Posted In: InterviewGreyscalegorilla
Rick Lundskow aka @lundskow
We’d like to welcome Daily Render Guest Artist Rick Lundskow @lundskow to our ongoing series of awesomeness.
What is your name, position, and where do you currently work?
How did you get into Cinema 4D?
I’m almost positive I saw a motion graphics video on vimeo back in 2010/2011. It was so impactful that I wanted to learn how to create art like it. I immediately downloaded the trial version and started watching Greyscalegorilla tutorials. After the trial expired I used the demo version. The demo wouldn’t let you save or render out projects, which was a slight bummer because some of the pieces were sweet. However, I could recreate them if I really wanted them.
Once I moved to Michigan to work at Cornerstone, I budgeted for Cinema 4d Studio. That’s when the real fun began.
When did you start your daily render practice?
I tried to start daily renders but they took too much time or I ran out of ideas too quickly. I got in my head too much… Each piece had to be amazing, but often times they were not great by any stretch of the imagination.
At Half Rez this past year I had a chance to talk to Beeple, the master of daily renders. He really encouraged me that it wasn’t as big of a deal as I was making it out to be. I just needed to make something happen. I don’t know what it was, but it clicked in my brain and I started the next day, September 15th.
What is the hardest part about doing a daily render?
Time would probably be the most difficult part of a daily render for me. Some nights I don’t get home until 10pm-12am and I haven’t even started on my project. The worst is when I get home late and I don’t even have a concept. On those nights, I wanted to give up. And there were many of those nights. However I’m sure other people have had that same exact excuse but have continued anyway. So I told myself that I couldn’t have any excuses for missing a day.
What have you learned by making something every day?
Probably the most significant thing I’ve learned is lighting and reflections. Lighting can make or break your render, so I experimented with different techniques until I found something that works for me. Since I don’t have a fancy render (which might change very soon), I wanted to learn the most with the tools that I had on hand.
As far a basic life skills go, I learned that I can put too much pressure on the creativity. I want the design to be better than the day before it, or create a compelling piece that will sell to millions of people. The former is stressful and the latter hasn’t happened yet. Daily renders are more like experiments. No pressure on the outcome. You try an idea that doesn’t work, but you fix those mistakes the next day and publish your findings. It’s important for me to realize that when I fail, I just found another way of not doing something.
What Hardware and Software do you use to make your work?
I do most of my work on a 2012 MacBook Pro. Nothing too fancy about it but it gets the job done. If I stay late at work, or have some free time over lunch, I’ll create piece on my Mac Pro with 12GB of ram. Then render it out using Team Render across 3-4 of the other machines in the office.
Aside from using Cinema, I use Illustrator a lot to create splines. The shape builder inside Illustrator is incredibly powerful for making custom shapes for lathes, sweeps, and extrudes. I recently purchased ZBrush core. While Cinema’s sculpting tools are great, there were a few features about ZBrush that made it easier to sculpt heads.
What is your day to day like at work?
My work schedule changes on a daily basis. I tend to have a theme to each week day though. Mondays are meeting days. A nice easy transition into the work week. Tuesdays are typically my big project day. I can get the most done without a ton of distractions. Wednesdays are a big filming day. We do video announcements in our Sunday services and we record & edit them mid-week. Thursdays are the busiest days because we’re trying to finish the work week strong. So I’ll finish projects that I didn’t quite complete the other work days. Coffee is a requirement for Thursdays. The great thing about my job is that I don’t work Fridays. Actually, I don’t think I’ve had a job in the past 10 years that required me to work Fridays. It’s pretty amazing.
Anything advice to anyone out there just getting started?
Great art isn’t about having the best resources, it’s about using what you have. There’s something special about taking what little resources you do have to create something beautiful. It gives you an appreciation for the things around you. When you hit a roadblock, figure a way around it. Don’t let circumstances hold you back from accomplishing what you want to do.
Also, don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Start with a 5 minute idea and work from there. Most of my projects come from a small element I see in my day to day world. Find something that inspires you and run with that idea.
Where can people learn more about you?
I’m currently rebuilding my website from scratch, so currently I don’t have more info available.
