The Value of Virtuals?

What is the value of virtual design?

  • I absolutely love it. There should be more of it.

    Votes: 11 22.4%
  • I think it's great most of the time.

    Votes: 10 20.4%
  • I feel strongly both ways.

    Votes: 4 8.2%
  • Virtual design has its place within limits.

    Votes: 20 40.8%
  • I would not put much credence in it.

    Votes: 2 4.1%
  • It should be banned and all virts destroyed.

    Votes: 2 4.1%

  • Total voters
    49
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Disclaimer: I have no PhotoShop or Gimp skills with which to make beautiful virtuals of my trees or any others'. I can't even retouch a photo.

That being said, I wonder about the prevalence of virtual tree design today. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Are there degrees of goodness/badness? Can virtual design in 2 dimensions have any real significance for a three dimensional tree?

We see lots of virts every day online. Some people are more fond than others, some have mad virtual skills and others do not. But what valid uses can we find for virtual renditions, and what uses might be considered invalid or even detrimental?

Please don't just vote! I'd love to see a variety of opinions on the subject!
 
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Bill S

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Chris I am with you on the ability to use the tools for it, but we see some very good virts on a regular basis, which I am sure is good for most of us. The negative to this from my aspect is that I have seen many hand sketches and they seem to be able to give a more 3D aspect, and possibly be of more use locally, unless you scan it so it can be posted up electronically.

If I had to pick a preferance, I would rather see a good sketch, the negative here is havingdrawing skills or lack thereof.
 

irene_b

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Good One Chris!

That being said I wish I could do them!
But I do so love the creative ability of those that can do some good ones!
Hans Van Meer and I have a project we are attempting and we will both post on how it goes from each of our perspectives.
Mom
 

Graydon

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I see it's the week of the poll here on BNut.

Virts - who needs em. Thats my 2 cents. Why? Because one first and foremost needs to see it in your minds eye. To me virts are like coloring books with very little lines. It's a warm and happy feeling once you put down that forest green crayon but will the tree actually be able to grow like that?

I can draw trees all day long but unless the tree understands the sketch and how it needs to respond... well you know.

However - I don't feel so strongly that I feel they need to be banned. I figure they are how some people pass the time while the trees are growing.
 

Attila Soos

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I would replace virtuals with doing sketches. But since they are essentially the same, I have to use the term interchangeably.

I would encourage everyone to use sketches, when contemplating on design. Quick and dirty sketches are the best, just to compare different alternatives and decide which way to go with the raw material. When you have a lot of trees, you may have a brilliant idea about the tree you currently work on, but you may not remember it 6 months from today. It makes a difference when you can actually see your idea on paper: you can quickly realize whether you are going to like it or not.

Great artists used to make a lot of sketches before actually doing their final work. They call them "studies".

So, if you are serious about your art, sketching (using pencil or the computer) is a must.

What I am against, is when I see somebody spending the whole day creating a perfect, life-like virtual of a bonsai, down to the last detail. I think that's a waste of your time - unless, of course, doing virtuals IS your hobby.
 
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Great responses so far, and all over the board on votes! For those who voted and didn't post, please do so, some views voted for are not represented yet.
 

Boondock

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i have the photoshop skills, but I do not have the "bonsai skills" to make a good virt. To do it right, you need both.
 
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I voted for "I feel strongly both ways." I did so because I have seen both good and bad when it comes to virtual renderings. I have seen virtuals where there is no chance that tree would ever achieve what is being shown, it would be a physical impossibility. No one living or dead would have the expertise or willingness to try the thing suggested. I think these are an excercise in futility.

I have also seen virtuals that I thought gave a good impression of what the writer was trying to say to describe their view. I think this may be the highest and best use of them.

But how do virtuals compare to a sketch or drawing? I believe that a sketch or drawing, even a brush and ink drawing, is superior to any virtual in one instance: they must be done in person. The biggest drawback of a virtual is that it is based on a two-dimensional representation already. So one may not understand where branches lead or how the tree is "constructed." Then it becomes an absolute waste of time and may even mislead as to what is possible with the tree.

