Information concerning general artwork.

3D rendering, design, media, and technology news.

A very intelligent man once said,

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

That person was Albert Einstein.

Recently, I received a email from a colleague who very kindly, complimented my work. He then went on to write:

I don’t know the status quo between fellow renderers, but if it is anything like the architectural community then there is a free flow of information and knowledge tempered by the fact that our peers and friends are our competitors.  If you wouldn’t mind talking to someone who is a few years your junior, then please feel free to email me.

First, let me add by saying that “a free flow of information” and it being “tempered” are two, totally different concepts. You cannot have a “free flow” of information if it’s being limited in the first place.

When I started out as a graphics artist, I read all the books, online tutorials, and forums that I could find. I taught myself everything because I couldn’t afford several thousands of dollars in classes at the time. The information that existed out on the web was fairly limited. As I joined forums, I would start asking questions of other artists whose work I admired – hoping that they would part with a morsel of their techniques so that I could learn from them.

More often than not, I was met with a flat-out refusal. Artists simply didn’t reply. A step up from that were the people who replied, but for one reason or another didn’t fully explain how or what they did to achieve an image. A good portion of their lack of explanation I blame on them not being able to clearly communicate to another person. These artists that I’d admire could go through the process, but in order to discuss their methods, I found that they often lacked the “socialization tools” to break an idea or technique down into simpler terms.

This brings me to my second Albert Einstein quote (which has often been misquoted and paraphrased):

It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.

In other words, try to keep things as simple as possible. The majority of people in this world struggle with breaking down complex ideas into their step-by-step components.

I’d like to add another point to some artists’ perceived “lack of assistance” in tutoring others. Some people are simply busy, or they might even be lazy. However, time  and experience has taught me that if someone’s work is really good, then there’s probably a good chance that they are simply very busy.

Another point worth mentioning is that other artists may not want to get involved with your problems. On many occasions, I’ve encountered situations in which you start helping someone out, and you’ll find yourself spending weeks trying to solve somebody else’s problem that wasn’t even your own to begin with. Could you blame someone for not wanting to help you out? I’m sure that most people have much better things to do with their free time.

Last but not least is competition. Some view competition as healthy, and others view it negatively. The fact is that most of us struggle in this world. Not everyone is out to become rich, or if they are – they’re often struggling to even get to that level in the first place. Greed aside, there are those of us whom simply want to put food on our tables and eventually retire some day. All that we ask for is that we try to enjoy our jobs, and that we try to live comfortably within our means.

If I told you that “I knew the secret to becoming rich overnight”, would you want to know? Of course you would.

If I said, “I know of a method to press a button and out pops a remarkable piece of art instantly”, would you want to know that too? Yes.

How about, “my restaurant has a signature dish that people come to try from all around the world.” Would you want to know that recipe? The better question is, “would I be willing to share my recipe to you?” If I give you the recipe, than others will be able to quickly reproduce that dish, and I will probably harm my own livelihood. I’m not trying to be a “greedy” by not sharing, but rather I’m trying to protect myself and business from falling apart. Everything I worked towards revolves around this one dish, and to give it away would be suicide.

There’s a concept that dates back to the time of early man, in which a person learns over a period of time the techniques used to get to a certain point of expertise. It’s called an apprenticeship. A person simply doesn’t pick up a hammer one day and declares themselves a blacksmith the next. Does a master blacksmith know some secret techniques to achieve certain results? Yes, a master probably does.

The same concept of apprenticeship applies to almost every creative field. A person starting out should probably learn the underlying techniques to get from Point A to Point B. This in turn gives them a better understanding of the entire process, and will help them appreciate the beauty and simplicity of these shortcuts later on. It also gives the apprentice the tools needed to help solve other issues instead of just relying on this “one trick pony.”

In today’s world, a lot of people think they are entitled to a handout. In part, I blame this on impatience and shorter attention spans. Some people simply don’t want to go through all of the hard work to get to the end result. However, I had to struggle all of these years through having to teach myself to get to where I’m currently at,  so why shouldn’t you? Isn’t that only fair?

There is no such thing as a complete “free flow of information.” As long as there are people in this world, this philosophical concept will never truly exist. The sharing of ideas and techniques are more representative of a faucet that has been intentionally left partially open to drain.

3D rendering, design, media, and technology news.


