It's no secret that I've earned quite a bit of Ethereum over the past couple of months selling NFTs but I haven't really gone crazy buying myself things. Most of the funds are earmarked for Ian and Jason's college fund and some long delayed home improvements. The main gifts I've gotten for myself so far are a collection of anime t-shirts, a PS5 and some sports tickets.
The majority of my spending has been re-investing in my DB and artwork. I've bought myself an RTX3090, an iPad Pro with Pencil, and Maxon Cinema 4D (with Octane). My most exciting purchase, however, is a software package called "Houdini" that I've been wanting for many years but could never quite afford due to their strange licensing scheme. I made too much for the indie licence but not nearly enough for the full license.
It's an extremely powerful program, responsible for many of high-end visual effects you see in major motion pictures and TV shows. It's also extremely complicated, so I am very proud of the fact that I've managed to learn enough this week to post a new render for you all to check out.
Houdini's procedural modeling workflow really makes a lot of sense to me in a way that traditional modeling does not. I feel like I will be able to use this program to take my artwork to new heights in 2022 and beyond.
That's why I titled this piece "Threshold". Things are about to get very interesting :-)
Between launching my NFT sales, launching DB 2.0, and aquiring some exciting new 3D software I haven't been adding as many wallpapers to the gallery recently as in years past. This week I decided I wanted to add more one autumn render to my gallery this year and fired up VUE. I'd wanted to do an update of "Muted Autumn" but the result wasn't very muted :-)
DB 2.0 is almost ready!! Some things will be shut down here on 1.0 soon to prepare :-) For now the new images will appear here first but once my new system for adding work is ready 2.0 will be the new default. Members can migrate their user data here.
Since 2003 I've managed to create a new (or revisited) Halloween render every year for the season. It's really one of my favorite holidays to create wallpapers for because the iconography is so darkly delicious. This year I chose to revisit an old favorite from 2007. I decided to simplify the background a bit, add some fog and some splashes of color here and there.
I hope you guys enjoy it.
DB 2.0 BETA is Live!The preview edition of DB 2.0 is now up and available for your review. Head to the Account Page, login and scroll to the bottom for the "Migration" link.
Please keep in mind that once you've logged into DB 2.0 it will be a lot more complicated to do account upgrades and such. If you are a basic Member and would like to be Plus and have access to my lossless and non-watermarked files (these are coming soon) please upgrade BEFORE migrating your data to DB 2.0.
If you are already on an auto-renewing subscription it's a bit more complicated. Enter your CC at on the Account Modification page and I will make the change in my database (the first payment will happen today though). You can also specify an upgrade to Donor, Patron, Sponsor or Guardian.
The signup functionality isn't yet in place on the new site so if you want to become a Member please sign up here and activate your login before migrating. Please let me know if you have any questions!! Cris and I have been working on this for a long time but it's still a work-in-progress. Expect a gremlin or two in the first few weeks but remember that DB 1.0 will still be around for a while.
New Lifetime MembershipsWith the emminent approach of DB 2.0 and my recent entry into the NFT market, I've been thinking of other ways to change things up in take DB into the 20s and beyond. I've always tried to have options available for folks at all levels and I know the most popular has always been my Lifetime Membership. I get it. It's great to pay once and forget about.
EDIT: 11:20pm -- I have removed the option from my signup pages now that the migration link to DB 2.0 is now live. I hope you will log-in and migrate your data to the new site (scroll to the bottom of the account page for the link. Look around and share your thoughts with Cris on my Discord server.
Unfortunately I didn't really forsee still making art 20 years later and still needing support to keep it all going. I love my Lifetime Members. Most of them paid a premium for it and I don't begrudge them their foresight. I will always honor my Lifetime Memberships!
That said, I've decided I can no longer offer new ones as freely as I have been. Once DB 2.0 debuts, which is very soon (subscribe to my Discord for more info), I will remove that option from the signup and renewal page.
I've decided that the only way to purchase a new Lifetime Membership going forward will be to collect one of my 1/1 NFTs. I want as many collectors as possible so this is a reasonable perk that I can offer. I'm only planning on minting a few hundred of my work (tops) so that will put a final hard limit on how many Lifetime Members I will have.
I don't want to sound ungrateful to the folks who signed up as Lifetime Members (some for only $50) years and years ago. I really needed the money at the time and you guys stepped up. You will always have a home here. If you would like to pitch in and give a little extra though at any time I have a Tip Jar and a special class of yearly Member called a "Lifetime Supporter" which grants you access to my Lossless Masters.
