful con man. His life story became a feature film and a number of TV series.Here is a link to the youtube video

Catch Me If You Can


I suggest anyone should watch. Its entertaining and highly informative. Well worth an hour of your time. The first part is the mans personal life story which is pretty amazing the second part is most important how to make credit work for you…

Some final thoughts on how to get the most out of your training

  • Be open to direction, whether as a student or in the real world you will need to accept direction. Listen with attention and if necessary take notes, address those notes immediately in your work, this will help establish a positive respectful relationship between you and your instructor / director. This makes it possible for open communication…
  • Learn to accept and give criticism. Critique is necessary if you want to excel at anything. Critique should be given and received as a positive. This is how we learn to push ourselves to become better. Try to accept critique without emotional reaction, remember it’s not about you it’s about the work… at the same time be ready to defend your design decisions, you don’t always prevail but part of being an artist is believing in your vision. I have found a good way to start this to always look first for what is good in something, this sets a positive tone and helps others hear your ideas without getting defensive.
  • Do not fall in love with your work. ” this is particularly important early on.” Unless you are working solely for your own purpose you need to not get too emotionally attached to things as they develop. In the end your work is for someone else and needs to fulfill their desire not yours. Over time you will become better at this, it’s one of the hardest things to do for an artist…
  • Recognize your strengths and the areas you need to develop
  • Be aware of your peers efforts and work to compete with them but do not base everything on this alone. In the end your only real competition is yourself. Becoming a good / great artist is a long process. Do not get down on yourself for perceived shortcomings or become overly confident at imagined strength.

That was a lot and there’s a ton more I could say but hopefully this is enough to help you start making some plans…

More to follow


So you want to be an Artist…

Not too long ago an old friend :” she’s not old but I am getting there ” reached out to me for advice for her daughter that wants to be an artist. My first reaction was                         ”             NOOOOOOOOOOOOO…… we cant stop here this is bat country!!!!!!!!!!!!      ”


Just kidding 😛

I meant to get back with her quickly but life happened. So it occurred to me I could just write some things down here and theoretically it can help my friends daughter and some others contemplating this.

It’s a complicated thing the decision to go down the artist path. There are some basic questions you need to ask yourself and decisions to make.

3 main questions to address…

  • What kind of artist do you want to be?
  • Should you go to school?
  • Can you have a satisfied/ successful life doing this?

There are many more question to answer but I figure these 3 are pretty core to the issue. For the sake of my own sanity I will break this post into 3 sections dealing with those 3 basic questions.

What kind of artist do you want to be?

First of all it’s vital to understand just what is an artist. My opinion is that an artist is anyone that dedicates themselves to creative effort and seeks to explore that with all their energy. Art is all around us it’s in the clothes we wear, the products we use and of course it hangs on the wall at the museum and if your lucky your home… without art there are no movies or plays, music or books or video games.

Bruce Lee – Martial Artist

Art is the very essence of what makes us human. Sounds overblown but I truly believe this. An artist seeks perfection, there’s a reason they call a master of Kung Fu, a martial artist…

I will focus on the visual arts what I know best as it’s my own path but I assure you whether you want to write screenplays, or become the next a Lady GaGa a lot of this is the same.

In visual arts there two main paths with an infinity of sub categories and disciplines. But I think it’s all basically depends on where you fit on the spectrum between the two extremes.

One side is the full blown fine artist and the other is the engineer. In between those two extremes you find , illustrators and architects, painters and industrial designers. My own education was in the last one, industrial design specifically car design. I went to one of the highest rated / most competitive “expensive ” schools for that. I use what I learned there every day but I have rarely been asked to design a vehicle… I will have some ideas on education in the next post..

Think of it this way, fine art is created to serve itself, it can; and great art does, have meaning but it generally exist for its own purpose.

Andy Warhol – Fine Artist

Design is the use of art to solve a problem or provide a service. A car could just be a box on wheels but who would want it.

Fine car Design Vroom Vroom

Engineering is the combo of art and science. Most engineers would argue they aren’t artist but I beg to differ. Just look at an aircraft…

Form Follows Function

Honestly I think it’s not realistic to think you can know right away where you fit on this spectrum. I was attracted to my field because I have always loved cars and vehicles of any type boats planes whatever. But I also love buildings and great illustrations so I think it’s best to just start down the path and keep your mind open. You will quickly discover the things that attract you.

Part of this first phase of preparation is forming an idea of the type of artist you want to be. Everyone has natural inclinations. Listen to those signals as that’s probably what you will find easiest to master and most rewarding. You can always branch out and go after new subject areas and techniques later but for my advice go with your natural strengths first.

