3DTotal : It looks as though there is a mix of fantasy and realism in your work but how important is history in informing your subject matter? Kerem :I like history. My favourite subject is early world history, especially WW1 and WW2, however I’m quite interested in Roman and Ottoman history too. I’m also really fond of watching historical movies. Therefore, those kind of interests affect my work, yet I wouldn’t want to be in a project which is completely based on history because that sets limits on your creativity. You have to be bound by a sense of reality in order for it to be convincing. For example, while creating a fantasy character, I like blending armour forms that I’ve seen in the movies or history books with my own armour designs. However, if I’m asked to draw a typical Roman or Ottoman soldier, I know doing this won’t be fun at all because while doing this, I have to cross check the references all the time. In short, I love history and I love retro and ancient styles only if they have fantasy elements in them. :)
3DTotal :There seems to be a military theme related to your historical interests and some of the paintings you produce. What can you say about this? Kerem : I like drawing soldiers. Actually I like drawing similar figures in my paintings. For instance, when I draw a big troll with chains and armour, I always draw the second one next to him. When I was a kid, I used to buy a lot of action figures yet I always multiplied the number when it came to the ones I really loved. I had this Viking guy once whom I liked so much that I went on and bought 5 more to create a clan :)
I really don’t know why I do this. I’m into history and I’m pretty interested in wars because they’re a part of history. However I’m not the kind of a person who enjoys real violence and real wars. As for the pieces which have war themes and fighting skeleton soldiers in them such as Endless War and Night Drop; they’re all commissioned jobs :) but I love Colt Carbines and M60s because of their design values.
3DTotal :Could you talk us through the process of producing one of your digital paintings describing it from an initial concept through to a finished piece? Kerem : If we’re talking about a book cover or a complex illustration, first of all, I decide on the composition. If I’m drawing a character concept, first I draw a simple and little sketch to decide on the pose. Then, I start the original sketch on a piece of A3 paper. After a long period of drawing and erasing and drawing and erasing and so on, when I’m finally happy with the sketch, I scan it and begin my colouring in Photoshop. First, I decide on my base colours, then I apply different colour variations on the base colours to get rid of the dullness and then I start with the background simple and scattered strokes. While doing that, I decide on the light sources and I apply these light colours on my base colours. Then, I apply the cast and base shadows. When I’m happy with it, I simply merge all my layers down and smudge the whole thing to blend my outlines and colours. After this, I start the texture progress with my texture brushes. To finish I apply the highlights and bounce lights to complete it. When I’m done with the piece, I play with the colour balance to get a better colour variation.
3DTotal : Do you produce your imagery with a narrative in mind or are some of them simply autonomous portraits? Kerem : Sometimes, when working on my pieces, I think about the background of a character and try to find the best expression to define this character. However, when working on a concept design the importance of the background of a unit which means for example 5000 men, decreases dramatically yet when drawing a character, of course you have to form it correctly based
on the info given.
3DTotal : In what ways have comic books had a bearing on your work and which would you say have had the most effect on your development if any? Kerem : Comics have had a great influence on me. They’re the very reason that made me start drawing in the first place. Conan is my all time favourite among others. I owe a lot to guys like Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Gary Kwapisz, Ernie Chan, Tony DeZuniga and many more.
3DTotal : What other interests do you have that help influence your work and keep you motivated? Kerem : The work of other illustrators of course! You’ve got it all figured out if you can find out what elements make a great picture so great. The ones, who can’t do that, simply copy these great
pictures. They’re just plagiarists who copy not only the elements I’m talking about, but also the whole picture because they can’t see. Like I said before, if you can figure out and distinguish these elements, applying them to your own work is only a matter of practice. I’m telling you, if you know how to look, a Frazetta painting can provide you with a million more useful tips than a two month workshop. Nobody has ever taught me anything about my job. Actually there isn’t a soul that can teach me this profession in the whole country :) So, I did the only thing I can do: I simply trained myself. As for the influences, I watch a lot of movies. As soon as I see an impressive scene, I immediately start to examine it to see the factors that make it so great.