Interview by Jerry
Digital Artworks proudly presents
Anders Kjellberg, also known as
Cartesius, master modeler and digital artist.
welcome to Digital Artworks. We have proudly displayed your
works in our galleries for some time now. Thank you for
sharing your awesome work with us.
you very much, Jerry, I'm very honoured indeed.
our readers about Cartesius. Where are you from, what do you
do in life? Do you make a living
my name is Anders Kjellberg, I'm 32 years old and I live with
my fantastic girlfriend Sofia and
our smooth Fox Terrier Huxley in Umeå, way up in the north of
Sweden. I moved here to study literature at the university
back in 1991 and somehow I stayed. Currently I'm a doctoral
student with the Department for Historical Studies and since
the late 1900s I've been trying to write a dissertation in the
history of science on the Swedish Aurora Borealis research
conducted during the second half of the nineteenth century.
It's pretty much straight forward history of science. I have
some teaching now and then, mainly on the life sciences from
1800 to 1900 and the history of technology. I'm also
responsible for typesetting the department's dissertations and
various other written material we produce and although it's
not getting me rich it does keep me financially going. That
said, my explorations into the world of 3D is not something
that brings any money. Rather the opposite -- right now I'm
planning an application upgrade for $170, and I definately
need more RAM and... Well, you get the picture.
viewers sometimes assume the better modelers and artists are
professionals with years of graphics education. Have you had
any formal training in art?
No, none whatsoever. I sometimes
wish I had taken some courses in art but no, I've never gotten
around to it. I've always enjoyed drawing and painting, but to
tell you the truth I'm not very good at it. It wasn't until I
discovered Strata 3D back in the mid 90s that I found that my
Macintosh could actually be a creative tool for me. It took
some time for me to realize what I could do, though. Strata 3D
came free with an issue of MacFormat so I installed it, played
around with it for a week or two and then removed it. Some
time later I came across some fantastic renderings of cigars
(I'm an avid cigar smoker!) and the guy that had done the
renderings said that he had used a 3D application. Which
application I've forgot but I figured that if he could do
stuff like that maybe I can do it to, right? So Strata 3D was
installed once more and the first thing I modeled was - a
cigarr, the same cigar that can be seen in "PC
Gaming". After that I heard about Bryce, tried a
demo of version 3 and that sweet little app really got me
hooked so I ordered Bryce 4 not soon after. The modeling
abilities of Bryce are not very good, except for displacement
modeling - you can create stuff with just a greyscale image
and the Terrain Editor that would literally kill other apps! I
think Bryce is an excellent little application and one should
not limit oneself to just landscapes with it, although that's
what it's primarily designed for. That said, I discovered
Cinema 4D XL about two years ago. It was installed on a Mac in
one of the computer labs of the university and I felt right
away that this was the 3D application for me. One year later I
purchased Cinema 4D XL 6.3 via a student license and I haven't
regretted it for a second.
image that first led me to your site was "SleepyHollow".
In my opinion, that is spectacular modeling, especially done
entirely in Bryce. Your bio page states that modeling is not
your "cup of tea" and that you would probably stick
to rendering. Tell us how you feel about that now. You are
still constructing beautiful models.
Thank you, "Sleepy
Hollow" has gotten alot of attention, even from
more "serious" modelers wondering if I actually did
it in Bryce. Usually they are quite surprised that you can use
Bryce for other stuff than landscapes. On a more personal note
I can confess that so far I've only done one landscape, "Nova"
, in my entire Bryce-career I've also started exploring the
modeling aspect more and more the last year or so. I think
that statement on my bio page originated from the fact that I
was then still very much a Bryce-user. You can make fantastic
things in Bryce but in order to get the more realistic aspect
of your creations you will sooner or later have to step
outside of Bryce and start looking at more sophisticated
modeling apps. At that time I was testing various packages
(Strata, Pixels, Cinema 4D and so on) and when trying them out
I came to the conclusion that I will never be as good a
modeler as I am a Bryce texturer. The Materials Lab in Bryce
is very powerful and you can create almost any type of surface
with it. So that's why I will stick to texturing, Or rather,
was sticking to texturing. Right now I'm using Cinema 4D
pretty exclusively and it's so intuitive and easy to work with
regarding modeling so I'm slowly reconsidering that original
statement. The funny thing is that in C4D I find modeling easy
and texturing difficult! I have dozens of models lying around
on various CD's and they're all lacking one important factor
textures. One day I will probably finish them, but I want to
hone my modeling skills some more first.
text book", "A
pack of Cigarettes" , "a
PC Gaming magazine", ordinary objects are not usually
considered art, but your presentation of ordinary objects
transform a pack of smokes to a rembrandt! How do you come up
with this stuff? Where's your inspiration?
