BlenderNation writer Daniel LaBarge recently had a chance to sit down and talk with Sandra Gilbert (DreamsGate) of BlenderArt Magazine to discuss her interests in Blender and a retrospective on the magazine which she manages. The interview covers everything from her beginning in Blender to what suggestions she offer for others interested in producing a digital magazine.
When did you first get into Blender and why?
I started using Blender in the fall of 2000, prior to that I had been using a free copy of Truespace that I had gotten from Computer Arts magazine. That fall I saw my first issue of 3D World. There was a write up on Blender. So I decided to check it out again.
Yes, I had previously downloaded Blender about a year earlier. And when I installed it and saw all those buttons, I had a panic attack and promptly uninstalled it. This time around, I discovered that the community had grown and that there were a lot more tutorials and documentation. Also by this point, I knew a little bit more about 3d modeling than I had the first time, so Blender didn't seem so scary.
As to why I got into Blender; Blender allows me to create and realize my artistic visions in a way that traditional mediums such as drawing or painting never could. I was then and still am totally in love with creating 3d models. For me it is an amazing thing to watch a model go from a blank screen to fully complete. I love to breathe life into my models and watch them move.
What do you think of the recent Blender developments?
I am just amazed at the recent developments being coded into Blender. Our coders are artists in their own right and deserve all our respect and appreciation. Without them Blender wouldn't be where it is today. I am always amazed at how just as I figure out that I need or want â€œXâ€ tool or feature, it appears or has been just recently been added in. LOL, although the speed at which new features appear does often leave me feeling like a newbie all over again, it always gives me something new to learn. I could probably spend years learning and trying to master the features and tools that Blender has now.
What made you decide to start the Blender Art Magazine?
LOL, well that is a long story. I am a total information junkie and when it comes to Blender; it borders on downright obsessive. I always loved the old Community Journals and was so excited when the Blenderman magazine was first introduced. Consequently I was totally bummed when both were discontinued. Then there was the promised Blender magazine from Blenderman.org.
In fact, that is where I met gaurav. Well when it became obvious that the printed magazine was not going to materialize, gaurav and I were chatting one day . . ., okay we were actually whining and moaning because we didn't get our promised magazine. The immortal words were uttered. â€œWe should make our own magazine!â€
After a few months of kicking the idea back and forth, Blenderart Magazine was born.
Who are the major players in the publication of this magazine?
The original team was just Gaurav and I; soon we gained other team members that have made the job of putting out a magazine much easier.
Gaurav Nawani â€“ Editor/Designer: Gaurav is in charge of collecting Gallery submissions and layout of the magazine. He also writes articles/tutorials.
Sandra Gilbert â€“ Managing Editor: Sandra is in charge of organizational issues. She puts out the Call for Content, Posts when new issues are ready for release. Coordinates with contributing authors, proofs articles and writes articles/tutorials.
Nam Pham â€“ Webmaster: Nam keeps our website running smooth and helps us with the proofing.
Kernon Dillon â€“ Proofer: He helps us with all our proofing.
Derek Marsh â€“ Proofer: Our newest member, he will be helping with proofing and when time allows, writing articles/tutorials.
We had recently put out a call for proofers/translators and received a huge response, so there will be more members to our team shortly, as soon as we get them all organized.
Could you elaborate for the readers the process involved in getting this publication ready?
There is a very good reason why our release cycle is every two months. It takes that long to get everything organized. Here is a breakdown of how it all goes together:
- Call for content is posted
- Articles and gallery submissions start trickling in over the month.
- I start the proofing process, then send the articles on to our proofers for further proofing
- Gaurav and I write whatever articles/tutorials we were contributing to the current issue.
- About a week before scheduled release, gaurav and I talk over any issues/problems with the magazine and decide the theme for next issue.
- Gaurav gathers all materials and starts layout of the magazine
- Nam, Kernon, (and now Derek) and I proof the complete magazine
- Gaurav makes any necessary corrections
- Final mag is given to me, Nam and I go down a checklist to make sure we covered all our bases for release, i.e. informing mirrors, uploading to our website, posting news on our front page
- I post to the various websites that the release is ready for download
- We all take a deep breath and hope we didn't mess something up, then rest for a week or so and start all over.
Which of all of the issues published in the past year has been your favorite?
Hmm, that would have to be Issue #4 Character Modeling, although Issues #2 and #5 would be a close second. Then again I am really excited about the upcoming issue as well.
What do you see for the future of Blender Art Magazine?
Actually that is something that Gaurav and I are going to have to sit down and talk about here shortly. Having reached our 1 year anniversary is something of a milestone that we really hadn't thought about until it got here. I know Gaurav would like to do some fundraising for the Blender Foundation, perhaps sponsor some contests. I do know that we are committed to keeping the magazine free for readers, but whether we will accept sponsors or advertisers has yet to be decided.
Would you suggest any body else trying to undertake a similar Blender magazine?
I would welcome more publications about Blender. In my opinion, the more the merrier. For anyone considering the idea here are some things to keep in mind before you start.
- Sit down and work out a clear idea of what you want to convey with your publication
- Make a mockup before you actually get started, so you have an idea of how it will look
- It takes a lot of work to put out a regular magazine/journal, make sure to give yourself plenty of time for each issue
- Try and stay organized, create and use a checklist of things that need to be done for each issue, then make sure they all get done so nothing is forgotten
- Get the community involved with writing of articles/tutorials; don't try to do everything yourself
- Proof, proof and proof a whole bunch more; mistakes stand out and the readers will catch them and tell you about it
What are some of the ways that the community can contribute to this magazine?
The biggest contributions the community can make are to continue to submit articles/tutorials and images for the gallery. We have received a lot of great submissions over the last year. We appreciate it and encourage everyone to give it a try.
Do you have any final comments for the BlenderNation readers?
I would like to thank all our mirrors; they have made it much easier to distribute Blenderart. And of course all our contributing authors deserve a big round of applause and an even bigger hug. Blenderart is as successful as it is because of the overwhelming community support we have received over the last year. The quality of articles/tutorials has been amazing. I would also like to thank the blender community itself. The support we have received has been nothing short of amazing; from the volunteering of mirror sites, the contributions/submissions to the readers' positive response to our efforts.