I'm a self-taught 3D artist and have supported myself (and now my family) for the past 12 years by selling subscriptions to my hi-res wallpaper gallery. A few of my Members have asked that I do an AMA here...

Comments: 1412 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

smellmybellyfluff698 karma


dblasphemy381 karma

Thanks! Fluorescence (http://digitalblasphemy.com/fshow.shtml?i=fluorescence6) is probably the one wallpaper that people most associate with my work.

Jigsus58 karma

I think Blackreach in Skyrim was directly influenced by it. Have you seen Blackreach?

dblasphemy35 karma

Wow. If I had anything to do with inspiring that then I am honored. I'm looking forward to digging into Skyrim after I beat Dark Souls.

[deleted]51 karma

Same for me, 16 when I came across your site. I had no idea you did all these yourself, amazing. How long we're you practicing before finally opening the site? Can you show us the improvement you made over the years by showing us your earlier work?

dblasphemy69 karma

I got my first PC in 1994 and started out by playing with the graphics cd that come with it. I started DB as a project to learn HTML while I was finishing my CS degree in 1997. All of my early work is still available on in my gallery (http://digitalblasphemy.com/seeall.shtml?y=1997&t=) and you can click up through the year links to see my progression.

You will notice that produce way fewer images now that when I started. I can only say that my standards as to what I will post have increased exponentially since the early days.

[deleted]23 karma

do you actually make any money given the nature of digital media distribution

Counterman9 karma

I should think so. This was the very first intangible thing I paid for over the net - heh, it may be the first anything I paid for over the net. It was seriously long ago.

Hey, Mr. Bliss, have you kept your mail archives? I've lost mine from that time, unfortunately. Might be interesting (to me) to see just how long ago it was.

dblasphemy12 karma

It looks like you signed up on December 23, 2002. Thanks for supporting my work!

poker_face223 karma

Will you draw a reddit alien for us?

dblasphemy181 karma

We'll see...

dblasphemy29 karma

NARF_NARF185 karma

How's that server holding up? ;)

dblasphemy219 karma

It's hurting. Realtime Google Analytics shows me over 650 users currently look at my work. I've never seen it over 115 or so. Wow.

JuJuMountainMan168 karma


dblasphemy228 karma

You are correct. It needs a complete overhaul. It's basically the same site that I've been using for the past 13 years with bits of new tech kludged on with duct tape and chewing gum. It works though and everyone tells me not to monkey with something that isn't broken.

cough_e51 karma

Would you be offended if I mocked up a redesign for you?

dblasphemy18 karma

Not at all.

chironomidae23 karma

I used to love DB back in the day. I went back to it maybe a year ago and I was shocked to see it looked identical to how it did some ten years ago... I'd just assumed by looking at it that the site had become essentially defunct and was only kept up because there was no reason to take it down.

I'm glad to know the site is doing well and you actually make a living off of it, but I highly, highly, recommend a site redesign; if only to let people know that the site is doing well and give a more professional presentation to new customers.

dblasphemy13 karma

That is the best reason for doing a re-design that I have heard to date.

chickenbean162 karma

trees much?

dblasphemy314 karma


moralnihilist161 karma

You sir, run the only website I have ever actually paid money to access.

dblasphemy96 karma

I am deeply honored! Thank you!

LeoPanthera158 karma

I love your art and have a lifetime account. Worth every penny.

How popular are the lifetime accounts and how much money do you "lose" on them?

Edit: I've just discovered my "lifetime" account expires on December 6, 2108. As I plan on living forever, could I get this extended? ;)

dblasphemy506 karma

Thanks for supporting my work Leo! Lifetime Memberships account for around 10% of my signups. I would never say that I am losing money on them though as I am sure a fair number of them would never have joined if I didn't offer a lifetime option. Most people, unfortunately, do not renew their yearly Memberships and I refuse to auto-bill people.

As long as my site requires a login for access to certain parts you will have one.

iduno8912149 karma

Hey everyone, it's the neon blue shrooms guy!

dblasphemy153 karma

Don't call it a comeback...

dakkeh148 karma

I'm sorry I stole some of your work like 8 years ago. I was young!

dblasphemy131 karma

Before I can forgive you I need to know what did you did with it.

dakkeh111 karma

I enjoyed looking at it when I had no windows open. I am a terrible person!

