Interview with Necronomicon

by Mr Ed (October 1999)

    Hello Necronomicon.

    First off, lets start by introducing yourself to our readers. What is you're name and age? 
    Where do you live? Stuff like that.

    Well, my name is Quoc Duy Nguyen, 21 years old, single, living in Weert. It's a small city in the south of the Netherlands. I was born in Vietnam but have been living in the Netherlands for the last 20 years. At the moment I'm a student at the Eindhoven university of technology, studying chemical technologies.

    I would have thought you'd study something like architecture. :)

    Yeah, people are surprised that I study something that is apparently so un-computer-like.

    Please tell us what type of person you are. Are you the shy type or more of an outgoing person?

     I'm a fairly close person, not really outgoing, prefer a few very close friends above loads of friends. This means that a don't really know that many people in the demo scene. I like good books (1984, Lord of the Rings), good movies (Kubrik, Akira Kurosawa), my musical taste range from classical to progressive metal (Tiamat, Devil Doll), my art taste range from expressionism to surrealism (Dali, Giger). Does that say enough about me :)

    Indeed, it does :) When and how did you get interested in computers?.

    My first introduction came with the good old Commodore 64. And like every kid at that time the only think I did with it was play games (Way of the exploding fist!!). In 1990 (I think) my father got us our first PC (386 40Mhz with 1Mb videocard!!) and my horizons got bigger. I still played loads of games but I also dabbled in some programming, music and of course graphics.

    When and how did you get interested in raytracing? Probably not on the good old Commodore 64. :)

    Well, actually I did start drawing on the Commodore, using some stupid logo-like programming language. The first introduction to raytracing was when I got a copy of POV. I used to like Lego and model planes/robots and I love drawing (preferably with pencils). Combining these two to make 'real' 3d models on the computer seemed the logical step. Pov was nice but I really got going when I got 3D Studio 3.0.

    How did you go from there? I'm curious to know on what kind of computer you're working now and what program(s) you use?

    After 3d studio 3.0 came of course 3d studio 4.0. I think the largest part of my pictures were made in 3ds4 on a 486 66Mhz. (This surprised a lot of people at the time because they expected me to have some ninja Pentium PC). After 3ds4 came 3ds max 1.0 which sucks!! It really sucks. Thanks to some people I know in the scene I got a copy of Maya NT 1.0 which rules!!! It really rules. I've defenetly kicked 3ds max out of the window and became a Maya worshipper. This did create some problems in Quad because nobody had a Maya-to-3ds converter. This did dampen my 3d object contribution to Quad demo's. At the moment I'm using Maya Unlimited 2.0 on a dual P3 450Mhz with 256Mb memory and a 3DLabs Oxygen Vx1 videocard.

    How did you get you're handle?

    Necronomicon comes from the book Necronomicon (Book of dead) and is supposedly written by the mad arab Al Azif. The book contains al sorts of evil demon summoning rituals and incantations and the sort. Pretty interesting reading, there are loads of 'authentic' copies on the net (written by H.P Lovecraft). It's also the name of one of H.R. Giger (my favorite painter) art books. When Skin asked me what my handle would be when I joined Quad, the name just popped into my mind. His first reaction was: 'Whaat??'. Actually the fact that I'm named after a book is a little bit lame. Still it's better than being named Holy Bible or Encyclopedia Britannia.

    Hehe..a whole lot better. And how did you get interested in the scene?

    In 1995 Skin, Sarix, Arzamas and I formed the demogroup Quad. Before that I didn't know the scene existed. Joining Quad gave me the opportunity to enter my pictures in gfx compo's. (Checking out the competition) Unfortunatly I was one of the very few in the Netherlands doing 3d raytrace / rendering graphics which means no raytrace compo's. Getting your picture compared to other 2d art is not really ideal. I think it was my very first entry at Bizarre '95. My picture got disqualified because they thought I ripped it off Rise of the Robots or something.

    No kidding? Now THAT must have been frustrating. What did you do after that incident? Did you try harder to get things released or change style or something like that?

    Well, I send Skin of barking up a few trees trying to get a real raytrace compo. The problem was the lack of raytracers in the Netherlands. This means few entries and even fewer people who can judge these entries. You can't really expect 2d-art people to judge 3d-art or to organise a compo for 3 people. So I just waited. I think it was in 1997 that the first real raytrace compo was held in the Netherlands ( Takeover '97). There were enough serious entries and enough people who will not get instantly blinded by a cute lensflare. (I won of course.. grin)

    You won with the "Angels" picture, right? The angel character found in "Angels" and "Death Angels 2", have you modeled her yourself from scratch? If so, could you describe the creation process? And how long did it take?

