book of hours Process

For my non-specialist friends who ask how I made these images, the very short answer to the technical part is 3D and Photoshop.  I made the basic part of the scene with the rooms, figures and props in 3D, created a rendered image using a 3D camera, and then mixed this image with my own photos of gardens and flowers and trees in Photoshop, using mainly simple color correction and layer Blend modes.

Here are a few shots with the original 3D renders and then with photos added and Photoshop compositing.


Here’s a shot of the 3D work scene in Cinema 4D.  It looks worse than it is, but it’s at a pretty crazy state right here at the end of the production.


For my more technical friends, I’m using Cinema 4D to create the main figures.  This is a very dynamic rig, having a base object where the points are being continuously deformed.  Objects are being cloned onto this animating shape, and these clones are in a Metaball.  So the base object is changing each frame, which changes the number and position of the clones, which changes the shape and position of the Metaball object.

Definitely, this is not a process that’s very controllable. But somehow it seemed to suit this spiritual journey so perfectly, with nothing too bounded and predictable, everyone here there and everywhere simultaneously.   Laying out the scenes in 3D was more like directing a cast of very animated spirits than anything resembling normal 3D workflow. In this system, with so many changes in each frame, I would just let the action get to a point where I thought I might have something reasonably coherent, then frame it up with the 3D camera and take a shot.


An earlier experiment with this theme showed Mel pushing his bed out of the hospital...somehow reminded me of "Caps For Sale" and how much he loved reading to our children when they were young.  These are before and after shots, ie. the 3D render then compositing in Photoshop.


non-technical development

There is a natural continuity between Book of Hours and much of the other work on this site, as all the work flows from a common starting point in landscape and painting.  The pictures are all made using digital tools, some combination of 3D, photos, Photoshop, and/or Corel Painter.  When I began working on these image, I intended it to be an animation eventually, so there are vestiges of this plan in its layout as a series of scenes.

 "Fraxinus" images were my first attempt to address the theme of “Mount Sutro” and they are photos of a mix of small objects that stand-in for trees, rocks, and the windy mountain.  These photos were color treated in Photoshop.  They are more abstracted than Book of Hours, but the same themes of trees and tumult are here.


"Liriodendron" series, which came a few months after "Fraxinus", was not specifically about Mount Sutro, but was a more general set of 3D landscapes.  The images are full of suggestions of rivers and mountains and tumbling shapes, then merged with photos in Photoshop to create a more painterly environment with non-literal light and color.


Then there were some transition images where I was getting closer to the feel of the landscape, but still didn't have the shapes and figures that I wanted.


And flowed into working with this figure in the landscape.


Once I had built this conglomerate with the striped cloth and airy particles, I continued to develop this as the main character.  Since I was thinking this would be an animation eventually, I was working with somewhat discrete scenes in mind.  Whether I ever resolve this as an animation feels problematic, but there are definitely one or two more scenes that are in partial stages of completion that I will add here when they are done.

I welcome your feedback and comments and appreciate your following along on this journey.