01. November 2009

The year 2009 is a year of changes for me. My wife, our two cats and I moved into a new house, I work at a new company, I opened up a new website and I'm announcing some of my projects which were kept a secret until now. It feels like it would make good sense to have a look back down the road that I'm travelling on for over ten years now and which each and every day takes me deeper and deeper into the realm of digital creation.

In this retrospective I reflect on my journey as a Digital Artist. I invite you to follow my tracks and encounter the stages of my artistic development.

This huge exhibition features over 150 of my personal artworks of the past 10 years starting with the oldest images. If you like you can jump directly to a specific year:

1998-2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008

When I left school in 1998, I already had climbed the first steps of the art career ladder. At the age of 15 I had drawn funny comic strips about our teachers and sold them on the schoolyard. Comics were my very first inspiration and I loved the possibility to tell stories with pictures rather then with words alone.

My second passion was films and when I bought the first 'Making Of...' books that appeared on the market I learned about the existence of so called production and matte paintings. That started my interest in painting and I began to work with acrylic paint on paper. My first images were very experimental and I tried to find out about all the ways paint could be applied and manipulated to create structures and form.

'Experiments' - 1998 - Acrylic on paper

I did not know about the internet back then (hardly to imagine today) and my studies were supported only by a handful of books. I started to experiment with airbrush which allowed for smoother color application. I remember paintstakingly cutting masking film and mixing paint in small glass jars.

'Alien'- 1997 - Acrylic painting after a magazine advertisement

When I finally managed to produce some good results with my brushes and sprayguns I had already fallen for another medium. My most elaborate acrylic painting 'Jumper' (which consumed an awful amount of masking film) also was my last big painting done in real paint.

'Jumper' - 1999 - Acrylic on paper

I had a computer throughout my childhood. I played a lot of games on it and I also experimented with all the early graphics programs like STAD (on the Atari ST) and Deluxe Paint (on the Amiga). However, I never regarded pixels as a way to create artwork. They were just not capable of producing something that I would have called a painting. But what really caught my attention was 3D rendering.

3D renderings of an alien model- 1999 - Lightwave 5

When I was a young schoolboy I had a huge interest in model making. I built spaceships and tanks out of paper and blew them up with black powder in the garden. 3D rendering revived this old passion in me and I started to build spaceships again and blew them up with particle effects. Much to the relief of my parents, this time my activities did not lead to burned craters on the lawn.

3D Rendering of my dream atelier - 1999 - Lightwave 5

3D rendering included the creation of texture maps. I learned to use Photoshop to create simple color maps and I eventually aquired a simple graphic tablet (the pen had a cable attached to it if I remember right) to make brush handling easier. Around that time I created my first digital paintings. Like my first acrylic paintings, they were very experimental in nature and since I had never seen a digital painting back in these days I did not really know what could be done.

My first digital paintings in Photoshop and Painter - 1999

My focus at this time still was on drawing with pencils and ink or fineliner on paper. However, I slowly started to scan my outlines and colored them in Photoshop.

'Dunkelheit' - 1999 - Fineliner on paper

'Sketches' - 2001 - Pencil on paper

'Pilot' - 2001 - Ink on paper and coloration in Photoshop

'Darth Dowreen' - 2001 - Fineliner and Copic markers on paper, colored in Photoshop

'Darth Dowreen' - 2001 - Fineliner and Copic markers on paper, colored in Photoshop

'Heavy Commando Tank' - 2001 - Fineliner and Copic markers on paper colored in Photoshop

At the end of 1999 I started an internship at a computer games company. After the internship I was offered a fulltime job as a Concept and 3D Artist. I discarded my original plans to go to the university and jumped at my chance. Working with professionals gave me a lot of new input but the thing that perhaps had the biggest impact on me was my personal discovery of the internet. I found the international digital art communities and learned about the concept of online forums. For the lack of any digital art forums in German language I opened up my own little forum and it steadily filled with interesting people from all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In the forums I participated in a wide range of training activities like painting studies from photo reference or constructing perspective drawings.

'Study of perspective and shading' - 2001 - Photoshop

'Figure study' from photo reference - 2001 - Photoshop

'Yoda Action Figure Study' from life - 2001 - Photoshop

Through these studies I learned to use the computer as a real painting medium rather then just using it to color scanned drawings. Outlines became less important and I tried to define form directly in digital paint. After some time I used Photoshop in the same way that I had used my brushes and sprayguns in the past.

'Fall' - 2001 - Photoshop

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