David Padilla pushes the boundaries of digital design with dark fantasies
The latest edition of ConceptD 7 SpatialLabs invites digital designers to enter the next dimension with revolutionary new technology perfect for working in 3D. Visual artist David Padilla samples the groundbreaking suite of programmes and tells us about his discoveries along the way.
In a post-pandemic world, digital experiences have become increasingly important. Not only are they essential to the way we communicate, they are also a crucial space for creative expression. In an age of rapid technological development, the digital world has only become more expansive and complex as a space for boundary-pushing visual communication. As we spend more and more time online, the possibilities for what we can achieve and the feelings we can evoke continue to grow. This also raises multiple questions including, how will our deepening relationships with the digital effect the way we interact with objects?
David Padilla is a Spanish visual artist. We tasked him with creating three moving sculptures which investigate the boundary between liquidity and solidity as well as light and dark. David’s resulting artworks trigger new senses related to the digital. Expressing an indescribable intrigue and mystery within each digital space, he plays with features of the earth, focussing his explorations through one natural element: rock. He is able to realise these subtle outputs thanks to Acer’s ConceptD 7 SpatialLabs Edition. A suite of applications powered by cutting-edge technology, the programmes boast advanced optical solutions and the latest real-time rendering power that delivers a unique and intuitive stereoscopic 3D experience.
Previously, we looked into how the Acer’s ConceptD laptop can power highly complex digital builds as seen in digital artist Lucy Hardcastle’s creations. This time, however, we quiz David on how he draws out intrigue and mystery in a scene and how SpatialLabs Edition aided his creative process. “It’s been a fabulous experience,” he tells us. “It helps you with some interesting tools throughout the process of developing a project.” Crucially, SpatialLabs Edition’s latest developments allowed him to better visualise the content of his work. Using a combination of an eye-tracking solution, a stereoscopic 3D display, real-time rendering and AI technologies, SpatialLabs Edition offers a one-of-a-kind stereoscopic 3D visualisation experience. “The possibility of visualising the models in real-time and fast was definitely key in streamlining the creative process,” David says. In turn, he was able to add new ideas along the way, shaping his artworks to be the best they could be with this sped up back and forth process. “In this project, I was able to visualise my rocks from all angles before processing them so I could correct some details before animating them,” David adds on the ease of the process. It was the first time he’d used a ConceptD product and was “totally surprised by the range of possibilities” on offer. The creation of digital artworks is labour intensive for a machine, let alone technically trying for any digital artist, so David was greatly appreciative of a tool designed precisely for the needs of the digital designer.
David’s first artwork, Gravity, plays with the relationship between a rock and its gravitational force. The floating sculpture converges with the invisible force in a mysterious way, eventually leading to the rocks collapsing. The designer prescribed the rocks with two key, contrasting behaviours – order and chaos – which he played on through the animation. “The rocks converge in a certain harmony until they collapse and fall due to the gravity,” he describes.” Created entirely in Cinema4D, David envisioned the animation as two bodies that “orbit around an attractor and in a certain sequence of time”. The gravity then exaggerates the effects, adding an element of drama not to mention a narrative arc.
All three of David’s artwork are rendered in Redshift. He likes this engine so he can pay particular attention to the light and texture of a scene. “The overall lighting of the three scenes is dramatic,” he adds, underlining the element of mystery in each animation. He also utilised Area Lighting to further the contrast between light and dark to achieve this mood. Other than being rendered in Redshift, David uses different software and resources in each artwork to further challenge himself and also go above and beyond with the brief.
In Below Zero, the artist interrogates different textures and organic growths. An icy liquid spreads across the scene, freezing everything in its path. “The aim is to translate the power of nature,” he explains of the complex scene which adds another layer of complexity to Gravity. He chose the icy liquid as he wanted this artwork to drastically alter the previous scene and, in turn, create an entirely different mood. To create the shape that grows from the soil, he enacted “a system of Splines created in X-Particles that uses Vdb to represent the shape.” He then programmed the particles to have a period of emission time to make the “disappearing effect”.
As for the ice growth, David used Houdini. He controlled the growth points in a similar way to how an infection spreads. Then, to evoke a more realistic appearance, he added moving particles in the scene to create an atmosphere and experimented with a zooming camera effect to add further dynamism to the animation.
By contrast, David’s last artwork is a tribute to life as opposed to death by freezing. Origin, where wild forms of life come alive, focuses on the mysteries of growth. A celebration of nurture, this third artwork has another pointed difference from the other two. It touches on how the growth of vegetation can coexist with digital sculpture, injecting the artwork with bags of joyful personality as the animation sees the rocks come alive in a more organic way. David generated the movement through Cinema4D. “The vegetation was a real challenge as the objects are moving and I wanted these growths to interact with the impact of the rocks themselves,” David points out. Finding a way to combat this, he used Houdini to create a matrix system where only the movement of the rocks was affected by the controls.
Once David was happy with the overall look of the animations, he took the final compositions back into Cinema4D and Redshift in order to replicate textures and light systems across the three consistent artworks. The result is three wonderfully engaging animations that pull the viewer into the scene. No stranger to working with texture, lighting and themes of organic matter, David was able to push the technical execution of each composition to do something different while being recognisable as a triptych series. Each artwork explores a different dark fantasy, a creative explosion of David’s vision which unites organic matter with groundbreaking digital technologies.
With a myriad of tools and techniques at his fingertips thanks to ConceptD 7 SpatialLabs Edition, David was able to push himself creatively beyond just the technicalities of the animations. Letting his imagination run wild, he injected a distinct personality into each artwork, the small details making all the difference through the smallest of details. The machine allowed him to zoom in on the depth of the digital surfaces, allowing the designer to realise out of the box 3D experiences that otherwise would not have been possible. With detailed 4K colour accuracy, optimised vortex flow, increased connectivity and plenty of other SpatialLabs Technology to tap into, David was able to dig further into his creative process, and as a result, find new meanings within his work.
“Most projects are defined by creative restrictions so you cannot express certain feelings or get out a script,” David finally goes on to say. “But you can always contribute your own stamp to improve the scenes at hand and make the result more impactful. Whatever the level of expertise I can offer in a project, I connect with the art and feel it somehow. Therefore my artworks are much more than the highly technical process, they are full of meaning.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.