7 reasons why virtual models are better than life models.

Life models vs virtual models: round 1
Something someone said to me the other day made me think of the many reasons I choose to use 3D as reference material for my art. In my mind, 3D has so much potential for artists, in so many ways. I often laud the cost savings of using virtual models as opposed to real ones, but that is such a small part of why I use it now. I have models lining up to work with me, I spend a lot of time and money on my 3D and I frequently bang my head against the wall while working on a render. So why do I prefer it? You see, the beauty of 3D is that it is based in reality, but only limited by your imagination.

1. It’s always available. Unless you live with your model you are going to have to wait for them to get to you- losing valuable inspiration time!
2. It’s patient. Even the most professional model won’t sit in their pose while you adjust the lights, the surface textures, the colors, the room, their skin, for hours and hours. And hours and hours. Then go away for a day and come back to it and tweak it for a few more hours.
3. It’s forgiving. I don’t want to offend my model of the day by telling them that I need to add a little more here or shave off some there, and If I change things up in the eventual piece it’s not going to create an issue. I know most models won’t care, but I always worry offending people- and worry gets in the way of art. There is no place for misunderstanding in 3D.
4. It’s flexible. I can have a model hovering in a backflip for as long as I need, I can freeze a moment in time while I tweak the lighting and the colors, the volume and the mood. I can use any angle, I can make the pose very mundane or I can take it beyond the realms of the human norm and distort and abstract things while still maintaining a sense of reality.
5. It’s quiet. I’m introverted, I need privacy in my studio and i’m very demanding. 3D allows me to do what I need to without worrying about feelings or being interrupted. I can be my own, caustic self without feeling like I have to put on a front. It also means that the only person I talk to is myself, and I talk to myself a lot! It gives me space.
6. It’s..3D.. A lot of you may be thinking that I could achieve a lot of these with photographing the live model and using the photograph for my reference. And you would be right, but photographs are a limited painting resource. The reason so many pieces taken from a photograph look flat is because they use a 2d resource. Now I can hear you thinking, ‘but isn’t that what render is?’ And yes.. But days later when i’m trying to work out what that dark blob is or where the arm went because I changed the angle of something I can virtually walk around the model and see. I can rotate it, change it up as often as I like, and everything is crystal clear. I don’t have to try to re-create it, it’s there exactly how I left it.
7. It’s a guide. The render is not the finished piece, it’s a path along the way.

It really is the best of both worlds! As long as you have the patience and understanding to make it work. It’s harder than life models in a sense, but, for me, it’s the best choice. This may be because i’m a control freak who prefers mindless bots that do my bidding, it may be because i’m a geek and it’s cool and requires no human interaction but mostly I think it’s because I can take my time and get the exact results I want, how I want. It’s my process and it works for me!

4 thoughts on “7 reasons why virtual models are better than life models.

  1. Jeannie, I have a question regarding this issue. It has been argued that when you truly paint the essence of a subject you end up painting their souls, what’s on the inside. Now, I know some people would label this “metaphysical gobbledygook” or something to that effect. However, don’t you think that at some “higher level” a painting of a 3D model from a computer is fundamentally different from a painting of an identical real life model in the same pose? Or, looking at it another way, do you think that, despite the conveniences, there is something you are missing when you employ computer models as opposed to the real thing?

    Just wondering.


    • Hey phantomimic! I’ve been giving this a lot of throughout lately, both because of your comment and someone else’s on my Facebook. I think I am going to have to dedicate an entire post in response because this hits at the very heart of what I paint and why, it goes to the heart of identity and the soul of painting. I don’t think it’s metaphysical gobbledygook at all! A lot of painting is very emotional and spiritual, personal, all that sort of thing. I think I will have to keep exploring this topic until I reach an answer 😉

  2. Pingback: 7 reasons why life models are better than virtual models « Jennie’s Palette

  3. Pingback: 7 reasons why life models are better than virtual models | Jennie's Palette

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