primary inspiration has always been the world around me, the
ordinary world. Sure, I've done some space-ships and some
hovering chrome balls over water but they never really excited
me. What I like to do is to take a simple, ordinary object
like a pen, a book or something like that, something that's
just lying in front of you every day without you ever noticing
it and then try to re-create that object. We live in a world
that's full of lights, shadows, shapes and textures, and when
I model a pen or a lighter, I try to get it as realistic as
possible. So the inspiration to create something can come from
just taking a walk and spotting a smashed up Coke can, or just
sitting in front of my computer (there's always loads of stuff
piled up on my desk and I have a hard time keeping it from
tipping over) and noticing that Staedtler pen lying in front
of me. Inspiration is everywhere but I very often find it hard
to make something of it - I can have serious (and frustrating)
blocks when I can't do anything. I spend 6 hours in C4D and
still I end up throwing it all away! I think we've all been
there ). Another great source of inspiration is other people's
work. If I find animage I like or is intrigued by, I usually
try to re-create that image somehow. I like to study those
images just to try and understand how theydid it - what
technique did they use to make that engine, how did they light
it and what is texture and what is geometry? The point is not
to imitate and then pose it as my own work - that is a big
no-no. The point is to learn and to learn it from someone who
knows how to do it. You can spend hours trying to figure out
the principle for the wheel but once you see it you know how
to solve similar problems in the future. And that's one of the
major issues when it comes to galleries like Digital Artworks
you provide inspiration (and ideas) for others to enjoy and to
favorite work of yours is "At
Least There's Paper" . Without getting too personal,
(LOL), tell us what inspired this image. Its amasterpiece, but
an un-ordinary choice for a subject.
seen the movie "Trainspotting"? I haven't. It's
actually true - I've never seen it but apparently there's a
scene in the movie where some guy is toilet diving and the
bathroom in that scene is said to be really disgusting. The
funny thing is that everyone assumes that
"Trainspotting" was where I got the idea. Well, I
didn't. Instead I was browsing around the web one day and
stumbled across a rendering of a bathroom. It was your
standard 3D rendered bathroom - all shiny, sparkling and full
of wonderful reflections and I thought "Why are almost
all 3D rendered bathrooms always so clean?" I decided
that I would do a really dirty version of a bathroom and
basically ditch all those reflections we all love and cherish.
"At Least There's Paper" was really fun to do and
the scene itself is rather simple - it's basically just a
couple of 2D planes, some terrains and some models. Much of
the impact comes from the textures and the image was actually
nominated for The Torus Awards in the category "Best use
of textures". It won. There's something to be learned
here, I think. A 3D scene can basically be broken up in three
parts geometry (or modeling), lighting and texturing.
"Weak" geometry (like the low-polygon models in say
Half-Life or Quake 3 -- excellent models, but not very
detailed) can be disguised by "strong" texturing and
lighting, but no matter how good the geometry, it can be
ruined by bad texturing. You can also cheat alot with textures
and thus save the polygon count. Need ridges? Don't model
them, apply a bump map instead! This of course depends on what
you're planning. If your aim is to render a high resolution
close-up of a circuit board, then you need to put in the
actual geometry. if your aim is to place the circuit board in
a bigger scene, then consider using bump maps. Returning
to "At Least There's Paper", I must confess I owe
the title of the image to my girlfriend. When I was finished I
asked her to get a look at it and she did. A long, hard look
and then she said "Well At least there's paper!"
did you chose the name "Cartesius" and what brought
about the web site?
started playing Quake 2 online around 1998 and at that time I
was reading some texts by the French 17th century philosopher
René Descartes and Descartes Latin name was Cartesius. When I
was to choose a nick for my first online deathmatch I realized
that all were using nicks like "L33T3" or
"MastahKilla" so I boldly typed in
"Cartesius" and ever since it has been my
The story of the web site has
basically to do with my engagement in a group on Usenet called
alt.binaries.3d.bryce (<newsalt.binaries.3d.bryce). I
discovered the group soon after I had purchased Bryce 4 and
started posting my images there. I got a lot of feedback and I
soon understood that most people had web sites and I also
understood that most online judging galleries, like Digital
Artworks or Bryce Forum, requires you to have your images
online somewhere and then provide the link. And if I wanted
anyone else besides my girlfriend to ever see my images I
needed to get online.
From that point it was just a
matter of learning Claris Homepage and - later - Dreamweaver.
I've been rather busy at work these last months with lots of
work and my computer crashing, so the site hasn't been updated
as it should, but I will do it as soon as possible. I'm also
thinking about getting a domain of my own since GeoCities ads
and limited file transfer rates are driving me nuts. I'm
looking into various solutions and will probably make the
switch in a couple of months
do you think is your best piece of work, and which means the
most to you.
