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A Day in the Mind of a Roll of Tape


By Robert J. Tiess:

From my "Common Objects Uncommonly" series. Technical note: Pure Blender internal render.

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About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. I thought BlenderNation was for "Fresh Blender News, Every Day" ...
    It's getting more and more like a blog managed by a guy who can't help but copy/paste everything with no attention.

  2. I thought BlenderNation was for “Fresh Blender News, Every Day” …

    I second that, if I want to see what is being made whit blender I'll go to
    I don't mind a post like this if its incredible or if the source files are free.
    But I don't consider this art to be incredible and I don't see a link too any source files ...

  3. And yet, I thought it was artistically brilliant. I sometimes wonder about the educational level of some of the people who post comments that don't seem to appreciate the work of everyone at BlenderNation or those who are creating art. Of course if you look at their spelling, it explains a lot. If you are unhappy, look for the good around you and be greatful. You will find that happiness comes from this sense of appreciation. If you want to be unhappy, focus on all that is not to your liking. There is plenty of both to pick from. That being said, my wish is that you find the things that make you happy, but that is your choice.

  4. I'm always open to constructive criticism!

    Having said that, it's hard to properly keep up with the amount of Blender art being produced and I'd be happy to have one or two people taking on the role of 'Art Editor' for us. You DO need to show a better opinion than 'this sucks!' though ;-)

  5. Neat lighting and use of transparency. I can see that tape roll just thinking about falling apart in my hands. Why do they always do that?!?!

    Thank you for sharing!

    @ anonymous "haters" - lol - If I understand correctly, people send stuff to Bart that is blender-related, and he shares it rather liberally. Of course only about a fifth of the articles I read are of any real interest to me. As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. I can see your point that there are other sites for posting artwork, but one of the things I like about Blender-Nation is that it shares such a broad range of blender-related things. It is because of BN that I even know about many of these other sites. Also, by following BN I come to recognize the names of other artists and get a sense of what they are working on and how they contribute to the community.

  6. Michael Hartlef on

    I like how Blendernation is running. I rather see a reel or an image then have nothing new to look at.

    Good job Bart and all the others who manage this site!

    About the picture: I like it! Very artistical usage of Blender.

  7. Hi, same guy from post 2

    I am not saying that the render isn't nice or that Bart isn't a nice guy or anything.
    Its just that I am expecting news articles from this site and not art, apart from that blendernation is my favorite news site for blender related stuff and I don't have any problem that they copy/paste something (if they do).
    However Robbie Losee succeeded in giving me some insight on why these post are here and why people like that, thank you :)

    @ByronK: some people like it more than others, I don't even consider it as art but I understand (and respect) that others do. But what makes me wonder is how you can judge if someone's happy or not by reading 3 lines that he has written. Taking a negative look at thing may result in something far more positive! I am also sorry that I am not native English, maybe we should only allow you to post ?

    @Bart: I am not really into this kind of art so I can't make a comment on this work but it seems that many people like it so I'd say congratulations :)
    Looking at your website makes me understand why n00bie Said "Haters leave Bart alone!", I see many amazingly good images there!

    @Shiretoko: Don't blame a website/person for using ad's, just use a good ad-blocker (I don't see any ad's at all)

  8. i would agree with the haters here. this piece can be achieved in all of 15 minutes... maybe im missing the spectacularity of this piece?? also directly attacking the haters is rather pointless. your silence says so much more on the web...

  9. @lame @anonymous: This is a little bit more than a 15 minute piece, if you look a little closer; it's a lot more subtle than that. However I understand your comment about it lacking "spectacularity" - unlike some of Robert's other works, this piece is a definite 'beauty in the eye of the beholder' piece

    @Robbie Losee: I concur

    @anonymous (7:56pm): I'm glad that you respect other's opinions (re Robbie Losee). However re: Ad blocking, and this is a comment to all who use Ad Blockers, I wish to point out that, if one considers the ads are probably the only revenue source for a website, is perhaps using an Ad Blocker and still reading the content... stealing? There's a thought on ethics for you.

    @Bart: Ooh, pick me, pick me! :P

    Right, well re: the actual art.
    Robert T. has produced some amazingly breathtaking works in his time ('Like a fish out of water out of a fish', my favorite), and some considerably mediocre works (No Christmas without Christ really didn't do it for me) - it comes with the territory, I suppose. This work is somewhere in the lower middle of that scale. It's subtle, but just a little too... busy; or rather, there is no key point of focus, and that's *really* awkward. Also, with the grey swirly (what is that?) in the background, it's difficult to tell the difference between what is the dispenser and what is the tape; Finally, if one actually looks closer, you'll see that the dispenser design is inconsistent; it has the round part curve down and join with the dispenser head on the side closest to us, but the side that disconnected does not have this curve (most dispensers do try and keep symmetry). Overall, very good, but not great.

