Ray Caesar
Issue: Volume: 27 Issue: 6 (June 2004)

Ray Caesar

First of Days "Some of us are never really born and remain forever in a self-imposed womb."

Companion "Real skin is multicolored, translucent, and full of pores, freckles, and veins, all of which must be re-created in CG for it to look real."

Bubbles "A child blowing bubbles is a symbol of the fragility of life."

Bride (with inset study) "I collect textures, like these, the way some people collect little silver spoons."

Every picture tells a story, but in the case of artist Ray Caesar, his digital imagery speaks volumes. His work has been described as immaculate fragments that when layered together are more like puzzle pieces than individual pictures. While the pieces appear related, they never completely fit with any of the others. As a result, his visual narrative changes depending on the order in which the pieces are viewed. The main cast members in Caesar's story are mysterious doll-like children from the turn of the century that are vibrantly colored and, despite their depiction in a portrait style, appear to be brimming with life.

"I don't really think I chose the style; it's just been part of my work since childhood, whether I'm working in 3D, paint, or pencil, and the imagery keeps evolving," Caesar says. "I'm not sure I can work any other way." Having a major impact on his style was the joy and sadness he witnessed while working in the art and photography department of a children's hospital. Also influencing his work were the deaths of his mother and sister, which triggered "a series of strange dreams that encouraged me to pursue my dream of producing fine art."

To create the pieces, Caesar models the children with NURBS in Alias's Maya, adding a bone structure that allows him to pose and position the figures within a 3D environment, while an intricate facial rigging system enables him to achieve a wide range of expressions. The texture sources vary: Some are hand-painted in Photoshop; others are acquired from photographic sources that he collects. After rendering each object separately, he composites some 60 to 70 layers for each image.

A sampling of Caesar's work is featured on these pages. Additional information about the artist can be found at www.raycaesar.com. —Karen Moltenbrey

Merchant of Dreams (with inset study) "I often dream of this lighthouse on Presquile Point, which was within walking distance from where I grew up. I have a great admiration for those who build and maintain these structures. If unconditional love l

The Healing Light "I see my pictures as reflections of the human soul. For 17 years I worked in a hospital where so many children couldn't live their dreams, so I decided to live my dreams for them through my artwork. Isn't it too bad that there ar