Artist Feature: Joe Vinton – “Orbital”

joe vinton astonishing view

After the last feature I told myself I was going to take a break from these and get around to some other work I’ve been meaning to do around here. Virtually as soon as I posted the feature with Steve Winter I stumbled upon the work of Joe Vinton, or as he is better known in 3D art circles such as Renderosity and DAZ 3D, Orbital. Like with the first feature posted here (Santosky), seeing Orbital’s amazing Bryce renderings triggered some deep sci-fi/exploration/creative grey matter. I knew instantly that I wanted to feature Orbital’s work.

Joe Vinton’s works have been exhibited in UK galleries and taken him to foreign lands. He primarily works with Bryce, or at least did so until recent years where his work has increasingly incorporated Photoshop. Even in many of Joe’s latest works published on his various online galleries Bryce still features heavily. In his latest posting, shown above (“Astonishing View”), the focal elements and space craft are all 3D rendered while the nebula and stars are Photoshop. As with many of the artists featured on the pages of DigiSprawl, Joe Vinton shows that the often underestimated Bryce, can still hold its own.

Jim: So, Joe, getting any sort of detailed info on you out of the intawebz is not the easiest business. I have found some interesting tidbits though – I know you hail from the UK, you’ve been using Bryce since 2002, that your art has landed you at least one gallery showing (others?), took you to the National Space Symposium in the US in 2007, and won you artist of the year at Renderosity in 2008. In 2009 you picked up a Wacom tablet, but before this you had very little experience with drawing or painting, digital or otherwise. More recently your artwork was selected for the 30th Space Symposium commemorative poster (slated for May 2014).

This about the size of things? Or are there any major developments I’ve missed?

Joe Vinton: That’s the gist of it. I have done two other exhibitions at local art galleries which were a good experience for me. The only downside is that although I had a lot of positive feedback, I didn’t sell enough pictures to cover my costs. The type of art I create would really appeal to a select market so making money this way is a lot harder. The other positives that came about was I was able to go into a local High School and do a workshop with the students. I thought I would go in and run through how to create a scene with Bryce, but they were way ahead of me. Once I showed them a couple of the basics they were off and running. Another standout moment was creating the Cloud City tutorial for DAZ.

joe vinton orionJim: How did your work for the upcoming Space Symposium come about? Were you approached by them, or was there a general call for submissions? Congratulations, by the way!

JV: For the Symposium back in 2007, I was approached by them to use an old image I had done and they had found it on the web somehow. When I first spoke to them I didn’t take it too seriously and didn’t realise what a big event this was going to be. When they said they’d pay for me to go over to attend I still thought someone was playing a joke. It’s strange really as that image I did was a request from someone and [I] never really liked it, yet it went on to be one of the most popular images in terms of views and the money it made. For next year’s symposium I had to pitch for the commission against a select group of artists. It’s been going this way for a couple of years now and I’m in the process of pitching for the 2015 event.

Jim: I know the 2007 Symposium is old news now, but what was it like going to a foreign country and have people buying prints of your work and coming to you to get them signed?

JV: It was quite overwhelming really. I had been to the states before but as a tourist, now I was at an event where everywhere you looked my image was on display from 30 foot stage screens to keycards to get in the rooms. Initially I was quite nervous, and coupled with jet lag and the change in altitude I wasn’t feeling my best. But after the first hour signing posters I really started to enjoy myself. The guys from the space foundation were great hosts and really looked after us.

Jim: Will you be attending in 2014?

JV: Yes I will. Originally I wasn’t going as I had planned to go to the States next year storm chasing. As luck would have it they moved the event from April to May at the exact time I finish the storm chasing tour, so it was too good an opportunity to miss. Once the tour finishes we’ll drive up from Oklahoma to Colorado for the event before heading off to New York.

the western shoresJim: I came across a post of your recently on the DAZ 3D forums where you were lamenting the loss of Bryce’s golden days, that many of the skilled artists you interacted with and drew inspiration from have moved on to other programs or disappeared. It must feel something like you’re a citizen of some distant future society threatened by a universe sliding towards heat death… or something. What has kept you in the Bryceosphere?

JV: Ah yes the golden days. I don’t wish to disrespect anybody in today’s Bryce community, but back when I started out there were guys like Rochr, Hobbit, Alvinylaya, Woodhurst… I could go on. It seemed that Renderosity was alive with talent then and everyone was willing to share their secrets. It was a great time to learn Bryce as the type of work being produced was mindblowing. Regarding why I stay with Bryce, well I guess it’s never let me down and has been good to me over the years. I have had a dabble with Vue in the past but I’m impatient and don’t think I want to spend another 5 yrs or so mastering another program.

