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Old 9th Jul 2009, 08:27 PM   #1
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Default Featured Member - Douglas E. Graves aka deg





Hi Deg, thanks for taking time to do this interview. I’m pretty sure most members will know who you are but for the record and sticking with my format; would you mind introducing yourself and tell us something about you, your hobbies, favorite movie, where you work, that sort of thing.

Heya Bob! First off, thanks for the op of interviewin' me, as well as featuring my work in the past. Always an honor, eh. OK, my "real" name is douglas e. graves, but my friends and associates just call me "deg." After being raised in Chicago since I was six (born in Denver), I have now lived just westa Chicago for the past ten years with my lovely wife/best--friend, our cat, and our two dogs. I have been an artist my whole life, coming from a family of artists. I have worked in many mediums, from pencil and/or ink, painting, and sculpture, to music, film, practical model building, and graphic design, finally touching down in the medium of 3D. I am also a mixed martial artist and life-long student of the Tao Te Ching.

A few interests other than the arts/3D; spending time with my family first and foremost. I also like to walk our dogs with my wifey, work in the yard and garden, bike ride, ride roller-coasters, go to and/or watch movies at home, collect comics and comic-based collectibles, as well as sci-fi and Trek-based collectibles, movie-posters, and music. My fav film (and I love film), is 2001: a space odyssey. I am a life-long lover of all things sci-fi, and esp. Star Trek (esp. TOS).

I have worked for myself as a freelance contractor since August of '02. I started doing this with graphic design, but have since moved into doing 3D, focusing on building sci-fi spacecraft. However, I am just getting started with this phase of my career path after having folded up my graphic design biz for the express reason of pursuing, first my 3D education and honing my skills, to then continue my focus toward realizing my dream of working as a VFX artist in film and television.





2. When did you decide you wanted to be an artist and what inspired you to that end?

Hmmm..., I can't really recall any moment of conscious decision per se. As I said, I was raised in a very creative household, so creating all manner of art was really just a way of life and play. Not something I really thought to do, more than I was just continually nurtured to do it, both collaboratively within the family, as well as my own personal projects.

As to inspiration; I guess it all started with the classics. My folks were (and are) very artistic and culturally-minded, and as such my bro and I were exposed to all the great artists' works and methods from a very early age on, continuing our whole raised lives. Also, my Pops is, and has always been, an R/C aircraft builder and flyer, so I have been building all types of models pretty much my whole life, having grown up in my Pops' model shop. As I grew, my focused interest turned to film/TV more and more, all aspects of production really, but with an über-fascination with all things VFX (or "special effects" as they used to be called). Inspiration was primarily taken over by any-and-all films/TV shows that I saw, but esp. VFX-heavy science fiction films and TV shows.





3. At what point did you get involved with the 3D medium and what motivated you?

I bumbled around with 3D for the first time around 1998, with Bryce and then with Strata 3D, but then laid it aside within about three or four months out of artistic frustration of not being able to reproduce the quality of visions I had in my head. The technology and computer speeds were not yet at a level of being able to reproduce anything comin' outta my head that I really liked lookin' at, so I left the medium, and waited. I returned in 2004 after buying a copy of LightWave v7.5. Motivation was as I mentioned, sci-fi films and TV shows, but now added to this was the work I was seeing on the forums, specifically LightWave Group (LWG), now F3D. I remember the very day I found LWG, and the feeling of joy I had at the mutual interest shared (sci-fi and aviation modeling) that I had found there, as well as the nice peeps, yourself and Bill being the first I really met. I recall one of you awarded me early avatar status as I had posted so much of a flurry within just my first coupla days on LWG. Made my day, that, and finding my 3D model-building brethren online.





4. Did you go to school for a 3D/CG degree and whether yes or no, what do you recommend to those entertaining the idea of working in a studio?

