3D Illustration Tips, Secrets & Hardware Picks

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3D Illustration Tips, Secrets & Hardware Picks

Mastering the Art Itself…



This sequence illustrates the development of a rubber-gloved hand created for a West End musical show poster. The first screen shows one of the most basic cubic stages. Screen two displays a more detailed mesh, and the final screen shows the finished product.


What are the most difficult physical elements to model?

When you first start out with 3D modeling – like with drawing – most things, whether they’re organic or engineered, seem insanely difficult to replicate. But with experience, the process involved in modeling, say, a cutting-edge phone is barely different to that of a human hand. It’s all about simplifying the reference object in your mind, and trying to reduce it to its most basic structure.


With a human hand for example, at it’s most basic form, it could be a single, flattened cube for the main part, and five groups of three small cuboids for the fingers. Once the initial form factor is correct, it’s all about refining the shapes. That said, with a hand – or face, or any other familiar feature – if you get it wrong, it’s very obvious to almost everybody, since we al’ know what these things look like, and we have an innately keen eye for such errors.


With an engineered object, it’s all about clean lines, and knowing where best to make cuts in its polygonal form to define its form realistically. But either way, the most essential tool in 3D modeling is your ability to look at the physical world, and interpret what you see.


“The choice of colors of this scene was inspired by how the orange of a low sunlit object looks against that of a stormy sky in nature,” Adam says. “This creates pure color opposition, making the foreground character really stand out, as well as imparting a sense of menace and foreboding. Lighting was added to the character purely for artistic effect, rather than for physical light simulation.”


Does your work require any special artistic knowledge of shading, highlighting, industrial mechanics, that sort of thing?

I’m positive that my background in traditional painting plays an important part in my current digital work. However, this has far less to do with any actual techniques than it does about simple observation skills. The ability to really see how something is constructed, how light falls upon it, how the environment it’s within affects it’s colors… All this is far more beneficial in achieving a good finished result.


For product related imagery, a knowledge of studio photography might be of benefit, since you’re ultimately trying to create the illusion of reality, and most ‘real’ items of this nature are photographed using a classic lighting and reflector setup, which is easily translated into 3D.


3D software is capable of millions of real-world physical calculations in seconds, but it cannot make creative, visual decisions. It remains a tool – or box of tools – like any other set of artists materials, but without the artist to drive it, it’s just code! We all marvel at the incredible work created by the likes of ILM in many blockbuster movies, and it’s fair to say that they do have some of the most cutting-edge 3D tools available today, along with a lot we all have on our own desktops. But it’s not those tools that do the work. It’s the immensely talented teams of artists who use the tools.




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David Blanton

Picked the magazine up at the airport before a 12 hour flight from Dallas to Eastern Europe. Two hours into the flight I knew I had to drop you a note after landing. Your work in the Jan issue was just awesome. I am not an illustrator, a designer or even the least bit creative, but I know AWESOME when I see it ... very well done. We need to see your version of the iCar on the US market.

Keep cranking out the great stuff ... and thanks for I'm sure were 1000s of hours on the first issue of MacLife of the new year! .. I was blown away!



Adam Benton

Hi David,

Many thanks for your kind comments on my work - it was a really fun project to work on, and I am sure there will be more of this kind at some stage!

Warm regards