From Painting to 3D Animation

See how this talented artist relies on LightWave 3D to create these beautiful 3D animated paintings

Posted: Fri 18 Mar 2016

For Chris Scalf — who was first a digital photo-realist artist — 3D and Animation became for him extensions of his qualities. Using LightWave 3D like a digital canvas, this truly fantastic artist brings life to paintings: “I tried a lot of various respectable software, but LightWave was the only one that seemed to be the fastest most effective one for his technique.” Through this article, you will understand how fascinating this technique is. Prepare to be blown away by his talent!

Chris Scalf: I have always been an illustrator first, before anything else. So when it comes to animation, 3D modeling, etc. I always obsess with pushing the illustration quality as the dominating factor in most of my work. I love LightWave for its interchangeable qualities from hardcore 3D, to straight up raw freehand artistry. In this case, I like to refer to it as a 3D digital canvas to showcase my 2D art.

Before digital was around, I was an airbrush artist. I studied hard to master photo realism. When computers took over, I translated all that learned into the new medium. Not only was it important to know how to paint digital realism, but it was also essential to have speed in doing do.

For me, photo real studies done in this way is not unlike a musician- say, a guitarist-- practicing scales so that when he/she writes/perform songs, those qualities and skills lend themselves strongly in that performance.
This also applies with photo real art exercises when doing 3D and animation. As most know, 3D can be very time consuming. So I have come up with a time-saint hybrid wherein I pull in my freehand illustration skills to pull off whatever illusion is necessary, in a shorter amount of time than one might expect it to take.

About 10 years ago, I had a dream one night that I was watching Frank Frazetta paintings animate like a movie. That idea caused me to obsess with finding ways of making that happen. I tried a lot of various respectable software, but LightWave was the only one that seemed to be the fastest most effective one for his technique. Over the years, I have actively used my advertising animatic jobs as guinea pics for experimenting with various techniques to showcase my art in this way. The idea is literally to have “animated paintings” without losing the integrity of the original art.

Now, after so many years of obsessing over this, the pipeline is very smooth and efficient— even to the point of being able to animated photo realism (in art or even photos themselves) for necessary VFX shots as needed.

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