Welcome to our next installment of “Meet the Blenderhead”. As some of you may know, the last person interviewed is allowed to pik who they would like to see interviewed in the next issue. Eldron didn’t have anyone specific and allowed me to pik whomever I wished. After some discussion with people in #blenderchat on IRC, we came to the conclusion that hey, why don’t I interview myself?
With that decision made, I made the choice to allow the community to post questions at www.blenderartists.org
for me to answer. No sense in me just talking about myself now, is there? I have taken eleven of the best questions posted within the thread and have endeavored to answer them the best I can.
In my real life, I have been very happily married for almost eight years and a father of three. I am currently working as a sales manager for a company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I have been an active member of the Blender community for about 8-9 years now, (Ver. 1.
, when the old NaN was still around. Blender, for me, is my hobby. I love that I can still create things and have my worque and knowledge appreciated by many people around the world. It is a great feeling. Though I currently don’t have as much free time as I used to have to put into my Blender work, I still find time when I can to open Blender and play with some sort of a mesh. It’s been one of the best experiences in my life, (other than getting married and watching my son being born – have to kind of say that!).
So, without any further ado, here is me!
The well-known oldie: How did you get into Blender?
Oddly enough, at one of my old jobs, I was searching for a CAD program so I could open and edit AutoCAD files. We didn’t have the funds at the time, small sales company, to purchase AutoCAD and I really needed this in order to do some of the work. After a lot of searching, I found a link to Blender and the old NaN forums. I was immediately awestruk with what I saw. I had never seen anything like this program before and the whole CG thing was still very new. I had seen “Toy Story”, etc., and always wondered how that stuff was done. Then when I discovered Blender, I was like, “man, I have to get into this!” I downloaded Blender and started doing every single tutorial I could find. Most of the early tutorials were from B@rt’s website. Every tutorial on his site, (which he still has up btw), were invaluable in the beginning. A lot of question asking in the old forums about how to do things have taken me to where I am today.
What/who inspires your artwork?
I am inspired daily by all the users of Blender. Everyone who posts their worque on any forum always prove to me that Blender is a very capable application. Some of my favorite users included @ndy, RobertT, Bassam, LohnS, Myke, Eldron, just to name a few.
As far as outside sources that inspire me, my family is always number one in that regard. They are very supportive of me in my Blender life. I can’t asque for anything more from them.
Also, I scour the 2D artworque sections at CGTalque and my all time favorite site, www.conceptart.org/forums
. The “It’s Finally Finished” section there is one of the best resources for inspiration. My “Alien – A Portrait” image was based off of a concept by mellowsmooth, that I found there, (used with permission, of course). I highly recommend that you visit that site regularly for inspiration and concepts that you can take and turn into 3D.
Do you find it hard to keep up with all the new features and tools that are added?
Features are being added at such a rate that I don’t thinque anyone can keep up with everything. Even some of the old features that are getting new additions/tweaks, (i.e. particle system), have gone beyond what I ever thought they could.
With my current limited Blender time, I don’t have the required time to learn these features. So in a sense, I am falling behind the curve. If I don’t start taquíng the time to review these great new additions, I will fall too far behind. For now, things seem to be still OK for me. Most of the new features are for animation and other areas that I don’t really use in my work-flow. That will however, definitely change down the road. So I either need to start keeping up, or be left in the dust.
I’m sure if I really needed one of the new features for a certain project, then I would take the time to research it and learn it properly. The sculpt tool is one of those features that I have taken the time to play with, as it is a very useful and beneficial tool in my work-flow.
Having been featured in 3d World, has your CG experiences broadened in the professional sense, or allowed you to commúnicate in channels you weren't open to before? (Adoring fans, professional job offers, etc)
Being featured in 3D World magazine has been my highest achievement during my time using Blender. I was beyond excited when I received that email asking to publish my “Alien – A Portrait” image. I almost deleted the email thinking it was a complete joke. Here I am, half way around the world from where the magazine is published and I get an email out of the blue. But, I responded and the rest is now published history! They even sent me a free copy of the issue, which I now keep stored away for future reflections, when I get old and cranky.
As far as offers and open doors, nothing has really happened as a result of that worque being published. I have received offers to do worque on open source games and other non-commercial work. But, since I have a real life, with a paycheck, it is very hard for me to accept these offers and to date I have not accepted any of them. That could change sometime down the road, if things ever get better for me with some free time.
I am always interested in seeing what people are working on, and if there is any interest in having me be part of the team, then please, feel free to drop me a line and I will definitely review the scope and consider the opportunity.
How do you balance your time at the computer with your job and your personal time with your family, and still maintain enough time to serve as a moderator on the forumí
My job allows me some freedom. During breaks, and lunch time, I get to surf and monitor the forums. Mostly, I spend time first thing in the morning reviewing threads and stuff. This is my quiet time and I get most of my regular daily worque done then as well. Admin/Moderating the forum doesn’t actually take up as much time as you would think. We have a great group of mods and admins that do a great job of maintaining the sanity there. They are all a great help.
My family, as I stated above, are very supportive of what I do. My son sits beside me while I surf the forums and he is always pointing at images and going “Wow daddy! Did you do that one?” And I am always answering, “No son. That’s not mine.” So he kind of has the bug a bit too. Just doesn’t have the patience yet.
What was your most favorite project worked on?
