My Top 3 Internet Resources for Artists

By | Resources | No Comments

BTSIt is back to school season! Many are going back to school and even if you are not, it is not a bad thing to go back to learning. Learn something new or brush up on your current skills. So in the spirit of continually growing and learning I decided to list my top 3 internet resources for Artists. There are a lot of great resources now on the internet but here are my top 3 and why I continually go back.

1. Schoolism – There are some great courses from people currently working in the industry and you can get 1-1 feedback from them on your course assignments. If you are on a limited budget they do offer a spring sale and some classes are available as self-taught at a lower rate. Check out some of their free resources like interviews with leading artists and my favorite Bobby Chiu’s Livestream on Thursdays. The Chiu stream is a weekly dose of motivation, inspiration, and tips for being an artist today. I highly suggest tuning in each week.

2. The Gnomon Workshop – Again here are a wealth of dvds to purchase, and keep a look out for those online master classes they offer once a year. If your on a limited budget they do offer year subscription and they hold free contests each month where the 1st-4th place prizes get you tons of free dvds from their library. A few years back I entered this contest every month for a year and I learned so much! And I came out with some great pieces of art for my portfolio. There are two contests a 2D and a 3D contest each with a new theme each month. I enter about 8 times before I ever placed, but just the practice of doing a new piece helped me get better and better. If you are a beginning artist and need practice and portfolio pieces I suggest committing to this contest monthly.

3. FZD School of Design Youtube Channel – Feng Zhu has a free YouTube channel that offers great tutorials and incites. I have been a fan of Feng Zhu’s teaching style for years and even have a few of his dvds from the Gnomon Workshop. No matter what the subject, I tend to watch all his videos because he is just a great artist and teacher. I can always find good design lessons that can be applied to any subject matter.

These 3 internet resources are great places to start with to learn something new, brush up on your skills, and/or just to get some new inspiration and motivation.

Happy Back to School Learning Season!

3DS Tip: Poly Select Modifier

By | 3ds MAX | No Comments

The Poly Select Modifier is a modifier that lets you pass a sub-object selection up the modifier stack. This is very useful especially for complex objects that needs different UVW Map preferences for different parts of the object. Great for objects with Multi/Sub Object Materials.

So I have this object that has 3 Polygon: Material IDs – ID 1 for the wood, ID 2 for the pattern graphic, ID 3 for the counter. I apply the Multi/Sub Object material and then go to UVW map the object but one UVW map modifier is not going to work for all sides and all Material IDs. So here is where poly select comes in handy.

1. I place a UVW map on the object for the wood that works for the majority object. I do not like the orientation of the wood grain for the top/bottom or the angled extrusion but I fix that in steps 4 & 5. Next.



2. I placed a poly select modifier, then use the select by Material ID 2, and then place a UVW map modifier. I adjust UVW map preferences and it only effects the polygons selected in the Poly Select modifier.

3. Similar to step 2 I pace another poly select modifier, then use the select by Material ID 3, and then place a UVW map modifier. I adjust UVW map preferences and it only effects the polygons selected in the Poly Select modifier which is now Material ID 3.

4. Now to fix the wood grain on the top and bottom. Repeat the process and place another poly select modifier select the top and bottom polygons, and then place a UVW map modifier to have the grain go the other direction.

5. I would like the wood grain on the angled piece to follow the angle so I add yet another poly select modifier select the front and back polygons on the angled piece, then add another UVW map modifier and rotate the gizmo to the same angle as the object.

6. Is the Final Result with wood grain going in the correct direction on all sides, the pattern graphic filling the whole polygon, and the counter specs at the correct scale.

I use this method if doing architectural stuff quickly and this is faster than unwrapping the object and texturing in Photoshop. I also use this for baking procedural materials on unwrapped objects. For baking set your Unwrap UVW modifier channel to 2 and the place all the UVW maps modifiers to channel 1 then you can bake those textures right onto your UVW template and get the texture scaling consistent throughout the UV template.

3DS Vray Material: GLOW

By | Materials, VRAY | No Comments

Other than wood, metal, glass, a glowing box is a common material I often need in my rendered environments. I have tried different methods over the years and for a 4 sided glowing box/column I am going to reveal the method I currently use.This is not a set by step but an overview of my methods to create these materials.

I typically try to get 1 material to do all the work but for a glowing box not with a frame I go ahead and use 2 materials and 2 objects combined together to produce the following result.


Why two objects and not one? Yes I could use a composite, blend, or double sided material and I often do for glowing boxes in a frame. For a 360 column like this I find the 2 objects gives a softer diffuse edge that brings more depth to the column. Sometimes you can add a shell modifier on the object and use a double sided material and it gets close to this effect but that could add additional issues.

The Modeling: Pretty simple there is the outer column and an inner column.

Outer Column: is just a standard box divided by 5 vertically. I chambered the edges to get rid of that hard edge and a surface to catch the light. Then I selected the dividing line edges, extrude the edges to create a nice v grooves around the column.

The Inner Column: is just a slightly smaller standard box to the first column with no modifications.


Now for the Materials
Vray Material – White Glow

Outer Column: Is a frosted glass Material using the standard VrayMtl

Inner Column: Is a VrayLight Mtl with a gradient ramp box map as the color. Tiled vertical by 5.


Vray Material – Colored Glow

Outer Column: Is a frosted glass Material with a colored map for the diffuse color. Since I was doing a multi colored column I used a gradient ramp for the colored map. Note: I like vibrant colors so if you leave the diffuse white the color is just a bit washed out for my tastes.

Inner Column: Is Vray Light Material with a composite map using the same gradient ramp box map tiled by 5 as the white glow overlaying the color gradient map.

Vray Material – Vibrant Colored Glow

The only thing different from this material and the previous colored glow is that I added the composite colored map into the fog color slot at 80% of the frosted glass material. This is for if you really want the color to not get washed out but still show that it is back lighted. Just note that this will up your render time so you can decide if it is worth it.




By | 3ds MAX | No Comments

One of my favorite modifier tools out of 3ds Max is the sweep modifier. I think many people overlook this modifier or just do not know what it does.

The Sweep Modifier basically extrudes a cross-section along an underlying spline or NURBS curve path. Similar to the Loft compound object but way more efficient and easier to modify for revisions and changes.

It also comes with built-in 12 common cross-sections like angles,channels, tubs, pipe, egg, and beam shapes. Each of the built-in cross-sections has a parameter roll out that you can adjust offering more variations. You can also create your own cross section which is great for crown moldings.

This handy modifier speeds up my workflow and makes changing later a breeze. I often put sweep place holders for trims and moldings using the built-in sections and come back later and try out different custom profiles and see how it looks through out the whole space with one click. The ability to specify the angle of your profile and how it positioned on the spline is great for experimenting.


Common Uses where I use sweep:

Molding and Trim pieces: Frames for doors, windows, pictures, graphics. Trims around walls like wall bases, top crown molding, exterior trims, roofs, gutters.

Decorative line work: Scroll work for railings, windows, doors,

Spline Objects that change: Hoes, bag handles.

I highly suggest you try out this modifier and see how many different uses you can find for sweep.