"I’ve become increasingly involved in the posing community, making more pictures and trying to constantly improve. Today, posing in Gmod is my number one creative outlet."
- Michael "Vioxtar" Efraim, reflecting on ten years of making art using the physics sandbox game Garry's Mod.
What does it take to make art?
For long-time Garry's Mod player Michael "Vioxtar" Efraim, it can take 116 (individually posed!) ragdolls, 329 effects, 679 props, and about seven months of work.
That, according to a recent interview published on Garry's Mod creator Facepunch Studios' website, is what it took for Efraim to create his "Path of Spawn" landscape (reproduced below) using Garry's Mod.
Efraim is an artist who works in Garry's Mod, and the studio's interview with him is something game devs should read because it showcases how players can use games and game engines to express their own creativity.
The artist says he's been playing with Garry's Mod since 2007, but really got invested two years later (at the age of 16) when he decided to submit some pictures made with Garry's Mod's posing tools to a Facepunch contest.
Efraim won, and since then he's been learning how to create increasingly complex art using the toolset, going so far as to come up with (to himself, at least) a cohesive fictional world exhibited in his work.
"I started asking myself questions: 'What would it be like if there was a world out there populated by players with working Physguns, Gravguns, and Toolguns, and the ability to spawn whatever they pleased?'" Efraim explains.
"This world started to take shape with every picture I put out, and I found myself submerged in a universe that excited me, that sparked my imagination. It was unpredictable, and chaotic, and expressive. I could babble on about it endlessly, but in short: it was the perfect canvas I could project myself onto."
Efraim says his time with Garry's Mod has helped him better understand things like how light plays across a scene, and how to manage textures and distances to create a pleasing picture. Even ten years in, he says he has no interest in moving to other artistic toolsets.
"I feel comfortable with Gmod. I know my way around its tools and menus. It’s still a game, and running around the scene in first person with WASD controls, physics, and guns makes me immersed in the scenes I create," said Efraim, adding that he especially appreciates being able to use Lua to create his own tools.
"I also enjoy the challenges Gmod imposes us with. The Source engine always fights back. I like stretching its limits. I like seeing how real I can get my pictures to look with the 2004 graphics."
You can (and should!) read the rest of Facepunch's chat with Efraim over on the Garry's Mod blog.