With digital art, anything is possible. Whether you're still learning how to draw or you're already a digital pro, master your art and you can create anything you can imagine. In this article, we've rounded up some of the best digital artists around. The following artists prove that nothing is off limits with a humble tablet and some decent digital art software.
01. Jeszika Le Vye
Jeszika Le Vye describes herself as an “imaginative realist painter”, combining her loves of Classical Realism with a passion for sci-fi and fantasy. Her work explores themes of psychology and philosophy. “In my art, I explore what gives a thing its substance, its soul,” she explains.
The above painting appeared to Le Vye almost fully realised in her mind, and she began working on it before planning a concept or narrative. “As I painted it, the piercing eyes of the boy kept bringing to mind Peter Pan,” she says. “I imagined this ageless child living away from reality in his own world, kept company by natural wonders and his own shadow.”
02. Kaya Oldaker
British artist Kaya Oldaker specialises in visual storytelling, and her work is heavily influenced by nature and rural life – along with absurd, almost surrealist fantasy. “I create a lot of extravagant, colourful and weird creature designs for the various stories I am working on,” she explains.
The painting above shows a character from one such story: The Increasingly Absurd Endeavours of Gretchen Goosander. He’s a young honey dragon named Mumbeltrousse.
03. David Villegas
David Villegas – better known by his alias Deiv Calviz – is a digital concept artist based in the Philippines. He specialises in hyper-realistic, stylised illustrations.
Villegas initially studied multimedia arts with a focus on graphic design, but decided to start taking illustration more seriously after being awarded second place in a contest by Blizzard Entertainment. Villegas’ ultimate plan is to create his own worlds and stories.
Dragon Watchers (above) was inspired by Dark Souls and Game of Thrones, and mixes 3D, photobashing and a lot of painting. “I really pushed myself with this – it was a rare chance for me to make something personal at this level of detail,” he says.
04. Lim Chuan Shin
Lim Chuan Shin is now a successful freelance illustrator and concept artist, and regularly creates fantasy and sci-fi book covers and concept artwork for game companies. However, growing up in Malaysia in the '90s meant art initially wasn’t a career option him. After several years as a pharmaceutical rep, he decided to take the plunge and chase his dreams. “It’s been a tough fight but it’s all been worth it,” he says.
Mech Bay (above) was created using interesting silhouettes in a flat black. Shin changed the tone of the shapes to create the illusion of depth of field.
05. Małgorzata Kmiec
Małgorzata Kmiec is a freelance artist based in Berlin, who specialises in stylised and colourful portraits. She believes anyone who thinks magic doesn’t exist has never heard of art, and aims to put a bit of magic into all her work.
“I’m often inspired by seasons and nature, and this painting is a tribute to early spring,” she says of Spring Spirit (above). “I wanted to surround my character with warm colours that reflect the spirit of the season.”
06. Alyn Spiller
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.
07. Dang My Linh
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.
08. Finnian MacManus
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."
09. Alayna Danner
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."
10. Simon Cowell
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."
11. Ricardo Ow
Having begun his career as a 3D artist, Ricardo Ow later started 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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