[ISEA2011] Paper: Anthony Head & Jeremy Gardiner – A painterly approach to 3D computer graphics


For the last 10 years Anthony Head and Jeremy Gardiner have been exploring possibilities for the use of real-time 3d computer graphics as a medium for landscape painting. This quest has run in parallel to the technological developments and standards of 3D graphics that are used in computer games. By pushing the boundaries of available technologies the artists have striven to create virtual landscape paintings that combine multiple perspectives into a unique experience.

This paper is an analysis of the processes we have employed and the hurdles we have faced in using computer graphics in a creative and intuitive manner. Adopting a painterly approach to our work the paper analyses Purbeck Light Years (2003), and Jurassic Light Years (2009) and Light Years: Coast (2010).

Since 2001 3D graphics has become more sophisticated and computer processing has increased, both these developments have been matched by our technical ambition.  Using existing graphics engines customized with programming the artists have created a mixture of old and new techniques that combine painting, drawing, computer animation, immersive virtual reality, satellite data and ambient sound. In the proposed paper we discuss 3D graphics techniques that have been used such as fog, textures, bump mapping, transparency, shaders and cameras. We also analyse the creative and aesthetic decisions made in order to create experiences that engage the intellect, excite the emotions and capture the imagination.

In conclusion we have learnt many lessons about the scale and atmosphere of each location and the effect that has had on the resulting work. The modernist starting point of the paintings (that were used to create the virtual) can sometimes get usurped by the possibilities made available by computer graphics. However, CG also brings with it unique opportunities for experiencing landscape.  lightyearsprojects.org

  • Anthony Head, UK. My practice as a researcher and artist straddles many areas, due to my interest in interdisciplinary activity and the intersections between art and science. I am a programmer who uses code creatively to develop work, predominantly in the field of 3D graphics, but also in wider contexts. I work in the realm of multimedia, interactive design, installation art, design. I’m one half of the Light Years Projects collaboration and am also Creative Director of the Illuminate Bath Festival. As well as being involved in my paper topic, I have also been researching using 3D graphics for creating a weather app (3D weather), and am involved in a project to create an app to help students analyse poetry (Poetiks). 3dweather.org
  • Jeremy Gardiner 

Full text (PDF) p. 1145-1151