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This chapter is from the book

2.4 Photo Gallery

So often we approach our projects with the attitude that the objects and surfaces we must texture are separate elements having no relationship with other things around them. We paint and texture the objects as if they stand alone when, in fact, these objects live together within an environment. They influence and affect each other as is evident in reflections and the wear and tear on an object or surface. This is the impetus of this section—to create a dialog between you and me and the photos that follow and put into practice exercising your artistic eye. I hope you did the exercises I set up in Chapter 1. Now let's take note of the interaction between real-world materials and items, and describe what's happening.

I took the photographs that follow while walking around New York and during other travels. In this exercise, all I'm doing is describing what I am seeing. See if you can spot what I am talking about.

2.4.1 New York Brick Bundle

In Figure 2.3, look at how the pulley is constructed and what it is constructed of. The rope is not tied around the bricks because it would wear away and have to be replaced. As far as I can see, the rope is pulled through a hole drilled in the center of the bricks. I love the different colors of the three bricks and their condition.

Figure 2.3 This photo was taken late in the day, around 4 p.m., on a shaded New York street.

If the bricks at this height indicate that the door of the garbage container is closed, then why are there scrapes higher up on the wall? Does the lid on the garbage sometimes fall into the container? Was there a different length of rope on an earlier version of the pulley? Why do the scrapes seem to get wider at the bottom? Is the paint on the wall being worn away or is the brick bundle leaving pieces of itself behind? Because the graffiti is being worn down I would guess that the wall and paint are being worn away.

Another interesting part of this picture is the branch-like pattern on the wall (top left). I didn't write this down when I took the picture so all I can do is guess. (See how important it is to write down supplementary details when you take the shot?) It looks as though the branches from the tree left their mark either from when the wall was wet, or from a very violent wind slapping them against the wall. (There are actual bits and pieces of the branches left on the wall.) Hmm. Would I have thought to put that in one of my pieces?

Does the graffiti just above the dumpster to the right bottom of the photo, look like it extends down the wall past the container? If so, then the container had to have been added later.

2.4.2 South of France Water Trough

There are a number of things I would like to point out to you in Figure 2.4.

Figure 2.4 Page This photo was taken in the south of France in a little village called St. Clement. The light quality here seems to suggest a somewhat overcast day.

  1. Notice the different types of stone and their textural qualities. Both the top part of the wall and the bottom part are made from cut stone.

  2. Is the trough between the buildings stone tile? Because of how old the village is, I would guess that everything from the foundation of the house to its walls to the streets are all made from stone with very little concrete.

  3. Notice the cut indentation of the stone, the router edge. You would not need to model the indentation, the broken-off part near the bottom of the wall, and the three reddish-brown bricks (top-center); you could add these kinds of details to your wire-frames with your texture and bump paintings.

  4. It seems to me that to make the flowerbed, some sort of foundation of stone was laid and then a thin "paste" of concrete was laid on top. The stone layer beneath the poured concrete flowerbed can be created with one texture map; just remember to include the zone where the two materials meet and live next to one another.

  5. Notice the blue and black stenciled number and its over-spray onto the wall, as well as a remnant of an earlier painted arrow just above this. Beautifully subtle, but still evident.

  6. Take note of the crumbled away walls of the water drainage trough—no perfect CG edges here. I especially like the crack in the front corner of the flowerbed. Would you put one in your piece?

  7. Notice the dirt and dust that have settled on the wire gate horizontal framing. Also notice the subtle light reflection on the horizontal wires that cross the dark areas behind. How can you create the depth of this photograph?

  8. How would the dried-up, salt-stained part of the trough be expressed as compared to the wet part? What are the differences?

  9. Note the green algae-like color and the settled soot and sand in the water.

  10. Because of the overcast nature of the day, take note that there are no harsh shadows and that the saturation on the whole is low.

  11. Notice the lack of detail on the flowers and their leaves, but even so they are not just one shade of green or pink.

2.4.3 Green Painted Door

Several things draw me to Figure 2.5. The first is the rich green color of the door and its beautiful bumpy textural quality. Look at all the wonderful little details that are in this photograph.

Figure 2.5 A green-painted door in Soho, New York.

  1. Notice the number of holes that have been drilled for different lock systems.

  2. The dust, which settled on the tiny boarded up window ledges and padlock apparatus, demands some attention.

  3. The ripped off plating made of some sort of mystery material is unprotected and rusting and creates a pattern with that ripped-off part and the glue left behind.

  4. Take note of the shininess of the paint, and the highlight color of its sheen.

  5. Notice the beautiful bashed up brass doorknob with paint remnants and the doorknob plate completely painted.

  6. Did you notice the pattern of the bumpiness on the door? What is it caused by—numerous paint applications, rust underneath, a thick paint roller? Notice the vein-like, high-lit edges from large dried and cracked portions being broken off, peeled off, and then repainted.