Unless one has direct knowledge of the tree in person, why would one want to do a virtual?
 

bwaynef

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As others have misunderstood my position on virts before, I'll expound again in as clear a manner as I'm able.

Just as we often ask for pictures of a tree when advice about it is sought, a virtual is similarly helpful in that seeing what someone is talking about is easier than imagining it. I agree with what I perceive to be others' opinions, that virtuals loosely based on a tree, possibly deserving the tag "inspired by a real tree", are nothing more than the manifestation of the creator's whimsy.

I contend that a narrowly-focused virtual, showing, say, the angle of potting, or the angle of a bend is a concise and unmistakable representation of what is being expressed. For that, I don't believe there is a more unambiguous alternative.

Having experienced my written word being taken for something other than my intent, I've witnessed firsthand how unclear and imprecise our language tends to be. Granted, there are others with better command of language than I, so virts may not be as useful for them. For me, virtuals provide an unmistakable image of what I'm trying to depict.
 

irene_b

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I voted for "I feel strongly both ways." I did so because I have seen both good and bad when it comes to virtual renderings. I have seen virtuals where there is no chance that tree would ever achieve what is being shown, it would be a physical impossibility. No one living or dead would have the expertise or willingness to try the thing suggested. I think these are an excercise in futility.

I have also seen virtuals that I thought gave a good impression of what the writer was trying to say to describe their view. I think this may be the highest and best use of them.

But how do virtuals compare to a sketch or drawing? I believe that a sketch or drawing, even a brush and ink drawing, is superior to any virtual in one instance: they must be done in person. The biggest drawback of a virtual is that it is based on a two-dimensional representation already. So one may not understand where branches lead or how the tree is "constructed." Then it becomes an absolute waste of time and may even mislead as to what is possible with the tree.

Unless one has direct knowledge of the tree in person, why would one want to do a virtual?






Exercise :D
Mom
 

grog

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I think they're very useful in general but with some fairly severe boundaries. Primarily the vision for the future of the tree has to be achievable. Sounds simplistic but I think some virts get made that look very nice but there's not much of a chance of getting to that envisioned future.

Also many times you'll see a description of the virt accompanied by something like "You could take tree A, rotate it, chop it, feed it, and end up with tree Z!" Probably due to my lack of knowledge but I'm usually left scratching my head and wondering how the heck A is ever going to be Z.

I would say the more basic the virts the better. Chop here, primary branch here, apex here, rotate potting angle to this, etc.

Edit: Looking back that view's probably colored by my own ability level. There are certainly times when more detail would be appropriate. Restyling a "finished" tree, making final design adjustments on a tree that already has the basic bones of its structure in place etc.
 
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Ashbarns

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I would say the more basic the virts the better. Chop here, primary branch here, apex here, rotate potting angle to this, etc.

This probably is the better analysis as guidance for those needing help with styling or indeed what could be achieved in a realistic manner. A depiction is a more powerful tool than trying to describe what you are getting at with a lot of words. Dan Barton kicked this idea off a fair while back in a programme he devised and it is proving to be helpful especially to novices of 'what could be'. So I believe in the right context the use of the virtual can be invaluable.

Ash :)
 

Smoke

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A depiction is a more powerful tool than trying to describe what you are getting at with a lot of words.
Ash :)
Wonderful analogy.

A virtual is a wonderful depiction of an idea rather than a blueprint for construction.

Cheers, Al
 

Vance Wood

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The practice has its place in two respects: One would be for instructional purposes where one person is trying to visualize his/her ideas about an other's tree/trees. In this case the virtual image must be an achievable goal within the reach of exiting elements of the original tree. Two would be for personal purposes, experimental, practice, or just entertainment. In this case the exercise of imagination is not a bad thing especially during times of the year you cannot work on trees.
 

