Synthetic Image research in March

Our visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum has filled me with so much inspiration that it proved a little difficult to get real work done this week. But I’m very determined about the next steps.

Collecting notes and photos from the visit took a bit more time than expected. And the 8th anniversary of our game The Path and sharing its new build for Windows 10 also affected the plans. And of course there were the classical guitar studies which I’m taking more seriously than before. I arranged my attendance of the Koblenz Guitar Festival in May. And I visited Ghent’s very own superb luthier Karel Dedain to try out his newest creation.

I did manage to continue the Blender modeling tutorial. Learned about modeling the face this time. Most of the tutorial focuses on modeling the shape which requires a sort of intuitive knowledge of anatomy (that I don’t really possess and honestly am trying to avoid somewhat in order to retain some of the naivety that I admire in early Old Masters). The way that this tutorial doesn’t explain the logic of the structure and instead just shows somebody doing it amazingly well, is not very useful anyway. Most of the instructions are in the form of “adjust the shape”. So I might abandon this thing. Maybe I should do an anime modeling tutorial, instead of a photographically-realistic one. Maybe those shapes are closer to Flemish Primitives.

Putting so much time into acquiring new skills sometimes seems a bit wasteful. I feel I already know a lot. Maybe it would be wiser to apply the knowledge that I have instead of learning new techniques and not actually creating anything. Maybe I should stop doing tutorials and just model what I can.

One of the things that caught my attention in the museum in Vienna was how very refined surfaces are treated in the paintings that I admire. Even with wonky perspective and incorrect anatomy, the artists manage to depict lush materials that give a more sensual sensation of realism, rather than a purely visual one. This made me think I should focus my study more on texturing and shading than modeling.

The museum visit inspired a great idea for interaction with the diorama in Virtual Reality. So I worked a bit more on the simple figure I modeled last month and used it to create a prototype in Unreal. I like the result so far. Some things didn’t work because interaction in VR is very tricky when hoping to avoid nausea.

There is a text that I need to write about an important decision that I have made concerning aesthetic style and conceptual approach of the diorama. I will post that soon.

I’m concerned that all this research and thinking and writing might be getting in the way of actual creation. Sometimes it feels like procrastination: it’s easier to design concepts and develop theories than to actually make something. So next month I will focus more on making! And based on the results we’ll see where I need more theory or research.

— Michaël Samyn.

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