“I’m a big dreamer — it’s important to hold on to your dreams. So, to dream was something I had on my mind when I was coming up with my artist name. As far as light, it has three meanings: First, I’m a sucker for awesome lighting in computer, console games and movies. Second, with two decades as a professional cameraman, lighting is something that I notice, and that comes naturally to me. And the last meaning of light is the “light at the end of the tunnel.” The silver-lining — that life can get better, even if you were born with the odds against you…”
No matter what Daz Artist Dreamlight’s newest release is — and it’s hard to keep track because of how prolific this 3D artist is — there’s a palpable finesse and recognizable brand of realism to his promotional images. From the Dead Tree Desert to a variety of HDRIs, and readymade Photoshoots to amazing Outdoor Environments, Dreamlight’s products look (and work) amazing!
As can be guessed by his varied library, Dreamlight combines a serious work ethic with his diverse professional background, and Daz 3D interviewed him to get the full scoop on how he comes up with products, what his process looks like, and his personal philosophy behind creation.
Dreamlight, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. Our first question — you clearly have talent. How did you come to 3D modeling as a profession?
Since I was a little kid, playing with computers & graphics, I felt that this is what I wanted to do. Computers offered me an outlet for all my creativity.
I hated school. So I dropped out with ZERO grades. Everybody around me said I could not make a living out of my passion. I’m kind of rebellious as a person, so when someone says it cannot be done, I want to prove them wrong.
My passion and creativity eventually led into a big jump and I ended up as a professional cameraman and video editor in the adult movie industry for two decades.
For a young kid, in his early 20’s… it was a blast. I travelled the world, made movies in Hollywood and Europe, and met lots of fun people.
That’s outrageous! Why the change to 3D, and how did that happen?
As time passed, the adult industry’s downsides made themselves more and more apparent. It’s a tough business to be in mentally. On one side, I wanted to provide for my family. On the other side, staying in the industry started to make me feel like crap.
One day, in a magazine, I found an ad for DAZ Studio and the amazing looking 3D models. That was the summer of 2005. I spent the entire summer creating Light Dome PRO. And for the first time in my life, I had someone beside me, my partner Jeanette, that supported my crazy dreams of making a living out of my passion.
When it got released in October 2005, it became an instant bestseller. That was the start of an exciting journey.
It’s amazing that your first product was an instant hit. What have you learned along the way about designing 3D models?
I’m very creative and love inventing stuff, but keeping yourself mentally fit becomes the number one priority. You HAVE to believe you can do it. Another challenge is to not get swept away with the creation process and find a healthy balance between job, hobbies and family.
Also, planning and taking time off is crucial. We have rescue dogs in our family and dogs really help me stay in the present moment, and are a constant source of joy and love..
So that time off, especially with family, helps you recalibrate?
And then when you get back to work — say you’re looking for inspiration. Where do the beginnings of an idea come from in your process?
Mostly computer, console games, TV-series and movies. But also from the wonderful world that DAZ has created, with incredibly talented 3D artists and a magical store with inspiring content! 🙂
For sure. So we want to go a bit more in-depth on a couple of your products — can you tell us more about a few of your favorites?
Movie Maker Iray came to life after experimenting and creating hundreds of HDRI maps for DAZ Studio Iray, and after having a former Movie Maker series for the older 3Delight render engine already out some decade ago, it was time to get this one out. It renders up to 40 times faster, even if using CPU. It offers multiple HDRI maps created from the same big prop and comes with camera matching. For the user, it’s like a big virtual set, that’s already pre-rendered, but without all the memory overhead… And of course, faster design and rendering time. The challenge creating Movie Maker Iray is the insane number of maps. Some of the sets have like 50 HDRI maps, rendered at 10000 x 5000 resolution and very high quality—virtually noiseless. It requires a rapid workflow and an ability to cope with changes on the go.
After Rain 2
After Rain 2. This is one of my favorite creations. It adds beautiful after rain puddles to any scene, with very subtle and gentle lighting. I see so many artists have fun with this set, and it makes me happy. The challenge when creating After Rain 2 was to make it compatible with any scene, both indoors and outdoors. It needed “a look” that just worked no matter what you threw at it. I usually spend 70% of the design time creating and finetuning my products while generating the promo images. It was during that time everything came together, all final tweaks were made…until I just felt it was good enough.