If you aren't yet a Member and want to sign up for a Lifetime Membership before the deadline please keep in mind that you will need a Lifetime Plus Membership to have access to those Masters. If you are current Member you can still log in and purchase a Lifetime renewal here.
I will continue to offer my affordable Membership options and I hope to add more and more free wallpapers to the gallery in the future. Thank you all for your amazing support these past 20+ years and I hope you will stick with me for the next 20!!
(Not into NFTs? Want something you can hold? My entire Zazzle collection is 30% off today)
Inspired by the towering clouds I would see billowing from below the horizon over the Gulf of Mexico during our brief Florida getaway in August. I wanted to see how the VDB clouds (which are a different type than I usually employ in VUE) handle lighting effects and I like what I see. This scene rendered in under 2 hours rather than the 24+ it normally would have taken.
My son Ian gave me the idea for the schedule because he saw how much of my bandwidth all this was consuming. "It will let you be an artist too" he said, which was probably the most mature thing I've ever heard him say. I love that kid :-)
Fun as it is, I don't want the NFT thing to consume my life. I want it to strengthen DB. Rather I am using some of the funds to finally bring on a developer, Cris Henderson, who's been helping me put together the DB of the future. I just may let him run the backend stuff going forward so I can concentrate on rendering and chatting with you guys about my 20+ years in digital art. I also intend to expand my free offerings so folks who don't feel like spending money yet can still enjoy my work.
My favorite part of this NFT experience has been taking some of the ETH I've earned from my sales and purchasing artwork from lesser known, but highly talented artists who could use some exposure. The folks that collect my work have made bids on some of theirs and I like to gift the artwork I buy to my top collectors as a reward for their support. It's made for some interesting exchanges on Twitter (where most NFT discussion seems to take place) :-)
And if all that's not exciting enough, all of this has rekindled Ian's interest in digital art <3
I see some really interesting times ahead. Hope you will stick with me for them as you always have :-)
The real trick with a good night scene is to make it dark but also have details in the right places so it isn't just too flat. Sometimes I have to rely on moonlight if the scene is uninhabited, but this time I have a little help.
I hope you enjoy it!!
Sorry I got a bit distracted launching my NFT line last week. Back to business!
VUE comes with some great plants, but it also has a pretty nice object library including a set of amazing lighthouses. The last time I tried to model a lighthouse a lot of folks thought it looked a bit more ribald than I had intended (:-D) but the render was otherwise popular. This new model shouldn't have that problem (whew!). For this version I chose to turn the camera around and feature the landscape rather than the ocean.
I hope you enjoy it!!
I know this probably won't interest the majority of you, but after months of consideration I've minted my first NFT on Foundation.
Important: NFT sales will not effect the availability of my images in the Members Gallery. I retain all copyrights!
Folks have been asking me to jump into this for a long time and I simply can no longer ignore the market. It wasn't easy picking a render to lead off with but I think I found a nice one. "Dispersion" is of my favorites actually :-)
I don't intend to send out emails or make a lot of constant noise on DB about these so I hope you will follow me on Foundation if you are interested futher. Whether or not I add more NFTs will depend on if how well this one does. It cost me quite a bit just to list it so I am hoping for the best!!
I know NFTs are a bit controversial and I hope I don't anger too many of you by getting to this field. If hundreds of people were signing up as Members every day I probably wouldn't try it but selling wallpapers online has always been a difficult (but fun) business model. If you guys want DB to stick around another 20 years then NFTs are part of the equation. Thanks for understanding!
I honestly wasn't sure how to price this so I aimed low to test the waters. LMK if you have any questions!
As promised, here's the daylit version of "Lupine Vale" that I created last week. In this case I thought it might be interesting to show the night version first so I went ahead and created one and posted it over the weekend. I know a lot of folks were looking for wolves in the night version but the title actually refers to the species of wildflower in the foreground :-)
They don't stand out quite as much in the night version but I knew I wanted to use this title. Sorry for the confusion!
I hope you enjoy them both!!
While building "Springwalk" a few weeks ago I tried a few different types of flowers in the undergrowth. One of them was a beautiful lupine species included in the "Plant Catalog" that comes with VUE Enterprise. It didn't work for that scene but I knew I wanted to do another using it soon.
I've created and rendered the daylight version of this scene already (and Jessie has told me it's very pretty). Before I posted it though I decided I would go ahead and create a night version and show you that first just to shake things up a bit.
Enjoy and please let me know what you think!
Apologies to all the trypophobes out there. I created this one in Blender while exploring the same techniques I used to create "Fabrica". If it looks sort of familiar that's because I used some of the minimal surface geometry I created for "Acumen" as the framework.
