The visualisation and expression of virtual 3D surfaces explored through custom developed interactive software, optically mixed coloured surface contouring and fine art printmaking
The late twentieth century saw the emergence of new artistic mediums derived from the burgeoning electronic digital technologies. Many visual artists, excited by these technologies, have embraced and integrated these new artistic mediums with those of tradition, while few have recognised the arrival of a new and unique visual language. A growing minority of these visual artists became aware of the limitations imposed by mass produced commercial software with its trend to emulate the traditional mediums. Driven by these software limitations, these artists decided to take control of the medium and create their own software. This research was motivated by the author's desire to extend his ideas, fundamental to his painting and printmaking practices, into the new medium of 3D computer imaging exploring its unique visual language. To accomplish this goal the author has developed and written an interactive software application program for the representation of 3D free form surfaces by contours and employing optically mixed colour by averaging. The use of lines of contour to depict 3D surfaces has a centuries-old tradition, particularly in the printmaking method of line engraving. The surface contour, little understood until the late twentieth century, is one of our most important visual perception depth cues for 3D surface comprehension. Although employed less by painters, some artists have combined the surface contour with techniques of optical colour mixing achieved by juxtaposing narrow lines of colour modelling the surface of objects. The developed interactive software program used a novel contouring upon the surface of virtual 3D objects. The object's colour is intrinsic to the structure of this surface contour and is achieved through an innovative system comprising the juxtaposition of narrow coloured lines (CMYK) which then produce optical colour mixtures by averaging. From a selected view of the colour contoured 3D composition, 2D images of each CMYK colour layer are rendered to file from which positive images are printed for the production of fine art screen-prints. The unique structure of these colour 'separation' positives allows them to be manually edited by the artist printmaker prior to the printing process.