Dutch designer Metin Seven creates 3D cartoons for the large Dutch news site Nu.nl. He recently switched to Blender, and I talked to him about his work.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Metin Seven, a.k.a. Sevensheaven. I'm a freelance designer living and working in a town called Bussum in the Netherlands, together with my wife and our white feline princess. You're invited to sevensheaven.nl for an impression of my work.
What are the Nu.nl weekendcartoons? How many people see them?
Nu.nl is the most popular online news source in the Netherlands. I used to create a daily news cartoon for Nu.nl from 2006 to 2008, with an average of about 60000 daily views. In 2008 my Nu.nl cartoon frequency was reduced to once a week, and to be honest I haven't checked the views since then, but as the internet is being visited much more since the smartphone revolution, I guess the cartoon views should have increased rather than decreased.
Can you describe the creative process of the cartoons?
To my knowledge I was the first person in the Netherlands who used 3D CG to create cartoons. It allowed me to build a whole range of reusable and adjustable 3D cartoon character designs, props and decors, speeding up a cartoon's creation process as time went by.
I love Blender's versatility. I like to experiment with different 3D styles and renderers. In the last three weeks I have used Cycles for a realistically executed cartoon, the default Blender renderer for a semi-realistic cartoon, and an IKEA instruction manual spoof using the Edge option from the Post Processing section in the Blender render settings.
Which software did you use before? What are your reasons for switching to Blender?
I have been using 3ds Max on a daily basis from 1998 up to now. Although 3ds Max is still a powerful 3D editor, I think Autodesk's prices do not fit in the current times anymore. With impressive open source software like Blender, offering you so much power for free, and potent tablet apps with an average price range from $0.99 to $9.99, in my humble opinion Autodesk can not keep asking thousands of dollars for a piece of software that's still largely based on a core from the mid-1990s, plus many hundreds of dollars per version upgrade each year.
I am very inspired by the altruistic open source community that surrounds Blender. So many people are creating helpful tutorials, add-ons, free 3D models, etcetera, to share with others, just like Blender itself is shared with the world at no expenses. A major realistic plug-in renderer such as Maxwell or V-Ray will cost you up to $1350 on top of 3ds Max or Maya, while Cycles can already pretty much compete with such renderers.
In some areas Blender is also more complete and up to date than 3ds Max. To name a few examples 3ds Max has no built-in video editor, no compositing editor and no high-polygon sculpting engine. You have to buy Autodesk's Mudbox separately for high-poly sculpting. Having said all this about 3ds Max, I do miss the relatively large number of useful 3ds Max modifiers in Blender, and I miss some things like being able to go back and change the number of polygons in a mesh object after you've created it. But such relatively small obstacles won't keep me from enjoying Blender.
What are your future plans?
I am definitely going to continue exploring Blender, watching a truckload of informative Blender tutorials on the internet, and eventually I want to become a 100% Blender user, which will also finally allow me to migrate from a Windows PC to a Mac, because 3ds Max is still only available for Windows after all these years.
I have also made a first little contribution to the Blender gospel, by creating a 3ds Max (Design) UI scheme that transforms 3ds Max into a surrogate Blender, so 3ds Max users like me can convert to Blender more easily, by not having to completely switch back to the 3ds Max workflow when it is necessary to revisit 3ds Max.