dbWalton, is a retired professional portrait artist. Some serious medical issues left him looking for new ways to express himself. He started working with Daz and Poser a year ago and likes working with no pressure or deadlines. dbWalton has driven the entire Route 66 and has added 3D characters to some of the photographs in his Route 66 gallery
dbWalton took time to talk with us about his medical challenges, his background as an artist, his working methods and about how Renderosity has made a difference in his life. Thank you, db!
Interview with dbWalton
Renderosity: You mention in your bio about being diagnosed with myasthenia gravis. How are you doing now?
dbWalton: Right now, I’m doing okay, but then, I just woke. It’s a roller coaster ride with MG. One minute I can feel like I can conquer the world, and then 2 minutes later my legs are failing me. The key is getting lots of rest, limiting my physical activities and faithfully taking my meds, but even then my condition can turn on a dime.
You are such a positive person. Has creating and drawing helped you?
dbWalton: Before I knew what was causing me to so weak and tired I read an email offering me a great deal on Poser 11. So, I bought it, installed it on my tablet PC and figured I could play with it while laying in bed. I figured it was better than watching TV. Learning Poser gave me something to do that was mentally stimulating and stimulated my creativity. That leads to discovering DAZ3D, and over the months I’ve become proficient in both DAZ and Poser. I’ve coupled those skills with my experience with digital painting. Doing art on my computer allows me to physically rest and divert the stress of being ill into doing something creative and fun. (I also have a special chair now that allows me to recline with my neck supported and my monitors suspended over my head. I spend most of my time in that chair when I’m awake.)
Tell us about your background as a digital artist. How did you get started?
dbWalton: I started painting as a child. My paternal grandmother was a professional artist and she introduced me to tempera, acrylics, and oils. Around age 11 I discovered photography which immediately turned in to an obsession. After high school, 2 years of church service as a missionary, and earning my college degrees, I ended up working in the computer/electronics industry for 32 years. Shortly before retiring from that, I turned my attention back to photography and opened a portrait studio. I retired from my electronics job and to do photography full time. I soon discovered that there were too many hacks in that industry and took up learning digital painting so I could separate myself from the hacks and offer clients something unique. I closed my studio when I became ill in 2018.
I really like the variety of moods and scenes you create. One recent one caught my eye: Moon Fairy
dbWalton: Thank you! I had lots of fun creating that one.
What was the genesis of this image and what was your work process?
dbWalton: My wife got in to building fairy houses a few years ago. In an effort to show interest in her hobby, I decided to “photograph” some fairies. It was nearly impossible to find suitable models and wardrobe. Then, after getting sick and discovering Poser and DAZ I began purchasing and collecting digital assets so I could do some fairy images for her. My process is as follows…
- I select my character (in this case I wanted something with a “fairy” like face.)
- I pose my character (I wanted her sitting so the wings would be more dominant.)
- Then I delete ALL the lighting from the scene and start by adding 1 light. That’s my MAIN light. I move it around to get the shadows and shapes I want. I then add fill and kicker lights as needed.)
- At this point, I cloth the character and put hair on it.
- I now select some ground/foreground. In this case, I had a flat rock asset I posed the character on it.
- The background was then added which was just a jpeg I purchased as part of a bundle on Renderosity. (Alfheimr By Freja) I was tempted to save the image off as a PNG and then add the jpeg as a layer in post-production, but decided to make it the background in DAZ. I’m glad I did because that allowed me to position relative to my rock she was kneeling on.
- Something was missing at this point, so I created a sphere (a primitive) and added iRAY emissions to create a crystal ball effect, but also to add fill light to my subject.
- I rendered it.
- Loaded it into my painting program to use as “tracing paper”, and then painted the scene.
- Added my signature (which I do digitally because my handwriting is really bad, which is kind of funny since I can paint… I just can’t sign my name.)
What are you trying to accomplish when you start on a new creative project?
dbWalton: My goal is always to create something I enjoy looking at, and hopefully I will still enjoy looking at it many years from now. (That’s the true test. Years from now I want to look at what I did and be amazed that I did that. That’s not always the case, and that’s why computers have a DELETE key.)
What other artists have inspired you and perhaps affected your style?
dbWalton: I’m glad you asked this question. #1 William-Adolphe Bouguereau, #2 Giuseppe “Pino” Dangelico, #3 Steve Hanks, and #4 (my good friend and mentor) Helen Yancy. Both Pino and Hanks passed away fairly recently. I would love to have met them in real life.
About 6 years ago I saw a lady at a photography conference and thought she might be Helen Yancy. I approached her and asked if she was Helen Yancy. When she confirmed that she was, I said, “I’ve been thinking about taking a workshop from you.” She replied, “STOP THINKING, AND DO IT.” That summer I took a week-long class from her and it literally changed my life. Helen and I became friends and she still gives me pointers and tips from time to time. (Trivia - Helen borrowed a dress my wife sewed. She painted her granddaughter wearing the dress and that painting is on the cover of her latest book!!!)
How has Renderosity made a difference in your life as an artist?
dbWalton: First, by making it affordable to do 3D art. (Please, don’t tell my wife how much I spend here!!!) Second, the validation I get from others on Renderosity is wonderful. I’ve used other art forums where as soon as you share a piece of work you’re criticized from every angle. That’s not the case here. People here keep things on the positive and I really need that at this time of my life. Third, it has become an outlet for my sharing my library of photos via Free Stuff. I literally have millions of photographs. When I wasn’t shooting portraits, I was traveling around taking photos of EVERYTHING. (I’m currently sharing lots of images from a 30-day Route 66 trip I took in 2017.) It makes me feel happy others are finding use and enjoyment out of these images. I could have uploaded them to a stock photography house and waited for the occasional royalty check, but seriously – this is more fun.
Do you have anything you’d like to say before we close?
dbWalton: Yes, since contracting MG it’s been difficult adjusting. My wife, Elizabethe, has been absolutely wonderful and supportive. Also, I feel honored that you asked to interview me.