  7. Look at the different colors of rust, the painted over screws and spray paint graffiti.

  8. The color of the door is reflected in the metal objects on the door, the lock, and the doorknob.

2.4.4 University Avenue Near Twilight

There are many things going on in Figure 2.6. Look at how the colors are affected by the moisture in the air. The saturation of colors of the buildings decreases whereas the saturation of the lights and the road itself increase greatly. Everything has taken on a slight bluish color. I love the color of the greenish lighting (how my film speed and aperture captured the fluorescent lighting) underneath the scaffolding on the left, and the golden-yellow light coming from one of the windows on the building just off to the right of center and up. Many of the windows are the same hue as the sky due to reflection.

If you cover up the sky and buildings in the distance, this could be a photograph taken at night. Hard to believe that there is that much light in the sky compared with the presence of light on the street. This is a product of contrasts. If you compare this sky to one of midday, this one would definitely be less brilliant. It seems much brighter though because everything else is comparatively darker.

Take note of the amazing depth of field, intrinsically a characteristic of twilight because of the angle of the light, now exaggerated by the moisture in the air. The buildings in the distance are just barely discernable. They are mostly flat, muted colors with light and dark boxes for their windows. As you move forward to the front of the photo, details start to become more apparent, but are downplayed much more than if this was midday because of the lack of sun. For example, you cannot discern every brick texture or even every brick on some of the buildings, and therefore, there is little "bump" information. There are still shadows on the ground under the cars. The sky and its ambient light are still powerful enough to cast shadows. How will these shadows change when the sun goes down completely?

Compare Figure 2.6 with Figure 2.7. What are the similarities and differences, and why?

Figure 2.6 This picture was taken on an autumn evening just as the sun was going down in New York City. It rained a fine mist earlier, which helped accentuate the effects of the twilight hours on the city.

Figure 2.7 This photo was taken in Venice around the same time of day as Figure 2.6.

2.4.5 An Office Door

Figure 2.8 is a good example of everyday wear and tear on a surface. By looking at this door I can imagine the stories it has to tell (at least how I perceive them). It is a steel door, which has been brushed to give it a shiny, wavy pattern. Notice how constant use has worn away this metallic, shiny finish. How does this happen? This door is fairly heavy because of how thick the steel is, so when people push through it they put their shoulders into it while others put one hand on the pushbar and the other where it is worn away. Also, when people open the door from the other side they often place their hands on this spot once the door is partially open to pull it open. I'm not sure why there are so many scratches in this area. Possibly from rivets, buttons on coats, and carried packages used to open the door. The same tool that created the brushed look probably caused the dark black-brown streaks in the worn away finish.

Figure 2.8 This is a picture of the inside of the front door to an office in New York City. It was taken with a digital camera and flash.

The pushbar reveals other textural affectations that apply to similar objects of the same shape. Notice how the edges of the bar have the finish worn off completely. Edges on objects like this are the first to feel the effects of human intervention, this is true for wood, plastic, glass, concrete, and so on. The fronts of these objects are less abused. This is an important point to remember to add to your textures for an added bit of realism.

I think my favorite part of this picture is the bolt in the middle of the pushbar. Look closely and you will see a radial scratch pattern on the bar itself. These are the kind of "human" intervention textures that I love to add (if Ihave the time) to my work. They add authenticity to my work. I can only image what or who made these marks, which is part of the story.

Notice how the doorframe meets the white wall and the slipping silver plate near the door latch. Take note that when things are constructed, they are far from being perfect. Something to consider.

2.4.6 Restaurant Wall

Notice how the paint on the fan's frame has been scraped and worn away, leaving the actual brushstrokes behind and revealing the warm wood material underneath (see Figure 2.9). Notice all the different hues and tones of blue.

Figure 2.9 The photograph with the oily, dusty fan is texturally complex. This one is of a restaurant's kitchen window. It was taken around 2 p.m. on the shaded side of the street. I was particularly interested in the accumulation of grease and dust on the fan (as disgusting as it is), and all the different affectations of the glass frames and panes.

  • The random pattern of screws, some showing their heads, others filled in with dirt and grime hiding their details.

  • Notice how all these surfaces butt up against one another or lay on top of each other. Each piece defines itself and its neighbor by trapping dirt and paint in the ledges, cracks, and meeting places of each material.

  • The smudges and drips on the window panes—are they caused by a sloppy paint job?

  • Look at how the reflection in the window panes is softly blurred. Why is this? Is the window greasy? dusty?

  • Notice the pattern of the paint chipping off of the windows.

  • Did you notice that the top-left window is cracked? How does that affect the reflection?

  • Would you eat at this restaurant? (Just wondering.)

  • The blue paint has a matte finish and therefore has no specularity or sheen to it.

  • The picture underneath (Figure 2.10) shows that the windows are not completely transparent, because they are dirty. There is also the contributing factor of the reflection, which hinders the clarity of the bottles and containers that lay behind.

    Figure 2.10 Page Another window section of the restaurant wall.

  • The bottom-two glass panes on the left are a molded, bumpy pattern that bends the light, which breaks up the articles behind them.

  • The bottom-two panes on the right have some sort of wire mesh material behind them, which obscures the objects behind the glass. The long horizontal band of red in the top-left window panes—is it a reflection?

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