3Dtotal : Hi could you tell us a bit about yourself ?
Stephane : I was born in France near Paris in 1970. My education was scientific. I studied Physics at the university and it was not before the age of 20 that I decided to follow an artistic career. I’ve been working as an art director, modeler and concept artist for the past 7 years. Before that I was a journalist and I began my career as a freelance videogame designer back in the good old 2D games days.
3DTotal : What first got you started in 2D? Stephane : Actually, my first contact with computers and 2D graphics was at the age of eleven when my parents bought me a Commodore 64. It was more pixel pushing than real drawing at the time but it eventually drove me toward more elaborate images, first in on Atari St for my first freelance games and after that on Macintosh with Photoshop. I’ve been using Photoshop extensively since then and also some 3D software.
3DTotal :You have been working as a freelance illustrator for the past few years and previously full time for some quiet well know computer companies, but which do you prefer, freelance work full time employment? Stephane : It really depends. I would say that I probably need both. On one hand, working for a big compay has its advantages, the most important one being a regular pay check! Working with people also helps me to open my mind and get constructive criticism from my colleagues. Working alone requires a lot of discipline and self awareness of the problems in your images.You always have to keep a very critical eye over your work. The one interesting thing about freelance work is that it usually yields more variety so you are always confronted to new challenges. Projects are also usually shorter. Working on a long term project for a company (sometimes more than 2 years) can become quite demanding and even boring. The ideal situation is to be able to work on the most interesting projects, and sometimes get a few extra freelance gigs.
3DTotal : You use a mixture of 2D and 3D within some of your paintings. Can you tell us how you came to start using this techinque, and what do you like about mixing the two together? Stephane : 2D and 3D mix is a quite common technique in matte painting. This is an approach I experimented when I wanted to add a few photoreal images to my portfolio. It was only when I did some research about matte painting that I realized everybody was doing the same, even if I was suspecting it! Painting over 3D, 2D painting and
photomanipulation is really about getting the most realistic picture in the minimum amount of time. Photos and painting are really tremendously efficient for natural scenery, but when dealing with architecture, I feel a lot more free to experiment with perspective and lighting with a 3D model. Most of the time, 3D is just a support for the painting. I don’t even bother to texture the models. But it’s a great tool for laying out an accurate perspective and it’s also essential for moving cameras.
3DTotal : Where do you get all the inspiration from to produce such visually stunning paintings? Stephane : Everything I see and live is a source of inspiration. It can be something I see when travelling,
a painting I saw in a book, a scene in a movie, even a book I read. I combine all these influences in my mind to come up with new ideas. I really like to get a quite realistic feel in my images but with a more dramatic lighting, composition and perspective. I also like to mix different architectural styles or
have slightly anachronic elements in my pictures. I’m not really appealed with completely over the
top sci-fi or fantasy work. I really like the kind of images that are grounded in reality, yet more than
real. I love romantic painters which were the masters at that.