Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fedkiw’s Math and Magic

Ron Fedkiw, who works in the computer science department at Stanford University, has helped develop the software to solve a lot of complex 3-D modeling challenges.

How does hair behave when you shake your head, for example? There are complex interactions at the micro and macro levels.

Fedkiw’s analytical process involves math and physics concepts like topology, fluid dynamics, and “robust invertible quasistatic simulations.”

Never since the Renaissance has the field of visual art been exposed to such fresh new thinking that blends so many different disciplines.

For those of us who work in traditional media, the digital work of Fedkiw and his colleagues is a stimulating inspiration, because it helps us understand more about what we’re drawing and painting.
See a full gallery of Ron Fedkiw’s works here.

The hair was created with the help of Andrew Selle and Michael Lentine
Fire with Jeong-Mo Hong, Tamar Shinar, Duc Nguyen and Henrik Jensen.


Super Villain said...

while working for fun with some 3d programs it was exatly like you say "magic". its so cool to sculpt and make things in the 3d computer process and bring them to life!

i hope you dont mind me leaving a few links and info on the topic, but 3d and digital art has been a big influence and passion of mine.

first i found a wonderful FREE 3d software if anyone ever wanted to explore and experiment with a great 3d application:

also i recently just read an awsome interview with one of my favorite digital artists Bobby Chiu from:

heres a great quote from the interview on digital art and creating process...

IT’S ART: Can you tell us more about your evolution in digital art and how and why you started using these tools to express yourself?

Bobby Chiu: I started out using traditional mediums and methods. When I experimented a bit with Illustrator and Photoshop 3 I quickly realized that "digital" will be the way to go in the near future. With digital art there is no need to buy paint or canvases and you can take your art with you to work on almost anywhere. You can't do that using traditional materials.

IA: What was the major difference for you when using these new tools rather than traditional art tools?

BC: The main difference is definitely the speed and the time you save. With traditional mediums, oils, acrylics, chalks and watercolor, everything always took so long for completely non-creative reasons. For example, you have to wait for paint to dry. With digital art, I can paint as quickly as I can think. I'm no longer slowed down by physical laws that I cannot control. I can finally express my ideas instantly.

IA: Do you think your way of conceiving artwork has change with the evolution of the technology?

BC: Yes, definitely. I'm always looking for new ways to do things, always asking myself how can these new functions or computer power help me evolve my art? It would be foolish to learn only the basics in digital art and not progress as the technology evolves. Just as artists demand more from existing technology, new technologies also require more from the artist. It's a never-ending cycle and you have to keep up.

Super Villain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Super Villain said...

also no disrespect was meant with the post above to people working in traditional forms of art. i work 95% in tradtional art and love all forms of art tradtional and digital..

i think the great poster artist drew struzan put it best when asked about digital art and traditonal art creating methods...

"I love the texture of paint made of colored earth, of oil from the trees and of canvas and paper. I love the expression of paint from a brush or a hand smearing charcoal, the dripping of paint and moisture of water, the smell of the materials. I delight in the changeable nature of a painting with new morning light or in the afternoon when the sun turns a painting orange or by firelight at night. I love to see it, hold it, touch it, smell it, and create it. My gift is to share my life by allowing others to see into my heart and spirit through such tangible, comprehensible and familiar means. The paint is part of the expression."

armandcabrera said...


With all due respect to GooGoo Supreme the quote by Bobby Chiu shows he doesn't work for himself. Digital art isn't any faster than traditional and even though you don't have to buy paint and canvas you do have to buy hardware and software that cost thousands of dollars, plus you have to plug it in and charge it up and maintain it.
A pencil or paint brush is a much more efficient tool.
I worked as a production artist for over ten years in video games. I could teach anyone the digital tools in six months. What I couldn't teach in that amount of time is drawing and painting skills which takes years to aquire.

Super Villain said...

armand, i agree, and this is also a quote from the same interview...

"IA: What is the most valuable lesson you think should be taught in digital painting?

BC: The most important thing is to teach people how to relate the functions in the programs to the common processes of traditional art. Digital art programs are a TOOL—they can only be used effectively if you know what you want to accomplish and how to accomplish it. If you have poor traditional art skills, doing your art digitally won't help you. It's not magic."

i'm not trying to say one is better then the other, i love art, digital art, traditional art, sculpture...whatever, i was just trying to show different points of view....

jeff jordan said...

A good friend of mine does a lot of computer generated work, in addition to being a great muralist. I've watched his progression for many years, now, and his experience has made me happy to stay with traditional artmaking methods. I can remember one time when he was up to 75 overlays on a poster he was working on, pushed the wrong key and lost the whole thing, had to go back to zero. One time I asked him if the computer was any faster than traditional materials, and for him it was slower, not faster. Also when he came up with a computer generated image, he complained about "no Original" which he would normally sell for an additional fee, usually the price of production.
And he also complained about people who bought a computer and a few programs and then claimed to be a "computer artist." He's always said "I'm an artist who uses a computer." Big difference!

S. Weasel said...

I worked for an engineering and research company for 25 years. I did a lot of 3D work, mostly as an illustration tool. On the few, infrequent occasions my stuff was used to support a legal case, it made me VERY uncomfortable. The images are extremely convincing, but still more artist's opinion (mine) than objective fact.

Shortly before I left, the head of the Research division gave a talk about the scientific modeling they were doing. They hope to use models to reduce the amount of real-world experiments they have to do.

He showed us a replay of a simulation they had done of a derelict office building on fire. It was beautiful and really, really convincing.

Problem was, they actually set fire to the building the model was based on, and the fire behaved TOTALLY differently than it had in the model.


Anyhow, 3D Studio was the most fun work I've ever done for money. An absolute blast. And I learned many things that are applicable to traditional illustration.

Oscar Baechler said...

Back atcha!

Pretty much the only 2D parts of my job are concept drawings and making textures for 3D objects in Photoshop. But across the 3D world, there's a surprisingly huge consensus that one thing separates the men from the boys: Understanding of how a strong 2D art vision directly translates into 3D. The attractiveness of your 3D models is directly related to how well you could draw it with pencil and paper.

My favorite example of this is pointing out the feet in a local gallery's Bouguereau painting, and claiming this is the traditional equivalent of Ambient Occlusion.

Jean Spitzer said...

I'm just tickled by the idea of digital hair; think how many people this would make happy--at least on the internet.

Anonymous said...

My god, this is amazing. Can't wait to see these engines implemented in games and film.

Anonymous said...

tremendously impressive and nearly scary how advanced it has become.
even though i have to use Photoshop and a Cintiq at work, I stay far from digital art in my personal work. I just never find the same satisfaction in it. nothing can replace my hands on the paper.
however, i sure am enjoying the fantastic movies being put out these days with the use of digital art! love it.