10 digital artists you need to know

These incredible artists are inspiring us to pick up a tablet and get sketching in 2016!

Cover art by Andrew Theo for Star Wars issue of ImagineFX

Andrew Theophilopoulos's stunning work submitted to FXPosé earned him a gig creating an ImagineFX cover

With digital art, anything is possible. Whether you're learning how to draw using Photoshop tutorials or are a digtial pro, anything from hyperrealism to painterly strokes and dynamic line work can be created. The following artists prove that nothing is out off limits with a humble tablet and some decent software.

01. Tara Phillips

10 breakthrough digital artists of 2015 - Tara Phillips

Tara Phillips' The Taxman was inspired by the hit TV series, True Detective

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.

02. Andrew Theophilopoulos

10 breakthrough digital artists of 2015 - Andrew Theophilopoulos

Andrew's Double Kill grabbed the industry's attention, leading to a cover illustration for ImagineFX magazine

Canadian born American, Andrew Theophilopoulos was raised, lives and works from the Sarasota Bay Area. In the spirit of the old masters, Andrew is attempting to redefining the legitimacy of Digital Art.

He first grabbed our attention earlier this year, more recently creating stunning art for our Star Wars special edition of ImagineFX, issue 129 – where he captured Rey and Kylo Ren in two limited edition covers.

03. Leesha Hannigan

10 breakthrough digital artists of 2015 - Leesha Hannigan

Leesha Hannigan's Death Wizard (Copyright LLC) An illustration done for the card game One Hit Kill

Leesha Hannigan has quickly taken up a role as on of the resident Q&A artists at ImagineFX. The Australian-born freelance illustrator and concept artist has been fascinated by fantastical literature, Aesop's Fables and fairy tales from a young age.

"I tend to work in a painterly style with a particular focus on light, often inspired by what I see in nature and on my travels." She finds lighting incredibly powerful when it comes to setting a scene.

04. Kristina Gehrmann

10 breakthrough digital artists of 2015 - Kristina Gehrmann

Kristina Ghermann's Last Man Remaining was partly inspired by the movie "Children of Men"

Having studied classical academic drawing and painting at Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy – it's easy to deduct her inspirations are old masters, with her classical painterly style.

Living and working in Hamburg, she explores historical and fantasy subjects in a detailed style inspired by classical Western artwork from the 17th to 19th century. She featured as 'Artist of the Month' in ImagineFX issue 123.

05. Kenn Yap

10 breakthrough digital artists of 2015 - Kenn Yap

Kenn Yap's CMYK, "my first time painting a face to this level of realism. I was caught up in the character got carried away," he says

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.

06. Sergio Mancinelli

10 breakthrough digital artists of 2015 - Sergio Mancinelli

Sergio'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 choices for specific frames and what they wanted to convey with them, in order to understand how to use it in my works," he says.

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

07. Patrick Brown

10 breakthrough digital artists of 2015 - Patrick Brown

Patrick Brown's signature graphic style fan art, this time taking on the post-apocalyptic video game, Last of Us

Best known for his fan art, Patrick Brown has lived in Tasmania his whole life. His action-packed comic style earned him a place in Imagine FX's 10th Anniversary Special, alongside some equally talented folk including AJ Frena and Ayya Saparniyazova.

Creating fan art has opened many doors for Brown, from scoring cover features in Playstation magazines, to doing art for huge game companies such as Naughty Dog and even Playstation themselves. His work even caught the attention of Marvel Comics, where he's recently been working, allowing him to finally quit his day job.

08. AJ Frena

10 breakthrough digital artists of 2015 - AJ Frena

AJ doesn't strictly stick to pure digital, this piece, Ragged Wood was created with acrylic on watercolor paper and finished with Photoshop

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

Born and raised in North Texas, AJ studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City before moving to their current residence in Pittsburgh.

09. Ayya Saparniyazova

10 breakthrough digital artists of 2015 - Ayya Sap

Ayya's Maddie Ziegler (Sia - Chandelier): "based on a dancing girl in the video of Sia - Chandelier. I immediately decided that I should paint her portrait!"

Also featuring in ImagineFX's 10th Anniversary special, Ayya Saparniyazova discovered the world of digital art only a few years ago and couldn't tear herself away. Her manga-influenced style really caught our eye, and she can master more realistic portraits just as expertly as cartoonish characters.

"I was always inspired by anime, computer games, films. Impression from all this served as a factor which formed my style," she says. "I like to express emotions, feelings, moods, I can achieve this with the look of the characters's eyes, color pattern, light. Digital art has allowed me to create without any limits."

10. Finnian MacManus

10 breakthrough digital artists of 2015 - Finnian MacManus

Part of Finnian's ARK project, this piece is entitled, "Underground Market"

Finnian is a concept artist working in both 2D and 3D software, specialising in fantasy and sci-fi environments. He took pride of place as Artist of the Month way back in January 2015.

The Chicago-born, California-based artist regularly takes on studio work as well as freelance commissions. He's busy creating concepts for a collaborative project with fellow artist Llia-Yu – an expansive, world building exercise entitled ARK.

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Alice Pattillo is a staff writer at Creative Bloq, where she creates content for the likes of Imagine FX, 3D World, net and Computer Arts magazines. When she is not writing about VFX and digital art, she freelances for Metal Hammer magazine, watches too many horror films and reads comic books. Sometimes she sculpts monsters and has been writing her own comic book for over ten years (it's still unfinished…).