This is kind of a big deal for me, so I suppose the knot in the bottom of my stomach is a normal thing. Today I officially entered a design competition. My goal was to have already completed the link bracelet and have entered the competition with an actual photograph of the completed piece, but as previous blog posts have stated, this was not meant to be. Luckily, it is a DESIGN competition, so to enter you only need to show the design. To be a finalist, you need to show the completed piece! After scrambling around yesterday trying to figure out how I was going to illustrate my design in a way that would communicate effectively, I finally came up with a rendering!
I would like to say that never before have I been so happy to have taken one semester of CAD (computer aided design) in college. I was also extremely happy to discover that the software we used 10 years ago at Tyler School of Art is still one of the industry leaders for jewelry CAD-CAM. And to top it all off, the software company is in the very early development of a Mac version and are currently offering it for free for beta-testing. What does that all mean? Well, I have a mostly fully-functioning piece of software that usually sells for a few thousand dollars – that may crash unexpectedly. However, it did everything I needed it to do, and within a few hours I was able to create the bracelet on the computer as a 3D model.
Next came the hard part… Rendering. In the world of 3D graphics, there is the building of the underlying framework (see above), and then applying textures to said surfaces and lighting them so they look real. I NEVER want to do that part again. While it’s impressive, it’s just more than I care to ever do again.
Gordon found that 3D Studio Max offers their software as a 30-day trial, so I thought that would be perfect. After downloading the Windows-only beast, I started to fumble around. While I’m pretty good at picking up software, this one still has me baffled. I’m just happy I stumbled upon enough to get an image to suit my needs! Anyway, when I opened my piece in 3D Max, I started to apply materials to the surfaces. This part went pretty quickly and was fairly simple. The hard part was getting lighting to not look like crap. Then I discovered the “color pencil” display and I fell in love. It was everything I wanted my concept sketch to look like.
The first image above shows the basic rendering. No lighting and a quick display of the surface textures. The second shows the colored pencil drawing applied to the forms and then the last image is my attempt at making the bracelet look realistic. I spent far too much time trying to get this image to look good, and in the end, my fear is that the piece that I make in the studio may not look exactly like this photo-realistic rendering. What if I choose to use a brushed finish on the metal or the oxidized finish isn’t quite that black? With the pencil version it is almost expected that there would be some variation from concept drawing to actual finished piece, and I’m not forced to try to reproduce that piece EXACTLY if I’m selected to be a finalist for the competition.
I am kind of impressed with this rendering though, so I figured I might as well put the whole image in this post :) The lighting is still not what I would like – I can do better with my photo booth on my dining room table!! The stones have no sparkle at all, but when the most appropriate texture for them was “clear glass”, what did I expect?!?!
So, now I just wait and see if I’m selected to produce my piece! Finalists will be asked to produce their pieces by January 2012, and I’m assuming will be notified within the next month. Considering I tried to produce this bracelet in less than 3 weeks, I’m sure that with about 3 months I’d have a much better shot at success!!