• CGNetworks Feature :: CG Chicks - What's up with that?
    CG Chicks - What's up with that?
    Leonard Teo, 19 January 2003

    Let's face it, sex sells. Having worked on CGTalk and EXPOSE', we've seen that the most popular character work being produced has nothing to do with monsters, or robots, nope - it's digital women. What is it that drives artists to depict the voluptuous female form? Why bother creating a computer-generated chick, rather than go out and getting the real deal? CG Chicks? What's up with that?

    We interviewed three digital artists who are well known for their works on the female form - Steven Stahlberg, Rob "Lunatique" Chang and Linda "Enayla" Bergkvist.

    Steven Stahlberg

    Stahlberg is possibly the most prolific digital artist whose subject matter involves CG women. In fact, his company's latest gig involved creating the digital beauties for the promotional material of the Need for Speed Underground game by Electronic Arts. Steven's work has been featured by many magazines, books and websites and consists of both 2D (digital illustrations) and 3D renders. Stahlberg currently resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    CGN: What is it about the female form that attracts artists?

    Stahlberg: I guess most people would agree it's a sexual thing -- not surprising, humans being the most 'sexual' of all God's creatures. The details seem to be somewhat culturally biased - for instance, Americans often prefer bigger breasts, while Brazilians prefer bigger butts - well whatever cranks your engine. In this case I guess I'm more with the Brazilians... :)

    CGN: Why do you, as an artist, prefer to depict females in your work?

    Stahlberg: Well I'm obviously attracted to the subject. Some who complain about artists choosing it just don't get exactly how attractive it is.

    CGN: Do you feel that CG imagery of voluptuous women is degrading to the gender? From your experience, how have females reacted to your artwork?

    Stahlberg: I don't think a woman - or man - with exaggerated sexual traits is degrading to anyone. But then I'm from Sweden and that part of the world is well known for having a very different view of sex than say for instance the USA. But come on - is it degrading to flowers everywhere to paint a rose redder than a real one?

    How they react, it all depends. I've known women artists who love to depict women just as sensualized and idealized as I do, perhaps even more so. I know other women who love to look at it. Then others, who just don't care, find it boring or maybe just a tiny bit silly, shrug and move on. A few are uncomfortable with it. Then I've met some from the 'opposite camp', getting all worked up; to tell the truth that bugs me. They seem to be perfectly fine with Michaelangelo's David. (He also depicted what he found beautiful, desirable, sexually attractive, in an idealised way.) Is that degrading to men? Please. I just wish I looked like David.

    CGN: When you go about creating your imagery focused on the female form, what inspires you, and what are you trying to evoke or express?

    Stahlberg: I'm usually simply trying to distil or capture what is beautiful to me. Other times I also try to evoke some other emotion, it depends on the image.

    CGN: Where do you get references for your females?

    Stahlberg: The internet..? :) Seriously, it's the cheapest, quickest and best way.

    Steven Stahlberg Links
    Optidigit
    Website


    Steven Stahlberg and Alain Zaugg of Optidigit.

    Optidigit's latest work involved the digital beauties for NFS Underground.

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  • Robert Chang

    Rob "Lunatique" Chang is the Taiwanese-American who now lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia working alongside Steven Stahlberg (they literally sit next to each other). Rob comes from a traditional arts background and produces his digital paintings using a combination of Photoshop and Painter.

    CGN: What is it about the female form that attracts artists?

    Chang: I can't speak for others, but for me personally, it's probably a primal thing. I'm fascinated by feminine beauty -- the delicate curves, the creamy, fair skin, the mixture of innocence, sexual allure, pensiveness, coquettish charm, etc. All of those qualities are embedded in the female figure -- it only takes the right gesture to bring it out.

    CGN: Why do you, as an artist, prefer to depict females in your work?

    Chang: We paint what we like -- and I just adore feminine beauty.

    CGN: Do you feel that CG imagery of voluptuous women is degrading to the gender? From your experience, how have females reacted to your artwork?

    Chang: Not really. We can turn the table around and say that many female artists like to paint hunky guys, or androgynous pretty boys (like the shojo manga stuff). In reality, how many guys are "hunky" or can be considered a "pretty boy?" So, why is it all of a sudden wrong for male artists to depict the kind of females that attract them? I've had about 99% very positive reactions from females, because I don't typically portray women as these walking, jiggling curves of flesh. The women I portray have souls, feelings, and even when they are in the nude, there's a certain fragile vulnerability expressed by the nakedness that has nothing to do with lust or sex. Do I like sex and curvaceous sex goddesses? Hell yes. Do I get obsessive about them in my artwork? No. Art can be used to serve a much higher purpose than merely projecting one's own sexual fantasies--and I choose to use my artwork as a platform for my personal expression -- not just my sexuality.