Half Rez 5 was a blast and we couldn’t do it without the help of lots of talented people. This year LooseKeys created a new set of animations for us and knocked it out of the park!
We at Greyscalegorilla know the people over at LooseKeys well since we shared an office space with them for years. Now’s your chance to get to know them as well! We sent them some questions so you can get a taste for who they are and the work they do!
What is Loosekeys and how long have you been around?
Brad Chmielewski – LooseKeys is a design and animation studio in Chicago. We’ve been around for about 5 years now. A lot of the work we do involves character animation and storytelling.
What did you learn while making these animations?
Jake Williams – What was great about making the Half Rez animations was feeling like a newbie again with a new creative tool. While Cinema 4D was daunting at first, the amount of community resources available was integral and helping us learn on the fly. As we got more comfortable with the software, we were able to apply our style and animation principles with a totally new tool.
Ethan Barnowsky – This would be an appropriate place to thank Nick, Chris, and EJ because I spent a LOT of time in their tutorials learning techniques and tips for this project. It’s easy to take that resource for granted, but I would be miserable without their help! So, thanks!
How did you guys decide the content of each video?
BC – With most projects, we sit down and brainstorm concepts as a team. From there we’ll typically go and explore some concepts or at least pull some references for what the videos could be.
JW – We knew that we wanted to have a flow to the spots; that together they would tell a sort of story with the characters. We brainstormed a good number of ideas to get us started and then boiled it down to the 3-4 that we realistically thought we could accomplish before the show. The dance party, cheers, and drunky spots were the original 3 spots and the drone guy was added when we realized we could squeeze in one more.
Normally Loosekeys has a 2D workflow. What made you guys decide to try some 3D for these?
BC – Since HalfRez is an event centered around 3D animation we felt that we needed to make something that all the 3D animators in the room would enjoy while still staying true to our style. We could have easily done something in 2D but then we really wouldn’t have pushed ourselves to do something that challenged us.
JW – Echoing what Brad already mentioned, we wanted to push ourselves with this project. Really there was no better time to finally try to get our bearings in a 3D software package than this very project.
EB – I asked myself that question a lot while I banged my head against the keyboard trying to learn more 3D but in the end I’m super happy I had this as an opportunity to learn and create something new in C4D. I’m really thankful. Turns out it’s super fun.
Any inspirations feed into the animations?
BC – I know one thing that came up early on was the “Dumb Ways To Die” video.
JW – We looked at a ton of reference centered around TV idents and bumpers. There’s such a great timing and pacing in the stories that are told in quick 10-15 second spots that we wanted to capture. One of my favorite early references were these Adult Swim Idents from Art&Graft.
EB – We also looked at the Half Rez logo and branding and previous years bumpers and wanted to play off of those elements a bit. Love cubes and bubbles.
How was the crowd reactions to the animations both online and at Half Rez?
BC – From what I could tell it seemed that most people really enjoyed them. It’s sometimes hard to tell since I personally know so many people in the community, you never know if they are just being nice. What I think worked for us was that we took our character animation skills and storytelling ability and applied them to 3D. The 3D was very simple and I’m sure many people out there would have no trouble recreating these spots. What’s sometimes troublesome about 3D animation is that the possibilities are endless. What we do well at LooseKeys is to take something that’s complicated and make it simple. I felt like the reaction was great, we did something a bit different for us at LooseKeys and although they were cubes, it was a bit outside the box.
JW – The live crowd seemed to enjoy the spots although I wish I had made the “dance party” spot a bit longer to see if people would have jumped out of their seats! From friends and acquaintances alike I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback and it’s incredibly humbling to get this sort of response from guys and gals whose opinion and work I respect so much.
Loosekeys and Greyscalegorilla used to share office space. How’s your new place and what has changed?
BC – We do miss the Greyscalegorilla guys. Having more energy in the office is always nice to keep your creative juices flowing. For us it was time to make a move in order to feel more like the studio we wanted to be. You don’t need your own space in order to be a studio. Still there is something about having your own space that feels comfortable and helps set the tone for your workday. Having your own studio makes you want to invite clients over and show off with parties. We have now been in the space for a year and there is plenty of room for us to grow and try new things.
