Featured Artist

Posted by • September 16th, 2009 • Printer-friendly •   Original post can be read here
Story telling is one of the oldest known methods of communication between humans. Legends, lessons and just talking with each other is filled with stories that help us to understand our world. Whether the story is oral, written, drawn in 2D, viewed as a series of moving images, or shown as a 3D model – we all enjoy and learn from each method.
Abdullah Shaikh (Abu to his friends) has a naturally amazing ability to tell stories that cross all cultures and distances with his 3D models. As humans we understand and respond to his stories. That is why he is our Featured Artist!

As user name abu_roadking, Abu has been in the Top 10 thirteen times; – 027, – 028, – 029, – 030, – 032, – 033, – 034, – 037, – 038, – 039, – 040, – 041 and – 043. He also has nine Honorable Mention models to his credit; – 027, – 029, 2 in – 031, – 032, 2 in – 036, – 038 and – 042.

Before changing his user name, Abu went by trigram_QWQ and was also in Top 10 with five models; – 018, – 019, and 2 in – 021 and – 024, has another two Honorable Mentions to his credit; – 020 and – 023.
A good story takes time to tell, so settle back and enjoy the many thoughts that Abu has shared with us.

Hmmm… where do I start??? I’m a Mechanical Engineer by education/qualification, but professionally, have been involved with Software Industry for long time now, more specifically CAD. I’m presently working as a QA engineer on CATIA.
I was born and brought up in a small town Solapur. After passing out from graduation school, I worked in a government-run workshop maintaining the State transport buses. Then, I moved to ‘urban’ places hunting for better opportunities.
Got into a software giant, started working on mainframes, but it didn’t take long time for me to realize that I wanted to make a career in CAD. I requested for an assignment change and luckily got into Engineering Services of the same company. We basically made production/piping drawings of marine engines (the really big ones with 960mm bore x 2500mm stroke). It was a mix of 2D and 3D, majorly 2D though. After about 3-4 years moved into Testing/QA domain, my present job.
On personal front, I’m happily married since last 3 years and have been blessed with daughter last year, Saarah. Marriage and kids change your life completely (I’m sure you’d understand this). Helping my better half with daily chores, feeding baby occasionally, changing diapers/nappies (rarely) and that’s life these days. Weekends are rest and visiting family at home-town every now and then (4 hours journey by train). I can’t say I’m enjoying life but I’m not complaining either. All different phases of life, you have to go thru each one of them.
Before becoming a ‘family’ man??? Well… bikes, long distance rides, trekking, volley-ball apart from voracious reading, movies, plays… the list is almost endless… I’m very much into autos… cars, bikes, trucks, planes, ships… anything that’s mechanical and is mobile… not just riding my bike but tinkering with it when I have time and enough resources (read money). [Yeah… like the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.]
When I was kid used to collect postal stamps, coins and currency bills. Took up reading in graduation school. Ayn Rand and Mario Puzo are my all time favourites. I read (or should it be used to read?) almost anything and everything. Fiction, non-fiction, science & technology, inspirational stuff (Paulo-Coelho-types NOT Dale-Carnegie-types), short stories, philosophy, religion, culture, biographies. I don’t claim I’ve read all these genres extensively but yes a few titles from all of them. Then of course you have Sidney Sheldon and Dan Brown :).
I also am very much into writing. I write short essays on variety of topics, editorials mainly for internal newsletters (both at my present employer and previous). Have been on editorial teams since graduation days. I was awarded 1st prize at University for an article written in “Literary Criticism” category on Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather”.
It was during working on the layouts of the newsletter issues that I got exposed to photography and photo-editing thru a good friend and deviantART.com. We used to work together on the layouts for each issue. I used to select the subject and content while he used to add effects in Photoshop. That got me interested in PS, but before I could start learning it I switched job. Let’s see if I get a chance to learn it in future.
I guess this is good enough for a ‘short’ introduction…

Q1: How did you first become interested in 3D modeling?
It was AutoCAD 2000! My first interaction with the world of CAD! Although it was just a part of our curriculum, a 40-50 marks internal exam.
But I took extra efforts of learning it by joining a private training institute. Gradually moving to learning CATIA by the time I started working. Then I was exposed to I-DEAS and the world of Marine Engines. The sheer size and level of complexity hits you so hard, that it’s difficult to explain.
I was always interested in geometry throughout my schooling. This liking grew with subjects engineering drawing and machine drawing at graduation. So, lines and curves always interested me. With the addition of 3rd dimension the world became more interesting :).

Q2: Does 3D modeling play a role in the work you do?

I do 3D modeling of mostly engineering products. It may sound pretty ‘techy’ but rest assured they are simple assemblies like valves most of the times.
And these models are generally used to make drawings. In the process, we test the software. The main purpose of modeling would be to simulate industrial usage. How would it happen in actual production environment? For this we use variety of data, constructed from scratch, created by other teams, or which is actually provided by customers themselves.
That’s the 3D modeling that I do for my ‘bread and butter’. Sometime back a contest was organized in our company. We had to create models using 3DVIA Shape. That’s how work and interests got intermingled.