Those of us in the field of 3D often use the term “3D” very loosely – when artists often refer to the term, we typically mean to discuss a 2D image that has a more realistic perspective (lighting, shadows, and angles) that would be representative of a standard photograph. Just like our standard “3D artwork”, a photograph has no actual depth of perception and in reality isn’t technically “3D.” Truthfully, I do not know what to call this mis-labeling or misnomer – it’s a term which has been misused by the “3D” community for several decades now and I have even come into the habit of frequently using this because it is something most people have come to relate-to. Perhaps a term such as “CG Perspectivism” would be more accurate and appropriate for these works.

A "traditional" 3D rendering by LunarStudio

A traditional 3D rendering by myself. Although this resembles an actual photograph, it does not convey an actual sense of depth perception.

In regards to 3D as in the true term of “a sense of depth”, there is a bit more to the technology than meets the proverbial eye. It involves a certain level of understanding our own human physiology as well as developments in 3D technology.

The First Description of Stereoscopy

In order to lend an image an actual sense of depth, it requires that we have stereoscopic vision – a left and a right eye. Sir Charles Wheatstone was the first person to describe this physiological effect called stereopsis. His term dates back to 1838.

Text from his original research paper can be read here:
Stereoscopy Wheatstone Paper 1838.

Sir Charles Wheatstone, 1868

Sir Charles Wheatstone, 1868

Sir Charles Wheatstone also went on to invent the Pseudoscope in 1852 which eventually became the forerunner into modern stereoscopic imaging technologies.

3D Viewing Technologies

There are several different “modern” methods and technologies which can trick our vision into believing that a photograph, movie, or “3d” scene really has a sense of depth. All of this still has it’s basis in the pioneering research of Sir Charles Wheatstone. These methods often involve separating an image apart into two different components, a “left” and “right” image of the same object or scene. An optimal formula for determining and calibrating depth perception involves measuring the distance between the left and right eyes in relations to the focus or distance of an object and applying it to an image that we are viewing.

Here are a few side-by-side methods for viewing an image in 3D:

  1. Stereographic Cards and Pictures. These are two images side-by-side taken or photographed from slightly different angles. These cards often involve forcing one’s eyes to cross in order achieve this sense of depth.

    A Stereoscopic Image.

    A Stereoscopic Image of Baker's River, Rumney, New Hampshire 1889

  2. Transparency Viewers. These are devices such as the View-Master that you hold up to your eyes and view stereographic slides.


    1962 View-Master courtesy of Wikimedia, IllPassaggero

  3. Head Mounted Displays. These involve helmets or glasses with LCD or OLED displays. This may involve photographs or Virtual Reality scenes. This is perhaps the most recent technology at the time of this writing. It can provide a wide-range of depth and motion.

    Emagin Z800 Head Mounted Display

    Emagin Z800 Head Mounted Display

Here are several main methods of 3D viewers:

  1. Liquid Crystal Shutter Glasses. This active method involves wearing glasses that can alternate and sync shutting on and off the left and right sides of these glasses in synchronization with the refresh rate of your monitor or TV. As of 2010, the majority of “3D televisions” on the market fall into this category. Most standard computer monitors and flat-panels only have a refresh rate of 60 Hz, whereas a “3D television” or “3D monitor” has double (120 Hz) signal. Costs associated are typically high, and hence movie theaters do not employ this technology.
    Liquid Crystal Shutter Glasses

    Liquid Crystal Shutter Glasses

    Polarized Glasses. Images are superimposed on to the screen through orthogonal polarizing filters. In turn, the viewer wears glasses with orthogonal lenses. These lenses are generally clear, but darker in color and result in some loss in brightness. This method is commonly used in movie theaters as of the time of this writing.

    Polarized 3D Glasses

    Polarized 3D Glasses

Anaglyph Glasses. There are several sub-types of this 3D Viewer category, but for the sake of this article I will keep it brief. If you would like to read more on the topic, I would recommend visiting the Wikipedia article here. Anaglyph glasses are the more traditional method of viewing 3D images, often with the separate red and cyan lenses. As of more recent technological developments involving higher resolution filming and displays as well as better methodology, different lens colors are being used to help add natural color back into these images and also to better align left-right images more accurately. Further refinements has helped reduced the apparent color tint in some of these lenses. Some of the newer methods even help make an image appear normal without the use of glasses. Some 3D artists including my work and company, LunarStudio can produce cost-effective anaglyph images which are viewable with glasses.