    CGN: When you go about creating your imagery focused on the female form, what inspires you, and what are you trying to evoke or express?

    Chang: For me, that split moment in time where you look at a woman, and she's lost in her own thoughts, and her body language is at a state that's near 100% natural --reflecting the emotions she's feeling at that moment, is the most alluring. I try to do that with my photography a lot -- the "candid style," where it's as if the photographer is not even there. I'm not a big fan of contrived poses and overly blatant exhibition -- although it can be cute when it's done tongue in cheek.

    CGN: Where do you get references for your females?

    Chang: I'm a chick magnet, so I always get what I want. Muwahahahahah!! Ok, seriously, I've never had problems asking girls to pose for me. I'm pretty bold when it comes to women, since I feel that sincerity is the best policy. So, if you are serious about your creative pursuits, it should be obvious to the person you're asking that you're the real deal, not some scheming pervert. I'm very lucky that I have a gorgeous wife, so she shoulders most of the modeling duties. But she's very understanding if I ask other girls to model for me. Hell, she's my photography assistant when I shoot other girls.

    Rob Chang Links
    Interview with Lunatique
    Website


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  • Linda Bergkvist

    Linda is an award-winning artist from Sweden whose digital paintings have been featured both in EXPOSE', CGNetworks and many other art forums. Interviewing Linda was interesting as we got a female's opinion on the subject matter.

    CGN: What is it about the female form that attracts artists?

    Bergkvist: The female body has all the natural, gentle forms that you can find in nature. All the hills, valleys, and soft, smooth planes. There are very few sharp edges, few harsh lines, few unflattering bumps and angles. In itself, the female body is artistic - it's natural for artists to want to depict something like that.

    CGN: Why do you, as an artist, prefer to depict females in your work?

    Bergkvist: Women and men both have beauty in every touch of light to skin and angles, but they're beautiful in very different ways. I choose to paint women when I look for a certain 'look' in my work, and when I instead paint a picture of a man, it's something else I'm angling for. A lot of my paintings are of androgens. Creatures that are somewhere in between and reflect all that's beautiful in both men and women.

    CGN: Do you feel that CG imagery of voluptuous women is degrading to the gender? From your experience, how have females reacted to your artwork?

    Bergkvist: I don't think so, no. Not if presented in the right way. It all depends on the approach: if you present the female body as nothing but flesh, with empty eyes and no conscious thought, then, yes, I find it degrading. A pin-up, for example, can be done in many different ways and personally, I find myself tiring rapidly of the dumb, dull-eyed look of things referenced from porn magazines (or that have the look as if they were). The female body can be depicted with both respect and sensuality, and if this is done rightly, there is nothing at all that is degrading about it. Nakedness and beauty is not something we should have to be ashamed of.

    Artists have painted beautiful women for many, many years and for the most part, I don't think that the purpose behind the paintings was in any way to put women down. Treating your subject matter as nothing but a sex object is, however, not the right way to go about creating an interesting and respectful image.

    So in the end, that entirely depends on the image. I am admittedly a little tired of both men and women in skimpy chain-mail outfits fighting big monsters (with the men so oiled up it's a miracle everything doesn't just slide right off, and the women so heavy-chested I'm surprised they can even stand up straight). I believe the image of both men and women is often more than a bit sexist.

    I have yet to receive a complaint from anyone on how I paint women. Girls tend to like my work because I treat men and women alike in the same way. I try to pick out both beauty and strength in everyone, and to add a touch of darkness and light.

    CGN: When you go about creating your imagery focused on the female form, what inspires you, and what are you trying to evoke or express?

    Bergkvist: I don't paint women in order to paint women. I paint characters and stories, and if the character happens to be a woman, I will try to do her justice with every touch of colour and light. It's not a matter of trying to create something that people will drool over - I will not display skin unnecessarily unless the character calls for it. I try to view my images as part of stories, and as a storyteller, I will show what is needed.

    The inspiration is people all around me. My two best female friends are two very unique women that have always inspired me since I first got to know them many years ago.

    CGN: Where do you get references for your females?

    Bergkvist: Heh, I actually base most of my current work on pictures I've taken of my friends. Prior to that, it was models I found on the internet. I'm sorry to report that I've never searched for references among the more scantily clad and brazen models - it just wouldn't have fit my work very well.

    Linda Bergkvist Links
    Interview with Enayla
    Website

    Discuss the CG Chick phenomenon on CGTalk.com (thread).


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