It was protist.

dblasphemy43 karma

Is that all? Of course I forgive you and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

quazarjim39 karma

I ask forgiveness as well. I took your beautiful Pyre, photoshopped it a bit to make it a beautiful shade of blue instead of green, and used it as my background for many years. I also cropped it to only show the black silhouette and used as my profile pic in steam. If you need to cut off my hands, I can understand.

Edit: fixed typo.

dblasphemy16 karma

You are free to use my work however you like as long as it is for personal use. No forgiveness needed. I'm glad you found a use for it.

bumbletowne112 karma

How I knew my man was a keeper:

One day i noticed a $100 dollar credit card bill that went to 'the internet'. I asked him about it and he said, 'oh that's for digital blasphemy'. 'WAT IS DIS?', i asked.

He explained how it was an artist he really appreciated and he was always astounded by not only the choice of content but the execution and skill required to create the piece and that he like to support artists that he'd like to see more from. We were starving college students.

We're not starving any more. In fact, we're done with school. We both really appreciate what you do and continue to show our support.

dblasphemy60 karma

Thanks so much! I hope more men take notice of your post.

edits_after_reply109 karma

I like the multiscreen vagina shots.

dblasphemy72 karma

You are most welcome. I think my multiscreen vagina section really sets my gallery apart from a lot of other wallpaper sites.

All_Your_Base99 karma

Not a current subscriber, but I've been an admirer for many years. I've gotten more than a few great backgrounds from you. Also, when ever anyone posts a submission asking about cool wallpapers, DigitalBlasphemy.com always get recommended by me.

Thank you for your site. You rock.

dblasphemy94 karma

Thanks for spreading the word. I don't advertise so your recommendations are what has kept me going all these years.

Omnicrola9 karma

No advertising at all? That's quite amazing that you're able to make enough to live on off of the site.

What is your main reason for not advertising yourself?

dblasphemy5 karma

I honestly can't say why, other than it feels dirty. I've always let my work on people's monitors be my primary means of advertising.

I wonder where would be the best place to put an ad for Digital Blasphemy.

Coraon61 karma

Does the site earn you a good living, or do you need to "keep a day job"?

dblasphemy114 karma

DB has been my day and night job since 1999 and would say that I earn a pretty good living (especially given the economic climate of the past 5 years). I've licensed my art work to various companies and earn royalties for their sales but the lion's share of my paycheck comes from subscribers.

EternalStudent59 karma

Thank you for your awesome work for well over a decade. What is your personal favorite work?

dblasphemy76 karma

You are most welcome! My favorite would be toss-up between Highland Spring (http://digitalblasphemy.com/preview.shtml?i=highlandspring1) and Haiku (http://digitalblasphemy.com/preview.shtml?i=haiku2k72).

ewooding46 karma

How do you come up with the ideas? Are any based on real life places?

dblasphemy82 karma

That is probably my most frequently asked question. Inspiration is sort of like the Pleiades star cluster. You can see it out of the corner of your eye but it fades away if you try to examine it directly. I can say that I rarely use references in my work (sometimes to my detriment) and almost all of my images are directly out of my brain. Exceptions include a render I attempted of the Tetons (http://www.digitalblasphemy.com/preview.shtml?i=purplemountains) and one that was directly inspired by the stepped pyramids of Meeren described in a Song of Ice and Fire (http://digitalblasphemy.com/preview.shtml?i=leaftemple1).

bostonvaulter41 karma

Can we get a reddit discount/coupon code?

dblasphemy44 karma

Well, I don't want it to appear that I posted here to generate business. I just wanted to answer questions. If enough people ask however...

Vladamar39 karma

I was using your Valley 2k wallpaper once when my grandpa walked by. He saw my background and said, "Wow. You really have to be at the right place at the right time to get pictures like that. It's really amazing that people go out and do that kinda thing." When I told him it was all done digitally he didn't believe me. Was sad.

Other than that little story, just wanted to say thanks for the cool work you've done. I've recommended your site to a lot of people.

dblasphemy27 karma

Thanks for sharing and for passing on my work. I never get tired of hearing that type of story.

yotta38 karma

How do you feel about the pirates?