I am self-taught. However, I did not just pick up LightWave, read the manual and start pressing buttons (which I did do both though), and voilà, I'm all tuned-up and good-to-go 3D skill-wise. I had a lot of help along the way, from a strict course curriculum that I had set up for myself containing a vast amount of video tutorial series, from stuff that I found free online, to full series I found and bought online. There was also plenty of written tuts that I found and read, online and/or in magazines. I also had tons of help from members on 3D forums, specifically LWG, and esp. from Alain Rivard (al3d), whom I met there. Alain didn't hold my hand (as I don't require that), but he pointed me in the right direction many times, and his, and that type of help has been invaluable to me. The learning never ends though, and I am in a constant process of increasing my knowledge and skill-set, either by online-based learning, or by my own innovation. One reason I love 3D so much; there's always more to learn, and get good at. It's a forever challenge.

As to what I recommend; I hear this asked a lot, and to me, there is no one universally correct answer. I believe the choice of the correct path varies as much as artists/peeps do. Some like myself, prefer the self-taught route. Others do best in a structured academic environment. IMO, it's all a matter of what one feels most comfortable with. Or perhaps, can afford. However, with either path-choice I do feel one has to have a coupla inherent aspects within one's own self, and those are; vision, and the determination, focus, and resolve to realize that vision, no matter what. One would also do well to hone the ability to be objective of one's own work, when comparing it to the films and TV shows we all see, and are inspired by. You wanna do that level of work? Fine, then get as good as that. Make a great reel, and post your work online. Let peeps know you are out there! Also, some would cite school(s) as a good place to start making Industry contacts, and I believe that this is true. But with the Internet these days, one can do just as well, if one has the gumption. And be a nice person, who can work well with others. And be organized. All this done with a helpful attitude of bringing to any project a strong, dependable, collaborative, and service-based attitude and work-ethic.





5. Many members will know what you have worked on in the industry so can you tell us what you've done and perhaps share something from your most recent work.

Well Bob, I know lots of folks follow my work (of which I am always appreciative when they email me (more and more each day it seems) to tell me they enjoy my work, or post kind praise in my threads on the forums), but other than helping out on a coupla projects, I have really just ventured forth out on my own into the Industry, after completing my demo-reel, and creating my own address-book of Industry contacts (many of whom I can now happily count as friends as well). All this has led to my present gig which I'll tell you about in question #8, coming up.





6. What was your most enjoyable project?

That's hard to say in regard to personal projects, as I always build stuff that I enjoy seeing and building. However, with each project I generally get better, faster, and more efficient, so I enjoy experiencing the honing and growth in skill that comes with every new project, so from that POV, it's always my last project completed. As to a professional project, the one I am working on now, as the designs are great, and the peeps are just the best to work with. In addition to über-fun work, I have made some great new friends along the way, and I have esp. become quite good geek-buddies with John Eaves in the process. Always a pleasure to make new friends, and John's as good as they come, eh.





7. With so much 3D work to show do you have a favorite and why?

Hmmm..., which one of my kids do I love best?, he asks... Tough call in many ways Bob, but I would have to say, overall, my TOS.5 ENTERPRISE, for the sheer aesthetic value of Matt Jefferies' design, combined with my industrial-refit augmented build of her. But as far as build complexity, tie between my Slave 1 and my recent Sacagawea-Class Scout, design by Ryan Dening. As far as paint complexity, my T-16 Skyhopper, design by Ryan Church. As far as build efficiency and speed (as well as design), the seven John Eaves designs I am building now. Still, getting back to my overall fav, my E needs a LightWave port though, as I have never been 100% satisfied with her as of yet. I want a more cinematic quality look with her as far as my artwork goes, and I believe I will be able to achieve this within LightWave Layout. I have wanted to do the port for a while now, but I want to get it done esp. now in regard to the 2011 Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendar that Doug Drexler was so kind as to invite me to contribute to. But, when all is said and done, in the end I love all my kids just for who they are, eh.





