A Shifted Perspective

A

Procrastination is a hilarious motivator for trying new things. I’ve been relieving another writing block lately, and that forced me to seek new avenues for creative expression.

I love writing; there are few things as enjoyable as writing ‘the end’ and knowing that was the last piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately, later on I have to revisit the draft, do the edits, read and re-read the same story again and again until I hate it and don’t want to look at it anymore, while it still looks sub-par in my eyes. Those times are when I grab my violin and fiddle whatever comes to mind. This week, though, the fiddle was replaced by 3D sculpting.

I got a crazy idea that involved some 3D rigging and animation. Fiverr was a great help, and I got a good set of resources for a reasonable price, yet I wanted to take a look behind the curtains of 3D rigging and figure how it all works myself. Apparently there are two major players in the real-time rendering – Unity and Unreal Engine. I skimmed over several articles and videos all using the terminology I never came across before; eventually I learned that the latter is more tech-y and complicated. Thus, I went for the former.

A week after I must say Unity is great fun! It was simple to grasp even when one – like myself – starts with zero knowledge. A day after I installed it, I was playing with sculpting simple landscapes. A couple dozen bucks after I improved those with lakes and trees. Surely, you can do great things with no investments at all, but I went for a best experience for a reasonable price and wasn’t disappointed.

Designing the outdoors is calming and extremely meticulous. You can’t just throw a rock prop and call it a day: rocks don’t work like that. I quickly learned about the importance of small detail, and how to place the smaller rocks strategically to make sure the composition is still good. Hunting for reference photos, I learned about the natural forest densities and how big trees make space for the smaller ones. Layers after layers of leaves, dirt, sand and wet cobblestones, I learned about the structure of things under our feet. And when I finished my tiny twenty by twenty metres square, I closed my eyes and imagined being outside in a forest, away from the city and the busy life. I opened my eyes and the imaginary forest rustled its leaves at me, the setting sun rays peeked through the mist.

It was spectacularly amazing.

I’m glad I had this week-long journey into the 3D arts, the new horizons refreshed me, and I expanded my horizons immensely. I touched the complexity of the human skin and its texturing, the creation of small and efficient models, sculpting, and I’m barely scraping the surface. There’s a lifetime of things to learn and experience in 3D modelling.

Gladly, now I returned to my text editor, typing the letters. The render view’s replaced by the mind’s eye, the smells whiff around with the breeze coming from the poorly insulated window. I’m back in my element, and I’m having fun.

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