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To put it plainly, Ambient Dimension is a website that hosts all forms of 3D rendered art, acting as a community and networking site to find other artists, learn from each other, and explore all that can be made with 3D. It brings all disciplines of 3D into one website, and stands as a way to allow people to see what others are doing and find them. There is no discrimination allowed of artwork, and all skill levels are allowed on the site. After all, everyone needs to learn, and what better way to learn than to ask those who know what they are doing?
When I came up with the idea of Ambient Dimension, there had been a lot of discussion about splitting the 3D categories on some art sites. While I understand and actually agree with the reasons why, I can't help but think this meant that the 3D community as a whole was being fractured. The problem stems from a sense that 3D comes in two varieties, pre-made and original. While it is true that there are two different ways to approach 3D art, does that make the other any less valid? Many have said that using programs like Daz Studio, Poser, and Bryce with pre-made models is no better than manipulation, and have tried to have it called that. But it is no different from photography. You have to worry about the same things, and photographers only rarely make the items they are taking pictures of, and never if a person is involved. It could also be argued that 3D modelling is more of a technical skill and less of an artistic skill.
But that is the problem. It had degenerated into an "Us vs. Them" mentality. Both sides were looking to separate themselves from the other, and in the process, fracture the community as a whole. This is a huge problem in my eyes, and unfortunately, it could not be solved easily.
The way some sites had their categories set up, the focus is on HOW the art was made first, and the content of the art second. It doesn't matter if your art is about a fantasy scene, what matters is how you made it first. Then all other considerations are added in. This means when people look at art, and the categories it is in, they look at how it was made first. This means the segregation is there right from the start, in the way that the art is made. There is nothing wrong with this approach for categories on certain art websites. They are a home of MANY styles of art, and as such, you need to think about the type of art to categorize it fairly.
But here is the thing, even among artists, 3D is looked down on by many of them. Whether it be a freshly created 3D model that took you hours to sculpt in zBrush, or a scene that took hours to set up in Poser. Many artists see it as push button art, doesn't matter the skills or artistry involved. Because it was created on a computer, they think it is easy, that is creates itself. Even some of the folks who do color work on normal art with programs like Painter and Photoshop suffer from this kind of stereotype to some extent.
That is not the only problem. As 3D artists, we are the minority on many art sites. There are more of every other type of art group on these sites, and as such, 3D artists have a problem with low population. The sheer numbers of other art types posted in a single day proves this. And to top it off, a lot of things on some sites that aren't even artistic in merit, which are merely a webcam or camera phone picture of someone in a mirror get posted, and this floods what we see.
And then there are those of us who want to dabble in the more mature art. Some would call it porn, and that is their belief, and they have a right to it. Others see that creating a scene of an adult nature sometimes is harder then any other, as you have more technical aspects to worry about then in a normal picture. Does your average fantasy scene need to worry about placement of bodies relative to each other with the attention to detail that an adult picture might? But of course, since most art sites don't even allow this, those who do want to experiment, or learn the lessons that can be found in this type of art, are unable to do so on them. They are forced into blogs or very specialized sites.
And the final problem is one that comes up simply by the nature of groups and the cliques that they can create. Groups are a great way to get like-minded people and art styles together. However, it is also possible, by the way a group is set up, to make it very elitist. People either end up letting everything in, being very specific as to what is allowed, or possibly even exclude people because of style or taste. I am not blaming anyone or any group of doing this. But everyone has to admit that given the chance, they would probably remove something from a group because they did not like it personally. This also can happen on websites where an approval system is required for a picture to be posted.
So, while open art sites are a great place, they have built a respectable community. And for that, I am very thankful. But they have limitations, and inherent problems which cannot be fixed. This is why I started Ambient Dimension. The main focus on Ambient Dimension is 3D. It doesn't matter what program you created it with, it doesn't matter how long it took, it doesn't matter if you sculpted it yourself, or if you used pre-made models. What matters is the art. It is all about the 3D.