EB – It’s quieter without the ping pong, pinball and excited chatter which is occasionally good but mainly I miss those aspects! It took a long time to adjust to the lack of lunchtime ping pong noises coming from the other room. Like Brad said, it’s nice to have a space to call our own where we can have parties and create without getting in anybody else’s way.
Best way to follow your work as a fan? Best way to contact you as a client?
BC – I try to keep all of our social media channels updated with what we are working on. Twitter is a great place to start if you want a catch all for everything we are doing.
And for any clients who are looking to get in touch, I would be the best person to talk to about new business firstname.lastname@example.org
You guys are the most prolific podcasters I know. How many podcasts are the members of Loosekeys involved in these days?
BC – Thanks! I love the medium. At the moment I have 4 podcasts that I release new episodes for pretty regularly. There are a few that come on and off and some others that have ended but there are 4 that I focus my time and energy on. Shatter The Vain, a podcast with over 120 episodes about the mobile game Vainglory. This podcast is released every Monday. Released every Tuesday is Toon Talk Weekly, a podcast where Jake Williams and I talk about a new cartoon each and every week. Then there is Chicago Beer Pass with 160 episodes. Chicago Beer Pass is a weekly podcast about beer events in the Chicagoland area and Illinois. And then my video podcast is Hop Cast. This podcast isn’t recorded as often and doesn’t have a real schedule anymore but it is the longest running podcast. Ken Hunnemeder and I have been talking about beer for eight years and recorded over 285 episodes of this show.
I love the idea of podcasting, you’re able to take something you’re passionate about and share that love with the world. Each show I do has a different fan base but it doesn’t matter if one person is listening or thousands. Just the idea that someone cares about something as much as you do is enough. Podcasting is a form of storytelling and using the medium to help perfect that skill set is very important for me and the business.
JW – Special shoutout to Chris for being on Toon Talk Weekly Episode 86 to talk about his love for ReBoot!
Who are some artists / websites you admire?
JW – I’d be lying if I didn’t say I check Dribbble and Vimeo daily to see what talented folks are working on. I love simple, clean, and clever character design and animation and there is a ton of great work out there. A few favorites:
Ice Cream Hater
EB – All of those artists Jake mentioned are amazing. I also tend to lean towards bold, simple, sometimes crude illustration styles and love artists like:
Everyone in the Late Night Work Club
Follow the LooseKeys guys on twitter
Music provided by Art List
Thanks to everyone for making another season of AskGSG amazing. Without your questions the show could not exist! Season two had 39 episodes, over 79 hours of Q&A and lots of great guests.
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We’d like to welcome Daily Render Guest Artist Allison House to our ongoing series of awesomeness. She will be taking over our daily render feed for the next 6 days. She is an amazing designer who cut her teeth in silicon valley with Dropbox, tackled a whole Tweedy music video in C4D, and now is spreading her love of 3D and design all over the world. Check out our interview with Allison below.
Can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself?
What’s up, party people?! I’m Allison House, a designer, visual artist, and educator. I spend my days jamming on 3D art and illustration projects from my studio in Austin, TX. If you’re into lo-fi geometric art with an aggressive neon streak, you might dig my stuff!
I’m also on the road a lot for speaking events, where I show other creative people how totally not scary 3D can be. One of my big projects right now is 3dfordesigners.com, an introductory Cinema 4D course for designers and illustrators.
How did you get your start in design?
My background is in software and technology, so I got into design through that. I made my first website as a pre-teen, an ode to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and was hooked on that rush of making something out of nothing. Working on the web is so great for this—for very little cost, you can make something really interesting and beautiful. I’m still chasing down that feeling.
At 15, I started my first web design business. I called competitors from my bedroom and pitched phony projects, then undercut their quoted prices. That’s how I know teenage girls are cutthroat. I don’t mess with ‘em.
How did you go from 2D to 3D? What was that transition like?
A few years ago, I had a pretty decent design career in technology. I was shaping the future of storage as a product designer at Dropbox. Yes, from my bedroom in Florida to a Silicon Valley rocketship! That means I made it, right? Except… I was getting tired of designing apps. Everything I made was the same inoffensive shade of blue or gray. My rate of production dwindled.