Traditional Anaglyph Glasses

Traditional Anaglyph Glasses

Other common 3D display methods:

  1. Lenticular Prints. This consists of a plastic laminate/substrate made of fine, vertically-running prisms layered on top. Underneath this layer is a left/right series of alternating images. By moving your head or tilting the image, you can convey the sense of depth and even motion. These are often seen in 3D postcards. With the advent of better technology concerning printing resolution, the prisms and shift between left/right images has become smaller. Depending on the prism structure and the amount of images you superimpose, this could provide a much wider range of angle depth than typical 3D viewing methods. You can even find kits and software online to produce these on your home printers. Here is a video of the lenticular process courtesy of 3dfocustv

    Traditional Anaglyph Glasses[/pro-player]

  2. Display with filter arrays. This is a similar concept to lenticular prints, but involves two LCDs on top of one another and shifted slightly. This doesn’t require glasses but may limit the sense of depth at specific viewing angles.
  3. Holographic Prints. Holographs could be almost thought of as a very fine prismatic lenticular print, but instead of being only viewable on a horizontal plane, it can be turned in many different planes of direction and still be viewable. It relies on embossing a medium on very fine, microscopic level. This embossing in turn diffracts the wavelength of light which appears to change depending on how we turn the medium. Recent advances in holograph and computer technology have improved image and color quality substantially. One company that is pioneering holographic technology for print is Zebra imaging. My company, LunarStudio is able to make 3D illustrations and models which can be printed by their services. I’ve posted an example of their latest work below.

A Proposed 3D Technology

One of my thoughts on 3D technology is that what lends people the sense of depth isn’t really color, but rather a lack of light hitting certain angles. We can all agree that the components of the visible light spectrum can be duplicated using the colors of red, green, and blue – or the RGB additive model (additive in the sense that if you add RGB together, it should form a pure white.)

For example, if I held a red sheet in front of a viewer in flat/neutral lighting conditions perfectly perpendicular to the sheet, no matter how I turned it – the red will appear red. However, if I altered the light source to remain fixed, the red sheet will start to display gradations of black and grey – or shading and shadows. It is the black and grey (or absence of color) that lends an object the sense of depth aside from our separation of background noise and blur.

Instead of shifting primary colors in a traditional anaglyph sense, I believe you could probably shift the black/grey (or K) values slightly to achieve a similar 3D stereoscopic effect. This may result in something similar to camera Depth of Field/blur which is a often an exaggerated form of depth perception. Combine this grayscale separation technique with a fine lenticular type of lens that alternates between gradated shades of black/grey instead of primarily relying on the RGB color components, I believe you could potentially achieve a much better stereoscopic effect. In theory, I suppose my idea is somewhat similar to polarizing techniques, but retains much of the original color fidelity while perhaps losing out on some edge sharpness. However, at fine resolutions, the effect may not be as noticeable.

In my mind, it’s an interesting concept. I do not have the time, money, or energy to invest myself in experimenting with the potential here. I would be honored if someone was able to take my idea and turn it into a working prototype. Also, perhaps someone has already experimented with a convergent idea and that I’m not aware of its prior existence.


There are many different methods for us to perceive a sense of depth within an image, or “true 3D” as I’d like to call this. The field is constantly evolving, improving, and there are no shortages of ideas to be explored. Most of our limitations revolve around understanding and techniques compounded with production costs. Obviously, a simple red/blue anaglyph pair of lenses is much more cost-effective to produce and simpler to deploy to a large audience than a fully immersive Head Mounted Display. Due to these costs, most of us have been unable to experience some of these more recent technological developments first-hand. On the other hand, higher costs for the most ground-breaking technologies are also pushing increasingly better and less expensive technology to a more receptive, consumer-friendly audience. Our desire for this format as a society is growing insatiably. Some however remain “unconvinced” – they insist on referring to this progressive 3D trend as a gimmick.

There will come a day when 3D stereoscopic cameras become commonplace and our viewing technologies improve to the point where we don’t have to rely on other devices such as glasses. These movies will look completely natural, and a reverse social psychological effect will occur – when viewers look back at our old method of cinema, games, and photography – they will consider anyone producing work with these techniques using the traditional 2D flat-style as the ones pulling a stylistic gimmick.