Regarding the title: I wracked my brain for a decent one for a good 24 hours. It's always the last step before I post a render. I showed it to Jessie and she had it figured out in about a minute :-D. Teamwork!!
The fourth and final entry in my "Walk" seasonal series. I'd considered waiting and creating/releasing these during the seasons represented but decided against it. I hope you guys aren't getting weary of them.
As for this spring version, after returning from our family road trip I created a spring render with green leaves rather quickly. After finishing it I decided to try a version with small purple blooms and I felt that one better represented the season. I will share the first version eventually though :-)
I hope you enjoy this render and the entire series!
The new technique I developed for scattering fireflies through my Nightwalk scene worked so well that I also used it to add falling leaves to Goldenwalk (be sure to check out the new version in the gallery). The next step was to scale it up to add snowflakes to a winter scene.
Let me know what you think of the results. At the very least it should cool off your desktop during a hot summer.
Hope you enjoy it! Dual and triple-screens available.
I've reset to the season to summertime for this nighttime version of "Goldenwalk". I've been taking lots of walks over the past year or so and have been trying to bring my family along whenever possible. My son Ian prefers to walk at night so we've gone on quite a few "nightwalks" (as he calls them) this summer. Our neighborhood looks quite a bit like this render (when all the fireflies are active) and on one particular nightwalk we encountered a cat that followed us almost the entire time. I added him to the scene so I would always remember those walks :-)
Hope you enjoy it! Dual and triple-screens available.
I hope it's not too early for Autumn renders :-) I don't play video games like I used to, but I'd been wanting to play "Ghost of Tsushima" for a long time and finally picked it up a few weeks ago. Of course I was instantly dazzled by the incredible environments and put the game aside to recreate one of them :-DThis particular scene was inspired by the "Golden Forest" area but I've purposely left out the Japanese influences (this time) to give it a bit more general appeal.
Hope you enjoy it! Dual and triple-screens available :-)
My education with Blender continues. I'd been meaning to learn how to use the new "Geometry Nodes" for a while now and decided to follow an interesting tutorial that I found on YouTube to create this stylized "motherboard". While I did follow instructions and use some of the supplied texture maps, I did create all the models and I feel like I've made the scene my own in a number of ways. I hope you enjoy the render as much as I enjoyed learning how to make it.
I was thinking of the night version of "Shores of Carina" from the beginning. The title, for starters, refers to the famous nebula from Earth's southern skies and the plan was to feature my Blender volumetric experiments in the night version.
I hope you enjoy it! Dual and triple-screen versions available!
While creating "Tropical Moon of Amatheia" I discovered a technique for generating interesting cloud shapes in VUE. I didn't want the clouds to be the main focus in that project though so I set the technique aside for the moment.
With this scene I'm trying to more fully explore the possibilities. I may try integrating some of my Blender nebulae experiments for a possible night version...
Let me know what you think. Dual and triple-screen versions available!
I haven't decided if I want to add more lighting to this but I thought you guys should be able to use the dark version (like I have been) while I tinker. Some folks I'm sure would like to see the moon in frame, but I chose to keep it higher in the sky so the moonlight would fall on the mountain.
Let me know what you think. Dual and triple-screen versions available.
I will probably also do a night version of this scene but I also wanted to do one with the mountain lit by the "break of day". This one actually took twice as long to render due to the shadows on the clouds and the sunbeams.
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold."
~The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I hope you enjoy the scene! Dual and triple-screen versions available.
After rendering many nebulae and other ethereal forms over the past week I felt the need to step back and create something relatively solid. The mountain was modeled using Gaea and the scene was rendered using VUE. Yes, I am invoking Tolkien with the title (though I sure some are hearing Zeppelin right now) :-)
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold."
~The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I hope you enjoy the scene! Dual and triple-screen versions available.
I've spent the last week or so learning how to use Blender's volumetric system. My goal is to create 3D nebulae but I still have quite a bit to figure out. This first attempt is pretty rough yet and not quite what I initially had in mind, but I think it's a nice proof-of-concept for now.
I've seen some really interesting things done with Blender's volumetrics so stay tuned :-)
I designed "Amatheia" in Blender (my first Blender planet) with the end goal of doing a "tribute" to the 20 year old "Tropical Moon of Thetis". The "day" version was a bit of a departure but hopefully this scene will evoke the original.
I rendered quite a few different atmospheres before settling on this one and I will share some of those in the Pickle Jar down the line.