Part of what your doing in the beginning is learning to succeed. You want that feeling of accomplishment to happen because it will push you take on new challenges and grow your capabilities. I have known a number of really talented designers that started off in another area. Architects that became car designers, graphic artist that are now art directors for Disney and Universal theme parks. The artist path is long. Unlike many careers paths you are stronger the older you get so there’s time to develop and explore…

Research great artist and become inspired, understand that with rare exception the only thing separating them from their peers is practice and dedication. Go to museums art galleries, and exhibits. Look through the library art section, and of course use the internet. Never before have so many opportunities to learn about and be exposed to art existed…Humans have been creating art since we have been humans so there is a lot to see.Try to figure out what interest you most and realize whichever path you choose it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to master.. you’re whole life if your serious about it. Art as a career is not like many others in that you don’t just do a job and then have a life, the job is your art and the art is your life…

All journeys begin with one step…

If you are serious about art as a career I assume you want to make money. If you already have the money; good for you, life will be a lot easier. For Everybody else you need to be competitive to get the good jobs and that means a high skill set and a serious work ethic. Art is a business like any other the main difference being the product is your creativity and your ability to make that come to life. Competition is fierce and at this point global. Technology; especially computers, have changed how art is produced and for anything other then fine art you must master their use. But the computer is nothing more then a tool the artist uses.

My First Super Powerful Graphic Workstation circa 1995 500mb HD Whoo Hoo!

Your most powerful tool is your mind connected to your hand. I firmly believe all beginning artist need to draw by hand on paper. Whats paper? Ask your mom she will know 😛

Maurits Cornelis Escher,

Hands Drawing Hands – by MC Escher

It’s the first step, it’s where it all starts, the sketch is how you can quickly put down the idea of something in a way that other people can understand. Everything you see around you started life as a sketch… You draw by hand to teach your body and mind the skills you will use in all the other activities. It doesn’t matter what you draw on or with what, it just matters that you get what’s called mileage. The more you do something, the better you will get at it.

The First Designer

Draw anything and everything you see. Try to capture the essence of your subject and don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Trust that with time you will improve and this is all about the journey… carry a sketchbook or similar media with you and use it often. Another hidden benefit of this is that over time you can easily see your skills develop and of course it also makes you look super interesting in coffee shops 😛

the other fundamental skills include perspective, anatomy, color theory, rendering of form etc etc… it’s a rabbit hole but if you want to be an artist you need these basic tools to build on later.

And above all else believe in yourself and do not quit. Art is hard, sometimes painful and it’s incredibly tough to master but if you have the drive it can be a wonderful life…

More to follow

Another Bump In The Road

On a slightly different tack then my last few posts which have mostly been about that Themepark project in China I decided to document what I am currently doing this week. Right now I am not on a job. I recently returned to USA from China after our project there died and have since then been trying to re-aclimate myself to eating American food ” feel like I have gained 10 pounds in spite of going back to the gym ” hopefully thats not really true..Working with the Imagine Now group from the China project on RFP ” request for proposal ” for gigs here in the states Linq Hotel casino in Vegas and Hasbro ( cross fingers ), and preparing presentation materials, documenting my work to try and prime the pump for new jobs. I will share more of those later.

But to this latest project o mine…

Last Fri I had 2 teeth extracted which will eventually have implants in them, but in the meantime it has been very  very painful and I have not been up to even going outside until just this weekend. Once I was functional enough to get out of bed though I decided very quickly that I was bored. I don’t have a gig so what to do?

I could do a painting or finish some other project. Fanny is back in China ” hopefully for the last time alone ” which means, I pretty much have nothing to do but my art, since there isn’t really anything else I am interested in doing here in Baton Rouge… And since I am on  serious pain meds right now probably not the best idea I go tooling around the countryside…

I decided to give learning MODO; my long since purchased, but barely ever used, except for rendering software. I don’t have to learn it for my work I can still do what I need thats 3D using Sketchup Pro and its way faster for me ” maybe cause I know how to use it ” But I am fascinated by 3D modeling, I just never learned when I should have in school. I thought I was pretty cool doing it the Old School way, by hand,” what some might call real 3D” which I am glad I learned but at this time I kind of wish I had at least gone to my Allias classes instead of sneaking off to the shop…

Anyway what sparked this was MODO now owned by the Foundry has just released their newest version 901. the one I original bought was 301 so you can appreciate just how long I have been procrastinating :).

Like always they claim it is the be-all and end-all of everything!!! Greatest thing since sliced pepsi cola pudding pops, yaddah yaddah yaddah! But it did look pretty cool so I broke down and downloaded the trial version.