8. Rumor has it your working a project along side John Eaves and Sean Scott (Star Trek fame). Anything you can say about that and possibly share with us?

Indeed, that's correct, Bob. Right now I am working on a Shatner-based web project called myouterspace.com. It's kind of Project Greenlight meets Facebook meets the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, with Shatner as the Commander/figurehead. It's an Industry aimed (and also for peeps looking to break into the Industry) artist networking website with projects to start and/or join, each project represented by a ship, and area of talents represented by planets. There are seven ships so far, that I am building and painting. John Eaves (Star Trek concept designer extraordinaire) designed all the ships (with me co-designing the detailing), and John is also painting the planets. He is also the one that recruited me for the project. Sean Scott (Star Trek VFX multi-artist extraordinaire) is doing the presentation sequences (animation(s) and motion graphics) for each of the ships, with some added input in regard to art-direction from me. The project has been a lot of fun to work on and everyone involved is just a pleasure to work with. The producer asked me to tell everyone to come by! and join the site once it goes live, which will be soon, if not already.





9. Your work has graced our forums on several occasions is there anything members haven't seen that you may be working on and expound on it and why you particularly like it?

Well Bob, I pretty much post all my personal projects and/or scenography. My to-build list goes on forever, and the visions in my head never end. As mentioned, next up I want to port and re-work my ENTERPRISE into Layout. I also have a Klingon battlecruiser in the works to fit into my TOS.5 take on things. It happens to also be a John Eaves design, which was built, but was last-minute rejected by the powers-that-be (for not enough windows), so it went unused on STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE. It's a retro D7 (or D4) that I felt worked really well in keeping with the look of my TOS.5 universe. And John's D4 design is just too cool anywho, not to want to build. There are plenty more, but the list is too long to mention. Basically though, I really like odd-ball stuff that I haven't seen built much before, or at all. Well, aside from E that is, eh. One odd-ball that I want to get around to is the Event Horizon at some point (IMO, great ship, suspect at best movie). I also lean toward hard-to-build, as I really enjoy the challenge of the build. When I'm not ranting at the build that is!





10. As one of the first to engage on F3D you’re well known, so I wonder if you have any advice you to pass along to the serious hobbyist regarding 3D in general.

Hmmm..., basically; always remember why you are doing what you are doing. Never lose sight of one's love of the art-form. 3D is hard, no two-ways about it, and can be quite taxing and frustrating at times, esp. when one is starting out and is having fits trying to figure out something at every turn. And know, that's normal, and never stops really. It lessens sure-sure, as you learn and become more practiced and skilled, but 3D is always a challenge (one reason I love it so much). Just remember to keep one's focus, determination, and love of the art-form at the forefront of one's attention. But know, one can only push-push for results for so long. So get up and walk away (if just for five minutes) when you (and you will) hit a wall. Go for a walk, stretch, take a few deep breaths, stretch, laugh at yourself, stretch, pet your dog or cat, stretch, climb a tree, stretch, be a chimpy and take a moment to swing on the fun-vine of life (if just within one's imagination), then stretch. Did I mention, stretch? And trust, the solution will come if one just relaxes and keeps one's focus on just allowing for the solution to come. As the Tao says; Do by non-doing. Less and less does one need to force things, until one finally arrives at a place of non-action. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. Works every time for me, eh.





Again, thanks very much for the op of being interviewed, Bob. And thanks to all who are reading, for reading. I hope you perhaps get something out of the read that may help you with your own artwork, which I enjoy seeing so much. So, onward and upward, Live Long and Prosper, and keep on posting, eh!

Thanks for the interview Deg, it's been fun and best to you with your artistic endeavors.