I hesitate to call this a "night" version, because the sun angle here implies that it's still day time. How is this possible astronomically?? Easy! Off frame there's another moon eclipsing the sunlight momentarily :-)
It's hard to believe that it has been 20 years since I posted "Tropical Moon of Thetis". I've made lots of similar renders over the years but I wanted to create something with Blender and VUE that was something of a more direct tribute. I hope you enjoy it!! Night version forthcoming...
Nothing too fancy or outrageous here; just my first attempt at modeling and rendering a planet in Blender 2.9. I'd had a very quick process for creating planets in Ligtwave but Blender has a whole new system. I plan on using the planet as a backdrop but found it made a nice wallpaper by itself so I've added it to the gallery.
Stay tuned for a another view or two :-)
I have to admit that I was a bit nervous when creating "The White Woods" thinking that folks might hate it because it was so different from my usual render. The reaction really blew me away and I'm grateful.
I did receive a number of requests for different sky colors but the only one that made sense (for me) to try was black. I even added some stars so I could put this one in the Night Gallery :-)
I know this one is a bit different. Recently I was watching an anime with my kids and a particular line ("white trees under a red sky") painted a picture in my brain that I wanted to try rendering. This one borders between abstract and landscape so I will understand if it's not for everyone :-)
Here's a different mood for "Cloudvale". I chose not the move the clouds around because getting them set up for the first version was quite an involved process. The valley is still under there after all and I want it all hidden (naturally, rather than me hiding it from the renderer) for these renders.
My original idea for what eventually became "Greenvale" was to have something similar to "At World's Edge" where (instead of a flat cloud deck) you are looking out over towering clouds. As a day scene I thought the clouds were a little too bright so I broke down and added a valley in the middle-ground.
As I was experimenting with a "sunset" version it became apparent that I wasn't going to be able to light the valley floor and also have the sky with sunset colors. I decided instead to go back to my original idea and fill the scene with clouds. I gave it a different title (the Vale is hidden here after all) so perhaps I can do a night version of this one too :-)
My main concern for the night version of "Greenvale" was that the trees in the vale still be somewhat discernable even at night. My solution was to add some fog on the valley floor. I rendered a few different versions with the moon in different positions to see how the moonlight would fall across the scene. I felt like having the moon in frame distracted from the landscape and also caused the light angle to be too low leaving everything was in shadow.
I've put the other two renders in the Pickle Jar and hope you approve of my final version :-)
I started out on this one meaning to revisit one of my "classic" projects but as things progressed it turned into something new. This is one of those scenes where it's tempting to put a figure looking out over the valley, but instead I decided to leave a space for you to imagine yourself and hopefully the flowers will provide the scale :-)
Multiscreen coming soon!
I know a lot of folks prefer darker wallpapers so here's my jellyfish at night complete with bioluminescence.
I recently "re-discovered" a Plant Factory project I started, but abandoned, way back in 2016. My goal then was to use PF to create a jelly fish akin to the ones I have created in Lightwave. If I were starting this project from scratch today I would have used Blender but I stuck with VUE this time because it's easier to edit Plant Factory models. It's nice to finally "finish" this one :-)
I've rendered a high noon version of "Hideaway" to complete the set. The whole exercise was to experiment with lighting these new cloud models and I think I've learned quite a bit. Which is your favorite??
As I mentioned before, I did plan on doing a night version of this scene. Decided not to put any crazy planets in the sky here because the main theme of this project was learning how to light these new cloud types in different conditions. I could possibly render one more day time view just to complete the set...
It occurred to me that the best way to learn how to light these new cloud models is to make a few different versions of "Hideaway". I know some folks thought the first version was a little too dim so hopefully this will work better.
I will probably also do a night version next before moving on :-)
Also check this out this amazing visitor to my bird feeder earlier this week (stay for the end if you want to see him fly away)...
I hope folks don't think the scene is too dark, as the sun has yet to rise and all the light is from the clouds. Most of the light in the scene is in the background but I did try have some foreground illumination. I just got a new monitor however and it's very bright so your mileage may vary.
Trying a different way of rendering big puffy clouds in Vue here. These are VDB objects and they render a lot quicker than Vue's built in clouds. I happen to think they also look better in certain instances. They will be part of my work flow going forward.
Let me know what you think.
02/22/21looping animation of Daedalus I rendered that's suitable for use in meeting backgrouds or as an animated wallpaper...
What do you think? More animations??
These were the kinds of renders that I enjoyed creating with Lightwave before they stopped updating the software and it became tedious to use. There's a lot to re-learn with Blender but I feel like I'm starting to get a handle on it and I think the skills I'm developing will really improve my future landscape renders.
2/21: Here's a short animation I rendered to test out some things in Blender...
