Poser and Photography

If you've spent much time in the 3D art communities, you may have noticed that Poser artists are looked down upon by the "purists" who use programs like Lightwave and 3D Studio Max. Why are we looked down upon? Because we use pre-built models to create our artwork rather than making our own models from scratch, which includes using realistic human figures that would be too complicated to make... even for most Lightwave users.

In this respect, I compare using Poser, now, to photography in the 1860's. Back then, artwork was still being made with traditional media: pencil, ink, oils, watercolors, marble and metal sculptures, etc. But along comes the camera. And what happens? The traditional artists start to bemoan early photographers as "cheating", as in "That's not artwork- all you did was pose those people and take a picture of them. You didn't make anything in that image yourself."

Looking back now, does anyone dare to call Ansel Adams' photography anything less than artwork? And how about Life Magazine or National Geographic? With some of the most famous photos ever published, how can you not call their photographs "artwork"?

Yet, just like Poser images, photographs were made by taking an image of already-existing elements, such as the landscape or people. Yes, the photographer could have posed the people in the photo, but he didn't physically create anything in the image. And just like taking a photograph, making artwork with Poser is all about the arrangement of elements in a scene.

Using Poser itself is like using a camera: anyone can take snapshots (or render a scene in Poser), but it takes a trained eye to make an image that is considered "artwork". In the age of the Internet, that image can then be posted to an online gallery for everyone to see... and judge its worthiness of being "artwork". Would a simple, "snapshot"-style Poser image be considered artwork? Only in the same way that a picture of a child blowing out candles on a birthday cake would be. But, wait, *is* it art? Okay, probably not. Is it fun to look at? Sure. Is it fun to make? Definitely!

As another example, is Steven Spielberg an "artist"? If you answered "yes", why? In his latest movie, War of the Worlds, all Spielberg did was tell Tom Cruise how to react to alien invaders. Cruise did the acting and the aliens were made by Industrial Light and Magic. He didn't even film the movie- the cameramen did that! And they were given instructions from the cinematographer! Even the story was written by someone else (the writer), and it was based on a book by H.G. Wells.
According to the 3D "purists", then, Spielberg must not a true artist since he didn't create anything himself.

In days-gone-by, artists would mix their own pigments and carefully make their own brushes. Eventually, though, it became more economical to simply purchase supplies from other people. The artist could then concentrate on painting and not worry if his "cadmium red" was mixed exactly right.

Photographers once had to carefully arrange their subjects so the low-speed cameras could take the picture. Then, the photographer would develop the photograph in his own darkroom, usually mixing the development chemicals himself. Now, photographers use digital cameras with high-speed shutters and darkrooms are no longer needed.

We are starting to see similar changes in the digital world: not too long ago, artists had to build their own models completely from scratch. Then, they had to create skin textures, try to pose the character, and add realistic clothing. Now, if an artist wants to make an image with a digital person, he simply purchases a pre-made human model, purchases a texture for it, and purchases clothing. The entire creative process is now focused into creating an image- the artist's time is no longer spent on the details of building the models.

So to all the 3D "purists", I say this: like all art forms, times change... and the digital world is no exception. If you want to build your models from scratch, that's great. But don't look down on people who, like photographers, want to arrange pre-existing objects to make their artwork.