Designing apps didn’t make me come alive any more. When I left Dropbox, I dug into my curiosity and endeavored to find out what would. Playing with Cinema 4D for the first time was like writing my first few lines of code. Earth-shattering, deep-down, gut-level excitement. Something out of nothing. Best day of my life.
Some of Allison’s most early work:
Can you tell us about the Tweedy music video? How did that come together?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned between hiring at Dropbox and teaching in the classroom, it’s that top performers have this in common: they produce an enormous amount of work. I’ve never had much luck scheduling or micromanaging myself, so I developed a practice that doesn’t require a whole lot of self-discipline. Rather than summoning the willpower to start a session, I make it automatic by chaining it on another activity I already do every day. I call that my “second shift”.
After a few weeks of this, I had already developed a portfolio’s worth of work. That’s when Spencer Tweedy reached out. He and his dad (Jeff Tweedy, Wilco frontman) had recently kicked up a band called Tweedy, and they were about to release their first single, Summer Noon. He asked if I could do a full-length music video for them.
Technically, I could not! The longest animation I’d made up to that point was 2 seconds. But I said yes anyway, downloaded a 30-day trial of Adobe Premiere, and figured it out over three weeks.
We noticed you’ve got a lot going on. How do you balance it all?
Chill hard, thaw hard. When I hear people talk about balance, it’s always scoped to the daily level. You do some work, then come home and do some life. I can’t operate like that. That’s context-switching multiple times a day! Instead, I work and play in long cycles. Two weeks knocking out a project. Three days playing a video game. Five days jamming on a project. Five days making my own stuff. Chill hard, thaw hard.
What’s in your Everyday Carry? What tools, hardware, drinks, foods can you not live without on a daily basis?
I’ve become a HUGE fan of Signal in the last few weeks. I was starting to do more still illustration in my practice sessions because it’s fast to produce. Now I’m like, “Okay, I’m done. What can I animate?” Signal just makes it too easy.
Do you have any advice for graphic designers looking to get into 3D?
Yes! To all designers and illustrators: 3D NEEDS YOUR TALENTS. You don’t need to have the latest hardware (I started learning on an old MacBook Air) or create realistic, chromed-out renders to be successful in this space. Bring your innate creative talent, excitement to learn, and find a deliberate action to take right now. 3D for Designers is a great place to start!
Follow Allison on Instagram
Thanks for agreeing to do an interview with us. We saw your beautiful work and thought it would be cool to ask you a few questions about your process.
Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been following your work for many years and your tutorials helped me a great deal getting into Cinema4D. It’s a huge honor to get interviewed by Greyscalegorilla.
First, what is your name and where do you work?
My name is Mario Tran Phuc. I’m currently working for Insydium (the creators of X-Particles) as VFX Designer, Art Director & Technical Support.
What got you into 3D and Cinema 4D when you first got started?
I got into 3D during my studies about 8 years ago. My buddies and I made a ten minute short film using Maya which was a great start into 3D animation. I then worked at Pixomondo for 7 years as an Art Director / Project Lead working on projects for advertising, live events as well as working on feature films. Adobe After Effects was my go-to tool for many years, but with the rising demand of 3D visuals in Motion Design and impressive Mograph demonstrations by my great workmates, I finally decided to dive back into 3D again. I chose Cinema4D, because of its amazing modules and its seamless connection to After Effects. Actually, over the last few years it increasingly became my tool of choice for nearly every kind of design work.
Your X-particles work is so beautiful. What got you into X-Particles originally?
Thanks a lot! About 1.5 years ago, I opened up X-Particles for the first time, because we needed particles in the VFX department and I was totally sucked into it. First I started out with a little program called ‘Particle Illusion’ and later on ‘Trapcode Particular’ for After Effects and eversince I have been using particles on pretty much every project so far.
Finally, X-Particles allowed me to achieve all the difficult things that were out of my reach before, e.g. accurate collisions or particle emission based on 3D geometry. Due to its wide toolset of particle modifiers and the unique Questions&Actions system it suddenly opened up almost endless possibilities for a digital artist like me. So while I got dragged into learning XP I started doing personal artwork & experiments in my spare time. I still thoroughly enjoy exploring visual effects and expressing my creativity with X-Particle.
