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Q&A With Model Maker, 3D Visual Artist, Software Programmer & Web Designer Thomas Thomassen

Thomas Thomassen, better known to Forum members as ThomThom, is a model maker, 3D visual artist, software programmer, and web designer. He currently makes 3D models and visualizations for an architecture firm in Trondheim, Norway, and in his spare time, has released over 40 SketchUp plug-ins.

A long distance friend of the Chaos Group USA (formerly ASGVIS) team, Thom contributes countless hours to support V-Ray for SketchUp forum members with his tips, solutions, and critiques. He also played an important part in the development of the latest build of V-Ray for SketchUp (version 1.49.01). According to Chaos Group USA Programmer Devin Kendig, "ThomThom not only reports bugs, he goes so far as writing code to fix bugs! He helps by answering questions about our product on the forums too. He's practically a member of our staff and an asset to our team."

In this Q&A Thom reveals his experience in the 3D industry, why he uses V-Ray, and what he does when he's not designing, rendering, and programming.

Q&A With Model Maker, 3D Visual Artist, Software Programmer & Web Designer Thomas Thomassen

Let's start from the beginning. Where are you from? Where did you study? Who do you work for? And what do you do?

I'm from Trondheim, Norway and I studied BA (Hons) Modelmaking for Design and Media at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, England. I’m currently employed by ARC Arkitekter, and architectural office in Trondheim. I make models and visualizations for their projects.

How and why did you get started with SketchUp? Did you use any other modeling programs first?

I started using SketchUp when I began my job at the office where I work at now. SketchUp was the modeler of choice there. I had previously seen a quick demonstration of SketchUp, and used the trial briefly, but was otherwise a completely newbie. At the institute where I studied we used 3d Studio Max and Rhino, though the course I took was mainly physical models.

Q&A With Model Maker, 3D Visual Artist, Software Programmer & Web Designer Thomas Thomassen

When were you introduced to V-Ray, and why did you decide to give V-Ray a try?

After getting comfortable with SketchUp I began looking around for rendering solutions. I tried various engines, trying them out to see which one I felt comfortable with. Unbiased renders was ruled out quickly as I didn't have the patience for them. I couldn't have a large render bake for a whole day. Some other engines had very easy setup, but I felt they were a bit too simple and didn't provide the features I wanted. V-Ray for SketchUp caught my attention. I'd heard a lot of good things about the V-Ray engine in general and it was the render engine that eventually stood out.

What did you like, and what didn't you like when you first started using V-Ray?

I liked the speed. It was faster than the most which allowed me to get the work done in time. But there was a mind-boggling array of properties to control. I still don't have full control over it all. The good thing was that V-Ray had many tutorials out there so there was plenty of learning material, though the abundance was overwhelming at times. For a long time I didn't adjust many of the settings and just used mostly defaults. I found that making small test scenes to experiment with a very small set of settings helped in learning what the various properties did. I still make lots of these test scenes to explore solutions for producing final renders.

Q&A With Model Maker, 3D Visual Artist, Software Programmer & Web Designer Thomas Thomassen

Which plug-ins have you developed, and what do they do?

I have currently released 44 plug-ins. They have been developed based on my needs when modeling with SketchUp. Many solve repetitive tasks which saves me lots of time. They are all listed and distributed from the SketchUcation.com forum. Nearly all of them are free, as in beer. But I have one commercial plug-in, Vertex Tools, which adds vertex editing capabilities to SketchUp.

Along with updates to Vertex Tools I am planning a new commercial plug-in, Bezier Surface. It is currently under experimental development.

Plug-ins are the single reason why I haven't pushed for a different modeler at the office. They allow me to custom fit SketchUp exactly to my need. And with my background in doing web design, on a hobby and freelance basis, I already had the knowledge of scripting which made SketchUp a very good tool for my needs. It allows me to model and make graphics while also satisfying my programming interest.

Q&A With Model Maker, 3D Visual Artist, Software Programmer & Web Designer Thomas Thomassen

What or who inspires you?

People who are passionate about their work. Within any discipline, those who enjoy what they do and always strive to improve are the ones that do the best job.

What is your favorite V-Ray render, by you or someone else, and why is it your favorite?

There are so many extremely good V-Ray renders, but SilverShadow's V-Ray for SketchUp renders are some of my favorite. The level of detail is very impressive.

What do you do when you're not designing, rendering, or programming?

I do traditional archery with the local archery club. I try to go at least once a week. It's one of the few interests of mine that doesn't involve computers, so it's good to get away from the monitor.

Discover more about Thomas Thomassen at thomthom.net and sirethomas.deviantart.com.

Cross posted from www.chaosgroup.com

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