This is one of the main new functions I want to learn in Modo, (Mesh Fusion) is a more developed version of Groboto which was a really cool little program I played with a few years ago. Modo has now fully integrated it within the program as a tool set… It will be awhile before I am ready to play with this…



I also went and reactivated my membership to Digital Tutors, this time I did a full year  I figure its worth it, they definitely have a lot of tutorials for lots of software. The tutorials are done very well and mostly interesting enough to keep me awake while I try and watch em…



I have also purchased from 3D garage their intensive training course specifically for 901. I have found that Modo is one of those softwares that the developers love to change ” I mean improve ,wink wink nudge nudge say no more… ” which means that when trying to learn it you have to deal with the fact that the training you are looking, at whether professional produced or just some guy on youtube may not make any sense if the version they are using is not your version.

The cost was cheaper as it is on pre order…

3D garage Course

3D garage Course

I will be learning basic modeling. The course is project based which makes sense to me and at the end of it your supposed to have created a cool little dune buggy remote control car thingie. I know myself and I know I won’t end up doing exactly whats in the project files or even finish it necessarily. My goal is to learn the tools so I can do my own work.



The tutorial starts off much like the one I did last time using Cinema 4D with basic polygonal modeling.



This one was pretty fun as well and I am pretty sure the experience has helped me with my understanding of how 3D works, but in the end the price of Cinema 4D is simply to high to justify at this time. I think a current full seat on Cinema goes for nearly $6,000 versus the $400 bucks for an upgrade to 901.

I was able to do some fun stuff with it though…

Flying Craft

Flying Craft

The tutorial starts off with basic polygon modeling to make the basic shape of the body. Its kind of fun to see how; depending on where you put the control points,  it affects the shape during subdivision.



The basic body shape still in hard angles with no subdivision. The Subdivision function  is what gives it the blocky form its curve but the curves are all dictated by the position of the hard angled shape its made from…  Its confusing and seems like black magic but this is the main function I wish to learn and add to my tools. Skecthup has though certain plugins like Artisan the ability to do sub division modeling but its controls are very primitive compared to the more advanced 3D programs like Modo

here is an example of the subdivision thang in Modo… Starting with a basic rectangle shape.



Rectangle  smoothed, Modo has the ability to jump back and forth between the polygonal modeling mode and the Sub Divided mode

Rounded Cube

Rounded Cube

By adding an edge loop one of Modo’s many tools you get this basically the same shape but with a series of slices through the shape…

Cube with control points

Cube with control points

Just hit tab and it gives you this.

shape that is created

shape that is created

I know anybody who does 3D modeling will be pretty bored at this point but I am just trying to explain this in a way that will make sense to somebody like who knows very little… Like myself 🙂

Building the basic body shapes







These are screen grabs from the tutorial as I didn’t decide to document my progress till later on.

The body when sub divided.



Fast forward to when I decided to make a post out of this. At this point the body shape is basically done and I now am working on the wheels…

wheel unsub

wheel un-sub

Here you can see the wheel created from a basic primitive cylinder shape without any sub division magic.

Same shape with Sub Division. Since there are no controlling points or cuts in form yet the shape is very soft and amorphous. This could be good for some things but probably not for a machined piece like a wheel.

Wheel Sub2

Wheel Sub2

With some more control points ” really not sure what is the correct term for this ” depending on where you place the lines and how much force they have applied the shape will alter when sub-divided.

wheel sub1

wheel sub1

The more developed wheel, at this stage I have increased the number of divisions which allows for greater detail.



Each tutorial last for about 10 to 15 minutes and they take you through the use of various tools to achieve different modeling goals. Here I am building up pieces of the frame and suspension. I am roughly following along with the tutorial. I did not do as they suggested and import the orthographic views of the dune buggy to use while modeling. I figure this way I can make my own exploration which will be more relevant for my use of the tool in work. No one will be handing me views to work from since thats pretty much my job…

early frame view

early frame view

Actually beginning to enjoy Modo, I wonder if its because they have improved the program or if somehow I am just ready to understand it now…


frame view1

Some views of the buggy from inside the rendering window. 901  has made a lot of changes to its interface since 601


901Render window7


901Render View4

901 Renders in real time which I think will be really fun once I get a handle on it. You can see below the wireframe view, pretty complicated even this early on.

The Buggy is starting to come together now, I have decided that my dune bug will not be a toy but a full size 2 person vehicle. Just can’t really get into making a toy…



Here is some funny, Trying to build a set of shock absorbers for this beast and its just not working. the main body of the shock is fine but the spring is not working out…



What the hell is that? Hopefully it will make more sense later… Believe it or not this function is supposed to be quite simple, I am really not sure what that squiggly line is but I suppose it makes sense to the logic that drives this program.

