Things 3D illustration can do as well as photography… but cheaper
When it comes to still life, the results are virtually the same—3D or photography. That’s because the process is the same—lights, lens, camera, and something in front of the camera. Models of just about anything are available to purchase—from Airbus to zucchini you can find it. Take these images for example (Notice the coke bottle, water drops and splash—this model is available for $79 and can be positioned from any angle 360°—also available in low resolution for long shots and high resolution for closeups). The VW Maggio RS model placed in a realistic 3D interior and lit properly shows how difficult it is to distinguish between photography and 3D illustrations. Many of the car commercials you see on TV use 3D models rather than photographing real ones because of the ability to add special effects that would normally be cost prohibitive.
What you can’t find, it is easier and less expensive to make a model than to make it in the real world. Here are 3 examples:
1. The milk splash model was created as a virtual clay model in ZBrush by pushing and pulling on a sphere until all the details of the shape were modeled.
2. The Sperm and Egg front porch was built exactly the same way you would build a studio set. Each board and spindle were constructed and placed until the facade of the house was complete. Then various materials were applied to the surfaces and the set was lit and models of the sperm and egg were added. (Click on image of Egg and Sperm to see porch model from different angles.)
3. Models of three fungi had to be made because there were none to purchase. The first image of the aspergillus fumigatus shows how it is constructed out of chains of cubes and the next image shows what the model looks like when smoothing is added. (Click on image of man to see model making image of fungus.) Even the man is a 3D Poser model morphed to create a middle-aged and somewhat overweight man with thinning hair rather than incurring the cost of a photography session with a real person.