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Interview with Chen Qingfeng

Image3Dallusions is proud to have the opportunity to interview Chen Qingfeng.
We were honored to have Chen as a judge during our ‘Architecture Wonder’ Contest and a chance to get to know him over the last few years.

TheAllusionist: Chen why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, I brief bio as it were.

Chen: My name is Chen Qingfeng. I was born in 1976. Now, I live in a cute island of China. I am a self- employee. Dealing with architectural visualization and animation is my major job. Occasionally, I try some industry product visualization. I got to know a lot of foreign friends by Internet, and I also supported professional service to foreign customers by Internet.

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TheAllusionist: How did you get interested in architectural visualization and have you always rendered digitally or did you dabble in traditional mediums?

Chen: Maybe it’s my congenital interest. It brings me infinite imagination space and lots of fun during my designing and drawing. I usually rendered digitally, because it has high efficiency and easy to foresee the architectural result. I hardly dabbled in traditional mediums, just did it in the 3 years after graduation.

TheAllusionist: Did you receive any formal training both artistically and in computer graphics, or are you self-taught?

Chen: Serious speaking, I have not received any formal training about them. My major is Civil Engineering in university. There are some basic courses in artistic area I had taken, but no system studying for me. Computer graphics is studied by myself after my graduation.

TheAllusionist: Are there any traditional or digital artist that you look up to or try to emulate?

Chen: I’d like Raphael Lacoste.

TheAllusionist: What inspires you in your work or in your ideas (This question is from ‘Speedline’)?

Chen: Architectural visualization, itself, inspires me in my work. Sometimes, a distinguishing structure appears in my eyes, inspiration would be in my mind. Under the inspiration, I can create some satisfied works.

TheAllusionist: Can you describe your average day?

Chen: Working takes me majority time of a day. After I get up, I look up my e-mail and write back. Then, I check the proceeding of each case with my customers, and arrange my assistants’ tasks. Sometimes, I’m free. I would go to bookshop or climb for relaxation. By the way, people in this field always works under large pressure, so that I eat lots of fruit everyday.

TheAllusionist: There seems to be a stylistic consistency in a majority of your work, is the majority of your work, your design or commissioned work for others. If it is for others, can you explain this consistency?

Chen: I have no idea about the stylistic consistency in my work, but I really try my best to touch it. That’s one of my working objectives.

TheAllusionist: Do you feel that you can classify your architectural style, and if so what is it (This question is from ‘Speedline’)?

Chen: I want that to be true. But it’s very difficult. I’d like my architectural style is full of personality and reflective of my architectural ideal. It also can give more imagination to others.

TheAllusionist: This is a question that will probably require a long answer, but I feel compelled to ask it, I am sure all aspiring artist would love to know, I know I would. What is your process in creating one of your masterpieces?

Chen: At first, inspiration is the source of all works. Once an inspiration is coming, I immediately think over how to rich it. The next, I show my idea by modeling on my computer. During the period, I mend unreasonable design before. After modeling finishing, I use different cameras to set lots of perspective. The more consideration is how to express my design ideal. At this time, I regard me as a photographer who takes some beautiful pictures by digital medium. Next step is about lights. Most works of mine, I use lightscape to do it. According to perspective, colors and composition, I balance the whole composition by lights. After settling lights, I consider how to make materials that very important in whole work. It’s the most important division to revise some textures to my needed ones by Photoshop. Not all textures could satisfy my demand. Rendering finishing, I would adjust a little by Photoshop. Most of works can get unexpected result after adjusting by Photoshop.

TheAllusionist: Having admired your work for quite some time, I would say that your number one strength is your technical mastery. What would you say is your greatest strength and what do you consider the weakness you would most like to improve upon?

Chen: The strength should be my going deep into it. Most people think that it is impossible to get a nice outside C.G. architecture by Lightscape. But I don’t think so. Under my constant research, I had grasped a skill about it to get a quicker, nicer work.
I am bad at art. Most time, I could not draw a correct perspective. It had influenced my job. It has high efficiency to draw an outline with hands than by computer. I’m studying some basic art courses and photograph courses. I hope I can have a large development.

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TheAllusionist: After so many realistic illustrations in your portfolio, which is the
Architectural element or context/environment you find most challenging to do (This question is from ‘Maranello55’)?

Chen: I’m interested in Internet Digital Architectural design. The purpose of it is not for reality structure, most for explanation to Architectural element or context. You can go www.ortlos.com to get more information. I’m also one of members.

