Sunday, June 27, 2010


The entire world seems to be busting into 3D everything these days (can't wait for NFL 3D, by the way), and I am no different. Well, mine's not really 3D. It's 3D in 2D images. It's complicated...D.

But how does one begin making a medical/science 3D thingamabob? Let us see!

First, I opened up a hemoglobin protein model from the handy dandy protein databank.
And it absolutely nothing. Super. But don't quit! This is just the un-pretty, data-type stuff. We're getting there.

Looks more protein-y. Wait for it...color!
This is the "ribbon model" of the protein, but it isn't very exciting. To me, it looks like something that I curled with scissors for a birthday present topper. So I added some fancy pants lighting, atmosphere, speckles, and depth of field, movie style blurring to get this:
Looks a little more Discovery channel now, right? We're following a de-oxygenated hemoglobin in a red blood cell! Now if I could only animate...but 3D studio max is not so easy. Case in point:
This is what the screen looks like when I modeled a neuron from the brain. This is the screen where I continually claw at my computer, wanting to reach in and just grab the model and move it with my hands. Tony Stark, please get on that. From this strange wirey screen, I rendered out this:
Eh, not so exciting. Put some of that fancy pants lighting and atmosphere in there and you get something much cooler:
See those neurons zapping away, trying to figure out whether I should go to Subway or Chipotle for dinner tonight. Ok Subway, you win this time.

After my first few weeks of 3D class, I can see the merits of making a 3D illustration or animation. However, it is definitely not without its challenges. For example, you can't tell by looking at my finished pieces how many times I cursed at the computer and swore off art and grad school all together. Hint: the number is large. But somehow I end up remembering every Discovery channel doodad or Pixar movie that has me drooling and saying "I want to do exactly that," so I come back. I feel I need years upon years upon years of practice to even hold a tiny candle to the the entertainment industry regarding 3D. But God help me, I love the entertainment industry. And the entertainment industry loves 3D. So if a=b=c, then...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

You should read my blog. I hear it's getting better.

Needless to say, these past 8 months have been completely crazy. Our schedule is not set up in semester form but more in "project" form, where each new project (usually lasting a few weeks each) is a class. I both love and hate this format: rarely do I get bored with a class, but a lot of the time I feel like I'm trying to learn stick and can't shift the gears fast enough. If you've seen me attempt to drive stick, you know exactly how frantic that looks. On the bright side, I produced a lot of work over the past few months! Also, I can watch Discovery Health and feel like a super braniac. There is nothing like watching Mystery Diagnosis and making the diagnosis before the doctors do. I only did it once, but my nerd-self was beaming with pride.

Speaking of oogles of work, I have a recent project to post! The concept was to design an editorial cover for a medical/science journal. I chose to illustrate a cover for this article about electronic waste in our environment. I have my full process, from my first daydream doodles to the finished product. I love putting my process up, but I kind of feel like a magician telling all the secrets. Like this fun show I used to love. In a way, I am the new Magician X.

The finished product:
The first stage was a doodle. I did this one very sleepy morning in the department. As you can see, it's rough. In doing thumbnails, I often ask myself if I can, in fact, draw.

Next step, a color comp from a beginning sketch. The idea begins to solidify a little bit, but it's clearly still a ghost of projects yet to come.

And compulsiveness shows through. I've included oogles of wires, all of my old phone models, every piece of musical equipment I've owned (my favorite boom box) and every game console from N64 on. (This includes handhelds, minus the DS, Wii, and Sega Genesis. Throwing a Genesis away is blasphemy.) Find your favorite old piece of electronics (you may have to look at the pen and ink, it's more complete)!

Next, time to ink! This was the most experimental part for me, since I haven't properly comic book inked. I've always wanted to since I used to draw my own Sonic the Hedgehog comics. This is my favorite stage.
And from there, the photoshop coloring! ...which is the stage I'm going to abbreviate, since it's kind of involved. I have to say that I was inspired by (superhero) comic artist Steve McNiven. Oh, Marvel Civil War. So, once again, the finished product:

As you can see, the thumbnail is rarely like the original. This is not how I envisioned this would look in the end, but I am happier with this than the vision I originally had. (For example, the sky was going to be blue and the wires more black with light blue highlights. How weird!)

And how this was made. Generally. Next time, some flashback artwork! Or perhaps, an entry on med school anatomy? The possibilities are endless.