“In German, ‘art’ has some rather elitist connotations and I feel that the concepts and expectations most people have when it comes to art don’t really apply to me, or my work. I’m just a creative girl, that’s all. I’m not pointing my finger at any problems, not fighting against anything, not trying to get any messages across. I just want to make pretty stuff, and if other people feel happy when they look at, or even use my products, that makes me happy, too.”
Most Daz Artists find their ‘niche’ and stick with it. For esha, her niche is everything, especially if it’s colorful, functional, or fun. From peonies to mermaids, and ingenious poseable trees to wastelander’s apocalyptic capes, esha’s products are detailed, versatile, full of color, and customizable. Daz 3D interviewed esha about how this 3D artist makes her varied products, and how she pays so much attention to detail, especially those minute overlooked details that bring renders to real life — like photorealistic jewelry that fits on your 3D figures, or the ever-present, and unfortunately totally realistic, messy laundry.
esha! Thank you so much for being here. When we look at your shop we see so much variety between your products. Where do you get the ideas for them?
Oh, that can be anywhere: a co-passenger on the bus in an unusual outfit, ads in print/TV/web, impressions and memories from previous travels, a technical procedure I just discovered and want to use in a product – whatever just happens to grab my attention.
While rendering promos for one set I find myself wishing that I had a certain item, for example a special background, or a prop, or some clothing item; then I make a note of that and might pick up the idea for my next product.
Quite often I also do specific research on a topic that I’m interested in. Image searches and Pinterest are valuable tools for that, but I always make sure that my antivirus software is up to date because I never know where my research will take me!
We can tell that you do your research. How do you make sure that your initial idea for a 3D product ends up being your ‘style’?
I like to make things bright and colorful, playful, fun and cute. I’m not good at all at creepy horror stuff, that’s a genre I avoid in real life entertainment as well.
I do like a certain dramatic style, the really serious drama like you get on a big stage. I love opera and I’ve definitely been influenced by various productions with their dramatic lighting and grand robes.
I’ve also spent a lot of time in museums, marveling at renaissance and baroque paintings with all those billowing folds… so very impressive! So you can imagine how happy I was when dForce came out! This style is more suited for historical or fantasy items, though. For modern stuff my preferred style is definitely sunny and cheerful.
Interesting! What was your style before ‘sunny and cheerful’?
I did a lot of fantasy and historical outfits for Victoria 4 and Genesis 1. With Genesis 2, I started to gravitate more toward modern clothes and I’ve mostly been sticking to that until now.
But techniques and tools have changed a lot since the days of Victoria 4, it would be interesting to take up some old sketches and make them into products using more modern technology. Perhaps I should make more historical or fantasy items for Genesis 8…?
Yes, obviously :). How did you start getting into design and 3D modeling?
I’ve always been drawing and crafting, even as a little girl. When I was in my teens I tried many different techniques, my parents were very supportive and always provided me with the equipment I needed. I soon discovered that I loved working with color, although I went through a pencil-drawing phase which taught me a lot about tonal values and the importance of contrast.
I attended a few painting and sketching classes but I never had any full formal arts training. Sometimes I’m sorry about that, I guess it would make some things easier if I had a sounder background in the basics. But on the other hand, being mostly self-taught, I was able to develop my own style, without getting imprinted with an art teacher’s personal taste.
That’s a great point — developing your own aesthetic is important. How about the 3D side?
In my late twenties I got a CD with Bryce 2 as a present. I tried it, and was immediately hooked. In 2004 I released my first commercial product in a small online store which doesn’t even exist anymore. Initially I made just a bit of pocket money with it, but then I branched out and started to create outfits for various figures and the sums I earned with that got more substantial.
After a while the company who owned Poser at that time commissioned some outfits for their figures, and at that point I realized that this might actually be a job opportunity. I was fed up with my actual job anyway – I had been working as a translator and clients always demanded express delivery but delayed their payments eternally – and so I seized my chance and started full-time work as a content creator. I sold my products at various online stores, my first product at Daz was published in 2007 (Forest Fairy SKU 5969). I’ve never regretted my decision to ditch translation work!
That’s great! We love that you remember your first Daz product so vividly. What are some other products you want to share some more with us about, whether because of process, the work that went into them, or how they turned out?
This definitely was a labor of love. When I finished high school, I wanted to be a jeweler. That didn’t work out because there were 20 training places and 200 applicants so I didn’t even bother to apply and chose to study languages instead. But my love for precious stones, ornaments and everything “bling” has never left, so now I thoroughly enjoy making virtual jewelry. Here I can experiment freely with my designs without getting my hands dirty or spending a fortune on gems and metals.
