Posts Tagged digital art

My thoughts on a certain calendar

I hope this post doesn’t bring any negativity or haters. I’ve seen this happen when the subject was so delicate (to some people) like this. But here we go.

I had read in another blog – which I won’t mention here which one  it is just because of these fights and haters, but it has been mentioned here a couple times and I do share many of their thoughts about how and where the fractal art is going – about how the Fractal Calendar was becoming sort of a… how to put it lightly… commercial product supposedly open to the fractal artists community to participate, but a project where just a few people had the chance to participate. And it’s always been the same people over and over, year after year. This is what I had read, remember. As I’m not involved with these groups, I just know the names of some of these artists and saw that there was really some sort of repetitive list of fractal artists that seemed to appear quite often. Then, it was also commented that the images chosen to appear in such calendar were getting more and more boring and common and were not displaying the “good” fractal art (whatever that is), but just the eye-candy, with the same style that is typical of that specific group of “chosen ones”.

Today, when I was going to the Fractal Forums website to get the latest Mandelbulb version for my other computer, I typed a wrong address that took me apparently to the official site for the Fractal Calendar. And they had 3 galleries for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 editions with the images. And now I could see with my own eyes that this was very much true, the images are indeed boring and repetitive. They aren’t ugly, though. But 12 images of common spirals and Doodads? I can do that too. Sometimes better. Many others can do that as well.

I think that the last time I had checked for the images in that calendar was around 2003, when I even submitted some images (silly me…). The same group of people seemed to dominate the choices of approved images back then, but the images were much more better and diverse. Now, they’re just as I’ve said, common spirals and Doodads. Sad, really.

Not that these artists aren’t talented and can’t make good images, the problem I see – IMHO – is that the images are far from being fresh, creative and daunting or even “updated”, they are just something that seem to have been done to fit a certain commitment, “we must do the calendar, you are the chosen artists, just send me anything in time and that’s fine”.

With the huge ammount of fractal softwares – and fractal kinds  so to speak – now available, it’s sad to see that they have chosen just common spirals done in Ultra Fractal. No Apophysis, no old-school Fractint images, no new styles like the Mandelbulbs. And just spirals. While the time in the calendar goes on for all of us, the quality of its images seem to be going back in time. Or the clock seems to have stopped in 2002 for the people that are responsible to choose the images.

A small disclaimer: I don’t know any of the artists involved in the making of the images chosen for the calendar in any way other than occasionally viewing fractal galleries where their images are displayed, in their own websites or in other galleries in other websites. I don’t have any particular “hate” for any of these neither had any personal fights with any of these artists and this wasn’t a personal attack on anyone (before any of these haters that like to keep starting flame wars in the aforementioned blog find an excuse in this post to start some more of these wars), this was just my personal opinion on the Fractal Calendar (to which you are entitled to disagree) and my comments are mostly made about the way it’s made and conceived and how its images are chosen, not about the talent or the quality of any of these fractal artists involved.

Related Images:

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mandelbulb compositions?

From my few experiences with the Mandelbulb, most of the images I could make so far that didn’t look like something that has been done by other fractal artists or that don’t look too much like other fractals remind me of coral reefs. A lot of them, actually. Or it’s a coral reef or it’s a futuristic building. Not bad, because I am not really stuck or am being forced into a certain picture style neither I have the need to make just common 3D fractal images by the dozens (that many other people are doing anyway), but it would be very interesting if there was a way to import some other 3D objects (non-fractal stuff) into that, like for example… fish.

This could lead though to a lot of cheesy mixed images like some we see at these online communities, with odd Poser nude girls mixed with colourful fake landscapes done in Bryce and some Apophysis things scattered here and there for a final touch, but if used right and done right, it would make things very interesting in this new 3D realm.

Also in images like these futuristic cities some other details could be added – spaceships, “cars”, fractal trees, people, ETs… again, without making it look too much like some of these furry porn characters, that look more like a bad acid trip than something really creative and ingenious.

There is a way to import background pictures in Mandelbulb 3D, but these are useful only to create sky textures I suppose, with a few planets and clouds. If there was a way to add actual 3D objects, things would get a bit more interesting sometimes, if one wants to move a bit away from the chaos and fractals and the random abstract things. In these reef images for example, 3D fish or other critters could really make the images very interesting. But again, purists would cry their hearts out saying it’s not a fractal (it isn’t… nobody said it was in the first place!).

I’ll start posting some of these images as soon as I have about half a dozen of them, maybe they will have their own galleries as they are of a different kind of fractals. I need to get better with the software first, I’m having some difficulties to understand its rendering parameters and I’m getting some images with artifacts and grains and other unwanted things that are ruining some possibly interesting images. As there still aren’t good tutorials on Mandelbulbs, I’m still lost and going on my own.

Related Images:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The chosen ones, part VII

From Gallery 14, “Halo”:

This is one of my favourite images. People tend to say it’s very “spiritual”, even though they don’t know its real name, which could really be suggestive. It was the first image I sent to the exhibition(s) in Spain, and it looked gorgeous printed in a big size and framed. It was my first experience of printing a fractal bigger than the more common and easy A4/A3 sizes, and I was really surprised. The bigger you print them, the more details appear, all the time. It happens to even some of the ugliest images, when they are seen printed in a big size and framed, they change.