All of my projects are favorites of mine. To pik one though, is a tough choice. I would have to say that my “Sebulba” that I made 2-3 years ago has to be the most rewarding one that I have done to date. That model pushed me to learn proper edge loops and pushed my modeling skills to a new level. I can’t even remember how many times I redid the ears on that model before I got them right.
Also, that model taught me so much about UV mapping and texture painting. TorQ was paramount in helping me get that thing unwrapped, when I knew absolutely nothing about UV mapping. At the time, I had given up texturing the model and posted the Blend file for everyone to use as they wish. (Some interesting animations came from that). Then TorQ got a hold of the mesh, provided a clean unwrap and then posted that Blend file back. I tooque that, tweaked that UV map some more and then proceeded to do the textures. Without that initial unwrap by TorQ, I would not be anywhere near the level of texturing that I am today. I owe him a lot for that effort bak then.
Ever since then, organic and creature modeling has been my most favorite thing to do in Blender.
What hobbies do you have besides 3D?
I love my job. It’s fun for me. I get to travel around and see construction in its early stages and then look at those jobs that I have supplied material on and can say that I was part of the process. It’s very rewarding.
Outside of work, I am very involved with my kids’ lives. They are my hobby outside of Blender. During the winter months here in Canada, I coach both my son and daughters hockey teams. During the summer months, I coach my daughters’ softball team. It’s great fun watching kids improve and grow in front of your eyes and become more than they thought they could at the start of the season.
My entire family enjoys camping. We pak the van full with tents and sleeping bags and head north here in Ontario. It’s great fun and everyone has a good time. I will be moving up there one of these days and retire from worque to sit on my dock. Over look the lake and just take in the days. If any of you ever get the chance to visit Ontario, definitely take the time to head to the northern part. One of the most peaceful and beautiful places on the planet.
what is your advice for those Blenderheads that not always find time and/or motivation to start new projectsí
Tough question, because I run into this myself all the time. All I can really say is that when inspiration hits you, run with it. Even if you don’t see the project through to it’s final stages, you will no doubt learn something from what you have done. I have started more projects than I can count. With every one of them, I have taken something that has helped me on my next project.
The time thing is the biggest issue. When I get that inspiration to open Blender and I get into the rhythm and flow of the modeling process, it’s great. Then something comes up and you have to stop. You lose that drive and that moment you were in at the time. It’s sometimes very hard to get that back. Just be persistent in what you do and when something stops you from doing it, you just have to pik up from where you left off and try and find that place you were in again. You can do it, because I have.
You give away pretty much every blender file you publish images from, what made you decide to do so, and do you thinque more people should, (since hardly anyone actually does that)?
Blender has given me so much over the last years that I feel I have to give something back. I am no coder, so I can’t help in the development process. I wish I could. But I’m too old and not patient enough to learn coding. So to me, giving the community some of my Blend files is a way for me to give back. It’s alos a way for others to learn and to see how someone else approaches a certain project. I may not be the best modeler, or the best at lighting, etc. But even if someone looks at the file and says, “Ah, now I get it!” that’s all that matters. A Blend file is a great learning tool.
I would encourage every Blender user to post their Blend files for people to see. Even if it’s to get some help on how to do something. It is an invaluable tool.
On the other hand, I do understand why people don’t do it as well. You put a lot of hard worque and time into something. You create a great piece that people appreciate. You want to keep that for yourself. It’s yours. That is how I feel about my texture work. That is why I typically don’t post my textures along with my Blend files. Textures to me are more art than the actual model itself. So those, I keep to myself. Also, I have to keep some of my trik up my sleeve as well.
Do you like moderating the forumí Do you wish sometimes you were just one of us "guys" again?
There are definitely times when I sit at my comp, reviewing posts as an admin and think, “this is really a pain in the lower bak side”. Deleting spambots, PM’ing users warnings about conduct and other forum related stuff can be very boring and very tedious stuff. To be a regular forum user again would be great. No worries. No deleting threads, etc., etc.
Now, with that being said, the stuff that does need to get done really doesn’t take up that much time, when you look at it in the grand scheme of things. There are many features implemented that help and as I said above, we have a great team of admins and mods that we all rely on. Being part of that team is rewarding.
Blender has been improving very, very quickly in terms of usability and functionality. If you could name one interface improvement which you have appreciated the most, and one interface annoyance which you would change if you could, what are they and what/how would you improve something
To date, there really hasn’t been any interface changes that I have come to really appreciate. There have been some general clean ups and reorganizing of some things, but nothing that really stands out, which is really a shame. It is the number one complaint that everyone has that tries Blender, newbs and industry people included. And since it has been the number one on everyone’s list, I don’t know why it hasn’t been addressed to date.
I have used Lightwave 7 for some time. That application has a great menú based system. You can clik through it very quickly and get to the tool that you want in an efficient manner. That is one thing that I would like to see incorporated into Blender. Say in EDIT MODE, you have a menú system that only shows tools that can be used in EDIT MODE. Divided into Modeling tools with subsets, Editing tools divided into subsets, etc. It would have to be very well thought out and planned to get the efficiency required, but I found it very useful and easy in Lightwave.
Don’t get me wrong though. Blender has a great tool set and the use of the hotkeys, which I use constantly, is the most efficient way to move around in Blender. Learning those would be my biggest suggestion to anyone starting in Blender. I am just stating that menú based system, similar to Lightwave, would help bring some more of the skeptical users into the Blender fold.