Digital Artist – Which Type Are You?…

Talented or Hard Working?

Notice with my question about being a digital artist that I gave you only two choices? Well, there’s a reason for that … which I will get to eventually. But I think we often recognize a digital artist for having talent. We are less likely to think what makes them stand out is the result of a lot of hard work.

It’s always great to have people you respect and care about pay you a compliment. So I feel greatly blessed when people in my life call me “talented”. For some reason though that title never quite sat right with me, and now I think I know why. Recently I read a book by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D, called Mindset. It’s a great read which has freed me up in ways I’m very grateful for. It’s also helped me define why being a digital artist and 3d content provider is so important to me. Thank you, Carol. Note that this is not a plug for the book, just an honest recommendation. 

Discouraging Start for a Digital Artist

A crucial bit of my story is that we moved around a lot when I was young. So toys weren’t always available. Pencils and paper were. So I got fairly decent at drawing at a fairly young age. In sixth grade, I entered a drawing competition at school.  I remember I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t win a prize or even an honorable mention. I mean I worked pretty hard at my picture. It took me many hours to complete. Meanwhile some kids who got a prize whipped their’s out at the last minute. So I went to the teacher in charge of the results and I asked her why. She said “None of the judges believed you did the drawing yourself. Your parents must have helped you”. Don’t worry, though I do remember this event well, I don’t really think it left a scar. I love most all of my teachers, and truly believe there is no higher calling.

Positive Feedback is Encouraging

Now flash forward a few years later, and D & D was a popular game that I played a lot. I played it with my brother and sister, and with friends in school. Pretty soon they all started asking me to do portraits for their character sheets. So I would interview them about their characters and they would describe things strait out of their heads with great detail. I’m not exaggerating or selling myself short by saying that I thought a lot of their ideas were better than mine. My advantage – good instruction, better eye-hand coordination and visual observation skills specific to drawing, as a result of lots of hours working at it. I knew a kid down the block who spent all his time shooting a ball at a hoop his parents put up, over and over and over. He got the reputation of being a very talented ball player – same kind of thing.

Point is, people who have imagination but think they aren’t talented enough to make their dreams a visual reality are just getting a raw deal. So even though I still like the feel of pencil or paint, I am very excited by the potential inherent in digital art. I mean what’s in your head, that which is unique as a fingerprint, the way you see worlds both known and unknown is of great value. And we are quickly approaching a time when artistically, your creative vision is what will be valued most, not your eye-hand coordination.

3D Rendering: An Aid to the Digital Artist

In that vein, I think 3D has the most potential to aid a person in their goal to become satisfied with their chops as a digital artist. Mainly this is because of how accurately 3D can reproduce the complexities of light and allow you to view your work from any angle. 3D is very powerful, but in many ways still very hard for a lot of people to master. It currently takes a large investment of time to fully grasp the concepts and quirks of various software offerings.

And traditionally with 3D, you not only have to survive the learning curve but the very high price tag of professional software as well. It’s another example of a trend that creates a huge gap between the haves and have-nots, which is a particular sore spot for me.

But all that is changing rather rapidly now. Free and low priced options for 3d composition and rendering are starting to catch up in terms of how amazing the results can be. And some of these offerings are taking a very hard look at how to make the learning curve a thing of the past. You can now find gallery images on the net that you could swear came out of a major motion picture production house or an A-list video game, and it might just have been made by a child using the laptop their parents gave them for Christmas! I kid you not.

My Role as a 3D Content Provider

So now, when I develop 3D content for others to use, I’m thinking “how versatile can I make this? How easy to use? How likely is it that someone will use this to make something I never could have imagined?” That is a big part of what drives me. My art is more in the imagery I create. My job, luckily for me has some art in it. But it’s more about making cool stuff for other people to use while pursuing their own sense of art. And I’m good with that!

That’s why I’m particularly proud of my latest product, called IBL Master. It’s a directional control combined with an Image Based Light Shader. And it opens up new possibilities for what you can do in Daz Studio.

The challenge

My challenge to you (dear reader) is this: If you answered “I’m talented”, learn about mindset. I definitely feel like the book Mindset gave me hope when I felt limited by my talent and creatively blocked recently. Hopefully it will have the same affect on you. If instead, you answered “hard worker”  that’s good. But don’t sell yourself short. If you have a brain (and you do because you’re reading this) then you have the potential to develop a great imagination and express it in tangible form!

Software designed for the Digital Artist can help you get it out of your head and into something tangible. It’s just a question of whether you want to develop it and are willing to work at it, and of course time is a factor. You’ve got to be willing to put in the time if this is important to you. Finally, if you answered “neither”, I say figure out what you love and go after it. It can be challenging yes, but you don’t know what you’re missing! And as always, it is extremely important to ask for help when you need it. Whether you’re just starting out or struggling along the way, there are a whole lot of us that have been in your shoes and are willing to offer a tip or two.

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