posted by emillion 2007-04-29


Photography is a perfectly valid artform, and one that we welcome at Fantastic Portfolios.

However, there are several things to be aware of when submitting photography:

It must be fantasy or fantastical in nature, and it must be excellent. 

A portrait of someone - even in Ren Faire garb - is not necessarily fantasy.  You have to convey a feeling of magic, suspense of reality, and evoke an emotion by using
lighting and color and composition.

Elements of the piece must match - if you are doing a photographic composite, the audience must not be able to see 'that's where they pasted the wings on,' or 'that's where they added ears.'  Lighting and focus must be a believable blend, consistant throughout.

Using photography in the background of a hand-rendered piece is highly challenging, but can be done effectively. Most importantly, lighting and color must match. Filtered photographs should not look like filtered photographs. The rule of thumb is that the piece must look so good, so real or so artistically composed and blended, that we don't know or care how you acheived it.

Poser and other 3-D rendering engines

These types of tools are just that - tools, and our critics are not pre-disposed to disliking any piece because of how they are created. It is important, however, to recognize some of the flaws that are very common to using these tools, and see and correct them in your own work.

- Background/scenery that looks very sharp, angled and has highly detailed texture, to the point the background textures and details overwhelm the Poser human.

Balance is something that really needs to come in in the planning stages, whether using Poser or any rendering engine. Poser and a simulated background rarely strike the right balance. Simulated backgrunds too often overwhelm the figures, and figures look unconvincingly positioned in their backgrounds.  Action scenes are often too still, lighting isn't interesting and focused, and the point of interest gets lost in the overall piece.  Backgrounds also frequently lack atmospheric perspective - a change of color that occurs when things are further away.

- Flat monotone skin that contains very little in varying hue.

Skin tones vary, whether you're looking at one person, one area of their body (face, hands), and definitely over areas where they contain more bone, or more veins and/or arteries closer to the skin, etc. Rendering programs do not take this into account, and post-work must be done on 3-D images or the figure will look unnatural and flat.

- Bunchy flat hair with the same problems in coloring as above.

Many rendering programs will put hair 'where you tell it,' regardless of the affects of gravity or lighting, and will clump it unnaturally together without providing for loose, singular strands.  Another thing to watch for is the level of detail throughout the hair - rendering programs think that everything should have the same level of detail, but that is artistically confusing and overwhelming.  Hair in particular will have many areas where you don't see every single strand. 

- Fabric that has the same problems in coloring and level of detail as above.

- Joint movement and balance of the human form.

Rendering programs approximate a human body but very often fall short of being able to adjust for actual interior joints, ligaments, muscles and the elasticity of flesh and skin.  It is the artist's responsibility to correct the shortcomings of the program, and alter unnatural looking joints and adjust their model for believable balance and weight. 

Poser is predisposed to making complete-looking pictures where all these considerations go to heck.  Be aware of these limitations and take the time to correct them, and your work will be very welcome here!