3D rendering, design, media, and technology news.

LunarStudio was recently approached by a construction company in the Boston area to see if we could develop 3D scenes for their immersive virtual reality system. I would like to announce that we are able to develop 3D scenes for this platform. The construction company is using software and hardware from a company called World Viz. Their software system is called Vizard. They also make a virtual reality headsets and motion tracking systems. World Viz is a pioneer and leader in this field of systems.

Here is an example from World Viz of their Virtual Reality systems:

For those that are unfamiliar with immersive virtual reality systems, they are often comprised of headsets that you can wear and look around as if you were in an actual 360-degree space. With their motion tracking system, you have the added flexibility of actually walking around with the headset in an imaginary setting. Another option is a CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) system in which the walls surrounding you are display monitors or involve projections to make it seem like you are standing in a 3D setting.

Here is an example of a CAVE system that was developed by iCube:

These systems are often being used for research and development in the following fields:

  • Architecture
  • Automotive
  • Defense
  • Engineering
  • Neuroscience
  • Science
  • Training

In researching World Viz’s system, I spent about a day familiarizing myself with their technology and training resources. I also spent a significant amount of time on the phone and via email with their support personnel. They explained that a system can cost roughly $40,000 US. depending on which features you would choose to add. The majority of their proceeds comes from university laboratories which mostly concern themselves with neurosciences and brain imaging. Another big field for them is that of defense and military training. LunarStudio would be looking to help advance the field of virtual reality concerning architecture with their systems by helping create these 3D environments and models. We also specialize in 360-degree panoramic photographs at our sister website, HDRSource.

For more information regarding LunarStudio’s virtual reality solutions and services, please visit our website at:

3D rendering, design, media, and technology news.

Yesterday I wrote an article on the first photograph of a human which I had enhanced. After reading that others didn’t have the tools to enhance the photograph, I decided to make use of my architectural rendering and image editing skills  to see if there was anything else hidden. I think that there’s a deeper message we should think about.  The Boulevard du Temple by Daguerre article signifies how this photograph inadvertently shaped our entire world view till this very day.

I don’t think there are too many single photos which can tell such a grand story. We have the first Civil War photographs, the use of propaganda during the first and second World Wars, Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, the aftermath of nuclear weapons, JFK’s assassination, the Vietnam War, the moon landing, and 911. I’m certain that there are other important examples of how photography impacted our world which escapes me at this moment, but all of that still comes back down to this one single image of a human being either operating a water pump, or getting his shoes shined.

Once we start to investigate this photograph by Daguerre, most of our first inclinations is to look even further within the photo to see what else we can discover. We ask ourselves, is it just one human standing there or were there multiple people that were captured in this fairly innocuous historical moment? What else is there to see – is there a cat in the window? Are those trees or people standing on the opposite side of the road? Where are the horses and carriages? What time of day is it and what season? What direction is he facing when he took this? All of this manages to happen within a single, noisy and scratched image of a Paris boulevard.

If it resembled more of a modern photograph, would we all be equally interested? It’s the early state of this image in of itself which brings up these relevant questions and gets us to start thinking about things.

The Boulevard du Temple doesn’t look like much at first glance. We realize there must be some historical importance. But in a much deeper sense, we are looking at one of the first, beautiful photographs of everyday life and society.

In today’s modern era, I would argue that most people take photography for granted. It’s become such a common part of our culture, from the first newspapers to scans, from television to even the Internet. A lot of us even have cameras on our cell phones – instantly, we can take a picture and the rest of the world can see it in near real-time. We operate these devices and really don’t appreciate the technological miracle we hold in our hands. The significance of this first photograph of a human is that has given rise to a deeper understanding of the human condition – it’s taught us about war, medicine, politics, news, culture, technology, and never ceases to entertain us. But without people, photography might have been somewhat pointless. It is this single act of capturing a person which has brought us to where we are today. As the old proverb says, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In this case, I don’t think anything else could be more telling.

3D rendering, design, media, and technology news.

I’d like to announce that I’ve made some major updates to the LunarStudio Architectural Renderings website recently. While the overall layout of LunarStudio has remained the same, there are a lot of new images as well other things which changed  “underneath the hood.” Most importantly, I finally found the time to add close to 50 new images to the website and have applied some minor color tweaks and adjustments to most of the existing architectural renderings that were previously there. This whole process took several days to complete.

