Back to the Future: 3D Digital Illustration


Pages from my sketchbook.

I first started dabbling in 3D design back in 1995. Personal computers were getting more powerful and a couple of new, affordable 3D programs had just hit the market for Macintosh. Bryce was a landscape creation package and Poser allowed you to pose and render human figures. Fascinated as I am by most things digital, I picked up a copy of each and began exploring. I ended up using them for a couple of projects but mostly just fooled around. 

The first edition of Poser created figures that were little more than the wooden manikins that artists have used for years to visualize the human form. The package got more and more sophisticated as time went on though, and soon allowed you to change facial features, add expressions and more. I had seen great examples of art created with these packages but, in the end, I found the process a bit tedious and certainly time consuming. By 2000 and Poser 4 I had become more and more interested in web design an Flash animation. The last version of Poser I bought was version 5 around 2003.

Jimi Lives

I don’t remember why but about 4 months ago, in the summer of 2012, I started looking at Poser again with Poser 8. I was amazed with the progress it had made. No longer were the figures low resolution, doll like recreations of life. These new figures looked real! I also found a wealth of third party resources from vendors like Daz and Renderosity. They provided models, textures, props, and architecture for use with Poser and other 3D programs. Most importantly there are now a range of choices for ethnic characters and textures whether African, Asian, Indian, etc., with models and clothing items that allowed me to escape and explore far away places if I desire.


The artistic opportunities I see in this software, and other software that works in tandom with Poser has taken me back and pointed a way to the future. I first got into graphics by drawing pictures of comic book figures. I’ve always had a love for science fiction, sword & sorcery, and fantasy and have waited patiently for more of this kind of material featuring African characters. I feel that I have the tools to create these kind of worlds, these kind of stories now at my fingertips. I’m specifically interested in, and plan to focus on, ancient Egypt and Africa though as ideas pop into mind I’ll have to put it into pixels.


A work in progress

The images I’ve included here are sketches. They are works in progress as I learn the software and the many other skills necessary to create professional, finished illustration. Because of the tools they have cleanliness that implies completeness but I don’t allow myself to be fooled. I still have a long way to go as I explore naturalistic posing, lighting, color and composition. I see a long, interesting, surprising and exciting world ahead of me and will continue to document it on these pages.