The Colorful Jewelry is one of my favorite sets because of the color mix and all the little details I put in. I hadn’t planned to create that many material presets for it but I had so much fun playing with the colors and designs that I ended up with 24 presets, which is about twice as much as I usually make for a jewelry set. The basic shapes allowed me to go overboard with the textures, and I loved how I could change the style simply by applying different colors and patterns to it. The presets for this set go from Art Nouveau to classic to boho to funky. Creating them didn’t feel like working, it was more like playing.
This is a set I’d love to have in real life, and I made it as if I were designing a real-world item. It seems that my customers love this set, too, because I frequently see it used in renders, which makes me very happy!
This started from a photograph I found on the web. The photo showed a pool corner with some flower boxes and a green, overgrown niche. It looked so peaceful, it made me happy just to look at it. So I wanted to put that feeling into a product.
The pool then grew much larger than the little niche in the photo. Knowing when to stop seems to be my main problem when making products…
Anyway, I enjoyed making this set, creating all the little flowers and other plants. I positioned the flowers manually to avoid overlaps, so yes, you can zoom in onto the flower boxes and they will look good.
I also made an add-on pack for it (SKU 51287), with additional items and textures for fall, winter and spring. Creating the snow objects for the vines was a particular challenge; I needed to come up with something that would look as realistic as possible while not overtaxing the average system. I am quite satisfied with the final outcome and I hope the users are, too.
This set was another labor of love. Baking is one of my hobbies and I enjoyed transferring that love of sweet things into 3D.
For this set I was particularly interested in the details, the textures of cream and mousse, of dough and fruits. In this project I very much felt the lack of micropolygon displacement in Iray – one of my pet peeves; if I had the email address of the NVIDIA development department I’d bug them about it every week or so…
I took care to add some small imperfections, to avoid the typical, too-clean look that many 3D items suffer from. That’s especially important for food items, because the human brain is very picky when it comes to food and you notice those little details subconsciously, so some things will just look “off” to you even if you can’t say why. I tried to make my cakes look as realistic as I could. When you look at the untextured meshes you’ll notice that the edges are not perfectly straight, the surfaces not perfectly smooth. With things like that it’s easy to overdo the effect, but I think (or rather, hope) that I used the right amount of tweaking.
Setting up the various decorations was a lot of fun. Of course they are modular, exchangeable and can be set up and tweaked as you like. I think if you have the separate bits and pieces anyway, what’s the point of merging them together into one big object? Why not simply group them and leave things editable? I like to give my customers the possibility to pick things apart and re-combine them to match their own taste and imagination. Setting up these decos was a bit like making jewelry, playing with combinations of colors and shapes. And I’m quite satisfied with the way it turned out.
That’s so much attention to detail! We love it. Where users can see your detail-orientation in action?
They can check out my Youtube Channel for some videos, specifically dForce instruction and tutorials.
Awesome. Just a few more questions, esha. Why esha — how do you pick your Artist name?
My initials are S H, which pronounced in German sound like “es ha,” so. It might not be extremely creative to simply use my initials, but I didn’t want to add anything specific because I didn’t want to limit myself to a certain type of product or software.
My very first commercial 3D set was a pack of fern plants for Bryce, but I knew right then that I wanted to make more than plants. Therefore, a generic name seemed best as it allowed me to branch out in whatever direction my creativity was going to take me.
Now I’m rather happy with that decision, my initials — and with them my artist name — will always be “me”, no matter how my style will develop and which technology or software I will use.
That’s great — we love the logic behind it. Your products are certainly ‘you!’ What’s a non-Daz-related fun fact about you for the Daz community?
I’ve taken up knitting again, after not doing any needlework for several years. It’s pretty addictive! It is so relaxing, and it’s a lot of fun to make some actual, touchable items in contrast to all the virtual products. I am a color junkie and love to see how a ball of yarn turn into a finished, usable object.
Sounds a lot like IRL 3D sculpting! esha, thanks so much for your time, it was a pleasure!
Thank you, the pleasure was mine.
As a 3D Artist, esha is diligent, obsessed with details, and absolutely adventurous when it comes to new techniques. Her repertoire of products are colorful and imaginative, and they merge functionality with beauty. Which speaks to esha’s philosophical take on one thing she’s learned from her work:
“If you’ve made something, and you suspect it might not be good enough, and you ask others for their opinion, be prepared to hear them confirm your suspicions. Don’t be offended by honest critiques. It doesn’t matter how much time you put into it, or what your intention was, if it doesn’t look good or if your intention doesn’t come across you only have two choices: leave it as it is, knowing that it’s not as good as it could be, or get back to the drawing board and make it better… if you’re honest with yourself and follow good advice, it’s always to your own advantage in the end.”