Hmmm... That's a tricky question.
Almost everything I do mean something to me at one point or
another, they all more or less reflect something of me and who
I am. But if I were to choose one I consider to be my best
image it would probably have to be a tie between "At
Least There's Paper" and "Sleepy Hollow". They
are both images I did just for the fun of it and I think
that's one of the reasons why they have become two of my most
popular images. I think "At Least There's Paper"
shows that I must have had a good time when I did it. They
also mean very much to me since these two images has received
so much positive attention. For me they represent the fact
that I can do stuff appreciated by others.
Another inage I would like to
mention that mean alot to me is "The
Study" which is my first serious attempt at
going all the way in C4D. I worked on it on and off for about
a week before going public with it and it has received some
very positive feedback from experienced C4D users.
do you do for entertainment when you are not creating art?
always in front of the screen - ask my girlfriend. It's not
quite true, but I do spend a lot of time in front of my
computer. When I manage to drag myself away I try to spend
time with my girlfriend and our dog, Huxley. Huxley is a
smooth Fox Terrier and hence he's full of energy - take him
for a two hour run and you´re just warming him up. Both my
girlfriend and I are very interested in movies and our movie
collection (VHS, not DVD) is close to 500 titles, and we add
one or two titles every week. Another favourite hobby of mine
is reading. As a historian of science and ideas you are more
or less forced to read extensively, but I quite enjoy it. The
last couple of years I've been drifting away more and more
from pure fiction and almost everything I read nowadays is
non-fiction - history of science, history of art and other
boring stuff ;) But I do read fiction, don't get me wrong.
Right now I'm spell-bound by Philip Pullman's "The Amber
Spyglass", the final part of the trilogy "His Dark
Materials", and it's absolutely marvellous.
ask all the subjects the same question...who is your favorite
artistand what is your favorite creation of another artist.
Also a tricky one. Right now I'm
very, very influenced by Igor Posavec (http://www.3d-io.com).
He has that perfect blend of fantasy and reality that is sooo
hard to achieve - just check out his telephone! My favourite
creation by another artist is nearly impossible to pinpoint,
there are so many. When it comes to traditional media, though,
the answer is quite easy Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) and every
single brush- or penstroke by him!
He's probably my greatest
source for artistic inspiration ever and I actually owe almost
two years of studying the history of art to that German
Renaissance artist! Man, talk about influence.
for the techy stuff, Anders. Tell our readers about your
until just a few months ago I was sitting on a PowerMac
4400/200 with 96MB RAM, purchased in 1997. I had an external
hard drive and external CD-RW to boost. It was a slow but
stable machine - may it rest in peace (wich, by the way, is on
the floor beside my desk). My machine right now is an iMac 600
with 256 RAM, hooked up with a Wacom tablet, a Microtek V6 USL
scanner and a HP DeskJet 930. It's a standard consumer setup
and it serves my purposes very well, but some more RAM is a
must. Of course, if someone would throw me a dual 800 Mhz G4
with a 22" Apple Cinema Display I wouldn't say no :- )
My primary applications are
Bryce 4, Cinema 4D XL 6.3, and Adobe Photoshop 5.
do you see in the future of graphic art, and how will it fit
into your life?
think computer generated images and art is something we will
be hearing more and more of. Today computers are used to some
extent in almost every single Hollywood production and apart
from being just a tool in the hands of professionals, I think
the computer will be recognized to a higher degree as a tool
for creativity. You can buy a decent computer and more or less
make your own 3D movie, like Captain 3D using C4D for his
or Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt using Lightwave for "405
The Movie" (http://www.405themovie.com/).
Computer and art have a bright future, believe me ) And where
do I fit in? In say five years from now, I think I will still
be making images with my computer (hopefully a G5!) and maybe
I can make some money on it, but that´s not that important to
me - as long as I can be creative I'm perfectly happy. I would
like to explore more of the conceptualizing aspects of digital
creation, though. You know, someone walks up to you and says
"Here you have the blue-prints, here you have the
color-scheme. Now make it in 3D!"
Another part of digital work I
like to explore is book layout and design. As I mentioned
above, I do alot of typesetting for my department and recently
I've also been requested to do the covers for some
dissertations (including my girlfriend's - we work at the same
department). These covers has been highly appreciated and if I
could combine my typesetting skills with my layout skills, I
might have something going in a year or two.
Unfortunately, not many
historians require 3D stuff on their covers... ) Anyway, I
will add a "Typesetting & Layout" gallery to my
homepage soon and we'll see what happens.
Artworks and myself extend our sincerest thanks for your
participation, Anders, and hope to continue displaying your
you, Jerry, and you'll probably be seeing me around for some
Anders (aka Cartesius)