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Old 9th Jul 2009, 08:59 PM   #2
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Good read Deg.
Keep having fun with this as you seem to be so far
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Old 9th Jul 2009, 10:17 PM   #3
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Congrats!
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Old 9th Jul 2009, 10:32 PM   #4
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Cool interview and a very impressive body of work
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Old 10th Jul 2009, 12:57 AM   #5
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Nice Deg. Great work as always.
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Old 10th Jul 2009, 04:49 AM   #6
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Great read there deg - enjoyed it very much!
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Old 10th Jul 2009, 05:11 AM   #7
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great interview! and superb work form Deg! Thanks!
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Old 10th Jul 2009, 05:16 AM   #8
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Cool interview, Deg!
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Old 10th Jul 2009, 06:42 AM   #9
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Very nice interview deg. Those myouterspace.com ships are very sweet looking indeed!
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Old 10th Jul 2009, 11:31 AM   #11
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Great interview Deg.

By the way folks if you haven't visited Deg's site yet you should, it's really got style.
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Old 10th Jul 2009, 03:38 PM   #12
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I have personally seen you progress on LWG and through F3D. Your renders of Star Wars vehicles, planes, etc. are second to none.

Great interview Deg.
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Old 10th Jul 2009, 05:51 PM   #13
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Congrats! deg!
Enjoyed the interview and the pics. Good to hear from a genuine TOS Trek fan. But I can't help but be partial to that old king daddy himself, the Lost in Space Robot and his arch nemesis, the "Robotoid" (aka "Robbie") Sounds like you caught the sci-fi bug around the same era i did.
Thanks for bringing back fond memories, and again, congratulations on the Feature spot!
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Old 10th Jul 2009, 05:59 PM   #14
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Great interview Deg. I have been a great admirer of your work since your slave caught my eye. Your attention (some might say obsession) to detail is a joy to watch.

And hey, I have the Event Horizon on my list of things to build too.
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Old 12th Jul 2009, 08:44 PM   #15
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Thanks very much guys and dolls, appreciate that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Gardner View Post
By the way folks if you haven't visited Deg's site yet you should, it's really got style.
And, thanks for the nice words about it and pointer to my site, Tony.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syntrifid View Post
Sounds like you caught the sci-fi bug around the same era i did.
Indeed Syntrifid, seems we did, eh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Robb View Post

And hey, I have the Event Horizon on my list of things to build too.
Great minds... I look forward to seein' yours GR.

Thanks again guys, glad ya enjoyed it.

deg

PS. Like Moo, VK. Moo-tally.
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Old 13th Jul 2009, 07:32 AM   #16
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Good read dude, and I suspect the event Horizon is on many peoples list, it was on mine as well, but I eventually threw my list away!

Cheers!
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Old 13th Jul 2009, 08:03 AM   #17
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It's always great to read about the folk that are creating such brilliant work at the site.
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Old 14th Jul 2009, 11:04 AM   #18
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Thanks guys, and you're too funny Craig! I know the feeling, eh.

deg
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Old 14th Jul 2009, 01:14 PM   #19
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Enjoyed that read and great art too.. as always
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Old 14th Jul 2009, 01:45 PM   #20
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Thanks Taranis.

Gotta say, always loved your Doc Savage avie eh, as I was a big-big fan of reading the pulp paperbacks, and enjoyed the film as well.

deg
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Old 14th Jul 2009, 02:52 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deg3D View Post
Thanks Taranis.

Gotta say, always loved your Doc Savage avie eh, as I was a big-big fan of reading the pulp paperbacks, and enjoyed the film as well.

deg
always like the pulp hero book myself (hard to find now) and the film was an enjoyible story . pity they never made another. Love films that are not to serious.

keep up all the great work
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Old 1st Aug 2011, 05:09 PM   #22
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best
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Old 1st Sep 2011, 04:18 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swierk View Post
best
Thanks, Swierk!
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Old 17th Dec 2011, 02:06 PM   #24
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Deg! Grats on the feature!
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Old 19th Mar 2012, 03:42 PM   #25
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hmmmm....this Deg guy sounds real familiar??? Good read Deg!
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Old 9th Dec 2012, 05:06 PM   #26
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the ac cobra is awesome
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