I mentioned a great reference CD earlier this week, so I will keep that theme going and review a DVD today. Some of you may remember a little over a year ago when I posted about Scott Robertson’s book, Start Your Engines. In that post, I mentioned his instructional Photoshop Industrial Design rendering DVD, which takes you through the process of creating one of his reflective surface renderings, in this case, of a bicycle. After that post, Scott was nice enough to send me a copy of the DVD. I enjoyed watching it, but at the time a prompt review got lost in the shuffle.
For those of you who do not recognize his name, suffice it to say that Scott creates some really slick renderings and illustrations that appear 3 dimensional using quick 2d Photoshop techniques. Whether you know it or not, I am sure that almost all of you have seen a few of his renderings. Some of his bicycle renderings were circulated around the web as an April Fool’s hoax a few years ago. The concept bikes, which I believe he actually did for the movie Minority Report, were incorrectly presented in emails and on many blog posts as a new line from Specialized called Venom.
Before I talk about Scott’s DVD, I have to say that usually I can’t stand any type of instructional computer videos. Just to give an example; I tried to watch an Alias Maya DVD not too long ago. The video may have presented some good information, but I just couldn’t get though it. Though I have an interest in the software, the way that the video jumped from a guy sitting in a chair speaking directly to the camera to screen shots of the curser clicking around on menus just drove me crazy. I am pretty easily distracted, so usually when I try watch an instructional video like that, I just end up daydreaming and get absolutely nothing out of yet. My experience with Scott’s DVD was different though. He talks through his rendering process and you see what he is doing on the screen the entire time. Many of the steps that he is showing are presented in real time, so you feel like he is showing you something without a bunch of disconnected stages that leave you guessing how he got from one point to another.
Even though I admire Scott’s work, I started watching the DVD with low expectations. I have been using Photoshop for a long time, so I wasn’t sure that I would get much out of it. Well, it turns out that I did. The main reason I liked it is because it is not a video that teaches you how to use Photoshop. In fact, the video assumes that you already know the program pretty well. What it does well is present a specific photorealistic rendering technique that uses some of the tools in Photoshop that most designers are already familiar with. Basically, you are not learning to use the program; you are just getting a glimpse into how another designer uses the tools to get very nice results. It helped me to think about a program that I was already very familiar with in a different way and that got me excited about trying some new techniques.
The DVD also includes a .psd file of the concept bike with all of the layers that you see in the video as it progresses from a quick sketch to a polished rendering. I had a lot of fun playing around with Scott’s file, tweaking the curves, and quickly modifying the forms to explore different options. Playing with the file is cool and really helps to reinforce some of the techniques that are shown in the video. You can probably tell that I really enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend this DVD to anyone interested in Industrial Design rendering techniques, for bikes or any other product. Here is the thing though; I mentioned that I received the DVD a long time ago. Now when I look at the website, the bicycle rendering DVD shows up as “sold out”. I have no idea if Scott plans to produce any more or to create an updated version. Some of his other instructional videos are available and I am sure they are good, but if you want the bike rendering one you might just be out of luck. I’ll see what I can find out though and will update this post if I get any news on future availability. In the mean time, I encourage those of you interested in rendering and illustration to check out Scott’s website and sign up for his newsletter.