July 27, 2013


Having been judged one of the best 200 digital artists on the planet by Luerzer's Archive we received a few copies of what I think is the first official compendium on CGI in print advertising. Although I have seen many of the artists and their work before, never in one place or curated in this way. It's come a long way, this art form that didn't have a home within photography, illustration, retouching or computer graphics, but just somewhere in-between until the term CGI was coined. The book opens with a letter from the Editor that gives some insight into Luerzer's thinking behind the first book of its kind, but also features a breakdown of the countries in which artists submitted from around the world. Why am I not surprised that Germany is Number One with the US a close second? Could it be that CGI is the marriage of method and madness? Two things the Americans and Germans are really good at?

July 6, 2013


This new Mac Pro renews my faith in Apple. So glad we hung in there since the last Mac Pro in 2010 and I can't wait to get one (or two ;-) this fall. I find it very futuristic and yet very retro, a bit like this Russian CGI motorcycle, no?

Love it. Rekindles some of the excitement of the Cube days. Wait -- has it really been 13 years already? The Cube... from a pre 9-11 world. And by the way, the Cube was a great machine... the Andy Warhol of computers in my mind. Way ahead of its time even if it was misunderstood by most.

February 12, 2013


...spun this spider web touched by early morning dew, a CGI image for an advanced wound care patch that helps restore and rebuild tissue structure. Slade Seaholm with hcb|health concepted and art directed this image after looking forward to working with us since the Covidien project. This turned out to be a great venue for our first engagement. We explored numerous environments, camera angles and lighting scenarios before settling on and perfecting this final take.

Final Render

Wireframe Model

Exploration Take

Exploration Take

February 6, 2013


A CGI project for Razor Ribbon showing of their top-of-the-line barbed wire which secures chemical plants, weapons depots, refineries and nuclear power plants had us neck deep in character development. For art director Adam VonOhlen of Two By Four out of Chicago (Hello again!) this image was all about nailing the look of the gargoyle and getting just the right mix of menace and awesomeness.

Reading up on the history of gargoyles and looking at hundreds of pictures from sculptors, illustrators, photographers and animators' interpretations really allowed us to wrap our head around this mythical creature. To relate the protective prowess of RazorWire barbed wire fences to the power of Gargoyles seemed quite fitting, as their place and reason for being has always been to protect important buildings from intruders with evil intentions, even if rather spiritual in nature. Working against a tight deadline, we started building the fence and compositing the refinery right away, while two of our character artists and myself each worked up a different animal style/approach for the gargoyle to present to Adam in a dating game of sorts.

[Click image to enlarge]

Tim's muscular bad dog, which he modeled in Z-Brush, turned out to be the winning contestant. The reward: not a date, but the honor of being put through the development wringer in the quest for the perfect beast.

Character development and art direction

In the final stages of the gargoyle's development we rendered a VR version (we blogged about this VR earlier already) allowing Adam, David and the other creatives and the client to see the gargoyle in virtual 3D from different angles.

Riffing with Adam via emailed JPEGs and exchanging screenshots of tweaks in real-time via iChat is how most of the art direction took place, perfecting the lighting, materials and minute details of the image. Once it was locked down and signed off by the client, it entered the final 8K render stage. The hero image was uploaded as simplified Photoshop layered file, allowing Adam and his team to scale the gargoyle, barbed wire wings, refinery, fence, and vignetting independently to accommodate different uses with their unique aspect ratios.

[Click image to see close-up of 8K render]

Then earlier last month, and I think of it as the cherry on top, Ruben, the art buyer came back to us to have us render the product image inset as well, with the same dramatic lighting and definition as the barbed wire in the hero image.

Guess the only thing left to say, is... Thanks! Adam, Ruben and Steve. And I really look forward to another engagement with twoxfour.

January 9, 2013


We recently completed another 3D/CGI logo illustration that we'll definitely make room for in the portfolio. This one's for Rainbird with the concept of "water harvesting" or recycling water in irrigation. It came our way through Darren Jones, senior art director of Canyon Communications in Arizona. Given that it's not just a one-time ad image, but a universal brand asset, this one had to work on a white background as well as on a photographic background. With rendered water we have the luxury of an alpha-channel that allows for exactly this kind of thing.