The Dude Abides – The Journey Of An Aspiring 3DX Artist
Hey guys. I’m The Dude, and I’ve been an Affect 3D graphic designer since late 2013. I’ve designed promo sets for 3DZen, Supro, Amusteven and many others, and now I’m getting in on the action myself. This series follows my progress as I develop my skills in an attempt to one day be counted amongst the heavy-hitters of this industry, starting from humble beginnings and little-to-no experience, to hopefully one day achieving excellence. Now a month into my journey, I thought it a good time to write part one and allow you to get to know me.
The push over the edge
Just over a month ago, I hit the town with a few mates. I’m not really all that big on pubs, I prefer bigger venues, but I live a rural life and pubs are all we have. It hadn’t been on the agenda for me to even go at all, but the group insisted that I come along and so, caving to peer pressure, I went. I had fun for what little time I was conscious, as it wasn’t that far into the night that the White Russians I’d been drinking earlier kicked in (my alias isn’t all I picked up from The Big Lebowski), and generated some coma-inducing concoction together with the countless volumes of beer in my system. Knocked out cold and utterly vanquished, my mates got me home. I woke up the next morning with a hangover the size of Jupiter, and a feeling of absolute mortality.
Here I was, bedbound for a day. Worse still, I had gotten a new matrass the day before and the damn thing was stiff as a board. By the time it was noon the hangover and the bed had conspired to petrify me from head to toe. Standing upright was too much to ask, and each step taken was a challenge in its own right. I tried to crawl behind my computer to take my mind off how horrible I felt, but it was no use. Throwing myself back under the sheets, it was me and my iPad, and what little strength my brain could muster to make my hands operate the bloody thing. “What’s happening on the internet today,” I remember asking myself, boredom piercing the haze of sickness, and then it hit me.
The G4E DLC teaser!
Yes, I’m not ashamed to admit it, I was looking forward to it like I had in the past looked forward to major movie trailers. Now, if it seems like dickgirl porn takes up a far too prominent position in my life, let me clarify. I have always felt that, in having closed the gap between ordinary rendered sleeze and true, quality erotica, G4E represented something unprecedented in 3DX. It was part of the reason for why I began working for A3D in the first place, having stumbled across it back in 2013. In a way I don’t think it would’ve really mattered what the subject material was, though I will admit to Tara and Sayako opening my eyes to the wonders of using a dick without having to deal with the bothersome element of the guy attached. Before that, I had never really given futa porn any real thought. Anyhow, I wanted to see what Miro had done with his new DLC material, and whether it would live up to the old stuff.
Boy, did it ever.
I guess something snapped in me at that point, as I was pissing away precious hours feeling mortal when I could’ve been putting them to good use. It bothered me, somehow, that somewhere out there was a guy making porn of this quality for a living, and I was doing absolutely nothing at all. I know, I know, we all have a shitty day every now and again, but the idea of taking my own steps into the field of 3DX had been burning in my mind for a while already. The urge I felt then to get up and get moving, and take the first steps towards making something even half as good as G4E, conflicted with my physical reality, and it aggravated me to no end.
I’m the kind of guy that reserves his passion for specific things; I don’t fall in love easy, but when I do I’m head over heels. I don’t get excited about stuff so fast, but when I do I devote all my energy to it. So I went into the night agonising over not being able to get started right then and there, and the next morning, feeling better, blew three hundred dollars on DAZ Studio content. I figured that if at least I spent the money, I had an incentive. It was about impulse, about taking the leap, and even if I failed, I could at least say that I’d given it a serious shot.
Let’s backtrack a little, because at this point you might ask yourself: if you’ve been working for A3D for all this time, what took you so long? The answer to that question is easier than you might think, and perhaps even the very thing that’s keeping you from churning out your own renders right now: assumptions. We’re all motivated to pursue a creative hobby when it comes to something we can pick up on the fly; painting, writing, singing, dancing. But actually learning software, figuring out all the technical jargon, getting all this theoretical knowledge down? “That requires more than what I can bring to the table,” I told myself. It wasn’t necessarily me seeking excuses to avoid challenging myself. It was just me never seeing it as a legitimate option in the first place.
