Visiting Artist Series   Next Artist 

Graham McKenna rendered "Solitude" in Lightwave 5.6.  He produced the image to help visualize surroundings that suited the main character, framing him with foliage and environmental lighting effects.  The character Thay-Lore is part of a personal project, and appears in an ever-expanding collection of scenes on Graham's web site.

About The Artist:

Graham McKenna lives in Scotland, and works on personal projects at home, when he isn't at work at Digital Animations.  Graham is a self taught digital artist, and puts long hours in his spare time into the quest for 3D knowledge.  He started learning as a night-time hobby, while working a day job in the engineering industry.  His skills progressed, and in 1996 he started working professionally at Digital Animations.  You can see more of Graham's personal work at his web site, and his client projects at Digital Animations can be found at his employer's web site.  Graham explains that his continued personal work "is just a creative release for me.  At the end of the day, it is always more satisfying to see your own thoughts develop instead of someone else's."

Behind The Scenes:

Graham built the Thay-Lore character in Lightwave 5.6, being mindful from the beginning of the posing and texturing needs that he would encounter.  "The process used to skin the mesh was totally dependent on where the points were placed around the joints." Graham adds that " Certain areas of the character were isolated and setup in a scene on there own, checking as I went that each joint conformed to my liking."

The wings were a particular challenge.  Graham explains that "I wanted to see how far I could take this, keeping it simple enough for animating, but detailed enough to be beleivable... The wings let me try out a Motion Designer demo I had, that allows dynamic reaction of the wing surface determined by the animator."

The textures were primarily hand painted in Photoshop, although some procedural techniques were also used.  While Graham acknowledges that the lack of UV mapping in Lightwave 5.6 "always poses to be a pain," he manages to achieve scenes like this using localized projections on planar, cylindrical, or spherical axis.  "Most surfaces are snapshots from modeler, taken into Photoshop to paint.  When more complex surfaces appear, like the face, I use a plugin that unwraps the mesh in a certain axis, laying the mesh flat, which lets me paint detail exactly where needed.

After the character was set-up, and each joint and limb was tested to avoid unwanted creases, posing was achieved purely by the rotation of nulls.  Graham finalized the pose by referring to himself in a similar position, and adapting what he saw in the mirror into a keyframed pose.  The screenshot below shows the full scene in Lightwave.

Click here to see screen full-size.