Exclusive interview with a fabulous artist Erik

1. Introduce yourself. 
Hi, my name is Erik. I am a digital artist based in Germany, who enjoys creating wallpapers and matte paintings for fun in my spare time. 
erik shoemaker

majora_s_return_by_erikshoemaker

2. Tell us how and when you started digital art? 
I started my journey back in 2005 when I discovered a small digital art section in a gaming forum. There I learned about Photoshop and practiced my first photo-manipulation techniques while competing in art challenges against other forum users. About a year later I started being active on DeviantArt and soon became addicted to creating new art regularly. Since then I’ve kept it up, as it is a nice distraction from my (analytical) everyday work. I feel crazy old, realizing that I’ve been doing this stuff for 13 years already.

mortal_inquisition

3. What kind of works do you create mostly? I mean digital paintings, photo manipulations and so on.
My artworks often deal with futuristic or fantasy themes, where I enjoy creating landscapes and sceneries the most. In terms of techniques, my artworks almost always combine photographic images and textures with digital painting. Sometimes I supply my work with 3D based resources if no suitable photos are available. The reason behind this is that I truly enjoy creating detailed and believable settings that allow the viewer to immerse in the realism and atmosphere of the scene.
Every once in a while I also create space art wallpapers to indulge my passion for science and scifi. This helps me to hone my 3D and digital painting skills as well.
tree

anthroposynthesis_by_erikshoemaker

4. Can you show us a work from your portfolio which you think is your best? Can you tell us the story behind creating it?
Choosing one image is a tough call but lately I’ve received a lot of positive feedback for one of my newest artworks “Goblets of Giants”- which is inspired by the anime “Made in Abyss” that I just had finished watching this year. The scene is my attempt at recreating one of the worlds shown in the anime in a semi-realistic art style.

goblet_of_giants_by_erikshoemaker

In the anime, two adventurous children traverse various fantastic and amazingly inspiring landscapes in order to search for the protagonist’s lost mother. It is an emotional roller-coaster ride as those worlds become increasingly perilous the closer the children come to their goal. The Goblets of Giants is a landscape of cup-shaped giant mushrooms filled with many unknown monsters. During their growth the goblets are filled with acid and only once they reach full growth those fluids will turn into steaming hot water pools.
Creating those mushrooms required a ton of patience to make them appear unique and believable. I spent a lot of time building the intricate structures of tree roots forming those goblets. At times I was despairing about the sheer endless amount of work ahead of me. Fortunately I intended to participate in a matte painting challenge with it, which forced me to keep going. I believe in the end it was worth the struggle. 🙂
5. What software do you use mostly? 
Almost all my work is made in Photoshop. Only a few weeks ago I upgraded from CS5 to CC 2018, so I still have to get the hang of the new features, but they look insanely useful. Aside from PS, I started studying Blender again this year but I’m still an absolute noob when it comes to 3D software. Sometimes I use DAZ 3D to help myself with specific pose references and perspectives.

eclipse_by_erikshoemaker

6. How long does it take to create a single artwork. Do you do multiple projects simultaneously?
Since I am somewhat meticulous about details of my artwork, I often spend 20 hours and more on my artworks, but it strongly depends on what I am creating and the complexity of the concept. The artwork “Goblets of Giants” took me between 50 to 60 hours.
I believe I’m too obsessed with getting things done to be able to start several projects simultaneously. If I start another artwork on the side without finishing the first project, that one will likely never see the light of day (i.e., the internet).
7. Any favorite artists whom you admire ?
Since my early beginnings I have been inspired by my fellow artists Mario Sanchéz Nevado and Marcela Bolivar. They have a wonderful style that’s surreal as well as realistic and absolutely creative.
In more recent times I have been catching up on some of the most popular animes. I found that the animation studio Ufotable combines drawings and 3D animation in an absolutely jaw-dropping way. I recommend checking out the fight scenes of Fate/Stay Night to get an idea of their amazing use of colors and light in their animation.
8. What kind of works you wish to create in the future? 
I constantly push myself to make my artworks visually more engaging, testing more complicated scenes and perspectives. I also try to include more painting and 3D in my art as opposed to photos. One of my goals would be to not rely on photos at all, but I doubt it’s possible in the near future.
Aside from that I believe the composition of my artworks is an area needing some improvement. I want to focus more on compositions that are interesting but easy to read at the same time. This is a difficult task for me as the scene can become cluttered and chaotic quite fast.
Generally speaking, I really enjoy creating matte paintings as I explained earlier, so I will likely do a lot more of them in the future!
9. Your space artworks are amazing. What software do you use to create them? How long does it take to render each work?
Thank you! Usually I need around 10 to 15 hours to complete a space scene. I paint the backgrounds in Photoshop using an A4 Wacom Intuos tablet with photo textures to enhance the details. Most of the time I render the planets using the 3D functions integrated in Photoshop as well. Since planets are typically just a sphere with a texture wrapped around it, the PS 3D tools completely suffice and are simple enough for me to use.
As opposed to that, the planet in my newest space artwork “Hail of Bullets” was rendered in Blender. I saw a tutorial on how to render an exploding coffee cup, which inspired me to make a planet burst into pieces. Unfortunately, my Blender skills are rather underwhelming so I switched to PS quite fast in order to over-paint the entire render. The result is probably around 20% work done in Blender and 80% in Photoshop.

hail_of_bullets_by_erikshoemaker

10. Anything else you want to share with our readers? Any tips?
Thank you for the opportunity to present myself in your blog! It is a great compliment for me to know that there are people out there who are interested in my workflow. 🙂
If I have to think of a final take-home message for your readers, it would be that I encourage them to seek out feedback from other people constantly. Receiving comments and critiques from other artists was the biggest motivational boost for me and helped me take my art to the next level.
   Take your time, be patient and self-critical about your art and you’ll get there eventually! 🙂

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