How 3D Graphics Work

About me

The images in this gallery are not photographs, nor did they begin as photographs. They are 2-dimensional still images that have been rendered from 3-dimensional digital environments that I created. The places and ideas depicted in my gallery exist only in my imagination, and hopefully now, in yours as well.

The art of 3D rendering incorporates various traditional artistic techniques, but relies on pixels instead of paint, the computer mouse or a digitizing tablet instead of a brush, and digital geometry instead of clay. In my case, I almost always start with a sketch, where I nail down the composition and get a general idea of the color palette and texture needs.

The next step involves using computer programs (3DS Max, for example) that allow the artist to create digital wireframe objects. The wireframes are created with points or curves, defined by geometry in 3D space. The objects include everything and anything you see when you look at these images —clouds, flowers, mountains, trees, people, animals—everything begins with a digital wireframe. Once completed, the wireframe objects are then wrapped or filled with color and texture created specifically for that object. The software allows the artist to specify exactly how and where the texture is applied to each object in a scene. Think of it as high tech papier-mâché.

Once the individual objects that will be used in a rendered scene are created and assembled, the artist uses software program (in my case, Vue Infinite), to reach in and re-size, rotate, and move each object into position to create an environment; something like an infinite diorama.

In the final step, the scene is rendered - The computer creates a high-resolution 2D image (essentially a snapshot) of the finished 3D environment. This final step is an intensive one for even a fast computer; Some of the images you see here in the gallery have taken days to render at a high enough resolution to print, and I have multiple CPUs at my disposal.




Final Image

About Me


A s a child, I would draw and paint at any opportunity. My Mother taught computer science at a local college, and we had a computer in the house when not very many people had home computers. With a computer instructor for a mom, and an engineer for a dad, my earliest art materials were green and white perforated computer paper, and I used to doodle on used punch cards.

I began drawing on the computer —pixel by pixel in green and black monochrome— on an Apple II computer when I was about 13. Throughout high school and college I studied and practiced drawing and design,and as the technology became available to me I started digital painting, while continuing to work in traditional media; pastels, acrylics and oils.

I left college to begin a graphic design career and continued to teach myself and explore new digital media. I began using 3D software in 1998 and was immediately hooked.

Initially, my portfolio was exclusively online, and I participated in many web-based galleries. People began requesting prints through my website and after doing research into fine art printing, I began creating and selling high resolution archival prints of my work in 2002. That same year I had my first solo show, and I believe it was the first show of non-photographic digital work in North Carolina.

I believe the digital medium is finding its place in the art world, and that artists should use, value and enjoy
all available means of creative expression. I hope that artists and art lovers everywhere continue to push the boundaries of what constitutes a fine art medium.

Hardware/Software: Running Windows 7 64-bit on an Intel Core i7 Quad 2.9 GHz , 16G of Ram, Nvidia Quadro 4000 graphics card. My high res renders are run on a 7 node renderfarm that totals about 150GHz of additional processing power. I use Vue, Poser, 3DS Max, Rhino, SketchUp, Zbrush, and Photoshop.

Back to the Top