Portfolio - Greg Vilk
Issue: Volume: 30 Issue: 1 (Jan 2007)

Portfolio - Greg Vilk

The Leper from Calidon This image was inspired by Calidon, a Greek island that was the site of the last leper colony in Europe. It was the artist’s first attempt to simulate the look of a medieval oil painting on a wooden panel.

Lord of the Flies The distant terrain in this piece of a demonic centaur on the prowl was modeled with G-forge, an older terrain-generation tool.

Notre Dame de Industrie To create this image of a futuristic oil refinery looming large like a cathedral, Vilk used procedural displacement for the surface detail.

Professional digital artist Greg Vilk believes in the marriage of high-end CG and fine art. He unites the two in his work visually and methodically, creating his own shaders and graphics networks to create a specific look, just as the old masters mixed their own paints, and using crowd systems and terrain generators for background imagery, just as apprentices handled the more mundane aspects of painting for a master.

A TD in the film industry, Vilk learned technical and programming skills at studios including PDI/DreamWorks and Digital Domain. Technically, film work has taught Vilk how to make a 2k image hold up in terms of detail and realism, for instance. Lately though, he has been devoting more of his time to digital painting, which he finds more stimulating than the film work.

Style-wise, Vilk’s biggest influences are from the Northern European Gothic painters Bosch, Grunwald, Durer, and Beksinksi. "I call my style ‘digital Gothic’," he says. To this end, Vilk contrasts the fantastic, modern subject matter of his pieces with their aged, weathered appearance (akin to medieval paintings). "They’re meant to look like artifacts left by an imaginary alien culture that combined advanced technology with the mentality similar to our Dark Ages."

To accomplish that weathered appearance, the artist creates custom shaders and compositing networks set up within Side Effects Software’s Houdini. These include a brush stroke shader that enables him to procedurally re-create the look of strokes applied by a human painter, and an L-System-based network that covers his art with a pattern of cracks, stains, and grime.

A sampling of Vilk’s works appears on these pages. For more information about Vilk, visit http://www.darkheaven.com/. —Karen Moltenbrey

Ferox The Freudian "id" is a primeval malice buried deep in the flesh, a concept depicted here u sing a procedural 2D stamping process for creating the tangled, organic shapes.

The Host of the Iron King This piece evolved from an illustration Vilk created for a sci-fi concept of a nomad natio n that f ollows its leader across deserts to the Promised Land; the leader is a mechanical colossus constructed ages ago by a mysterious artisan. Here, the calvary was crafted using a crowd generator.

Paradise Lost Inspired by the common gravestone motif of a weeping angel, the artist crafted this image using a custom paintbrush shader for the character’s tunic, simulating the brush strokes of a human painter, as opposed to the random strokes offered by various plug-ins.