Friday, September 23, 2011

Digital Distractions: Sculptris

Sometime in February I picked up an old block of clay and started playing around. The result were a couple of sketches that were a fun distraction from my core paintings, but unrealized as to their application to my recent nocturnal explorations. As I responded in a comment, I perhaps came to making figures as naturally in clay as a child as to sketching.   In grad school, a colleague remarked that "I painted like a sculptor."   While I may have suspected at the time he was simply trying to sound profound, I have since agreed with his proclamation.

Often, when I am painting a form in two dimensional space, I imagine it as if I am forming it three dimensionally.   A curving line in space gets compressed by the flattening demands of the illusion, as the 2D eclipse follows the same flow as in the mind as a 3D circle it could represent.   It's not an easy concept to grasp if you don't draw, so I hope that my non-artist readers will forgive my musings.  Suffice to say, when I heard about this computer modeling program which mimics some of the hand manipulations of clay forms, I was intrigued.

I admit, I've very briefly experimented with programs such as Painter (about one evening's worth), and found the initial learning curve of the Wacom tablet as in input to be off-putting. Similarly, while I've watched other veteran painters like David Hockney as they experiment with the ipad as a painting tool, I haven't been personally interested in making crude marks with my fingertips.  In the digital age, if technology grows more accessible by the day and I'm holding out until someone makes an actual artist-level touch interface in a reasonable price-range.  The free download of the Sculptris beta met my last criteria, and I was impressed by the rather natural interface.   While I may have lost five hours of painting time, I did manage to make a mushy version of a clay sleeper above by sheer trial and error from imagination.   The intense symmetry is a result of using a mirror option with each step that builds form in half the time.  While I have yet to play with the program any further, or add hair to the guy, it's a neat tool that I would recommend to anyone looking for alternatives to the tablet interface.    Now, I will just have to wait until someone makes a Kinect hack so that I can just do this in real space with my hands.....

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