Ian Crighton

Our first studio visit of 2019- Find out what is useful, of interest, and moving VR creators

2019 is going to be a very busy year for everyone in virtual reality content creation. As more artists are using the technology we will be touring the studios of early VR adopters that are making great work.

First up, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Ian Crighton. He studied HNC Graphic Design and HND Multimedia computing design at James Watt College before going on to work within the press industry. Ian has developed a cross platform artistic approach between digital and traditional.

Ian Crighton, REMIX Kitbash Collection. Available on MPVR

Hi Ian, thank you for taking the time today. Can you tell us about yourself?

Hi, I am an artist based in Scotland, and have been creating artwork in various forms for over 20 years. Some of the work has been traditional, not so traditional, and digital. Gaining a diploma in Art and Design as well as Multimedia computing, I have continued to work on projects ranging from commissioned commercial works, graffiti murals, illustrations and fine art prints. My real passion is for cyberpunk, futuristic, and post-apocalyptic literature. These artistic influences are hopefully reflected in the pieces I produce. It may seem cliché, but for as long as I can remember I have always drawn. Even now, if I am not sculpting, I am either drawing or jotting down ideas for future projects.

What are you up to these days?

At the moment I am currently taking part in the Sculpt January 2019 challenge. The challenge involves producing a thematically prompted 3d sculpt each day by sculpting solely within VR applications and rendering in 2D applications such as Marmoset, Blender or Sketchfab...wish me luck!

Ian Crighton, sculpt January 2019 challenge: Day 19

How did you get into VR?

When I was initially introduced to VR I was blown away by the technology and the ability to create ideas and visualize them in a virtual environment. This ability brings everything in my head to life. I am, and have often been, inspired by the idea of alternative virtual realities and the idea of exploring and expressing artistic creativity within them.

What were some of those influences?

In my youth, I was all about films like Lawnmower Man, Total Recall, Blade Runner, and Aliens. I also read copious amounts of science fiction like the works of William Gibson, Iain M Banks, Phillip K Dick. Still a love and passion, and this still continues to this day.

I can see these influences in your work, especially in Deconstruction. Can you tell me a little bit about this piece?

Ian Crighton, 2018, Destruction

Thanks! It might sound a little cheesy, but I wanted to depict a sense of when artistic thoughts, ideas, and words take flight. It is about that fluidity of expression that comes from this point, a free flow. Now, it all seems a bit literal looking at the sculpt now! [Laughs]

You are known for excelling at creating concepts vehicles, and most recently a lot of characters, what else do you like creating? What is your favourite thing to create in VR?

I have a passion for all things biomechanical as well as vehicular. I usually a sculpt along these lines… that's not to say I don't enjoy exploring other styles. I like to see what can be created from the natural abstract flow of the mind when given a free reign....oh, and I love sculpts involving skulls!I am also making a lot of sculpts with hidden symbolism, and enjoy the smaller details that may not be readily apparent, as it can add narrative to the scene.

Ian Crighton, 2018, Exploded Concept Car

You mentioned science fiction, and in particular cyberpunk and Philip k. Dick. Do these narratives enter your creative content?

Definitely, I think a lot of the time I take jibes at mankind's reliance on technology. This includes my own reliance as well. Theses authors often pointed out that technological progress can have a flip side that exposes the seedier, darker, or more corrupt parts of human nature that always seems to pervade no matter how much we try… I guess it the darker underbelly of things that I’m drawn to.

Anything today you would recommend to readers?

Black Mirror

Exploring how we use technology is a huge tenet of soft SF, as it leads to critical analysis. That said, I would not call you a Luddite by any stretch as you are working in VR. How have you integrated VR into your workflow?

[Laughs] No, I'm definitely embracing it one hundred percent! I'm just aware of both sides of the coin. I use VR to quickly create assets and scenes, and render them out via Marmoset or Blender. Personally, VR is immensely faster when compared to traditional 2d applications.

It is so much easier to get a sense of scale and the impact of the piece by being able to stand in front of your creation.

How would you say your 2D Background helped you create faster in 3D. What is a fundamental you have taken with you?

I definitely still 'sketch out' or wireframe a rough idea before blocking it in or committing to a piece, this allows me to get an idea of the end result. I still treat the colour palette the same way as well. I apply vertex paint as if it was a Warhammer miniature [Laughs]… You know dry brushing the sculpt.

Ian Crighton, 2018 ATV Sculpt
Ian Crighton, 2018, 3D Printed Submarine, Sculpted in MPVR

What is the most exciting part of using MasterpieceVR?

MasterpieceVR allows me to express and immerse my ideas easily, the most exciting part for me is the constant development of the application. Most recently, the addition of clay and mesh tools which are great for kit-bashing content. Having been given the opportunity to create a unique stamp set for the REMIX update was amazing.

Big question here, where do you think VR is headed?

I think VR is headed in the right direction. In terms of user creative content, it should hopefully open up the opportunity for the wider public to express and create in a far more diverse ways. Hopefully we will also see further adoption of VR tools and created content for training and educational purposes within healthcare and other global industries.

What does 2019 have in store?

Well... I am planning on mainly creating VR art, and really looking forward to improving and developing these skills with the evolving technology and software we are seeing. On a personal level, pursuing a career as a full time VR artist.....so if you see or hear of anyone hiring let me know [Chuckles]

What are some non VR related things you are into these days?

I love cycling and can often can be found up and around the islands and hills of Scotland… mostly getting myself wet, cold, and muddy or taking part in charity fundraising events to do with cycling. My current day job is as a bicycle mechanic and mentor within a non-profit organization.

I am a huge fan of alternative music and the culture surrounding it. So, when I can, I also spend my weekends in the city at gigs or venues. I do a lot of travelling within Scotland, painting and sketching landscapes, gaining inspiration from the surrounding environment and enjoying the great outdoors. I also spend a lot of time with my family and kids enjoying drawing, painting, gaming, creating with them… generally chilling out.

Oh, and my current reading material is 'I Lucifer' by Glen Duncan.

Ian, Thank you very much for inviting us into your studio!

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