Featured 3D Artist of April 2008 – John Tonkin

3DValley Featured 3D Artist of April 2008 – John Tonkin. John is an artist from New York. During day time he works in a small print company and in his free time he enjoys creating art with mainly Bryce 6 but also works with Poser, Carrara, Wings 3D, and Photoshop to make his images. He has tried out many various mediums but once he got introduced to the computer, back in 2002, he was hooked and has been a pixel pusher ever since. Please read our interview with John below to get to know him and his work a bit better.

Gallery album of John Tonkin
Website of John Tonkin

Can you tell us a bit about yourself: Who are you and what do you do in your daily life?

John: I am just an ordinary guy in my mid 50’s who is just mildly deranged (functionally insane). During the daylight hours I masquerade as a supervisor at a small print/mail company in Syracuse, NY. I have a gorgeous, beautiful, wonderful wife (she made me say that) all though I was going to say that anyway, of 27 years, and a son in his mid 20’s chasing his musical aspirations.

Which software packages do you use for your artwork?

John: I started out with Bryce 5 back in 2002, and since have added Poser, Carrara, Wings, and Photoshop to the mix. I am, now using Bryce 6 for most of my images, with some prep work in Photoshop.

You can’t use your software without hardware, so what do you use?

John: At the present I am using a Dell Dimension 9100 with a Pentium 4 and 2.00 GB of RAM.

A few screws loose

Do you have traditional art experience?

John: Yes, I have worked with charcoal, acrylics, pen and ink, pencil, and markers, but never professionally. Once I was introduced to the computer, back in 2002 I was hooked. I’ve been a pixel pusher ever since.

Can you tell us a bit of the way you work on your art?

John: I work in several different ways. Some times I start with an idea, or a play on words, as you may have noticed, then, I visualize how the image will look mentally. Then the fun starts, this is when I start modeling everything for the image, and deciding on mats and textures. These are all saved until I am ready for the assembly and layout process. Then I put all the models together and render once. I then study the image for any problems. Usually there are a few to be corrected and always more detail to add. A few more renders, add a few more details, tweak a couple of more times and once I’m satisfied, the images is signed and dated. When I’m fresh out of ideas I just start modeling something, anything, and eventually an image will start to arise from the pixels.

Do you have a favorite piece of your own artwork and why?

John: I’ll have to say whatever image I’m working on is my favorite until it is finished. So, all of them were favorites at one time or another.

12th and never Tornado magnet

Who or what would you describe as having the most influences on your work/ style?

John: I have many favorite artists, such as Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Boris Artzybasheff, and Maxfield Parrish, to name a few. I think they pointed me in the direction of surrealism but other than that I don’t think they had any influence on my style.

How would you describe your own style?

John: Okay, I’ll take a stab at this. I will say that my style would be considered Contemporary Pix-surrealism. In other words new computer generated lunacy.

Many of your images have something funny. One of my favorite images of you is Heard of Cow hands? How do you come up with the funny concepts for your humor images?

John: Many of my images start out as play on words such as “hammer toes and fingernails”. So I start with a title, and get to work creating. Other times I just start from scratch, modeling objects, and as things start to take shape and the scene starts to come together, an interesting title pops into my head.


How much time do you spend on modeling and how much time on touch ups, for example in Photoshop?

John: I would have to say I spend about 80% of my time on modeling, and the balance of the time on assembling the image. As for touch ups, I have never used Photoshop for this purpose. I use Photoshop mainly for prep work, as in my images “elmers pantry” and “trumped”.

Which areas of creating 3D art do you enjoy the most?

John: Since I spend most of my time modeling, this is one of the areas I enjoy immensely. But the most enjoyable has to be after all the models are placed, the mats, textures and details have been added, and the image is finally rendered.

Do have tips for beginning 3D artists?

John: Details, details, modeling, and details.

Heard of Cowhands? Swamphigory

Can you tell us where you are currently working on?

John: No it’s hush, hush, top secret. I don’t even know what it is.

Besides 3D Valley, which other graphic sites do you visit regularly?

John: I visit 3DCommune, Renderosity, and Innertraveler, occasionally. All are wonderful sites with plenty of talented artists displaying their artworks.

Is there something you can’t work without?

For me, it’s usually an ice cold beer and music. My musical tastes vary from new age to metal, but I listen to fusion and prog rock artists mostly.

What do you do when you are not working or creating something?

John: I have several other hobbies other then 3D art, beer, and listening to music. I am also a musician, so I can be found in my studio recording my own compositions. I also dabble in photography and like to travel.

Private entrance Blue note shuffle

Christa: Thanks for your time and the interview John!

Gallery album of John Tonkin
Website of John Tonkin
Interviews with other artists

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