10 digital artists you need to know about

With digital art, anything is possible. Whether you're learning how to draw using Photoshop tutorials or you're already a digital pro, master your art and you can create anything you can imagine. The following artists prove that nothing is out off limits with a humble tablet and some decent software.

01. Alyn Spiller

Spiller's Northern Kingdom painting was inspired by the Aurora Borealis

Alyn Spiller is a concept artist and illustrator who specialises in environment art. He’s been in the industry for over six years, during which time he has worked with clients such as Cryptozoic Entertainment and Fantasy Flight Games.

He took inspiration from the Northern Lights when creating the colour scheme for his Northern Kingdom painting (above). "The sky lanterns were a late addition – I think they create a nice contrast of warm and cool colours,” he says.

02. Dang My Linh

My Linh has been focusing on her portrait style

Dang My Linh is a Vietnamese concept artist based in the USA. Recently, she has been refining her portrait style. “I focus on observing people around me, the way light hits their face and changes colour,” she says.

She painted the two figures above at the same time, with the aim of creating a series of portraits. "I was keen to use a new style that was different from what I’d done before," she says.

03. Tara Phillips

Phillips' portrait of Game of Thrones' Brienne of Tarth

More often that not, you'll find Tara Phillips hunched at her desk working on a digital portrait or two with a cup of tea and a good soundtrack playing in the background. "I find inspiration from a lot of different areas, be it photography, films, books, 18th-19th century paintings, or even just an adventure outdoors," she says.

The freelance illustrator loves to play with what she called "natural supernaturalism" in her works, evoking the surreal, mystery, nostalgia and reflection through her classical imagery.

04. Finnian MacManus

MacManus has worked on some major blockbuster movies

Finnian MacManus' explorations of – among other things – architecture, history, art, design and science fiction all inform his work. Currently working at 20th Century Fox, he has recently contributed to Star Wars: Rogue One, Pacific Rim 2 and Transformers: The Last Knight.

His tips for working as a concept artist in the film industry? "No matter how skilled you are, be humble about your work, always respond well to critique, learn from those around you, and be generous in helping others. Your attitude will go a very long way in this small industry, where you regularly reunite with past colleagues."

05. Kenn Yap

CMYK was Yap's first time painting a face to this level of realism

At the age of 17, Kenn Yap moved from his hometown of Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to pursue his love of art. Freelancing as a concept artist and illustrator with a speciality in sci-fi and fantasy art, he has been strongly influenced by science fiction like Ghost in the Shell, Akira and Syd Mead.

"I find it difficult to describe my own style much in the same way it is difficult to describe one's own handwriting," he admits. Yap's CMYK (above) was his first time painting a face that looked that realistic. "I was caught up in the character and got carried away," he says.

06. Alayna Danner

St Levin is Danner's interpretation of a steampunk city

Alayna Danner (formerly Alayna Lemmer) is a digital artist based in Seattle, Washington, who works mainly on video games, board games and CCGs. 

"My favourite thing to paint is environments," she says. "I love to draw people and characters too, but there is just something about painting wispy clouds and mountains. I am lucky enough to live in the Seattle area, which is surrounded by gorgeous mountains and the Puget Sound, so there is inspiration all around me."

07. Sergio Mancinelli

Mancinelli's Pier: "Before I start a drawing I spend some time on the composition to structure it on simple geometrical shapes," he says

Sergio Mancinelli pulls most of his inspiration from comics, and attended the Italian Comix School in Naples for four years. Storytelling is his passion, along with his effortless graphic lines.

"My main influences are from movies. I often ask myself what lead the director chose for specific frames and what they wanted to convey with them, in order to understand how to use these ideas in my works," he says.

"I'm specifically passionate about animation film where I find all the features more significant to me, such as dynamic, simple yet powerful shapes, and emotional chromatic choices."

08. AJ Frena

Frena created Ragged Wood with acrylic on watercolour paper, and finished it with Photoshop

AJ Frena is an illustrator who focuses on surreal imagery, most of which feature animals and various forms of wildlife. Using both traditional and digital media, Frena combines realism with the abstract and fine art with elements of pop culture.

Born and raised in north Texas, Frena studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City before moving to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Clients include Nike, Sony Pictures, Studio 8, Disney, Marvel, DC, Honolulu Magazine and more.

09. Simon Cowell

Cowell's Swamp Thing is a forest-style monster held together with magic

No, not that one. Originally hailing from Sydney, Australia, Simon Cowell first explored fantasy art in the original Half-Life’s world editor. Since then he’s tinkered in 3D and traditional art, and is now a freelance concept artist.

"From an early age I was fascinated with creating. As I grew I experimented with many means of creativity, ranging from sculpting and drawing to digital animation and graphic design," Cowell says.

"I’d wanted to make a forest-style monster for a long time," he says of Swamp Thing (above). "I imagined something perhaps created from the woods and foliage, and held together by magic."

10. Ricardo Ow

Drake tells a David and Goliath story, but with dragons

Having begun his career as a 3D artist, Ricardo Ow begun to focus on illustration. “It’s the perfect marriage between software and artistry,” he reveals. He is currently based in Vancouver, Canada and has worked on AAA video games, mobile games, concept art, T-shirt designs and illustrations for tabletop game publications.

Ow's Drake painting (above) is a ‘David vs Goliath’ dragon story. "To spice things up and suggest scale, I decided to include a human rider. I imagined a world where humans had tamed a smaller species of dragons to stand a chance against the bigger and more menacing drakes," he explains.

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