My learning with Blender continues. After I created "Fabrica" I knew I could use the same technique to update one of my favorite Lightwave renders from the '00s and in the process do a deep dive into Blender's polygon modeling, UV editing, particle system, shader editing, volumetrics, animation and lighting systems.
I'm also getting used to a new renderer (two of them actually) that can use either my CPU or GPU. Most sources say using the GPU is faster but then most of those sources don't have a machine like "Rochallor". That said, working with Blender has seriously made me want to upgrade my 2080TI to a 3090. If only I could find one for sale :-(
Update: 2/13...After creating the animation it was more evident than ever that the particles were not casting any light open the scene. I had thought to move on but instead I decided to do one more version and see just what sort of shading I would need for the particles to do all the lighting. This new version has no light sources other than the particles themselves wherein the first versions I "faked it" using point lights.
My brother and I were raised by a single-mom who worked long hours as a nurse. We did not have money for all the latest toys but she told me often that "I will always buy you a book". She spent a considerable amount on a set of encyclopedias that I read pretty much cover-to-cover.
Her guidance shaped me into a "philomath" (lover of learning) and this render is dedicated to her in the same way that Portals is dedicated to my Dad. She bought my first PC which I used to create my first renders. She's nurtured and invested in my creative spirit at every turn. Her library isn't quite as orderly as this one however :-D
I should note that the title has a bit of a double-meaning because this is the my first render in my gallery created using "Blender". This is a fairly simple image but I've had to re-learn a LOT to create this. I still have much to learn!
For a while now folks have been asking that I rework one of my earliest abstracts. That one is particularly tough to recreate though because it's actually not a 3D render at all. It was one of my first attempts at visual artwork on the computer and I used a set of 2D filters in an early version of Photoshop. This was before I had a copy of Bryce and knew anything about 3D rendering.
The first step creating a new 3D version was for me to learn how to create a convincing "woven" mesh. Fortunately I found a method using Blender that produces pretty excellent results. This particular render is my practice with that method.
Obviously I need a lot more practice but I'm sure this method can be used to create lots of other interesting effects :-)
This is a bit of a warm-up exercise after a week or so away from rendering. I noticed recently that my son Ian has been using other wallpapers on his machine. He told me my work was "too high-res", which I took to mean he's looking for something more minimal. I certainly can caught up sometimes in adding too much detail so consider this render to be a study in restraint :-)
In a normal year Jessie would have dragged me away from the computer for a trip or two. That didn't happen last year and if I was home chances were I was rendering. I told myself after posting my last render that it was time for a break. This will be my 24th year running this gallery so I've learned how to monitor and maintain my creative batteries.
I may linger with this scene for a bit so stay tuned :-)
When I added lanterns to the pathside in my bamboo forest I'm sure you all knew that I was going to attempt a night version. I didn't actually know if it would work or not but I like how it turned out. I hope you agree!
My mother sent me an article earlier this year about how being in nature can boost your immune system and mood. The Japanese even have a term for seeking this benefit..."Shinrin Yoku" or "Forest Bathing". It isn't news that being in nature can be good for your health, but I like that there's a word for it.
Everything is very brown and dormant in my part of the world right now so I wanted to create something inexorably green and (hopefully) peaceful to close out the crazy year that was 2020. If you can't get to a forest I will bring one to you :-)
Hard to believe that it's been 20 years since I posted what will probably always be my most famous render. I thought it would be fun to mark the occasion with a special Christmas version. The idea came to me as I was exploring Blender and discovered its very useful "Real Snow" addon which I then used to add snow atop my mushrooms.
I hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful holiday!
An idea struck me as I was arranging the lights outside my "Comb" scene. What exactly ARE the lights? Well...now you know. Hopefully it will make one look at the abstract in a new light (lol).
The plan was to render this in just a few days but unfortunately VUE's depth of field is a little tricky with this sort of scene. Arranging colored lights is also more complicated than plain white. Finally, I decided to use the "expensive" settings so it looked best but took a bit longer.
I may have one more Christmas scene in me before the big day. Stay tuned...
Video #TBTDB was mentioned on TechTV’s excellent “The Screensavers” a few times. Here’s one that I saved on tape and recently unearthed...
For the last week or so I've been learning how to use the modeler in Blender (starting with an excellent tutorial) and then how to import, texture and render those objects in VUE. It's been a while since I've attempted an abstract so I decided to go with that theme.
Some folks may remember that I rendered some of my early Lightwave modeling practice using Bryce back in day before I dug into the native renderer. This particular scene was created using techniques similar to what I used for "The Comb" so I chose to re-visit that title as well :-)
Next up...something for Christmas.