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Digital artist Ray Caesar

Readersvoice.com aims to collect a few good reading tips. For this interview I contacted Toronto artist Ray Caesar whose digital art work uses bright tones, but is also quite dark. Influences include surrealism and French genre painting of the 18th century. He has been interviewed extensively about his pictures. I asked him about his artwork and his reading.

To see Ray Caesar’s art visit www.raycaesar.com.
READERSVOICE.COM: I read in an interview that you spent at least 80 hours per week making your digital pictures. What would be a typical routine each day for you?

RAY CAESAR: I wake up early … keep my head on the pillow in the same position and remember my dreams …slowly get up and make some notes and walk my dog which can be for an hour or so, and then workout a bit, and during that time I plan my day.

I then start working and spend an hour answering what email I can answer, and after that it’s just a long process of working, and usually finish the day reading and sketching and going over journals of sketches and plans…then I plan what I am going to dream about and close my eyes and a whole other world of the subconscious starts to plan its night of adventure.

I work each day like I have forever, and I work like the day is my last day. It keeps me out of trouble.

RV: You use Maya to create your pictures. I was wondering why you chose this program, and whether one 3d program was pretty much as good as another in your opinion.

RC: I have used other software and they are all good and each has its benefits but I mainly model in Non Uniform Rational B Splines rather than polygons, and do a lot of what is called patch modeling with these NURBS surfaces.

I use NURBS as my main purpose is to render huge still images and the algorithm of curvature between control points suits my work better than polygon. Even though the renderer will convert my surfaces to polygons for rendering it’s just a way of working that suits me as I can always convert to polys anywhere along the work process.

Maya handles this kind of modeling better than other software in my opinion, but you’re right a tool is just a tool and I would actually use anything at hand to make my pictures … I just use this method as it’s there and available. I also like the way I can move around in my picture and change anything on a whim as that allows me to work intuitively, and in many ways this is more fluid than paint.

RV: Do you use additional programs once you’ve created a picture in Maya?

RC: I render everything in layers and composite everything in Photoshop which allows me to remove or fix any minor artifacts and color correct and set the image up for printing.

I probably spend 90 per cent of my time in Maya, and other than an image preview software that’s pretty much it. I like to keep things simple and model all my own work as I truly love to model. I do a lot of very painterly studies as I progress in a piece and those are worked in Photoshop with the use of a Wacom Cintiq screen which I can draw directly on and allows me to play with early renders in a way that is more like paint than the sculptural nature of my final work.

I also use the Cintiq to model with in Maya and paint directly on the 3D surface with in Maya.

RV: What sort of 3d computer art magazines do you like, or websites do you visit?

RC: Actually I don’t read any 3D magazines … I get a few that my work has been in on rare occasions, but most of my reading on the subject is online and mostly on forums. I have a friend Tim Wong who works at Autodesk and any technical questions or questions about the mysteries of cats and life I ask him or my friend Ron Job.

I mainly visit the Autodesk website for any related information on the software but honestly I don’t really read up on the subject too much and what I do read is any upcoming implantation of something that could be fun to use …there is a modeling tool called Mudpie that is being put into Maya and that is of interest to me so I will have to dig up information on that at some point.

I do read a lot of obscure Euro fashion magazines like WEAR from Germany or Amica from Italy or Hairs How from Russia as they seem more relevant to my work, and I love any high end antique magazine that I find at my doctor’s office and old knitting pattern magazines of the 1950s or 1960s I find in old bookstores.

I do spend an awful lot of time on Ebay looking through the antique section but that’s about it really as I have to limit my online time and just get work done. I used to enjoy hunting through music on my Myspace page but found it just used up too much time so I haven’t allowed myself to log in to my page for several months.

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