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Csotonyi Massospondylus in 3D… like?

Der Spiegel reports on the Massopondylus nesting site with the above illustration by Julius Csotonyi (click to embiggen). Cool that they include an artist credit, and cool to see a master delve into 3D – if he is indeed. The image sure looks like it, but I have no insider knowledge. I’m judging by the cover, so to speak. If anyone knows more about his technique, let us know in the comments!

On his site, the image is described as a “digital painting / photographic composite“. I’ll go out on a limb and -aside from some painted touch-ups (the egg membranes and such) – call this a 3D illustration with photographic elements used as textures, background elements – the solidity of the volumes, consistency of the details and the lighting all encourage me in making this assumption. Assuming this is the case (despite my father’s warning that to assume makes an ass out of you and me), it allows us an intriguing comparison of toolsets in the hand of a talented artist – as we did with Angie Rodrigues.

On to the analysis…

Julius is a master of dramatic skies and lighting. His mastery of palettes makes him one of the few who successfully integrates photographic material into his illustrations, and vice versa – and he does so to great dramatic effect.

csotony1

I grabbed two portions that were similarly lit with the goal of comparing palette gradients as they extend into the distance. The first segment is a straight out histogram, which gives the tonal range of each sample. As you can see, very comparable – and certainly no tendency that could be held up against the possible reasons for deviation. A color analysis on a blurred version of this excerpt (to average out values) confirms: very comparable tones, nearly identical saturation.

For comparison, I searched for an illustration that likewise has two animals at comparable distances from the viewer and settled on a misfortunate Brachylophosaurus family.It’s also described as a digital painting, but – again assuming – I take it that this is a digital painting and not a 3D render. Again, I’m basing this guess on detail density, volumes, specular Fresnel effects, etc. Fortunately, the lighting situation – while different – is at least comparable.

csotony2

This time, we have a more obvious distinction in tonal ranges. The closer sampling has a wider spread, with more darks. The lighter range is less, but still present. An averaged color sample reveals a clear difference in saturation. The closer sample has greater saturation, the further lacks. Which is in keeping with color theory. The farther a color recedes, the less poignant it will be, with a falloff particularly in reds.

Conclusion:

I was moved to do this analysis because – from the palette – I never would have guessed that this came from his hand. I guess that’s classic researcher bias, but hey – I’m not a researcher. I admire that an artist of Julius’ caliber is expanding his toolset, and it certainly has a lot to offer. I look forward to seeing more work from him in this medium. I also hope he gets the punch into them that his other work has. (I’m also ready to eat my words if this isn’t a 3D toolset phenomena… so let me know if it isn’t.) But until then, I’ll stand by my assessment that the toolset – for whatever reasons – has definitely left its mark here, in good and not so good ways. My own experiences with 3D and with non-photorealistic rendering make this completely unsurprising.

What do you think? Like? Dislike?

There are 11 Comments to this article

Matt says:
01/25/2012

While it’s nicely executed I’m kind of sad to see Csotonyi move away from ‘paint’, even digital paint.
Csotonyi’s paintings lead the eye more nicely than this, there’s a bit too much ‘CG crispness’ in it for me.
More AA or some ambient occlusion might have helped that.
The sky suggests the light is coming from a different direction too.
Ugh, I hate to crit anyone’s work, as I know all the shortcomings in my own.
Csotonyi’s stuff is gorgeous and his portfolio enviable, this is a nice addition to it but I enjoy his more traditional work more.

d maas says:
01/25/2012

I think crits are great, it’s just a question of their intent and the quality that they are written in. Hope mine passes muster.

Matt says:
01/26/2012

I’ve noticed you’re big on the image analytics! ;-)

d maas says:
01/26/2012

You should see me with my students after a speed paint session! It’s always cool to see how the link between – for example – subsurface scattering and saturation value congeals in their heads. And ultimately, it’s just a hell of a lot more productive than the eternal “it’s kinda this” and “I dunno, I just like it” type crit.

Matt says:
01/28/2012

I can see how spending time with you would be an education.
Rationalizing critique is valuable, did much of the same doing animation director work.
Being able to explain why something is or isn’t working is a valuable skill.
Ensuring people realize critique isn’t personal and making sure it’s constructive and educational is a hard thing to juggle.

d maas says:
01/28/2012

As a point of interest, these analytical crits rate among my least popular posts. Not exactly encouraging, but likely reflects the percentage of visitors that are actually into creating illustrations.

Matt says:
01/28/2012

Yeh, most people can only relate to Kitteh memes. ;-)

Typical though. I think the web is a fantastic way to discover information but not always the best way to absorb it.

It’s easy to be distracted when something begins to be too much work.
Though I’d be guilty of that too!

d maas says:
01/28/2012

Kitteh!!!!!
Maybe he should do an art course?

I should be putting more money where my mouth is. And will be… but I’m still working off job jobs. These posts are all part of my master plan to overcome my own shortcomings. :-)

d maas says:
01/28/2012

Wow… Fabio – thanks!
That’s a gem!

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