Bryce Artist Feature 03: Michael Frank

To Earth Reclaimed Bryce render by Michael Frank

To Earth Reclaimed

One cannot fail to be struck with some measure of awe by Michael Frank’s impeccably arranged and ambitious organic wonders. Surreal and other worldly landscapes and creatures loom out of his dreams to tantalise us with their digitised tendrils, enticing us to pause a moment or a minute or longer… maybe much longer, and ponder. Michael’s images speak of futures and realities and overlapping spaces where anachronisms meet with the timeless to exchange notes. His work is undoubtedly one of the most vivid examples that Bryce can be a tool for the creation of beautiful fine arts of the highest quality. It was an honour and a privilege to correspond with and bug Michael Frank for his thoughts on Bryce and how he uses it.

JW: How long have you been a Bryce user and what is it about Bryce that drew you in the first place? Continue reading

Bryce Artist Feature 02: David Brinnen

ocean terrain bryce 7.1 render

East Coast

David Brinnen is an artist of the highest repute amongst the Bryce community. His art is an unrelenting experimental push towards mastery of the program. In this pursuit he has crossed many genres and styles, and while his images are often of a technical and experimental nature, his keen artistic insight renders breathtaking works that express an irrepressible enthusiasm for CGI and his chosen software.

David has been a Brycer since 2003 with an interest that stretches back another five years to 1997 when he first encountered a demo version of Bryce 2 with Computer Arts Magazine. At the time the price of both the software and requisite hardware were prohibitive. Recently I had the pleasure to correspond with David, talk Bryce, and become utterly mesmerised by his Bryce5 and DeviantArt galleries.

lost souls bryce rendered image

Lost Souls – 2006

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Bryce Artist Feature 01. SANTOSKY

santosky ancient astronauts bryce
As part of the ongoing Bryce feature I recently spoke to a number of Bryce’s most vivid artists. I’ve long since admired the works that people are producing with Bryce, but it wasn’t until stumbling uponSantosky’s fun, exploratory surrealism that I ever felt compelled to look more into the program, not so much in terms of a new program to learn (got more than enough on the cook right now!), but as someone who is interested in 3D programs themselves almost as much as 3D art and its production. I contacted him directly through the site and soon we got chatting.

Santiago Gómez (aka Santosky) has been a Brycer since 2002 when he came across a demo version of Bryce somewhere on the vast internet. At the time Santiago was new to 3D, and his early usage of the program was casual and unassuming of the artist endeavours it would open up. Today, he cites the program as one of his main sources of inspiration, and says that it forms the basis of his work.

santosky abstract 3d sculpture bryce
Santiago likes Bryce’s surface simplicity which allows him to create and light scenes rapidly, as can be seen with a quick browse of his image galleries that show a huge outpouring of high quality works. Santiago is under no illusions that his software of choice is beginning to show its age and lag behind rival software packages. He says the software has evolved little over the last ten years, and that there are several issues he comes up against time and again: the 32bit limitations of the software, restricted render size, and lack of more advanced modelling tools. Despite Bryce’s shortcomings he is quick to praise the intuitive interface, rapid scene construction and lighting tools, and points out that every day he discovers more of Bryce’s secrets.

santosky ancient astronauts bryce render

Sadly he notes that Bryce has an uncertain future with its diminished commercial profitability and slow intermittent development. He would like to see DAZ or another developer “bet” on Bryce and build it back up into a competitive program. Given the apparently slim possibilities of a Bryce renaissance, he sees his future with software on the forefront of development with programs like ZBrush forming the top of his 3D toolbox. Users of a number of other 3D packages will no doubt commiserate on this sentiment, with users of Carrara (another of DAZ 3D’s holdings) being of particularly relevant note.

santosky abstract 3d sculpture bryce

Next in the Bryce series I got to talk to one of Bryce’s most recognised maverick gurus, David Brinnen. David recently co-released (with fellow Bryce maverick and HDR Kingpin, Horo (who I also got to talk with)) Practical Bryce 7.1 Pro – Volume 1.

Bryce - The First Name in 3D Landscapes

More in the Bryce Arist series:

04: Horo
03: Michael Frank
02: David Brinnen

Bryce Alive

bryce render surreal astronnut

One of Santosky’s images from his Ancient Astronauts series

Some people love it, others hate it, but such is the way with just about anything in 3D or anywhere else. With its roots as little more than a procedural terrain generator Bryce hit the market back in 1994 and quickly became the killer app of landscape rendering with a hefty price tag to match. Fast forward to 2013 the program is now at version 7.1 and available for $19.95 (prior to which it was free for over a year). Many say that the program has had its day and now the program will go quietly into the digital oblivion that has claimed so many other 3D applications. But the end of Bryce has been called before and subsequently proven wrong.

Five years and a move from Corel to DAZ 3D passed before Bryce 6 emerged in 2006, and then another four years to 7, but does DAZ 3D have the will and resources to release the Bryce 8 that the community desperately wants? What about a 7 point something with 64-bit support? Debatable, but not without hope. DAZ have shown some aptitude for software development with their updates to Bryce and Carrara, but particularly with the development of their flagship program DAZ Studio, which is evolving rapidly to compete with the Poser line of programs. Often it is uttered with a certain amount of despair that DAZ Studio’s development comes at the cost of its other acquisitions.

3d render by david brinnen

Sodium Lighting – David Brinnen

But even if Bryce (to come back to the topic) is slipping into the dark, there is still a vibrant and dedicated group of enthusiasts that show us that the software is capable of producing breathtaking results, and that this need not be the exception. This program has more than its fair share of bad press when it comes to producing quality work. Let the naysayers have their fun – haters got to hate and all the rest – but for all the mediocre Bryce images floating around out there, produced by hacks and noobs (those guys that just refuse to learn and evolve), there is a great wealth of wonder created by those that have embraced the software and learnt its secrets.

In putting this article together I corresponded with a number of Bryce’s most innovative and dedicated artists. All agree that Bryce is a good place to start for artists new to 3D. Not only is the software easy to learn with a strange and endearing interface, but there is a strong community on the forums at DAZ 3D and deviantArt (with several groups) which is enthusiastic about the program and happy to help out new adopters. There is also a vast collection of tutorials, both free and commercial. David Brinnen and Horo, both of whom I spoke with have produced some of the best quality instructional Bryce material to date, much of which can be discovered at Bryce-Tutorials.

This is but the beginning of the Bryce story. Coming soon will be at least four artist features, so say tuned.

Bryce - The First Name in 3D Landscapes