Tag Archives: maxwellrender

CG software: Does it ever stop?

As promised, I’m going to discuss the maze of CG software that I’ve been toying with and contemplating for my project. I will try to avoid this turning into a rant. Let’s go way back. When 3D software was still in it’s infancy, I fell in love with it and I wanted to learn it and know it as well as my 2D software. I started out with Strata (is that still around?) and quickly acknowledged its limitations. Somewhere around that time, I also adopted the early generations of Poser, and Bryce, which were inexpensive by comparison and managed to do a decent job (for that day and age). It must have been the early ’90s when I made the leap into Power Animator, which I still dearly love and miss. Of course, when all of those companies changed hands and consolidated and such Power Animator went away and Maya was born. There were some similarities, but ultimately, it was a different program altogether. Being self-taught and self-employed, by the late ’90s I ended up abandoning the Maya platform for a number of reasons:

1) Cost of software. Maya was too expensive. Way too expensive. And this was no one-time investment; this was a yearly outlay of big bucks.

2) Cost of hardware. In the beginning, I used SGI hardware, but then they vaporized and the price for new hardware to drive the relentlessly new software just got too crazy. (When the motherboard goes on your Octane and the company is out of business, well, you move on.)

3) Difficulty. Maya was no longer the kind of program that you could teach yourself. With each new iteration, there was new learning and I couldn’t keep pace.

4) By the time Maya was available for the Mac all of the above had already passed me by.

So, I resorted to Bryce for the lion’s share of my rendering. Some of you will laugh, but I exploited that software for all it was worth and still do, despite some annoying aspects and limitations. I also picked up a copy of SolidThinking to continue my NURBS modeling but this was a squirrely program that crashed often and produced unreliable results. I also ventured into Maxwell, Modo and now, since Autodesk lets students use Maya for free, (great idea by the way) I have come full circle. As I suspected, the learning curve is steep, stepping in after years of being away.

Where does that leave me now? As I stare down the massive project ahead, I think I’m going to end up using them all in some way, shape or form; Bryce, Poser, Maya, Modo and MaxwellRender. Life would be ideal if they all played nicely together, but as composer, conductor and first violin on this project, I may have to sacrifice tidy workflow for speed. And, unless Maya is your career, I venture to say that it is anything but fast. No discussion of 2D art (even if it’s 3D generated) would be complete without mentioning Photoshop, which I still hold out as one the finest pieces of software ever designed and thank God, they have never ruined. That’s my toolbox for now. I’ll keep you posted. Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.


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Adding MaxwellRender


If you’ve browsed my portfolio you see that I do a fair amount of 3D rendering, mostly for work but the tools are so superior these days that I have begun working on a few personal projects that let me stretch my modeling skills. The killer is always the time it takes to render and the final quality. To that end I just added Maxwell Render as my rendering engine. I found that it had a fairly steep learning curve and there is a lot more to learn before I could say that I’ve mastered it. There are some truly exceptional artists out there using it and are extremely proficient. You can explore it at http://www.maxwellrender.com

I use SolidThinking as my modeling tool primarily because I’m Mac-based and there aren’t too many NURBS based modeling platforms for the Mac. ST has its problems for sure, but it’s far more economical than say, Maya. Though, I think I will probably end up there eventually (save my pennies). I actually learned modeling back in the old days using Power Animator, on an SGI, moved up to Maya when it was Maya 1.0. Never was able to keep up with the upgrades.

Anyway, it seems like you could research rendering programs forever. I was looking to increase render speed when I started my search and I looked at Bunkspeed before settling on Maxwell primarily because of Maxwell’s materials editor. Really great stuff. Now, however, I am hearing a lot about VRAY. I’d like to hear what others are using and some of the pros and cons. 

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