Sunday, 31 March 2013

Attention to detail...

The number one thing that I've found while teaching over the years is that student projects (well, 99% of them) suffer from this - lack of attention to detail.  And that is exactly what makes them look like student work.

Attention to detail is important - we see it everywhere - in cooking, music, cars, software, movies, cellphones, etc.  If it wasn't there, we'd have music that was flat and simple.  We'd have food that was bland, or tasted bad. Software that was of a low quality and missing those small features that make it popular and powerful...  Its the exact same in CG - lack of attention to the details make for basic, uninteresting or unbelievable work.

I'll often use this model I built a couple of years back to point out some of the smaller detail points that students would miss without taking the time to look at what helps make such a model feel realistic (there's definitely many things on this model that still need work, mind you).

Small details such as the canopy slide (the rail that the canopy slides along when opening), mounting for guns in the wing (many times I see people simply sticking cylinders into the edge of a wing), the bulge in the tyre because the weight of the aircraft is pressing down are things that are picked up from attention to detail.


Looking with your eyes, not your mind...

So what exactly does attention to detail entail?  Its all bundled up into one very simple word - observation.  Look around you, collect visual reference, visit the things related to your project in person and absorb the reality of it into your visual memory...  That means sketching, drawing, photographing, touching...  Being aware of the way your subject matter looks or behaves is extremely important to how polished and professional the quality of your work will appear.

One typical example where a lack of this can be seen in many projects is always at the early design stage.  Often people attempt to develop ideas without reference - they base it on what they think they know, and without paying attention to the details, the results are always unpolished.  Proportions are wrong, small details are missing that make the design look more believable, or the design is not logical at all because the concept is based on what they imagined it looked like.  In particular, its character design where I see this occur most.


Knowing your tools from your Skills.

I don't know how many times I've told my classes this - but I'm starting to feel that its possibly a skill that takes time and practise (like any art form) to improve upon.  Its obvious when people with good traditional art and design skills already demonstrate better looking CG work.  The 3D software may initially be a challenge to pick up, but in the end it simply becomes a new tool for their creative output.

From my experience, I feel that its likely that students in particular invest a lot more effort into understanding how to create things by how they operate software, but not many spend the time to understand what it is they are creating before they touch the software itself.

This rolls back to one of my previous posts on software vs. skills - Its the artistic skills that have been built up that are then applied with the tools that they learn.  Its definitely not the case when its software operation first followed by creative skills second.

Students, or anybody who is new to CG or even experienced but struggling with their own design work, should take the initiative to get away from the software side and look around them.  Take a sketch book with you on your way to work, examine the world around you - and don't just do a google image search.


Post a Comment