For existing clients, this should come as fantastic news. I don’t think most of them realize what this means. I often joke that I should create their renderings for free, and charge to post their images to my website. Due to the high amount of traffic that flows through the LunarStudio website, this is free advertising and also helps boost their own website rankings as well. In hiring LunarStudio, you’re essentially more than quadrupling your visibility to the rest of the world. I often laugh when clients haggle over several hundred dollars because that same expenditure may come back to them a hundred times over.

Updating LunarStudio has always been tricky. Since LunarStudio ranks highly for a couple of thousand search terms in all three major search engines, changing the slightest word or even adding content can push search rankings up and down drastically that could result in lost revenue. Something which seems fairly straight-forward such as adding a single image needs to be carefully examined prior to being uploaded, then the accompanying text needs to be massaged in order to “try” to achieve optimal results. Multiply this by several hundred images, and you have a big potential mess on your hands – especially if you screw up a single character. For this reason, I’ve forced myself to keep the overall design and layout of LunarStudio the same over the years. I’ve avoided adding additional text. As much as I am tempted to redesign the look and feel for something “fresher”, I often have to remind myself that I’m playing with dynamite. Besides, as much as LunarStudio has been imitated over the years (one of the first non-Flash websites to be perfectly centered on-screen), I still think it holds a lot of character.

For an example of the current sites out on the Internet copying LunarStudio, check out the following link: Keep in mind, this changes every month (sometimes more) but there’s always someone out there…

I often think people take the “search engine” itself for granted. It’s often viewed as a seamless and organic process: type in what you’re looking for and out pops the results. However, I’ve read studies on search engine usage and the average person doesn’t look past the first 10 items that turn up on an average search. That means if you don’t place within the top 10 of any search engine result, there’s a good chance that your website will not be seen or even noticed. From a marketing perspective, that’s an absolute disaster. If you create a website, you should have every interest in wanting it to achieve high-rankings as that can help others as well as bring in additional revenue. If you don’t, then you will be stuck with the traditional method of “word-of-mouth” and having to resort to other campaigns to drive interest to your work.

There are a number of things which happen “behind the curtains” of search engine results. The engines vary slightly as the major companies have various patents and copyrights on their code and complex mathematical formulas. On top of the code differences, a company such as Google has been known to modify their search engine algorithm close to a thousand times in a single year! Each time they make these changes, your website can jump up and down the ranks. They often keep these methods secret because they don’t want people intentionally spamming their search results and providing irrelevant information. For the sake of this article, I will not go into the topic of search engines and optimization simply because I could probably write a whole book on the topic. It can be a fun game to play, but you have to have time as well as patience.

For those interested, here is a list of items that were changed as of 10/25/10:

  1. All thumbnails (several hundred) were manually changed from biege to full color.
  2. Thumbnail hovers were all brightened with an overlay of white set to 50% opacity. I could have used a JavaScript, but again this would probably have an impact on rankings.
  3. Canonical rules enforced versus head tags. Some pages were splitting rank by having trailing slashes and non-trailing slashes after their URLs. Depending on what happens over the course of the next week, I may keep this.
  4. Close to 50 new images and 100 thumbnails were added to various categories. This is most of my work over the course of the year, however there are still a number of items which cannot be posted per contractual obligations, quality (sometimes I’m given limited time and resources), and others which are still in progress.
  5. The majority of images were slightly readjusted concerning color balance, exposure, and saturation.
  6. Keywords and titles added to all of the new image sections.
  7. Copyrights were updated.
  8. Updated manual sitemap.
  9. Updated Google and Yahoo! sitemaps.

This is on my “to-do” list:

  1. I may implement MaxCDN (Content Delivery Network) to help boost search engine rankings and also speed up the delivery of images to the viewer.
  2. As a result of adding a CDN, that may impact the sitemaps mentioned above.
  3. As a result of adding a CDN, that may also create a bigger mess by turning up Page 404s – file not found errors which would all have to be manually redirected. When you’re talking several thousands of links, this can be a very tedious process.*
  4. Add additional images.

All of this being said, please let me know if you have any comments or questions regarding the updated website. In particular, I’m interested in comments regarding quality, speed, and usability. I’d really appreciate your feedback.

For more information, please visit:

*If anyone has any tips regarding implementing the CDN and avoiding the 404’s and redirects, please let me know!