See, I’d always been under the impression that to make 3D content at a respectable level could only be done with years of experience and a number of diplomas under your belt. Games design courses, stuff like that. I thought that it took countless hours of rendering teacups and bolts and simple cars to even understand the basics. I had always, subconsciously, put 3D modeling on this kind of pedestal, elevating it to something closer to magic than an acquirable creative discipline. It wasn’t an altogether wrong assumption to make, as I’m sure any 3D artist employed at a professional studio can attest to, but it wasn’t necessarily as relevant to my own situation as I thought.
See, the industry changed over the last ten years, and thanks to posing studios and pre-fabricated content, the entry bar has been lowered. This isn’t to say that any idiot can come in and create super porn with no effort; talent is still very much a factor, and in order to create something truly amazing, picking up auxiliary software to sculpt, texture, and edit models is ultimately unavoidable. That said, the gap between your favourite 3DX renders and your own quality content is a lot smaller than you might think, and it certainly doesn’t take months of boring tutorial sessions to make your own first sexy setpieces.
It was a reality I discovered several weeks prior to the drinking incident, when I began to study Blender after (foolishly) dismissing posing studios as amateur hour. It was going to take many, many hours of building simple things before I could even get close to modelling and texturing a human face, let alone replicate the quality I was so used to in the content posted on A3D. Conceding to reality (and common sense), the order of business became as follows: posing studios first, advanced programs second, mindblowing hardware and spectacular results third. If this seems like a concession to mediocrity, make no mistake: G4E is for a large part designed in Poser. The strength of these programs is underestimated only by laymen.
What I probably should’ve done was lay out my path a bit better, because I ended up spending money on stuff that I didn’t truly need, or would only need much later down the line. The budget I had set myself had run out well before I stopped stumbling onto things I thought would enhance my renders, so I’m now operating a library of characters I don’t use and clothes I don’t care for, while still being deprived of things like proper lighting engines, better shaders, or liquid plugins. Rookie mistakes, so I don’t really care at this stage. There’s a lot of room for error here, as more important than the volume of your content library (arguably) is the ability to use it well. The size of the boat versus the motion of the ocean, if you will. Freud would have a thing or two to say about this analogy I just made, I’m sure.
Getting the basics down happened quickly, with no small amount of thanks to the helpful folks over on this website’s forum. That’s one of the things I love about the A3D community: it’s welcoming to newcomers, and even the seasoned vets weigh in with tips and feedback. Throughout the last month I made far greater progress than I had thought possible, proving once again that assuming the worst is a surefire way to make you go nowhere at all.
Quickly reaching an acceptable level of quality raised the question as to what kind of 3DX artist I want to be, and this question is born in part from the incredible potential this industry has. To begin with, it’s laid bare a range of sexual fetishes that I had no idea people harboured on such a large scale. That said, there’s very little of it that truly appeals to me, and I think that this is an industry that deserves a little something more grounded beside all the elves and orcs and aliens and monsters. Not that there’s anything wrong with these genres; some of their main contributing artists have been an inspiration for me to get started, because quality is quality regardless of taste. It’s just not my personal fancy.
So I’d like to end this first entry with a question of direction: what’s kind of sexual kinks would you like to see better represented in 3DX? If it’s something that strikes my own imagination, I might even pick it up and do something with it before the next entry. I’m looking for a more grounded, real-world influence here. Whether it’s a really specific sexual act, or a broader setting that you think would be ultra erotic, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do.
So that’s it for part one. Will I reach the heights I’m aspiring to and eventually produce my very own G4E, or will this whole venture run aground in a quagmire of inability? Can a guy with no real background in 3D art rise to the heights he admires in others? Only time will tell. Let’s see where I’m at next month. In the meanwhile, be sure to follow me on my blog, http://thedude3dx.tumblr.com, as well as my thread on the A3D forum right here.
See you next time!