Jim: (if not answered above) Do you think Bryce has been and gone this time around, or do you think DAZ could bring it back with 64bit capabilities, a bit of spit ’n shine, and maybe some new features?

dark timesJV: I’d like to think Bryce will live on, but I also understand that commercially it isn’t viable. I don’t blame Daz for this as they came in when all hope was lost and gave us a few more years and new features to play with. I think Corel really missed a trick because when they left Bryce to languish it was arguably superior to Vue. Then Vue showed with the right investment you can turn a “hobbyist” software into a professional one in the space of a couple of years.

Jim: You’ve also said the last few years have been a bit slow in terms of creativity. Is this related to life circumstances, or is it partly tied in with the shrinking Bryce community?

JV: I’d pretty much hammered Bryce for around 8yrs or so and needed a break. Also I wasn’t happy with what I was creating. I wanted my work to look better but for one reason or another this wasn’t happening so that’s why things slowed down.

Jim: Have you thought about making the jump to Vue or Terragen or similar?

JV: As mentioned I’ve dabbled with Vue many years ago when I got a free copy with a magazine. In those days Bryce and Vue were on a par, but I just felt more comfortable with Bryce. I’ve also played around with Terragen. I think both those programs these days produce more realistic landscapes and lighting than Bryce, and I’d kill for a few Vue trees, but at the moment what I can’t get in Bryce then I turn to Photoshop.

Jim: For those starting out in 3D would you suggest Bryce, or would you point them in the direction of something that with a more certain future.

JV: Well as a starting point Bryce still has a lot to offer. The community at DAZ is healthy and the forum is a wealth of knowledge. However I have a friend of the family whose son is looking to get into the gaming industry. These days students can get great discounts on higher end software and he has an edition of Cinema 4d. I told him to learn as many pieces of software as possible so he can be a jack of all trades in the business. Kids growing up today are surrounded by technology so it all comes naturally and the learning process is easier I think. So it depends what you want to get out of 3d. If it’s a career then start higher, if it’s a way of enjoyment and relaxation then Bryce is great, but that’s not to underestimate its potential.

joe vinton the time has comeJim: What was it that spurred on your decision to take up digital painting – just the artistic urge to branch out and develop new skills?

JV: I just happened to see artists that I admired starting to use these skills to great effect, so naturally I wanted to give it a go. I’m still useless at free hand drawing, but I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made with Photoshop. Before I would use it for color touchups and fixing errors on a render, now I see it as a vital tool when I come to produce an image. Nowadays I don’t have to be frustrated when Bryce comes up short as a lot of the time I can turn to Photoshop to get the results I want.

Jim: Do you think Photoshop will supplant your 3D work one day, or do you see it primarily as a way of boosting your 3D renders?

JV: I think it depends on what sort of image I’m doing. Just lately I’ve been doing more space based images, and these can be achieved with Photoshop. When I do a sci-fi image then the landscape and models are done in Bryce, and the atmospherics and sky will be in Photoshop.

Jim: I noticed there is a “freebie” over at DAZ 3D that is your handy work (Bryce Masters Series: Cloud City). Are there other works/products of yours that have simply vanished in to the digital ether over the years? Was serious content creation ever on the agenda?

JV: Not really. I keep meaning to get a load of models put up for freebies at some point and maybe now I’ve said it in this interview I shall make a determined effort to do so. It would be nice to give something back and it’s always nice to see how other people use your models in a scene.

We Travel - stylised space scape by Joe VintonJim: How important have the 3D communities been to your experience as a 3D artist? Renderosity seems to be a particular favourite.

JV: 3d communities have been and will be a big part of my life. When I first had a go with Bryce it was more like a quirky toy and I couldn’t really see it as more than a fun time waster. Then I happened to discover Renderosity and saw what other people were doing and thought “Wow I want to do that”. I remember the first image I posted was some weird cartoon character made out of primitives stood in a garish world on colors that only Bryce can conjure up. The fact I got 25 or so views and somebody happened to comment that the image had put a smile on their face gave me the confidence to carry on. I’ve posted images all over the place over the years, but Renderosity is the place that I feel most at home.

Jim: I do have to ask what’s up with your avatar at Rendo? Paulie? LOL

JV: … well I just love The Sopranos, and Paulie was my favorite character.

Jim: Any idea what comes next – plans, projects?

JV: Well I need to promote myself more, especially now as Renderosity slows down. I’m trying to get noticed more a deviantART because it seems that it has become the popular choice for artists these days. I’m hoping that after next year’s symposium, that I can make some contacts that will benefit me in the future. I’ve also got an exhibition of sorts planned for some point in the future. This time though the images will be projected onto a large white wall inside the gallery accompanied by music and various quotes from the likes of Carl Sagan etc.


Joe Vinton on the edge

Joe Vinton/Orbital’s Galleries:

Future Realms (personal site)

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