I had a few problems with the brazilian mail service though. They charged me a very expensive fee to send it to Spain, and the glass of the frame came there broken (silly me, I used glass, should have tried something else). They said (obviously) that it wasn’t their fault, despite all the huge FRAGILE signs attached to the package. Since then whenever I need to send some of my fractals elsewhere I try to send it unframed and make all the framing job in the destination. It’s more expensive to do the framing in places like Europe or USA, but it’s safer. Framing them here is quite complicated, people aren’t used to frame this kind of work and I had a couple damaged prints, not to mention all the problems with the shipping – and I didn’t use the cheapest option!

Related Images:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The chosen ones, part V

From Gallery 11, “Lightning”:

This one seems quite a simple image (it is!) but it was really important to me maybe for non-aesthetical reasons. This image called the attention of a band named Disgruntled Postal Workers, and they’ve asked me to use it in their CD called “Wicked”. It was the first time I was asked to have an image used on someone else’s work, and also… it was the first time I made some (really small) money off my work.

I had to follow the rules and ask for a fee, but at the same time, I couldn’t ask them “too much”, mostly when I thought that it was such a simple image and more, made with a freeware software. Sure, it’s my artwork, but it could and can be easily reproduced by nearly anyone that knows a bit about fractals and Fractint. But this is what they liked, and they were not based in reviews or comments in fractal sites or art communities (here goes my anti-Deviant rant again). They just found the fractal image and thought it would fit with their work. And respectfully – the most important part of it all – they asked me for a licensing fee. And how much is too much in this case? I had no idea. I bought a book that helped me a lot to learn about how the licensing process of artwork goes, and it really helped me to decide how much to ask. It’s called “Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines“, and it covers all the aspects of licensing and fees and copyright issues, it helped me a lot, really (I bought the 10th edition if I’m not wrong). If they were signed to a big label, of course I could have made a lot more, but as they were an independent band, and as an amateur musician myself, I know how hard can it be to get money to help make your work to be finished and released to the public so if I asked them more than they could afford neither me nor them would be happy.

The whole process ran as smoothly as possible – maybe because there was no involvment of the big guys of record labels or lawyers or anything like that. It was just a few e-mails exchanged between me and Scott (R.I.P.!), the singer. I sent them a “contract” (written with the help of the book) just with the basics only to be sure that we wouldn’t have any problems in the future (what if they exploded and become a new U2 or something?), and that’s it. After some time I got a package with the CD already finished, and there it was, my image, my name in the credits, in a rock’n’roll CD. It’s things like that that make you keep going. Oh yes and the CD was nice as well. It sounded like a mix of Rush and Live and with some influences of grunge and tidbits of “funk metal” or whatever it’s called. After Scott’s death, they have reformed with a new name, The Red Desert,  sometimes I still go there and see what they are doing.

And BTW, the fee was really small. I even made some “extras” for free, like images that could be used as wallpapers, postcards or some promotional stuff. It doesn’t hurt to do things legally, it’s better than use something off the internet without giving the artist any credits. Play nice.

PS.: for those wondering how I could use a GIF image, with 256 colours, in a professional work – it was imported into UltraFractal and rendered there, in a big size and resolution and the colours were smooth as usual, no strips or bands or anything like that. As always, no Photoshop involved whatsoever.

Related Images:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why I don’t use Photoshop or Gimp?

There’s a big discussion involving fractal images and Photoshop, with several different points of view, but the main one usually is that if a fractal image is manipulated in Photoshop (or Gimp, or any other software like that) “it’s not a true fractal image anymore”.

I’m not interested in this technical discussion – each side of it has its own correct assumptions, but I’ve decided not to use Photoshop or any other image manipulation softwares because to me I feel that with them it’s much simpler to create something interesting with virtually no effort, I guess this is the same way I don’t like how Apophysis is misused by most of its users nowadays – the random, automated way to create an image or a batch of images. With Photoshop/Gimp etc. sometimes I feel the same happens.

Yesterday I gave Gimp another try (I really can’t get used to that interface!) but mostly to try something like the Droste effect which is quite interesting. I found that there is a plug-in for Gimp that does that effect (and many others) called MathMap, and it can give some interesting fractal-like results in regular pictures. I couldn’t make it work (I need an older version of Gimp it seems, and I’m using Windows), but I found some other quite interesting plug-ins that can make very nice effects and changes to your fractal images in a very easy way. I might even post some of these attempts here just for fun, the map to sphere stuff for example is really interesting mostly because I need some fractal that can look like a planet/world for a logo/icon to be used here, and an animated ” fractal planet” spinning using one of my own images will definitely look nice. But the easiness to make a fractal look “better” with a few default settings of a plug-in is what makes me go away from these image editors and not even try to use them. Not even for a simple sharpening, which gives a nice effect with images that have lots of details.

Other day I found one of these links named “amazing fractal images” (or some variation of that) and there was a bunch of images of “fractal animals” – lions, birds, dogs, whatever. All had a fractal texture applied to the original images of the animals and one that doesn’t know fractals might think that the fractal software generated a true fractal image that was shaped like a dog – it didn’t, it was just a simple dog image with some Apophysis image “pasted” on top of it working as a texture, blended with the original image. You can actually see some of these here. Is this person a good fractal artist? No, he’s just someone that knows how to work with layers in Photoshop, and this is much easier to find than someone that can really make a (traditional) fractal from scratch. I remember when I found these images. In the first image I was like “wow, that’s nice” and while looking at about the 3rd or 4th I was like… “boring!…”. It won’t take you more than a few minutes to replicate that kind of effect, much different than waiting 50 hours for a real fractal image to be rendered.

Edit: with a few more clicks, I found the culprit: a plug-in named Fractalius. Annoying, really annoying. I didn’t know it was that easy.

Related Images:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,