Hi Tyler, could you give a brief introduction to our readers?
My name is Tyler Blackburn, also known as TylerXy on DeviantArt.
I am a digital artist in my spare time, but I also enjoy creating music. Unfortunately, being creative isn’t a full time option for me – though I wish it were.
My creative life started out by making my own desktop wallpapers. I didn’t really think of it as “art” until someone said to me: “Wow that would make a really nice poster!” It wasn’t something I’d considered until that point, but it was a brilliant idea.
Computers have always intrigued me since I was very young, and when I learned that I could use Photoshop to create things from scratch, I became really excited! Overtime it’s become a thing which I’ve grown to love doing.
I’m a trained mechanical draftsman, so whilst I can’t draw anything traditionally “artsy” on paper, I can create blueprints for anything which needs to be made tangible. I must be quite good, as in my senior year at high school I took 2nd in state for architecture/drafting and design at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado.
Obviously you’re an incredible 3D Artist, but how do you think 3D art differs from its 2D brethren? Do you have to approach it differently?
I would say there is definitely a more technical approach to working in 3D.
Setting up any 3D scene requires a fair amount of pre-planning and tweaking things; lighting, models, materials, and cameras need to be set up before you can even consider rendering the final image.
Patience is a necessity when working in 3D. Rendering a final image can take hours, and once it’s rendered you may realise the camera or lighting needs to be tweaked; this process is sometimes called “render/tweak/repeat”.
One advantage to working on a computer, rather than traditionally, is that there are more opportunities to perfect your scene before it’s finished; for example, if you are painting with a brush on canvas you pretty much need to do it right the first time. In a virtual environment, there is always a do-over option.
Do you often go into your work not knowing how the final render will look? Or do you tend to plan ahead?
Sometimes you have an image, or a rough draft in your mind… other times you just start tinkering with shapes and things just seem to fall together. It’s quite easy to get on a “creative roll” when modelling in 3D.
Overall though I try and keep things simple. Once I’m happy with the shapes which I’ve created, I start to think about which materials I want to use; I’m quite partial to glass-like materials, and ones which are ultra-shiny. I think this helps to make my work unique, as I tend to only use a handful of materials which I’ve saved over the years.
Once I’ve completed a few test renders with different materials, I decide what type of environment I want to place the model in. For the most part this depends on the shapes I’ve used and my current mood.
Then begins the tweaking and any pre-plans I had fall into place. I create and tweak the materials, lighting, and camera views as much as possible to get it as close to perfect as possible so that I don’t waste computing time on trial and error (though I may do a few low-quality renders as tests). Most of these settings I change to ones I’ve used in the past, and that experience has taught me works.
When I think it’s ready, I crank up the sampling rates, hit “go”, and wait. Almost always it turns out way better than I expected!
Do you tend to complete your pieces in one go, or do you often walk away and come back?
I rarely spend more than one sitting on any piece. I’ll start and not stop until it is finished (though I do often have to leave it overnight to render, as I render my final pieces at 3000×2000 pixels). Sometimes one of these highly detailed renders can take up to 72 hours to finish, but this allows me to really zoom in and see little details I hadn’t noticed before.
Do you have a favourite piece? Why is it your favourite?
I have printed and framed well over 200 pieces, and they are all my favourite! If I was forced to choose one though it would have to be this one. I have it framed and hanging in my bedroom.
Sometimes I get caught up in the shapes that I’m creating and don’t fully know what the final render will look like until it’s done. This one just looked like an angel by coincidence.
If you could suddenly become incredible in a different artistic area, what would you like to be awesome at?
I’ve always been a huge music fan, and I’ve been playing guitar since I was about 15 (so about 28 years now). I spent 5 years in Ontario, Canada, as a music teacher and I loved every minute of it. So to answer the question, I’d love to be a rock star! Though I don’t think it’ll ever be possible at my age… but you never know – artistic expression comes in many forms.
Interviewed by Natalie de Weerd