What is your favorite “Go To” modifier in X-Particles?
Definitely the xpTurbulence. It is one of my favorite modifiers to begin a setup as it quickly adds a nice random motion to the particle flow and therefore realism. It works beautifully with other modifiers like xpGravity or xpAttractor and it can be restricted to the XYZ-axis seperately, which gives you a lot of control, especially using multiple turbulences. I really adore many other modifiers as well, for example the xpConstraints, xpChangeGroup or xpSpawn, because of their high viability within the X-Particles system.
What is your favorite feature in X-Particles 3.5?
I really like the new xpParticleFalloff. It basically converts your particles into spherical falloffs, that can be used within every modifier of XP and any C4D object with a falloff tab. My favorite use of it is driving a xpChangeGroup modifier. You can just assign all the modifiers you need to the new xpGroup and they start triggering once the falloffs come into reach. It opens up countless possibilities! I highly recommend checking it out.
As part of an ongoing artwork series for Insydium this rendering was an example of using the xpGenerator and the fluid dynamics of the xpDomain. From my experience the xpDomain achieves the best results by emitting particles out of a thin source to capture the forces nicely – in this case a spline-circle. After linking the particle colors to their speed, I cached the simulation and made multiple copies of it to fill the view (the ‘Copy Tag Data’ needs to be checked to copy cached emitters). This way I didn’t need to simulate them again at a larger scale.
To render the particles as custom shapes I used the xpGenerator, which is perfect for transfering attributes like facing direction, size and colors from the source emitter onto custom geometry. In order to get particle colors and glossiness at the same time, I actually rendered the picture twice (with and without a reflective material applied) to achieve this look in compositing later on.
The way to achieve this kind of traditional painting style is to use particle emitters to generate trails just like paint brushes. For that I keyframed the scale and strength of multiple xpTurbulences to shape the wavy form. After doing some variations I converted the xpTrails into splines and rearranged them to get a volumetric feel.
The coloring was done with the xpMaterial as you can apply the xpMaterial to xpTrails since the release of XParticles 3. Simply activate the age parameter beneath the color properties to enable the color-gradient for your xpTrails. This works even after converting the xpTrails and therefore on any kind of spline within Cinema4D.
We loved your Noise Palettes renders. How did that idea come about?
I came up with the idea of the Noise Palettes while I was testing different kinds of noises within the Displacement Deformer. I was totally surprised how appealing they looked in 3D space and couldn’t stop experimenting with the different types and attributes. At this moment it was when I came up with the idea to bring them together as a visual reference. It can be quite hard to judge the 2D thumbnails from the Material Editor and therefore to predict how one of them leads to the texture you are trying to achieve.
So I created a “printing plate” for every single noise by applying multiple Displacement Deformers to subdivided planes and adjusted each noise to look the most appealing while trying to keep the overall noise-scale in balance at the same time. In order to achieve the sculptural look I applied a Subsurface Scattering Material and positioned lights of different colors at opposing positions to shine through the geometry. The rendering was done with the Physical Render with a bit of color correction using After Effects.
Is there any advice to someone just starting out that wants to make great looking 3D renders?
Well, I think a good start is to study the artworks you personally adore the most. You can learn a lot by analyzing their composition, framing and contrasts in color and shape. I love those pictures where you feel like you can literally dive into, if you know what I mean. I try to give my renderings as much depth as possible by adding equal amount of detail into fore-, middle and background.
Once you have set up enough elements in space, which can be complex forms as well as simple shapes like particles, the “Rule of Thirds” helps a lot to balance out a composition. Apply it on the part that looks the most appealing to you. You can achieve a lot of depth by using warm colors with high contrast in the foreground and cool colors with less contrast in the background. It really helps to zoom out of the picture from time to time to check if the composition is working overall.
I can highly recommend to join the wonderful Cinema4D community as well, either online via platforms like Twitter and Motion Design Slack or onsite at Maxon user-meetings and conferences. You can find me at this year’s NAB in Las Vegas demoing X-Particles 3.5 for Insydium at the Maxon Partner Booth. I hope to see some of you there and chat with you in person.