Hi Nicolas, could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little about how you first got started in 3D? Where did you study? And what was your first job in the industry?
My name is Nicolas Crombez. I started doing 3D on an Atari ST during the 80s. I then entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Tournai (Belgium) where I was trained on Imagine, then in around 1994 I moved on to LightWave (Amiga). I've never really worked in the industry exactly; I'm not interested. I come from a punky and alternative culture, and this is the way I want to live my life. I do however teach CG in an art school in Belgium.
So what happened in the 80's that led you to discover 3D?
Tron was a revelation for me and there were also video games such as Ballblazer or Simulcra that really excited my imagination. It was an immersion into pictures that I had never seen before. In the 80s 3D was a true technological innovation, and at the time the terms "innovation" or "revolution" were still very much restricted to a specialized audience and weren't in the hands of normal businesses. I was on the lookout for any progress in the field of popular 3D expansion and I discovered these mainly through print magazines and television. I naturally turned to studies in this domain.
You sparked interest across the internet when you created the epic-sized visual "A Picture"
. Could you tell us more about this project? What led you to produce it and what medium did you use in its creation?
This project was started around 2007 as a visual for a musical album for my project Deu Ter Ror (I still haven't finished it). My main aim with this project is to tell a story where the development takes place in space and not in a linear time (as in a movie). It is a sort of procession, a hierarchical organized gathering of people. This is a very common ritual in Belgium.
I've always been influenced and inspired by the great paintings and tapestries of Flemish Primitives. As a child I lost myself in them; every detail or portion of the painting took me on a different adventure.
I like to start a story where the viewer imagines the end. In this way each viewer, according to their education, his cultural references or experience, will have a personal interpretation of the project. Ultimately, it is not for me to control the emotions of the public.
As I often do I started the project on paper, I created a lot of research doodles and sketches. I then divided the canvas into several parts and modeled each element (it took me many months). I made five different renderings in one pass. Then I separated the alpha and the various elements in Photoshop to
restore a single file of hundreds of layers. The last step was to paint over every hair, grass, and particle and enhance every detail. I also added the sky and made a general grading.
What were the reasons behind your choice of animals within your image?
I chose to use animals because I wanted to play on the differences between the animals, whose instincts push them, and their need to evolve. If you consider mankind in a similar way, our instincts inevitably led us to evolve both spiritually and materially. The animals are, in this sense, our instinct walking on the timeline of our own evolution. The link between the pigs, deer and other animals could also link to our different social classes.
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