Q3: What part of 3D modeling do you find most rewarding?
Coming from a background where I’ve worked mostly on engineering and production drawings, 3D is an answer to the 2D riddle when you are modeling from a reference drawing. The minute model is completed, it feels like you’ve cracked a million dollar question. And of course in context of 3DVIA, the comments and appreciations from the community are the most rewarding aspect of 3D modeling here.
When I read an interesting article or passage, I almost immediately want to give it a form in 3D. This is only possible with 3DVIA where I have access to n-number of models created and shared. So it starts building up into a 3D story…

Q4: How does story telling play a role in your 3D modeling?
Like I just said, whenever someone sends me a forward or I come across a short story I start giving shape to it (story) in 3D form using the models for 3DVIA. Many times if someone shares a model (usable in Shape), that itself triggers the idea of making a scene using the shared model. For example: the Harry Potter scene that I made using actraiser’s Araneus Angulatus or prolithic’s Drunkenclam and Evreyday Inn triggered an idea for On the way to Monument Valley.

Q5: What additional software do you use to create your 3D models/images?
At this point in time it’s just CATIA and 3DVIA Shape. Tried my hand at SketchUp, but didn’t quite like it :). For the images I use MS Paint and Office Picture Manager.

Q6: How much 3D modeling time do you have in a week?
That usually varies with the kind of work that’s on hand and at what stage the testing is being done. At any given point in time there would be a CATIA session running, but “is 3D modeling going on?” is a subjective matter.
To take a break from regular work and CATIA window, a 3DVIA window opens :).

Q7: What are your tips for staying focused on a large project?
Deadlines are important and equally important is the aim with which a task is taken up. So, the vision towards the end result helps you traverse the path. If you’re working in the dark without knowing the goal, you tend to lose direction. This is applicable to all tasks, large or small.
If you want me to comment on specifically a large CAD or 3D project, well, I’m not the person to make a qualified remark regarding such an endeavor. I don’t have that kind of exposure of handling a large project. I’m just a small brick in the bigger wall and I ensure it is at the place where it’s supposed to be, at the expected minute :).

Q8: Do you do 3D modeling at home on personal projects?
Nope, unfortunately I don’t have a PC at home. So whatever modeling I do is from office and is work-related. As I mentioned before, to take a break from regular work, I do modeling in 3DVIA. Or when some parallel activity is going on (like some batch processing where I can’t work on CATIA). Or at times I come to office early to play around with newer models in 3DVIA.

Q9: Do you have any thoughts on how 3D modeling can help young people as they learn about the world?
Children learning about world!!! And using 3D modeling!!! That’s a difficult one… but, yes I can certainly say that a few of the lessons of geometry can be very well demonstrated using simple 3D techniques. Ellipses and other curves can be better explained using 3D than leaving it for students’ imaginations.

Q10: Do you have any thoughts on the value of 3D modeling to help us all learn about the world?
I’ll restrict my opinions on this question to my experiences on 3DVIA. The reason for this being, unless and until you share your models with others, you cannot learn more (than what you already know). It is only when people see your creations and respond; you come to know the kind of emotions they generated with the viewers. The other side of story, if I may put it that way…
You also learn a lot by observing other people’s works. I can quote many instances. I remember learning more about Dracula thru one of sady’s comments. Many of smike’s models contain technical as well as historical information. There’s so much more to it than just the 3D models… in these cases 3D models trigger a ‘need to know more’ than what meets the eyes… you Google on the subject and read more…
The reverse way is also pretty interesting… when you start working on a model and drill down to extract more levels of detailing, you realize what seems simple at first look is in fact complex enough to make you think more. So starting from a 3D model you can explore the world outside as well as drill down deeper… a great learning experience…

Q11: Do you think 3D modeling is different in different parts of the world? How?
No. 3D modeling is the same everywhere. It’s a neutral language. I would like to quote Shakespeare on this one, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet;” just as thoughts, ideas and emotions aren’t dependent on language or culture, so is 3D modeling.

Q12: Just for fun, what is your favorite game? movie? comic book?
Favorite game would have to be NFS Porsche Unleashed. Basically I like racing games. Haven’t laid my hands on latest NFS releases (again since I don’t have a PC at home or a gaming console and playing games at workplace is simply out of question). Last one I played was NFS-HP2 the one which came after Porsche.
Movies… I enjoy watching good movies… picking a favorite one would be difficult… Sci-fi, action thrillers, comedy, romantic stuff, drama… haven’t been able to watch movies lately though…
When I was kid used to read Chacha Chowdhary and Champak. Comics appearing in newspapers are the staple diet now… Garfield is all-time favorite apart from Dilbert, Hagar and others.

With respect for the 3DVIA community, Abu has included some of the possible story-telling themes that he draws on for inspiration and that can be a guide for us as well:
- Exploring 3D…
- Shapes and Forms
- Stories, Fantasies and Dreams
- Complexities – Simplicities
- Love – War
- Elements, Monuments, History, Science and Technology
- Humor, Tears, Joy, Happiness, Sadness
- Games People Play, Games Playing People, People Playing Games
- Creators, Creations
- Immortals, Mortals
- All in all, “A Journey of A Lifetime”

Abu originally shared these themes as part of a comment on smike’s 3DVIA World Tour Bus – Halls of Fame on Wheels.
Thank you Abu for your thoughtful answers to our questions and for taking so much time to bring such excellent 3D stories to 3DVIA!

Quick links to previous Featured Artists:
14 Sizzling SnacksTommy Smith (tomy)Michael White (toymaker)Shannon Sands (sandman14)Alfred Schallert (alfredix)Corey PapadopoliMark Biasotti (mbiasotti)Michael Petersen (smike)Matthew Negrier (Balgin)Benoit Caselli (Benoit-Caselli)Matthiew VietsRob RodriguezBlake MetzlerPeter AndersonBryan Silva

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