Tuesday, June 15, 2010

...or the ripples from a pebble someone's tossed into a stream...

Illustration Friday: Ripple. And yea, was it written that thou shalt click above to get a higher resolution.

It was suggested that because of the recent horror in the Gulf of Mexico, our Illustration Friday submissions coincide with the Ripple Blog. The Ripple Blog will sell the images as autographed sketch cards for a $10 donation to The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies or The International Bird Rescue Research Center.

OK, seriously, words fail me. I can't possibly form a coherent post about the greed that caused this, the idea that you can just ignore safety precautions and keep trying to insulate the bottom line by risking disaster, and when the world gets a giant schlong up its tuchus because of it, you can just hide behind an army of lawyers and lobbyists and whatever politicians you own.

This shit is seriously the last thing the world needed right now. Our economy was already in the toilet. Now the lives of all the people who make a living off the ocean in the gulf have been ruined even further: fishermen, the tourist industry, people who had stock in BP or it's employees... people who were struggling and fighting to make ends meet, and now the ends have just been yanked another mile apart.

How can I even begin to touch on what this has done to the wildlife - to the fish who breathe that water, to the birds who swim in it? I read an article that some ornithologists suggest it would be kinder just to euthanize these birds, as they may not survive even after cleaning. Seriously, how can you live with yourself when your laziness and greed has fucked up the world so badly that euthanasia is the only way to fix it?

And I have nothing for or against President Obama, but what he said about wanting to know "whose ass to kick" is total and utter bullshit because - like the Wall Street bailout - the complete lack of responsibility in this disaster just seems to highlight how much our government is OWNED. I don't care which party you worship, it's owned, and the sinking feeling deep in my stomach when I think about the future keeps getting lower and lower.

Anyway, I made this image in 3ds Max. I'd seen wire-sculpture 3d images before and wondered how to make them. I found a great tutorial about how to make random wires in 3ds using particle flow. Basically, you make a stream of flowing particles and have each one spawn new particles (tiny spheres) in their wake that - when numerous and close enough - look like strands of wires. The question was, how do I give them form instead of being a random explosion? The trick would be to model an object and have the particles flow over the surface. Well with all of 3ds's tools, you would think this would be something particle flow could do- but apparently it's not. There is a plugin that allows you to do that, but I don't have $200 to spend for a hobby (if I had a professional studio it would be a reasonable price.) I searched the internet for workarounds, but didn't find any, just suggestions that I buy that plugin.

OK, so I can't get the particles to flow across the face of the surface, but I CAN get them to originate from the face of a surface. What's more, I can tell them to flow to the surface of another object. The only problem is, they're either going to take a random path, or they're going to just make a bee-line for it. I realized I could use the same mesh for both a source and a target. and using different random seeds, the particles would travel to different random points in the same mesh. The only problem was the wires were a bunch of sticks crossing through the object's center, even if they did start and stop at the surface. Again, not QUITE what I wanted, but I was getting somewhere. I modeled a pelican shape using different objects (I didn't want a wire going straight from the beak to the tail):

OK, so now I had an image that looked like a bunch of sticks in a bird-shape. Nice, but not quite what I was looking for. I added a vortex force operator to make the particles swirl around an axis (which I aligned with each object's axis) and after a lot of playing around, I finally got the model I wanted.

The oily water was a bit of a pain in the tushie. I'm still not quite happy with the specular highlights in the ripples. The oily surface map was created using the freeware fractal creator Chaos Pro. It takes a little bit to get the hang of it, but it is an amazing program.

So that's it! A little auto-leveling and sharpening in Photoshop, and that's all she wrote! Thank you for coming by, and I hope you enjoy and think about buying the card and donating. Think of it this way, if you do, not only will you be helping the wildlife that have been hurt in this disaster, but you'll also get my autograph. Who knows, might be worth something on eBay someday! ;)



Suzanne Casamento said...

Wow. I love the image. It's beautiful, even though the oily water makes it sad.

Regarding the situation, what you wrote is well said.

Aravis said...

This is a great piece, perfect for the topic you brought up. What's going on in the gulf breaks my heart. You've said it well, and thanks for doing so.