More specifically...

How do you feel about people who are distributing your work for free without authorization?

The people who download it from elsewhere without paying?

What about the jerks who are selling it as their own work?

What do you do about it?

(edit: formatting)

dblasphemy101 karma

I used to have a big problem with people using fake or stolen credit card numbers to access my work. That was a huge problem because each instance cost me between $15-$20 when the theft was discovered (it's called a "chargeback fee").

These fees have decreased markedly with the rise of Bittorrent so (if I could only choose between the two) I would rather people download torrents than steal Memberships. I've also heard of a lot of people discovering my work on the Torrent sites and then becoming Members themselves so there are positive aspects.

Legally, however, I am required to strongly condemn all illict sharing because unprotected copyrights are lost. Between us however, I know that there will always be people who don't want or can't purchase a Membership. I would rather they enjoy my work than not.

Edit: I always take down the people who try to sell my work as their own.

Optimash_Prime26 karma

Hah, awesome. I got introduced to your wallpapers through a coworker. His wallpaper for the longest time was one of yours.

Will you continue to be a redditor after you've completed your AMA?

dblasphemy46 karma

I've lurked here on and off for a while and it looks like one of the strongest communities around. Like every other cool thing online I have to balance the time I spend on it with the time I spend doing actual work.

iamnotfreud26 karma

  1. Did you attend university? If yes, what did you major in?
  2. Do you have any other jobs besides running the site?

Your work is amazing btw.

dblasphemy33 karma

Thanks! I earned a BA (English) and then later a BS (Comp Sci) from the University of Iowa. I've worked as a busboy, a bookseller (B. Daltons), pre-school teacher, technical writer and web programmer.

einmalistkeinmal23 karma

Pretty awesome, I've used your wallpapers periodically since middle school.

I usually just go through the free gallery, but I was always curious if people actually subscribed. Care to share ~how many subscribers you have, and what are the benefits of subscribing?

dblasphemy36 karma

I currently have 18342 subscribed members. People come and go every day but the number generally trends upward. All of my work is available on my site for free up to ~480px tall and I have a free section of images with higher resolution.

The Membership is for folks who really enjoy my work and want to directly support it. It offers unrestricted access to all of the resolutions I have available as I make them. Members can download zip file archives (rather than download one at a time) and can also participate in my creative process by rating/leaving comments on works-in-progress.

Popular-Uprising-23 karma

What kind of revenue do you see from your site? Your work is ubiquitous on the internet and it'd be nice to know that you're getting rewarded for it.

dblasphemy48 karma

I consider myself well-rewarded. The last five years have been pretty scary though (starting with me having to be hospitalized for Crohn's and then all my customers getting laid off).

thesecondkira22 karma

I'm a subscriber! The image of the desert dune with the tree and moon are on my desktop right now. Thanks for the beautiful work. I'm a writer and it's so inspiring to me.

dblasphemy30 karma

That's music to my ears. I never tire of passing on the "inspiration wave".

shadowman300121 karma

I can't tell you how often my mom saw your work, man!

She would come in the room, and thanks to windows+m (for some reason...), she happened to notice me innocently looking at awesome 3d images on my desktop.

Life saver, sir.

dblasphemy13 karma

LOL. Glad I could help ;)

buckhorn21 karma

What kind of programs do you use to create your images? I've always been a huge fan and have wondered what kind of effort and tricks go into becoming as good as you are.

Also I've always loved Tropic of Capricorn. I have a bit of wallpaper ADD and am always changing it but somehow always seem to come back to it.

dblasphemy33 karma

These days I use mostly Vue d'Esprit 10 (rendering my landscapes), Lightwave (rendering space, abstract, interiors, macro), Xfrog (modeling) ,Zbrush (modeling), Poser (modeling), Apophysis (2D fractal rendering) , and Mandelbulber (3D fractal rendering). I tie everything together using Photoshop CS4.

