Concept artist Jan Weßbecher tells us about his portfolio project "Celsius 13” and the health hazards of creating concept art...
3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
My name is Jan and I am a Concept Artist and Illustrator. I mostly do work for the games industry, but recently I have been trying to spread out into other areas as well, such as book covers and comics. My "office,” which really is just my living room, is located in the beautiful city of Hamburg!
A corporate spy, checking out her mark with her high powered scope
3dt: Which artists inspired you to get into creating art? Which artists inspire you today?
When I was first getting interested in digital art, I was hugely inspired by the portfolio book that Massive Black
put out years ago. I also had an art book of the game Warhammer Online
, which has since been shut down. Artists like Bruno Gore, Mike Lim, Wesley Burt and Craig Mullins had a big influence on what I thought of when I was thinking about working in the games industry.
Today, I have so many Artists I look up to, that it's hard picking favorites. I do notice though that I go back to certain artists quite often. Definitely Ruan Jia, John William Waterhouse, Norman Rockwell and Chase Stone.
3dt: What software, plugins and techniques do you use to create your art?
My bread and butter is, and has always been, Photoshop
. At some point I started picking up Blender
as well, which has been quite helpful for a number of projects (although I am by no means an expert). When the task calls for it, I sometime use photo-bashing as well, but it's rare - mostly as a shortcut for some rapid ideations. The rest of the time, I try to stick to fundamentals, starting with a rough composition and then slowly refining.
On Celsius 13, lots of people can't afford proper medical aid, so they turn to other avenues, who promise salvation for a life devoted
3dt: Tell us about "Celsius 13,” what's it about? How did you come up with the concept?
JW: Celsius 13
is the name of my personal project, which I have been developing in my free time for a few years. It's basically a sci-fi world design, with a style mixture of industrial revolution and space travel, designed to give most of my non-commissioned work a connecting lore. Whenever I want to test something new or try different things, I can already pull from a host of sketches and other material and have a richer background thanks to that. Currently, I have no concrete plans for any commercial use for it yet, but that might change in the future.
3dt: Apart from art, where to you draw inspiration from?
I love videogames, tabletop role-play, sci-fi and fantasy novels, movies, manga and comics, but all of those probably should fall under art anyway. So, I would say nature; as it always surprises me how much beauty you can find, even in the most mundane places. But, I guess, I would just say the same about city life in general.
Anti-gravitation engines allow the transport of the even the heaviest goods by airways
3dt: What software or techniques would you like to learn in the future?
is definitely at the top of my list of software to grab and experiment with; it just offers so many possibilities for mixed media art! Working in VR comes in close second. I never tried VR yet, but the stories I hear and some of the videos are just fascinating. On a more traditional note, sculpting with real clay is something I want to experiment with as well, even if just to relax and work for myself.
3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up to date?
I currently am looking to branch into cover illustrations, so after getting some professional advice I decided to make a completely new portfolio with a few companies in mind, which I would like to target. It's going to consist of six mock covers, which are not commissioned, but display my approach to cover illustration. In general, my portfolio consists mostly of my personal work, as it is closest to what I actually want to do.
Many structures on Celsius 13 speak of past ambitions, long since overgrown with urban decay
3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
I got a lot of plans and would love to do all of them, but that could take a while. At some point, I want to have an art book for my project Celsius 13, a nice heavy hardcover! Making a comic slash graphic novel set in that universe would also be pretty cool and is something I have been spinning ideas around for, for quite some time now.
3dt: What do you think you would be doing if you weren't an artist?
I think if the art bug hadn't bitten me, I probably would have picked up programming and might still have started working in the games industry. When I was younger, I had a brief period in which I tried learning it, but lost interest for it. The general process still intrigues me though. The act of creating a program from scratch is fascinating and I think has some elements similar to working in concept art.
The amazing technologies that helped mankind reach Celsius 13 in the first place, are now either lost, or sequestered away for use of the privileged only
3dt: What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you, when you were just starting out?
I really wish that there would have been mandatory artists-health classes when I was studying illustration.
Struggling with wrist pains, back problems and similar muscle and skeletal aches can ruin careers and nobody should have to experience them first before they learn the lessons. Take care of your tools! That includes the body. Constantly overworking yourself can compound issues, even if you don't notice them yet and you might pay dearly later in life (for example, I use a program called Workrave
to regularly remind me to take breaks!)
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
My finished portfolio for covers is due this year! I hope I can keep my schedule. Well, I actually missed the original schedule already, but hey, nobody's perfect. I plan to do more lineart, and finish up some previous leftovers from Celsius 13 that have been languishing on my hard-drive!
I also have the honor of getting one of my drawings featured in the upcoming Spectrum 24
, which is an annual collection of fantastic art. It's an amazing pool of inspiration and I recommend picking it up (I hope to someday owning the full collection!)
Head over to Jan Weßbecher's personal site to see more of his fantastic art including his Celsius 13 project
Check out Jan's portfolio,
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Learn how to create sci-fi concept art with Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop: Sci-fi and Fantasy