First thing I did was flip the categories on their head. Since Ambient Dimension is all about 3D, we can just get past the concept that art there is going to be 3D and go straight to what it is about, the subject of the art. The categories are sorted FIRST by the theme of the art. Is it fantasy? Is it sci-fi? Is it historical? Is it modern? Look at that first, then look at how it fits from there. The focus is on the subject of your art, not how it was created.
The next thing I did was made sure that ALL types of 3D art are allowed. It doesn't matter if you post just an item you created with a rigging program and you made it from scratch, or if you have a whole scene of things you bought from a model store. It doesn't matter if you made a lovely portrait of a little boy and his dog, or a hardcore scene of naughtiness. All that matters is that it was done with a 3D rendering engine.
At this point I realized that not everyone wants to see the naughtier side of 3D art. So to that end I created a detailed and robust filtering and tagging system. You mark each piece of art you upload with the elements it contains. Does your piece contain nudity? There is a tag for that. A sword fight with lots of blood? Violence and Blood tags for that. Most conceivable things that can be expressed are there. Then I broke the tags down into four levels. The first level is default for all new users, and any user under 18. I designate this the PG 13 level. This only allows you to view the "TV tags" as I call them: Violence, Blood, Drug Use and Profanity. As you can see, that level is something you can find on prime time TV without any problem. The next level is the Mature level, which includes generic nudity and motherly lactation. So you could have a render of a mother nursing her newborn, and that would be mature. A woman standing nude on the cliff, looking out over a sunrise, that would be mature. The next level is the fetish level, where it adds in pictures containing BDSM elements. This is a separate level, as many people consider this artistic, but still is mature. But it is not everyone's cup of tea. The final level is the level that most would consider porn.
Based on which setting you have will determine what pictures are even visible to you. If you want to see only mature and lower, no "porn" or BDSM pictures will ever show in your searches. The system will automatically filter them out. But say you also don't want to see anything with drug use. You then have the option of 'hiding' the preview of any picture with drug use in it. The picture will stile found in searches, but you will not be forced to look at the preview. If you decide you are curious and want to look at it, you still can go to the picture's page and look at it, but it is by your own choice to do so. This system allows people to see as much or as little as they want, and not even have to worry about what else is there. You can see it all, or hide the things you find offensive. It is all based on your personal preferences.
I realize this may offend some, but here is my take on the matter. Right now, 3D art is so segregated from regular art, that splitting it down further into things each person likes or does not like, only serves to divide and already small community. I have seen some pictures that people may consider pornographic that have both incredible artistic and technical merit. Forcing artists off a site merely because some people may be offended doesn't help the 3D community as a whole. It is better to get ALL 3D artists together in one place to learn from one another, and then let them each decide individually what their threshold for tolerance is. After a while, exploring other things may let you see that all the artists have merit.
The next thing I wanted to do is help artists who are looking for work. We all know that some folks want to do commissions for others, get their work out there and make some money doing what they love to do. So for that, I actually used the tagging system to make a commission status. You can set up which tags of art you will do, give a brief description of prices, and set yourself up as taking commissions. Then, someone looking for an artist to do commissions can do a search based on the tags they need for their project, and it will show all artists taking commissions that would do that. A great system to allow people to find work.
Another thing I did is make it easy for folks to link pictures together. We have all seen when folks make a 3D comic book style series, with multiple pages. With some websites, you would either make a gallery after, and then edit the description of each one to have a "previous" and "next" link to the pictures. I have set up an easy system to allow you to set up links like this, and it will automatically generate them on each page of the picture.
And finally, I have set up a keyword and program search system, so if you find a picture made in Lightwave, you can click on the Lightwave link in the programs used list, and it will find all pictures that used lightwave. Or if you have a picture with a keyword of "elf" or "alien" click on the keyword, and it will find all pictures with that keyword. This way you can find pictures of the same genre faster. You can find what you want to see easier, and explore things you may not have known about before.
But in the end, it all comes back to the main point. It's all about the 3D. This is the purpose behind Ambient Dimension, the bright corner of the 3D world.
Founder and Creator of Ambient Dimension,
Revised May 31, 2012