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Interview with Bram 'Boco' Sels

By 3dtotal staff

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Date Added: 14th October 2014

Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6 tutorial artist and concept artiste extraordinaire, Bram 'Boco' Sels, talks about his career and inspirations so far...

Serves Me Right


Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6 tutorial artist, and contributor to 3dtotal's Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements, Bram 'Boco' Sels, talks about his career so far, from being inspired by Magic: The Gathering, to working for studios such as GriN on their upcoming Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries videogame...

3dtotal: What inspired you to enter the digital art world?
Bram 'Boco' Sels: In 6th grade a friend of mine brought in some Magic: The Gathering cards he had stolen from his brother and I remember being so blown away by the artwork that I wanted to be able to draw like that myself some day. About five years ago, when I got my first Wacom tablet, I was still a big fan of the cards and decided to try creating my own Magic: The Gathering illustration. What came out was super crappy, but in a way I liked it and I remember thinking that if I kept trying I would eventually get better and maybe one day see my name in a card game like that.


3dt: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career so far?
'Boco': It has been about a year and a half since I really started to illustrate professionally, so my career isn't that long. It took me four years to build up a portfolio that I felt comfortable to apply to jobs with. Since then I've had the pleasure of working for 3dtotal, Marauder Film, Tokkun Studio, Centipede Press, Wyrd Miniatures and recently Wideshot Studios and Ubisoft. I'm also working part-time in the Belgium-based game studio GriN on their upcoming indie title, Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries.

3dt: What is your earliest artistic memory?
'Boco': Wow, that's a long time ago. I don't really remember it that well but I recently discovered a drawing of a dragon I did when I was 9 years old. You can imagine what it looks like, a typical cliché dragon from the 90s, complete with bright colors and batlike wings. I love juvenile stuff like that, it has a non-deliberate element to it which I feel I've lost a bit lately by over-studying things.


3dt: Do you have any tips for keeping a portfolio up to date?
'Boco': Enter an online contest or competition every once in a while. That way you'll get fresh topics and ideas to work on, you'll receive valuable feedback from other artists and you'll always get away with at least a new portfolio piece. Other than that, try to keep your portfolio short and to the point. New and better work? Always throw
something older out.

3dt: Which of your images are you most proud of and why?
'Boco': That would probably be Serves Me Right. It got me into a lot of books (including 3dtotal's Digital Art Masters 9) and magazines and I have some fond memories creating it. It was a real stepping stone for my career and I still love the mood and story it tells, which is rare because I'm usually really nit-picky about my own work. Often I simply estimate how good a piece is by checking my social networks and seeing how well others like it, but Serves Me Right is a piece I genuinely like myself.


3dt: Do you have any favorite artists – traditional or digital?
'Boco': I follow a lot of artists on Facebook and there are some amazing talents on there, but my favorite of them is probably the traditional painter Donato Giancola. I simply love the emotion his work conveys and the mood in his paintings is just finger-licking good. I just can't take my eyes off of his mermaid pieces. As for digital painters I absolutely love everything Michael Kutsche does. I got the chance to meet him at the Trojan Horse Was A Unicorn festival this year, and the guy is just amazing. Incredible work, incredible details, and his character designs are so original.

3dt: In Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6 you give a great tutorial on painting atmospheric light scenes, and this is something that really stands out in some of your other paintings. Do you know what
inspires you here?
'Boco': It took me a while to discover that light is a whole world of studying on its own. I used to think light was in some weird cryptic way part of the subject rather than something that moves and bounces on and around the subject. Once I figured that out, I really started studying (still do by the way) just how that light can bounce around and the way it reacts on different materials. Like everything it's a matter of practice, but learning the theory will help you out a lot as well. There's a great chapter on that in the book too by the way.


3dt: You also offer some invaluable quick tips in Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements, are there any other quick tip sections or tutorials you would recommend in this book?
'Boco': I loved Christoph Peters' part about storytelling. Telling a story is something I try to do in every illustration I create, even if it's a character design. I love how he goes over different ways to approach that and he uses some clear images to explain what he means. That chapter gave me some great ideas for my future illustrations.

3dt: What has been your biggest artistic challenge so far?
'Boco': Overcoming my perfectionism. I'm a real perfectionist when it comes to painting and although that can be helpful sometimes it can also be a real obstacle. When I just started out, there were times when I focused on creating a perfect line-drawing, and then painting over it neatly within the lines just to discover in the end that my character became dull and flat and on top of that anatomically incorrect. Perfectionism also prevents you from painting fast and fluent and can really put the brakes on your learning curve. While I'm still a bit of a perfectionist, I'm well aware of it now and I'm always looking for ways to overcome that.


Related links

Head over to Bram 'Boco' Sels' website
Bram featured in Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6
He also offers his advice in Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements
To see more by Bram 'Boco' Sels, check out Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop: Characters, Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements, Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6 and Digital Art Masters: Volume 9

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