    Ahem...well actually the basic female shape I got from a clipart database or something like that. The rest (wings, armor, weapons) I did myself. I made that picture in 3ds4 and its almost impossible to efficiently create a human shape from scratch. With Maya you can do these things (with nurbs surfaces). If you look at Stasis or Archangel for example; the humanoid figures there I made from scratch using nurbs. I usually base my picture on some pencil drawing I already did. This just gives the basic idea and from there on it's just creating the model 'on the fly' without pre-drawn schematics or something like that. Sculpting surfaces (This ability is a huge advantage of Maya), making up things as you go and sometimes deleting an afternoons work because it doesn't look right.


    With humanoid figures I always draw just the naked figure first, the rest is clothing and can be put on afterwards. A good (anatomically correct) figure means a good animation skeleton which means a lot less trouble positioning your figure in the final scene. I usually make my models as complete and as tight as possible, just that you don't see it on the picture doesn't mean it's not there. 

    As for the amount of time I spent on 1 picture, well it normally takes me a couple of months to draw a whole scene, but then again I don't work 24 hours a day so really can't give you a accurate estimate.

    What is the hardest part of making a good raytrace picture?

    I think it's finding the balance in model complexity. I for one am not that good in making textures so I always have the urge to make my models too complex, too detailed. Some things can be done more easily with textures or faces for example. This might make your model faster and tighter at the 'slight' expense of detail. Another thing is making the final rendering 'interesting'. You've just made a very good model, the question now is how to position the model, lights, background etc to make a overall good and interesting picture and not one which just focuses on your model. A lot of pictures have good models but absolutely no sense of composition.

    Youíre not a good texture maker? Do you always make youíre own textures or do you have outside help?
    A pixeler maybe?

    No, I usually create textures by manipulating fractals or existing pictures from various sources. I very rarely create textures from scratch using some 2d graphics program. You might notice the lack of decals and the like in my pictures.

    Do you have any guidelines for you're picture's composition?

    If you look at fantasy art (Boris Vallejo, John Howe), the paintings always have a story. This is what I try (emphasis on try) to do. Good art does not only mean that the drawings well made but also that it tells a story or evokes emotions.
    This is difficult with 3d art because it has the tendency to be sterile....

    Maybe I'll  get this right at Takeover 2000 :)

    Which of your own images do you consider as the best one and which was the most difficult to create?

    I think the picture I'm most proud of is Stasis. I used a lot on new things (skinning, particle systems, nurbs) and it worked out quite well.

    Most difficult so far I must say is Arch Angel, the model is not completed yet so it's not really a finished picture, I have to get the softbodies working right. I got really bugged down by my old computer, but with my new one I should be able to make it work (expect some more archangel pics).

    Could you tell me what productions you've worked on?

    Exclusively Quad productions; I've made pictures, 3d objects, 3d scenes for Kamikaze, Perception, Addicted and of course Focus (1st at Bizarre 97).

    Here's a question from GFXzone staffmember Wishbone. He would like to know what subject you prefer in modeling (girl, robot, landscape,...)?

    I like doing humanoid figures, I used to model a lot of robots but I nowadays mostly draw more organic (female) figures. I might do a robot again someday.

    Who are youíre favourite artists?

    You mean in the scene or in general??

    Good point :)  How about pixel artist, raytrace artist and general?

    Pixel artist is simple : Made, this guy got style. Raytrace is more difficult, there aren't many dedicated raytrace people around and they're all pretty good, some better than others but I don't have a clear favorite. (If you discount al those Industrial Light and Magic people). In general I would say my favorites are definitely H.R. Giger and Salvador Dali, second place are Escher, Boris Vallejo, van Gogh, Michelangelo and a couple more. The list is quite extensive.

    What is you're favourite demo/intro?

    I really can't tell, Why?? because those fucking things refuse to work on my PC. It's because of my video card, it's just too specialized.

    You've been quiet in the scene for almost a year now. Why was that? Study? And when can we expect new stuff and production from you?

     It's a combination of study, slow computer, no inspiration and bad luck. Also I'm getting to old for this business :). I'm planning to make a 'comeback' at Takeover 2000 with new pictures and probably animations.

    Iím looking forward to it :) Ok, last question. Do you want to say hello to anyone?

    Well....... everybody at Quad of course and everybody else I know and care about :)

    Thank you for you're time Necronomicon.

    There's never enough time to do things right but always enough to do things over. (Murphy's law).

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