John Hill

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Chris,
I know you don't like virtuals, because you may not have the ability to do so. I do not have the ability to draw. Yes I can sketch a crude drawing of what I have in mind but it is very crude. I can go out and take a pic of a tree and then start removing branches and even bend them to see if this is what I am really seeing.
How many times have you sat in front of a tree trying to see what you could do next? What could you do to make this tree great in other peoples eyes? ( is this bonsai?) You want to create a piece in your eyes not the eyes of the internet! I know you have been studying with Boon, What does he say about pleasing others? I can hear him now ;)
Virtuals are just a tool. If you are well aware of what a tree can take and what you can do to the tree then you should know if the virtual matches the tree. I know some put branches where branches are not and this to me is not using this tool for what it is. Like me Chris I can not draw but I do have some skills with software and I use it as a drawing board. So why is this a bad thing? I can remove a branch to see what the tree would look like without it before it is to late ;) I can place a tree into a pot before I buy it and spend the money only to find it is the wrong one. Lord I have many of these.
So Chris virtuals to me are a great tool and plan on using it forever. I did not know how to use the software and using layers but I spent alot of time and learned it to get by. I absolutely love it!!!
I know it does not replace the tree itself but it gets the mind flowing and to me this is a good thing.

A Friend in bonsai
John
 
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Don't like virts? By all means, don't use them.

Many people argued against the use of wire when it was first introduced, they finally accepted that it was a valid tool and now almost everyone uses it. Not so long ago, people collected dirt for use as bonsai soil, there were debates on if red dirt or black dirt was the best, dirt from forest floors or from river beds, etc.....then it was loam or peat and sand...now it has all changed, most have changed with it, some dinosaurs have not.

The computer virtual is a good tool if used correctly like concave cutters are a good tool, but only if used correctly. Don't like concave cutters? Don't use them and please don't beat everyone that chooses to use them to death.

Like virts? By all means use them. Can you draw? Great, draw away, but the computer is far better for quick glimpse on what could be, removing a branch on the computer before you actually do it is far easier than drawing a whole tree and you also save a few trees by not using drawing paper for such a simple task. Those who have the talent to draw should use that talent for better things than simply seeing if a tree would look good in a pot.....speaking of which, even the most talented artist can't draw a pot and tree combination that is as realistic as a photograph in anywhere near the time a average virt artist can.

Face it, virts are here to stay. As an example try having a conversation like this and express the same ideas without the use of virts. Without them a lot of creative thought and learning could not have taken place. When Walter Pall was doing "Ask the Master" virts were often used. (I miss Uwe) Lately many magazine articles have included a virt of a possible future of the tree featured. John Naka used drawings very often, drawings of possible futures of a tree, what is such a drawing except a virt done by hand instead of by computer?

Can't do virts? Here's a couple step by step tutorials for photoshop.

In closing, I promise not to tell you what tools to use to create your bonsai and I only ask the same.....





Will
 
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Interesting topic! I make virts now and then, some (very) bad and some decent. I primarily make them for my own entertainment, since I share the opinion that it's almost impossible to give suggestion without seeing the tree in person. I usually make them for ppl that say that they have no idea what to do with the tree, or if I see something that I think would make the tree look better.

I usually do virts on the computer and not by hand since it's easier to get the structure of leaves and bark right. I could make a virt using pen and paper much faster if I just wanted to visualize an idea, but then there's the "trouble" of transferring it from paper to the computer. Then again, depending on the level of accuracy anyone of them could be faster. For me personally, I'd draw a far better near-photorealistic tree with pen and paper than on the computer.

Another aspect is that of practicing the "art" aspect. Everyone seems to be comparing bonsai to 2-d visual arts, so logically making virts would improve those skills even if the virt in question is achievable or not.
 

Smoke

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In this case the exercise of imagination is not a bad thing especially during times of the year you cannot work on trees.
You mean there's a time of the year one can't work on trees? hmmm..
 

Vance Wood

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You mean there's a time of the year one can't work on trees? hmmm..
In Michigan that would be December/January through the middle of April, on average, unless one uses a cold house/frame and does not have to worry about digging their trees out of the ice. I do not have that luxury and most I know do not have it either. In Southern California you can do pretty much what you want most of the year. In Michigan the most important factor in winter storage is keeping the trees dormant as long as possible. A lot of growers around here lost trees because we had some really warm weather early spring March, and some really cold weather in April. Some trees broke dormancy and subsequently had sensitive buds and bark winter damaged even killed as the temperatures plummeted down to near zero for a couple of weeks after near 80 degree weather for a couple of weeks prior to the big freeze.
 
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