  10. @rpgsimmaster:
    About the technical part of ad blocking: I don't consider it stealing, all the files are downloaded to my PC when I watch a website, while I don't hold any copyright I think I can modify(filter) the files on my pc right? That isn't really an excuse.
    About the technical part of ad blocking: he is offering those images for free, if you offer something for free then don't expect anything in return unless you ask for donations or to watch some ad (witch I have no problem whit) for example : I have no problem watching some ad before the actual website comes, but to place it next to the content/info I am trying to focus on ... then it gets to annoying.

  11. I'll agree with @rpgsimmaster that this is "very good, but not great" - especially since comparing it with some of Robert J. Tiess' other spectacular work. I think the "technical note" with this image is well worth repeating however:

    "Technical note: Pure Blender internal render."

    This is a VERY good render, at least compared to anything I've managed. It makes me want to ask Tiess where he found that ever elusive "Perfect Render Button."

  12. @rpgsimmaster: i fully understand the magnitude of the parts involved and cant really see anything past 15-30 minutes on this. the shear fact that the thing has to be taken apart to see the simple gear like parts just over emphasizes this point. now don't get me wrong there are many great works by mr. tiess but the grand majority of them are very small items void of surroundings. i do understand this is necessary to find new lighting, color, and rendering techniques but i dont think i would post every test i've ever done. it's things like this that have separated myself and other blender users and made us venture to more professional 3d forums. posted elsewhere this render would have 0 posts or questions like "nice tape dispenser where's the rest of the room" or "really needs a scene to have any real purpose". the blender forums have always has what i coin "ego stroking" or "fanboyism". it's good to get people started and to keep them producing but at some point it actually starts to hinder your progress. some days are slow on the news and this must be one of them.

  13. Would seem to me that a well respected fellow Blender artist (and advocate for the Blender community) is sharing the news of a series he is working on, as quoted, "From my 'Common Objects Uncommonly' series". As he's inspired and encouraged us with his insightful art, I should think he deserves the respect for the news he has shared with us all. Perhaps look into the rest of the series! As always, RobertT, keep on with the amazing work and thank you for sharing.

  14. Hey, everyone :-) RobertT here.

    Just to clear up any misunderstanding: I did not post this image here nor did I ask it to be posted (it was a pleasant surprise, though, to see it at Blender Nation). This was something I posted at my website for my friends/family/colleagues to check out, that's all.

    About the image:

    This scene came together over four days (probably around a total of five hours of creation time), and the goal, as part of this series that includes several other images and will include more, reapproaches items we see every day but in different ways, some more conceptually than others.

    After buying some tape last week, I was inspired (after fumbling with it to get the tape started) what life might be like if a roll a tape were alive, if, for a moment, we could see into its mind.

    It's an absurd thing, to be sure, but that was a plus for me :-)

    So then I set about trying to portray this lifestyle of spinning, thoughts of being depleted (i.e. running out of tape), mending cut things, being bunched up in a useless ball, and so on.

    Those were fascinating little ideas to me, and I feel like I was able to capture most of that, even as I knew most people looking at it were not going to think that much about it. Tape is not very exciting without a wild imagination :-)

    I do think I sometimes expect too much of people viewing my work, to examine more closely why things are certain ways, but that is nothing that can be controlled beyond simply releasing the image to the world with only the hope it might be seen, not necessarily understood or even appreciated.

    The other half of the effort was not the modeling but the render quality. That took about two hours to finalize.

    Concerning the replies:

    I, for one, am most grateful Bart and others like him in the Blender community, do what they do, committing entire portions of their life to help give dimension, dynamic, and interest to the cause of Blender. How could anyone be anything other than grateful towards such giving people?

    I believe mutual respect for Bart and all our fellow Blender artists and community members is important, indeed essential if we are to remain a true community and exhibit a certain and sincere degree of humanity and professionalism to the rest of the CG community.

    What I post online is only part of what I create, what I feel is the best part. I do reserve the right to post tests and visual experiments at my website, things I feel are part of my creative journey. I do not fear negative criticism. I do not fear failure or nonacceptance. I am not in this for fame or fortune. I do what I do because I love creating things. Anything positive beyond that is a bonus :-)

    This is why I use and promote Blender, and this is why I still, after years and countless projects, enjoy sharing my works and thoughts with the community.

    So, happy holidays to all of you, and best wishes on the new year to come!


  15. I am a member of an art group which tends to play around with traditional flat art and occasionally gets involved a little with clay and limestone. upon suggesting the group look towards learning and teaching digital art forms last meeting I got 100 percent interest. This does not normally happen. From my pov as a casual artist this stuff is great, it shows possibilities to amateur artists on the cusp of becoming something else.

  16. just because it was so simple it didn't look good
    i guess we always expect something unusual,unreal,surrealistic from 3d apps
    it's an opinion
    on the whole great render with blender internal
    i guess it didn't need some gimp doctoring...

  17. To my mind, something is more problematic : I simply can't find a way to read the picture :
    What does the teeth at the bottom right stand for ? What does the black strands stands for ?

    Note for ByronK : I would agree with the author of post 2, many readers / posters are not native english speakers, so be lenient ;) !

    cheers from France

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