APisme18 karma

Great to see you here Mr. DB! Lifetime subscriber here. One of your wallpapers is on every PC either I or my family uses (6 computers) Just curious how hard would it be to add additional resolution sizes to some of your older works? Just last night I was changing my daughters backgrounds to Christmas themes and they liked some of your early pieces. The resolutions aren't that great which kind of limits the choices. Thanks again and keep up the good work!!

dblasphemy32 karma

Thanks for the kind words! It's difficult to re-render older works because new versions of 3D software tends to break old scene files. I can still open then but they don't render out the same. Creating smaller images from a larger file is trivial but I cannot create higher resolutions without re-rendering.

For that reason I, from time to time, enjoy "re-imagining" a favorite scene from years past. I am currently working on just such a project with one of my favorite Christmas wallpapers...

BastienB18 karma

I watched your FB conversation on your new hardware this year. It sounds like your renders can still take days, even on that beast of a machine. As a computer geek with no knowledge of art software, what's the limitation that takes things so long to finish? And do you have a machine dedicated to final rendering so you can still work/play while it's going?

dblasphemy16 karma

Fine details are always the bottleneck in 3D rendering. Realistic clouds, lighting and refractive/reflective surfaces (glass/crystal/liquid) are all computationally expensive.

I have a couple of other alternate (older) machines that I use for rendering but I almost always do my main rendering on my main workstation because it is way faster than all of my others. I sometimes work on my Macbook Pro while all of my others are busy.

sojazu18 karma

WOW. I used to use your website for all my abstract wallpaper needs years ago. I'm glad you're still running. :)

One question, I do remember by another website I used to go to called "Vladstudio".. they had a program that allows you to download wallpapers directly from their website. Do you have a program like that that you'd recommend for your hi-res gallery? (granted that I have the subscription)

dblasphemy25 karma

I love Vladstudio. The closest thing to such a program would be this one: http://www.rushfrisby.com/DigitalBlasphemyUpdater.aspx

Tezzor17 karma

When you publish your wallpaper without branding ?

dblasphemy64 karma

I know it bugs a lot of people and I would really love to publish them without the watermark. Every time I get close to actually doing it another site crops up with my work posted under a different name (sometimes by an artist claiming it as their own).

If the only watermark-free copy resides with me then it is easier for me to prove that the image is mine when I need to have the attributions change.

I just did a TinEye search (http://www.tineye.com/search/31226ccf34cada49e3f352a544ff41f8601b840b/) on my Fluorescence wallpaper and it returned 1246 different sites. Obviously I am not going to be able to contact them all so sometime here I am going to have to balance protecting my work with providing a better product for my customers. Having the watermark present does provide a bit of a hedge against people posting my work (most of my traffic comes from people typing in the URL or Googling me) so it is a difficult choice.

clarkster15 karma

How did you come up with the name? Does it mean anything specific, or just something random?

dblasphemy29 karma

I came up with it when I first started playing with computer graphics. It basically means that "I am God and can create my own worlds". If I had known it was going to be a business name I probably would have picked something a little less controversial.

subecho15 karma

I remember seeing your bit on Bucephalus earlier this year but I was wondering what other sort of gear/software you've used over the years as well.

dblasphemy21 karma

I started with a 486/66 with 8MB of ram and a 300MB hard drive. Moved through a couple of Pentium based system and purchased my first dual-core system in '99 (Pentium III 600 mHz IIRC).

Around that time I moved from Bryce to a mix Vue d'Esprit, World Builder (RIP), and Lightwave 3D. Recently I've started using ZBrush, Mandelbulber and Apophysis.

andrewsmith198614 karma

My best friend has had florescence as the only background ever.

Phone, pc, laptop.

dblasphemy31 karma

Wow. Tell your best friend I did an updated render a few years ago:

Rainbow: http://digitalblasphemy.com/preview.shtml?i=fluorescence2k9colors1

Blue: http://digitalblasphemy.com/preview.shtml?i=fluorescence2k93

jabroni200212 karma

hey, I remember one of the first works i saw of yours was Pyre as well as this one of a Blue "christmas" tree in the woods. also Gotham and a bunch of others.

What is your current Rig like?

dblasphemy22 karma

Here's a page I wrote about my current rig: http://digitalblasphemy.com/bucephalus.shtml

ScienceOwnsYourFace11 karma

Really amazing stuff. I take most of the photos I use for my desktops, but honestly if I had more disposable income I would buy a lifetime immediately. I will recommend!

dblasphemy14 karma

Thanks! My chief competition comes from digital cameras. I do offer less expensive options...

