Does the application replace the artist?

Jan 26, 2022 at 05:00 am by nemirc


In this line of work, you get to meet different kinds of people, including those not involved in digital art and see everything from the outside. While sometimes their opinion doesn’t matter much, sometimes they can be what corporate environment calls “decision makers” and that can lead to strange situations. I actually witnessed one of those situations some time ago, where the decision maker was telling someone else that “modern software lets you do anything so anyone can do X or Y”.

The whole idea of “make art” button has been around for around 20 years. When I joined Renderosity, back in 2000, you could already see those “make art button” posts when some people talked about Poser or Bryce. Software has advanced a lot in the last decade, and now it is a lot easier to do certain things. For example, while Poser (and then Daz Studio) have been around for a while, making it very easy to make 3D avatars, the interoperability between those apps and game engines has not been so great, making it hard to use those characters in a 3D game (and while the apps have been used a lot for illustration, including cover book creation, and forensic videos and presentations, they have not been used in mainstream entertainment that much). However, Character Creator brought the next step in character creation, including character creation for games.

But a byproduct is the intensification of the “create art button” crowd, now going all the way to the “decision makers” I mentioned above. The conversation I mentioned above was partially about how “anyone can now make his/her own Tom Cruise” with Poser/Daz Studio/Character Creator even without experience in 3D design or character modeling. In game development, you sometimes hear the same thing about engines, hinting that anyone can make the next Skyrim or Doom because Unity and Unreal Engine are free.

The thing is, the tool doesn’t replace the artist. It is true Character Creator 3 can make digital doubles, but not anyone can make a digital Tom Cruise and only those who can also use ZBrush can make their own custom morphs for the characters. On top of that, the software doesn’t “correct” your proportion mistakes, so if your character proportions are wrong (eyes of the wrong size, legs or arms that are too big or small, etc.) the software won’t fix them for you. Likewise, downloading an engine and making the next Doom are two completely different things. You may download all the Unreal Engine Free Stuff, but you still need to know how to make a good use of the renderer, program, set things up, and even know how to design a decent game that is fun.

In an ideal world, those things wouldn’t happen, but this is not an ideal world. On one side, those random individuals can be ignored, but the real problem are the decision makers. I think those decision makers should actually be involved in the whole art or technical side, so they can actually know what it takes actually do something. I am not saying they should become experts, but at least they should have some basic knowledge so they don’t start talking about the “create art” button.

On the other hand, being this vocal can be useful to you if you’re job hunting because it can help you know what kind of person will be above you in a company if this happened to be mentioned on an interview. The last thing you need is to work for one of those who don’t know but think they know.

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