But of course, even though the art I came up with was digital, it was still a two-dimensional creation, being painted just as if it were an oil on canvas. It was an enormous advance just to move into the digital realm, with all the myriad advantages it offers in such elements as movable layers and the ability to alter colors after they've been applied. Just being able to undo your mistakes with a click saves countless hours of repainting.
Still, two-dimensional painting has many limitations when it comes to shading and perspective, digital or not. And this is where 3d imaging takes a quantum leap. With the ability to add light and shadow to a fully-realized object in a virtual space the effect becomes increasingly realistic. Working in three planes instead of two not only allows you to move around your model and view it from every side in the same way you could if you were sculpting, but it also lets you interactively change the angle and intensity of your lights to create really dramatic effects. And that's just one of a seemingly infinite number of elements that you can create and manipulate.
Starting with a wire-frame model like the one above, you can lay on any textures that you like, such as wood grain and canvas for example, which you can either paint yourself or use actual photos of. I bought this particular model from the DAZ Studio website, where there are literally thousands of toys to choose from. DAZ, by the way, is a 3D art and animation program you can download for free. Poser is a higher standard tool, but DAZ will get you started and does everything you really need.
I'm nowhere near the stage where I can create a Viking ship from scratch just yet, but as you can see it can be done. Working with 3D art is a lot like playing with dolls and model toys, only really complex and interactive ones in worlds that you can design and customize yourself. And frankly, it's just plain fun to play around with. After all, what kid doesn't love to build and play with models?
The base model for this ship is the Drakkar, seen in the first two images above, and here at left under oars. The other version is an add-on texture package for it called the Jormungandr, named appropriately after the Midgard Serpent of Norse mythology that dwells within the ocean. I'll have to make some modifications of my own to make this conform to my Oseberg-based boat for Beowulf, with a new sail motif and headstocks, plus a carved prow displacement map. Then, of course, I'll need a crew and captain and a sea to sail her on!