Evolving Artist(ry): One Man, One Tool

by Fred Showker

NewTek LightWave See some spectacular illustration here, as animator and illustrator Chris O’Riley continues to hone his craft and meet artistic challenges head-on, armed with the latest tools in NewTek’s LightWave 3D.

Artist Chris O’Riley can never predict what his next project will be, but he is always certain of one thing: the tool he will use to achieve it. For nearly two decades, he has been tackling various animation and illustration assignments from major news outlets and advertisers, growing and expanding as a digital artist, using NewTek’s LightWave 3D.
O’Riley explains :


quoting The very nature of magazine work is that the subjects are always different, often wildly so ... One week, it’s a 3D environment image depicting a military engagement for a major news source; the next week it’s a satirically stylized product for a business magazine story end quote

On the advertising side, his projects have ranged from automotive work for Porsche, sport drink images for Pepsi, and modeling work for Harley Davidson to product shots for cosmetics companies like Avon and Clinique.

Solved with Software

As a graphic design student in college, O’Riley was instantly interested in 3D modeling and animation; yet, illustrating detailed scenes with accurate perspective by hand was always challenging. He soon learned, and became fascinated by, what was possible with 3D software—and he continues to be impressed with the capabilities of his 3D tool of choice to this day.

O’Riley test-drove a few 3D packages before settling on a favorite: LightWave 3D.

quoting 3D software was, at the time, an amazing ... I could build entire objects, compose scenes inside a virtual world, and then render out images with not only accurate perspective, but lighting, shading, and movement as well. It was quite remarkable solution,
      I quickly took to its more Spartan user interface ... I always enjoyed (physical) model building—using my hands, woodworking, carving, etc. -- and LightWave’s minimalistic user interface appealed to me because it didn’t get in the way. Some programs seem try to do too much, others not enough; LightWave strikes just the right balance. More than any other program I used before or since, working in LightWave feels like I’m using my hands. end quote

Hands-on Artist

A majority of O’Riley’s magazine work, for Time and other well-known news sources, involves presenting ideas in new, clever, humorous, or satirical ways. He explains:

quoting It might be a family depicted as salt and pepper shakers, spark plugs made out of money, or an automobile with a mouth of razor sharp teeth ... Sometimes it’s seamlessly merging two ideas or objects; sometimes it’s stylizing or exaggerating an idea. In either case, it’s rare that I can begin with a base model, so for each image, virtually everything needs to be built from scratch for each concept.end quote

The same is true of his advertising work, which often involves fleshing out several different concepts for an ad agency to present to its clients.

virtual reality
Sample images here can be clicked for enlargements!

O’Riley admits:

quoting Most jobs don’t lend themselves to purchasing off-the-shelf models, so everything needs to be purpose-built for each project ... The speed of both LightWave’s modeler and renderer are absolutely critical for this type of work.
      Very rarely do project deadlines measure more than a few days, and can be just a few hours in some cases ... Without the speed of LightWave’s modeler, that would be impossible.end quote

LightWave’s subdivision-surface modeling tools enable O’Riley to quickly mock up low-resolution ideas or concepts, which can later be refined and rendered at high resolutions without the need to rebuild or remodel anything.

... continues on the next page!

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