Radial Sweep

Radial Sweep

Later on I have made more progress working on the suspension parts I went ahead and made my own super special sci fi shocks that utilize the patented Un-Obtainium™ Technology



and more now we have a wing which is somehow able to stay up there with no actual support structure.

model View2

model View2

Rear view of the wing, Going to need to develop some more structure and possibly some kind of tech pieces I can pretend would be power source for this thing. I am actually thinking its a solar powered vehicle possibly with the aero wings doubling as energy collection. Each wheel could have an electric motor in the hub…

Wing Model View

Wing Model View

Switching from the modeling view to the render view I can immediately see they have changed quite a bit since 601. Main thing is I now have a real time preview of the render which right now shows really nothing since there are no materials assigned yet. Speaking of which they also seem to have hidden the materials pallet. Going to take some getting used to, but I am sure it will be worth it. Modo has a very strong Rendering capability which I am not showing here 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 9.48.04 PM


Render window4

Complete with Wings2

Complete with Wings2

Complete with Wings

Complete with Wings

Just for fun I decided to take the model into my older version of Modo. Aside from the dire warning that there may be and I quote ” weird behavior ” since the model was built in a newer version it seems to be fine.



Using my preset materials in 601 I am quickly able to add some materials to the model…



The funny little random square render thing that happens in 601, I wonder if it still does this in the new one.



601 No Materials

601 No Materials

Materials are fun

601 Render2

601 Render2

eventually when its finished I will do a full render but thats for later…

601 render

601 render

Here is where I am leaving the buggy for now. I figure I could continue on using the tools I already have learned but I am thinking a better plan is to start my training course which arrived last night instead. That way I will have more knowledge to use in completing the project.

Dune Buggy

Dune Buggy

I hope you enjoyed this, more later…



Quick before I forget again

Just this morning had a technical issue with my 20 WSX  Wacom Cintiq tablet  ” again ” and realized ” again ” maybe I should just write this down so the next time I might remember how to fix it instead of every time having to search the forums… Probably much better for my spirit as well since will mean less cursing and hand waving.

This will be short and maybe even helpful to someone, as there is nothing more frustrating then a sophisticated ” read expensive ” piece of tech that mysteriously no longer will do its job!

For those who are not aware Wacom makes the best graphics tablets for use by digital artist. They are indispensable tools for anyone wanting to create art on a computer. The flagship of their long line of products is the Cintiq which is essentially a monitor that you can draw directly on, using a highly sensitive ” pen ” stylus. Expensive but well worth the money… This is what I am talking about, although this one is brand new and way nicer then mine.

Maybe someday can get the new one...

Maybe someday can get the new one…

Looks like they finally decided to upgrade the monitor to HD… Interestingly enough thats right around the price I paid for mine 6 or 7 years ago…

Mine is not quite as sexy but still gets the job done. Having brought it over here to China for work this time maybe when I return to states can justify the new one 🙂

The Beast

The Beast

So Wacoms are cool, and Cintiqs are the coolest kids on the block. That being said I have had much experience over the years with them when, ” for no earthly understandable reason” simply stop working. Both my 20WSX and my smaller 13HD will do this. My favorite issue is when the stylus does not register on the tablet but rather on some other monitor in a completely random fashion making it completely useless. The Cintiq has a calibration utility that allows you to make sure that your stylus will be accurate when you draw.

calibrate it

calibrate it

When you open it the screen goes black and you get a series of cross hair points to touch in sequence. This is supposed to calibrate the pen. All fine and great  when it works…



Many times, ” usually at the 11th hour on a deadline ” it decides to not work. You may get the crosshairs on another monitor, the pen may not register at all or I have even had it tell me that no such device exist. This of course is after I just finished using it and I am holding the pen which doesn’t exist… Its technology so who knows what causes it, I am actually pretty careful with my equipment but maybe my ” energy / Chi / Fung Shuei is off ” whatever the cause its frustrating and makes me feel like finding out just how far I could throw this expensive non existing thing. My guess about 15 to 20 feet its quite heavy 🙂

It happens on Macs and PCs, it happens on all of my computers so I know this is not a hallucination or something specific to my computer its a problem with Wacom. Sometimes when you produce great products the tendency is to get lazy, Adobe, Apple, Wacom are all guilty of this…

Enough talk here is the best solution I have found.

Lets assume you are not an idiot and the cables are still attached. Go to your application folder and find the wacom folder open it.


Find the Wacom tablet utility open it.


You will see a window that looks like this.


You want to choose all users and hit remove. Go back and calibrate again…

Easy as pie when you can remember to do this. Nothing else works for me. Even uninstalling the drivers and reinstalling them doesn’t work if you don’t first force it to remove its current user data. I have no idea why, I don’t even really care… You can also remove the software from here but so far this has fixed my problem every time. This is of course how you would do this on a mac, There are other issues dealing with PC usage but I no longer use them so… If you need that info or just want to know more here is a link to the place I found the solution, ” this time “. Surprisingly its actually on a Wacom site in the past I always found it in some obscure place maybe wacom is finally trying to address the issue…

Hope someone finds this useful, I know I will again, as surely the problem will return.



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