The art market is undergoing a profound upheaval. Like many other markets before it, it is now becoming more and more digital. In perspective, this could lead to less money being available to the analogue art market, since this money is now flowing into digital art.
This is good news for the digital artist – he knows the market, the tools and thanks to NFTs he can now market his skills and creativity appropriately.
For previously purely analog artists who want to enter this new market, a few questions arise.
Here we will answer 2 questions that we are frequently asked:
- how do I get my analogue work into the digital world so that I can continue working digitally?
- What creative spaces do digital tools open up for me in combination with the digital twin of my work?
The digital twin
A digital twin is nothing more than a photorealistic digitization of a work in all 3 dimensions. In other words: a photorealistic 3D model.
Here we go through the entire process from a very high altitude: from the statue to the digital twin.
We do this using the example of a work by Karl Orth.
Karl Orth uses heavy iron tools to produce statues with a very unique expression.
One has the impression that the breakthroughs and frozen movements of the statues want to tell a story. This is one of the reasons why these works are suitable for the digital space: In the digital world - apart from the laws of physics and biology - stories can be told differently than in the real world.
We'll go through the process very roughly here:
- Creation of the 3D model
- Cleanup of the 3D model
- Texturing the 3D model
- Upload to social media.
The software used here is our personal preference - there are others; we use these
The method used is called photogrammetry. It is as old as photography itself, but has made enormous progress in recent years.
Here we need first: lots of photos.
These are put into special software, which then creates the 3D model from them
We use reality capture as software.
3D models generated by photogrammetry are made up of triangles - millions of triangles.
These are quite unwieldy in further processing. So the next step in Reality Capture is to reduce the number of triangles. A bit of judgment and experience is needed here: How many triangles does this special object need to retain all the details? Our starting model consists of approx. 6 million triangles - we reduce it here to 380,000 triangles.
That's a lot more than we want in the finished digital twin - but we need the details for the next step.
Depending on the amount and quality of light and photos, the 3D model can still appear a bit rough.
In the first step we will smooth it slightly (only slightly so as not to lose the original structure) For this we will use the 3D program Blender.
Blender offers a variety of tools for cleaning up 3D models.
We get a much nicer model, which is still made up of triangles - but in computer graphics, squares - so-called "quads" - are generally preferred.
The process of “tidying up” the wireframe model is called retopology.
This is a broad field and a science in itself. We are content here with an automatic procedure and a tool called InstantMeshes.
So: export the cleaned model from Blender and import it into InstantMeshes.
We export this cleaned model again and import it back into Reality Capture.
Because once we're satisfied with the geometry of the model, we still need the textures - the color information that ultimately makes our model photorealistic.
After Reality Capture put the textures on the model, let's look at the result compared to the original photo:
If you are now curious, you can see some models of Karl Orth here in 3D:
Here we have briefly outlined the way to create a digital twin of a physical statue. In the first step, we have also achieved that 3D art can also be presented digitally in 3D. A photograph of a statue cannot depict it satisfactorily.
As far as cost goes, any software we've used is free to use. Only for the export of the model from Reality Capture are license costs charged once for each model. In our case, this was just under $5.
The entry into the digital world for a sculptor is therefore made inexpensively.
In the next part we look at what can be done in a next step with such a digital twin.