Saturday, November 29, 2008

of caves and wolves: Leben Schnabel

Posted by Alpha Auer

In my long gone days of newbiedom I once went to a classical music concert. Truth be told, surrounded as one is with the VIP crowds at the newbie hangouts, I was just at that point where you begin to wonder if this Second Life® is all that it is cracked up to be? Should I even make the effort? And where were all the interesting people for heaven's sakes? Surely when people talked about creative endeavor in the metaverse they could not be referring to all the galleries with nice little framed JPEG's hanging on their nice little, oh so RL, walls? Or could they? So, as I sat there, pondering my desolate virtual life, this extraordinary figure came along and sat down right next to me. And I went "a-ha! That is what metaverse creativity is all about!". And stayed.

That extraordinary figure was Leben Schnabel. We became "friends", but never really hung out. One day I noticed that Leben was no longer on my friend's list. Which was only what was to be expected in the social turmoil of the metaverse - we had gone our separate ways.

And then, a month or so ago, I was out shopping with my furry friend. Now, she is a difficult one to please: Basically at that point in time, all the combined efforts of all the furry avatar designers out there had not been able to come up with an avatar that lived up to her finicky requirements. And then, finally at AnthroXtacy, we clapped eyes on the most extraordinary wolfess. And lo and behold, when examined, the creator of this gorgeous creature turned out to be none other than Leben Schnabel.

Leben Schnabel's work consists almost entirely of sculpties, which he crafts personally and onto which the textures are individually "baked".

It is very difficult to believe that Leben Schnabel is not a full time professional artist or designer in Real Life, and one of a very high caliber at that, given that the building as well as the texturing of both his avatars and his caves are amongst some of the finest that I have seen in Second Life to date. And not only that: Mr. Schnabel, who manages the development of large virtual game projects in Real Life, displays a most charming modesty regarding his remarkable talent:

"I am nothing but a hobby 3D artist. I needed a creative outlet to accompany my management related profession, and Second Life proved to be ideal for that. The natural grace and overall aesthetics of many predators fascinates me as much as human anatomy. So trying my hand at mixing the two areas seemed like a fun project.

The Lioness avatar is a private creation, designed for a close friend of the artist.

My take on SL art might be a bit strange: I was always fascinated by breaking through the barriers of limited systems. And in terms of 3D graphics SL is very limited compared to recent 3D games. So one of my goals was to find ways to produce SL graphics that seem to be much more detailed than what SL could normally render. Because of that aspect I don’t see myself as an artist so much, but rather as a craftsman. This self-conception might also come from the fact that the term “artist” is used differently in my native German where an artist has to have some kind of artistic vision. I personally don’t want to make any statements about the human condition with my graphics – I just have fun with my obsession for details and the fact that I can give people the means to express a part of their personality with my avatars. That, for me, is a wonderful aspect of working in SL. As fleeting and transient as our work is in this medium, for a while, people relate much, much stronger to it than to, for example, an expertly painted picture. Typically, people look at a picture for merely seconds, of maybe minutes if it speaks to them on some level. Somebody who wears my avatars or has his or her virtual home in one of my caves, might spend months in a close relationship to my work. That is one of the things that I absolutely like about making content for a virtual world."

The caves are beautifully "lit" through the implementation of a range of finely graduated textures of varying lightness values and hue.

Mr. Schnabel also builds caves, based upon commission. While his home cave is closed to the general public, an exquisite smaller, modifiable version can be viewed (as well as purchased) from here. Many different versions of both genders of the wolf avatar can be obtained from here. A collection of large sized photos of Leben Schnabel's avatars and caves can also be viewed on my Flickrstream here.


Anonymous said...

Creating a "furry" avatar has always been something I've been interested in, though I've always been put-off by the "cartoon" motif that most furry av makers seem to lean toward. These designs are most impressive and inspired. I will be looking more closely at these.

Alpha Auer said...

Yes, there really are very few out there that can escape that cartoonish look it seems. But even amongst the ones that manage to do so, Leben Schnabel, to me, is still in a class apart...

However, having said this, there are some others definitely worth a post also and I shall be undertaking that in due course as well.

Nara Tairov said...

Leben is indeed an art, and 3d dynamo, for as little credit the silly wolf dragon gives himself. He is now comeing out with a lion as well for his Instinct line, so far they look phenomenal!I find it so mind blowing that this is his first av to boot.

I've just recently taken some glamour shot's of him, if you are intrested in looking.