3DTotal: Your website shows both a 2D and 3D gallery André, but interestingly your treatment of the two mediums is very different. Can you tell us a little about the reasoning behind your different approaches? André: Doing 2D paintings can be considered as a short vacation from 3D. After doing all the stuff like modelling, unwrapping and so on, I love to do something which is not so heavily technical. What I like especially is that the painted images are not so clean and “cold” like a lot of the renderings. I hope I have some more time in future to improve my painting skills, especially on the anatomical side.
3DTotal: On the subject of anatomy, there is evidence of characters in your 3D renders albeit incidental to the main theme. How challenging do you find them compared to modelling machinery? André: [Laughs] Now you got me! Modelling organic meshes like humans, for example the pilot in the Pave Hawk, is a bit of a difficult for me currently. I think it’s down to the lack of practice in this area, but I’m going to change this as I’m very interested in doing more things which I can bring/animate to life. So at the moment, creating a half-believable human is a much bigger challenge for me than building a whole helicopter!
3DTotal: Much of your 3D work is of a mechanical nature. What is it that fascinates you about machinery and man-made objects? André: The fascination of mechanical apparatus and especially aircraft machinery, for me, is the compromise between the intention for which it was built for and the range of possibilities dictated by nature and its physical structure. On one side these rules are very strict, and on the other they still allow a wide range of interesting aircraft design starting from all kinds of helicopters to aircraft, which apparently can’t fly when you look at them, but they do.
3DTotal: Your two helicopters and jumbo jet are very realistic with a closely observed attention to detail. What proved to be the most difficult parts to get right and which was the most challenging of the three? André: The very first difficult, or more time consuming, part is the research. Often there are so many sub-types of aircraft which can be confusing in the beginning. You have to compare so many photos to differentiate between them and to make sure about which version you’re currently looking at. The second challenge for all three was getting the right shape of the hull. “Right shape” here means not a shape which roughly looks like the right form – it really has to fit (for sure, it’ll never be a CAD version!). Very often the arrangement of the windows on a helicopter’s cockpit just looks the way they do because they were cut out of a special base form. If you model this form too approximately, there will always be a window too big compared to the others or a door that looks right from the side but not in front view and so on. Besides the base shape, there were other tasks which were also time-consuming... The Boeing-777, for example
needed a rigged landing gear as the camera was planned quite close during the landing
process, looking right into the opening wing (all flaps and air brakes coming out). I had to study
a lot of photographs to understand the mechanism. As the Pave Hawk was my first helicopter; the challenge was to understand the swashplate and the way it works. The Eurocopter EC135 didn’t
pose any particularly difficult problems, except for the shape of the hull.
3DTotal: You’ve highlighted comparing “so many photographs” to be sure about getting the details right. Does this kind of accuracy ever feel like a burden to your creative process, or do you see it as a series of technical challenges that are rewarding to overcome? André: It is not really a burden to compare all the photographs. During this process I often discover new details that I like and which improve the model later. As there are so many modifications on each single vehicle, you can choose between the good looking details to a certain degree. Also, you see many different situations of the real model which inspires you a lot regarding perspective and lighting.
3DTotal: What do you think are the crucial aspects in getting your renders to look so realistic? André: I think it is the amount of detail in the 3D geometry and their influence regarding the textures and shaders. Around rivets you can find a little bit of dirt, the lack of paint on top of the rivets if people can put their feet on them (like the floor inside of a helicopter), some scratches where mechanics use their tools, cords from rain and dirt, small gaps and bumps because a door has been opened several thousand times, and so on... There are so many influences which show that a machine was out there for a long time and this makes it a bit more believable