Light Dome PRO Iray
Light Dome PRO was my first product back in 2005. I remember how nervous I was. But it turned out to be a bestseller, and started an exciting journey. Light Dome PRO Iray combines the best of the original product, but also throws in layers for maximum control and of course, Iray specific effects and lights. I’m really proud of how cool it came out, and it’s always a pleasure to see artists use it, while making their amazing creations… The challenge with Light Dome PRO Iray was that I wanted it to be compatible with future versions of DAZ Studio without any code. So, it works 100% with basic icons and presets, without a line of code, with a little help from Photoshop.
Those are great, Dreamlight. Can you tell us about a time things didn’t go as planned while working on a product?
Most products go south at some point during production. Some more than others. It takes fine-tuning to get them right, and working on them long enough — just staying in the game — ensures that you become really creative at coming up with solutions.
During a recent project while creating the Space Station Movie Maker Iray set, I ended up with 40 rendered images (at 10000 x 5000 resolution), with one of the lights way too bright. I didn’t have time to re-render, so I came up with this idea of negative light and created fast rendering layers and solved the whole thing in one hour.
This is something I like to teach artists, to be open for alternative ways of solving issues. There is always a way around any obstacle — you just have to find it!
So other than tenacity, what sorts of artistic habits contribute to your work?
Coffee! That’s another passion of mine. But sometimes, it’s way too easy to slip beyond a healthy balance.
I learned early on that I need a ground-map of where to go, with enough freedom to choose and adjust the path along the way. I need to feel free, and embrace the creative process without any boundaries. So, one of the things I do on a daily basis is to plan ahead 7 days. I always know what I will do the following days. But yet, I make sure I have full freedom to expand each day.
My mind is very creative and all over the place, so some structure and planning keeps me sane and on track… I think plenty of artists are like that in their heads, and a little structure is perfect.
Something that has helped a lot is to know when I’ve reached my limit. At that point, I trust that I can reach out and ask for help. During some of the projects, I work with some very talented and professional artists that have helped me to be where I am today. These people are truly one of a kind and I deeply appreciate everything that they do.
It’s important to know what you dislike doing, or simply don’t have the talent to do, so that somebody that knows it better can offer to help or polish it to make it shine!
We love your process orientation, and the systems you’ve developed to get work done. Where can Daz Users and new fans see works in progress or follow you?
There are a couple of different places! I have a blog here with free DAZ Studio tutorials and also honest content reviews.
I also have a YouTube channel with DAZ Studio videos.
I also run a 100% free Facebook group where we post DAZ Studio images and share insights, plus have a ton of fun. We love to discuss, especially with new folks!
Dreamlight, thanks for all of your answers. Just a couple more questions. What’s something you’ve learned from your work that you want to share?
Many artists say they lack confidence and that it’s somehow stopping them. I know, since I was one of them. But the thing is, confidence comes from results. You cannot get confident before you do the work. So, buckle up, put in the effort, and confidence will come to you as a bi-product. The more you do and create, the more confident you become.
And what are you doing when you’re not working?
I’m a big fan of computer and PlayStation games, as well as TV-Series. I love nature, spending time with my spouse Jeanette, our dogs, and I also love spicy food and american V8’s… 😉
Thanks so much for your interview!
Thank you for having me. Before I go, I also want to take a moment and thank DAZ and its amazing people and community.
Here, I can fully express my creativity, while helping other people have more fun at the same time.
THANK YOU guys, I love you all!
Make sure to check out Dreamlight’s blog, Vendor Page and YouTube channel to keep up with this prolific and cinematic 3D artist! And whenever you get stuck on a big project, keep Dreamlight’s advice to his younger self in mind:
“Grow your strengths, manage your weaknesses. Many times, the school system focuses on strengthening your weaknesses. But we’re all different. In reality, you wouldn’t call a fish stupid for not being able to swim on land, would you?”
(We don’t think so, no.)