TheAllusionist: Speaking of your technical expertise, your work seems to carry every piece and is devoid of entourage such as people, lesser work would seem empty, yet in your work one is mesmerized by the architectural imagery and doesn’t notice the absence of said entourage. Do you purposely avoid distractions from your work, what is your opinion on entourage?

Chen: It’s on my purpose to be devoid of entourage such as people. Because I do think that the soul of structure we present is structure. People or other background just can be a reference to exist in a work. Sometimes, existence of people would be felt in a space of no life. Maybe, that ‘s my goal. For example face to face, one of my works, I used two chairs to imply their communication between the two. But if I put two persons in it, I think there is not creation any more. But I don’t mean that background is not necessary. People and entourage are very important in many business cases. Because landscaping design is part of construction, and it also can rich a work.

TheAllusionist: I could ask about your great modeling, texturing, and lighting, but I would really like to ask how you determine the shininess/reflectance (In a way it is a texturing question) or lack there of, of your materials, it seems like you have it down to a science, is it a formula or by trial and error. It may seem like an odd question, but I think it can really set a great image apart from one that something just isn’t quite right, especially on interior shots.

Chen: That’s right. I have my experience about texture and lights. For example, majority indoor works of mine are expressed to daily effect. At that time, sunny value should be light-yellow 35,0.03,1.00, and skylight should be 213,0.1,1.00. We can easily to get real daily sunny. Another example about outdoors, I always set a cube to simulate entourage light in the middle of model. Indoor effect would be simulated by reflection light of the cube. The advantage of Lightscape is brought into play. About texture, I always set color bleed value to 0.25-0.4. I think it has good effect to get a nice reflection.

TheAllusionist: It seems like a piece is never finished and one could work on something forever, some of us go past the point of diminishing returns and some stop to soon, how do you determine when a piece is complete enough to cease working on it?

Chen: The standard to cease working on it should be reaching the forecast or not. If you can reach it, that’s the point of stop. Of course, it probably limits skill improvement, so I always try hard to set a higher standard. It will requests me to reach them, prefect them. During the period, the skills of that also can get relevant improvement. I believe that it’s a nice method to study independently.

TheAllusionist: As a 3D artist who expresses realism so masterfully, what do you reckon is the next thing after realistic rendering (This question is from ‘Maranello55’)?

Chen: More adjusting by Photoshop, such as contrast and color.

TheAllusionist: What software packages do you keep in your digital toolbox and how do you use them?

Chen: Just a little software is in my package, such as AutoCAD, 3dsmax, Lightscape, Photoshop.
I use AutoCAD to understand and design, but I had ever used it to make model.
I use 3dsmax to make model and render.
I use Lightscape to get visualization.
I use Photoshop to get last adjusting.

TheAllusionist: What advancement or feature would you most like to see developed in the software that you use?

Chen: I think Lightscape, a stop-renew software, still has a large quantity customers. And it’s so easy to grasp its texture system that it could meet the demand of those quick makers. I hope there is additional texture setting in other software’s, and we can revise textures convenient with it. Texture revising always takes a lot of time, so it’s helpful to get a setting map such as Lightscape’s.
On the other hand, about the application of HDRI, I think it will spread widely to each field. It’s terrific! I’m learning it.

TheAllusionist: Keeping up with technology can take a lot of time, do you read a lot of CG trade magazines and do you read more traditional literature to improve your skills in the advancement of your craft?

Chen: I subscribe lots magazines about C.G.. I understood and learned a lot of from them. One more thing I should mentioned, most of beginners often asked me how to get a nice work. I always told them it’s a good way to improve your skills through reading a large quantity of Architectural photograph works and Architectural Artistically works. After that, you could understand how to make a model, how to settle reasonable value of lights, how to get a satisfied entourage.
Anyway, more watching and more thinking can make you improve faster than just more drawing in front of computer.

TheAllusionist: What do you enjoy most about your career and life?

Chen: Enjoy my life and make correct result for each choice.

TheAllusionist: Is there any advice you would like to give to any aspiring architectural illustrators?

Chen: Be hard, patient, self-confident, and advance bravely.

TheAllusionist: If you weren’t an architectural visualization artist what do you think you would be doing?

Chen: Maybe I would design ad. I was interested in VI design before, and have done it for some companies.

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You can view some of Chen's work at Chen3D

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