Dutch_Wilkerson10 karma

holy fuck, i remember you


dblasphemy11 karma

Thanks in advance Dutch!

bigdaddyhame10 karma

wow! Fluorescence was the inspiration for a photograph I did a few years ago... Thanks for the reminder.


dblasphemy5 karma

I love it!

iduno891210 karma

Seriously though, have you ever thought about updating your website and making look a little, well, less like we are still in the 90's. Also, when I try and view your images it takes forever to load. Love your work!

dblasphemy22 karma

I would imagine they are taking forever to load this morning because my server is currently experience around 30X the usual load. Redesigning my web site is always high on my list, but somehow "Make New Wallpaper" always gets inserted above it.

sithrage11389 karma

Don't understand why everyone is saying "I remember you" or "I used to go to your site." I STILL check your site every week or so. I really enjoy your work. I have dual monitors and I really appreciate your multi-monitor renderings.

So how many projects don't end up seeing the light of day? How far into a piece do you get before you abandon and start something else? Or does everything at least make it to a "pickle jar" level?

dblasphemy7 karma

Thanks Sith! I would say that 1 in 4 are never posted. If I work on something for more than 2 or 3 days I'm usually able shape it into something borderline presentable.

tamar9 karma

How long does a typical project take? Where did you learn how to do what you do?

(btw, I did have a paid subscription once, but I don't really look at my desktop nowadays... that said, thanks for what you've done - it's great!)

dblasphemy24 karma

I spend anywhere from a few hours (rarely) to a couple of weeks on a project and taught myself just about everything. I don't have any formal art training.

steelcitykid8 karma

I used to be a member a long time ago, blue mushrooms got me in! How much (ballpark) would you say you've grossed over the years?

dblasphemy23 karma

More than I my Mennonite upbringing will allow me to consciously utter.

Cj1458 karma

I love your work! I have been using your wallpapers since I first discovered Fluorescence many years ago. Since then I have upgraded to a triple monitor setup and a subscription so I could get your triple monitor designs. I have also sent just about everyone looking for a wallpaper to you! Never met someone who did not like your creations.

This is not really a question but I would love to see you make more high resolution designs that I can use on my triple monitor setup. My subscription ran out but I would happy renew to see there were more triple designs! I think my favorite ones are your space inspired designs.

Pic of my setup: http://i.imgur.com/1VIZy.jpg

Thanks for all of your work!

dblasphemy7 karma

Thanks CJ! That's quite the wall of sound you have put together there. Does your hair blow in the wind like the Maxell guy?

I try to create multi-monitor versions of all of my work so I recommend you visit this page to see all the new ones:


matt01ss8 karma

You're my desktop wallpaper hero! Never in my life did I think I would pay for wallpaper, but yours is so incredible (not to mention works great for 3-4 monitors) that I couldn't resist. The large sprawling universe pictures and insane looking sunsets are my favorite!

matt01ss22 karma

My workstation at my job featuring "The End"!


dblasphemy12 karma

Beautiful quad setup! Thanks for sharing. What is the combined resolution?

dblasphemy7 karma

Thanks so much for all the questions and kind words! I'm truly blown away and my fingers are numb from typing all day. Going to step away now to hang out with my family but I will pop back later to answer any really good questions that have not already been answered.

meatwad758926 karma

What are your thoughts on InterfaceLIFT? Is there an eternal battle between photographers and 3D artists?

dblasphemy13 karma

I love InterfaceLIFT (and Vladstudio) but I don't think there is much overlap in the audiences. Besides, art is not a zero sum game. Of course, reality is always going to be more realistic than 3D but then I am not limited by reality.

irishmcsg26 karma

Wow, looking back through your site is giving me flashbacks! Something Blue, White Magic, Pyre, and of course Fluorescence have all spent significant portions of time as my wallpapers.

When you create a new wallpaper, do you plan out ahead of time what you want it to look like and then make it, or just start modeling and texturing, and see where it takes you?

dblasphemy6 karma

Thanks! I usually take the latter path. It's rare (and joyous) when I start with a fully formed idea.