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Jim Ludtke was commissioned by Golden Books to render "The Blue Monkey" for the cover of R.L. Stine's new children's horror book, "Curse of the Blue monkey."

About The Artist:

Independent artist Jim Ludtke first worked in graphic design and animation in the mid-70's. In 1984, the Apple Macintosh introduced him to digital art. "The Macintosh made it possible for me to find the kind of freedom I always wanted in my work," he says. He's used his Macintosh to design The Resident's "Freakshow" and "Bad Day on the Midway" CD-ROMs, and is now working from his home to design environments for a National Geographic website, and a "character animation for an upcoming television show for Disney/ABC." You can e-mail Jim at jludtke@primenet.com, and see more of his art on his web site, at www.primenet.com/~jludtke.

Behind The Scenes:

Jim built the monkey using Macromedia's Extreme3D version 2.0, and rendered it in Electric Image. Even though he is considering a switch to other Macintosh-based software for his modelling, Jim was very happy with Extreme 3D's handling of organic models, with can be reshaped with bezier handles. Some parts of the head were created with "metaforms" in Extreme 3D (which are close-cousins of meta-balls, not related to Lightwave's "metaform" function.)

Jim made this animation to show the development of the Blue Monkey. (This version has been edited for faster downloading.)

No special software or plug-ins were used to create the hair. Jim modelled a "monkey hair-plug" of 20 or 30 hairs, and then duplicated that group to cover needed areas of the monkey. He also created a blue object textured with a bump map that looked like more blue fur, to define the rest of the surface. The rendering was further detailed with custom-painted color and bump maps applied to the skin surfaces. Luckily, the Electric Image renderer is known as one of the world's fastest, and "can handle huge amounts of polygonal information," such as the large number of fully-modelled hairs.

An article detailing more about Jim Ludtke and how he creates his work is at www.applemasters.apple.com/masters/jludtke/intro/intro.html.

Artwork copyright © by Jim Ludtke.