When I started, I did all the modeling and preview images for these on a 486 running Linux. It proved quite fast enough for most of the things I wanted to do -- mostly! Those were the days when 32Mb of memory was a luxury, and I routinely ran images that took 64 to 100Mb to render. The heavy lifting was done with Andreas Dilger's PVM patches to POVray 2.2, later to POVray 3.0, and a cluster of HP workstations. (Case in point: the 640x480 portrait.jpg took 36 days (!) to render on a Sparc IPX, while the HPs and pvmpov did the 1024x768 mndawn.jpg in a little over a day.)
Nowadays I do my modeling in Rhino and AL and render in BMRT. POVRay is a fantastic piece of work, but some of the effects I want are just not possible in its shading language. Actually, to be honest, BMRT can't do all of them either. In my Copious Free Time, I'm writing lumen, a renderer which will accept RIB as an input language and run recent Monte Carlo techniques (uni- and bi-directional path tracing as well as full Metropolis light transport). If you've worked on this kind of thing, feel free to contact me -- I'm running into roadblocks.
Sphere and Monoliths
Random doodlings and too much Arthur C. Clarke.
This was my very first project. It's not done yet -- someday I'll come back to it and make it into what it really ought to be.
July 1995: I did. The new version is called "Midnight Dawning" and is farther down on the page.
During the winter of 1993 I started fooling around with flowers made from spheres. This was the eventual result. If you're thinking of experimenting with something similar, more power to you, but be warned: that many spheres take forever to trace. This image took 36 days (!) to render at 640x480x16M on a Sparc IPC. (I redid it in March 1996 on a cluster of workstations. The 1024x768 version took about a day and a half.)
The Herald of the Dawn
Finished March 12, 1995. Imagine the folk tune that Picard learns in "Inner Light" (if you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry; substitute "Simple Gifts" played on a piccolo) in the background and a cold wind blowing.
Cathedrals Of Our Own: Mountaintop Chapel
The idea for this came from the first time I heard Chant,the CD of Gregorian chants by the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos. The quote around the top is from Billy Joel's "Summer, Highland Falls". The verse it's from goes something like this:
They say that these are not the best of times
But they're the only times I've ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own
Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lover's eyes
And I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
It's either sadness or euphoria
(November 1996: This image is first in a series. I'm just now figuring out what the others in the series are.)
All I'm going to say about this one is that it comes from an old, recurring dream. If you want to know more about this place I suggest the Babylon 5 soundtrack, tracks 4 and 7.
Part study, part library, part astronomy toys, the Observatory is located a little more than halfway up the side of a mountain. It's on the lee side of the mountain range above the cloud layer. (It's not cloudy very often, though when it is the view out the dome is spectacular.)
The idea for the scene came from one of those flashes of imagination like someone turning on a slide projector inside your head; I grabbed a sheet of paper and sketched out a rough version of what it was supposed to look like. The dome went together quickly, then the telescope; after that the project sat gathering dust while I dealt with school for a while. Early in 1996 I figured out what I wanted the rest to look like and finished the picture.
Stained Glass Roses
I was looking around trying to find a good picture of a dozen roses. I met with a notable lack of success. Finally I gave up and just started sketching what I thought the ultimate arrangement would be. Granted, it's stretching reality a little bit to imagine actually *making* this thing, but I think it turned out all right. The finished image became a gift for Cat, my significant other.
Fusing Ideas: outside corridor
Fusing Ideas: main chamber
I'm not sure where this one came from. It's going to wind up as part of the Moon Castle (which noone's seen yet; I'll put up a preview image soon, I promise); for now, it'll stand on its own. It's sort of a melting pot for ideas. Take one opaque something-or-other, extract the interesting bits, and put them all in something nice and shiny. Repeat several times until you've got something new and exciting.
Then again, I could merely be reading too much into it. I'll leave it to the viewer to decide. They're nifty pictures -- enjoy.
Sunset at the West Villa
I was playing around with skies, water, and rock textures when I came across a couple of really great include files. Warp the brain by leafing through a book of Maxfield Parrish's work and something like this is the result. Like all of the others, this is an imaginary place -- probably somewhere near Rome; definitely somewhere in southern Europe. After a long day of formality and circumstance, the triumphant general enjoys a quiet (if colorful) sunset. For mood, listen to the first movement of Beethoven's Sixth.
Credit where it's due: the columns are from an include file by Nathan O'Brien . The trees were originally from a utility by Sonya Roberts . I rewrote some of the textures, played with the leaves, and endless other tweaks. Note! Trees have lots of geometry in them. This scene has on the order of 30,000 leaves in it.
The Museum of Unbegun ArtThis image was actually created for a contest at school. That was just a convenient opportunity to work out an idea I'd had for a while. This is loosely based on a picture of an art museum in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, and is the first picture I'm actually satisfied with from BMRT. If you're interested in the technical details, I cover them on the submission page at school.
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