Evolving Artist(ry): One Man, One Tool

by Fred Showker

... continued from the previous page.

Continued Evolution

A majority of O’Riley’s work is as a one-man crew. He enjoys working in a team and the opportunity it affords him to learn from others with different talents and experience; yet, at the same time, he takes pleasure in the satisfaction of solving unique problems that comes with working solo. By singularly facing and overcoming challenges with each new and unique project, O’Riley continues to learn and to hone his craft. 

rendering of a bug

O’Riley states

quoting I tend not to be satisfied with my own work for very long! On some level, each project is a learning experience, and I usually end most jobs with a list of ideas or techniques I think could improve the next ... So, while I have a few pieces that I’m currently pleased with, I know it’s just a matter of time before I’ve improved on them and no longer regard them with as much distinction! end quote

The artist is particularly pleased, albeit for the time being, with a fly image he recently produced for Digital Modeling, a new book by William Vaughan, co-owner of Applehead Factory and creator of Teddy Scares and Tofu, The Vegan Zombie.

Of several insects, the first insect (a wasp) was modeled in sections which were just placed together, the second (a mosquito) was modeled as a single, seamless mesh -- to capture far more detail. The texturing on this latest insect image was vastly improved, through the extensive use of weight and UV mapping. Camera effects, such as depth of field, also greatly enhanced its realism.

Camera Compatibility

Photography plays a big part in O’Riley’s work, whether compositing CG elements into a photographic background or capturing images for texturing or reference. The artist also often uses mapped polygons or simple shapes set to "unseen by camera" in LightWave to cast reflections of photographic elements on 3D elements to be combined later. As always, the particular techniques O’Riley uses depends upon the details, requirements, and deadlines of a project.

quoting LightWave provides all the tools necessary to seamlessly combine CG with photography -- Alpha channels, various buffer exports, front projection mapping, fog, and especially interactive VPR rendering all aid in blending 3D elements with background plates.
      It’s exceedingly rare that I run into an effect that can’t be created using LightWave’s standard tools, and the rare times I do, a solution usually exists in the form of a plug-in or L-Script. With the tendency today toward multiple packages, each with its own subset of tools, it’s refreshing that NewTek still includes everything in one single, affordable package. end quote

golf ball as apple

Full Circle

O’Riley started his career in the 1990s producing animations for myriad instruction videos alongside an aerial photographer, until he was introduced to Time Magazine’s art department. What he thought, at the time, would be little more than the odd illustration job in between animation projects turned into 13-plus years of using LightWave for print images in magazines and advertising.

O’Riley says. As magazines transition from paper to pixels, he is increasingly asked to create animated versions of his illustrations for the magazine’s tablet edition.

quoting It’s amazing to think that I’ve been able to build a successful year career over the past 15 years using one software package ... When other companies have added features through high priced add-on packages, NewTek has always kept LightWave a single, all-inclusive program. I look forward to using all the new tools that’ll be coming in LightWave 11, and beyond. end quote

To see more of Chris O’Riley’s artwork, visit

NewTek LightWave 3D® combines a state-of-the-art renderer with powerful, intuitive modeling and animation tools. LightWave 10 is designed to support the creative process, providing the artist with the ability to interact in real time with 3D content, to work seamlessly with the full range of software applications in production pipelines and to render on unlimited render nodes. LightWave is enjoyed worldwide, as a complete 3D production solution for visual effects in film, television, broadcast graphics, print, games, visualization, and the Web, and is responsible for more artists winning Emmy® Awards than any other 3D application.
NewTek LightWave
Awesome video demo
NewTek LightWave Video Features

Benefiting producers and artists with cost-effective and groundbreaking technologies, NewTek is a worldwide leader in 3D animation and special effects tools, portable live production and video editing including LightWave 3D®, the TriCaster™ product line and 3Play™. NewTek has won numerous industry accolades, including two Emmy® Awards. NewTek products have been used in feature films and television shows, including "Avatar," "TinTin," "Repo Men," "V," "Fringe," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "The Fairly OddParents" and more.

thanks for reading

Fred Showker

Don't forget ... we encourage you to share your discoveries with other readers. Just send and email, contribute your own article, join the Design Cafe forums, or follow DTG on Facebook!

27th Anniversary for DTG Magazine