Ursula Deja Digital Art & Photography

I'm a german photographer and digital artist for concept art & matte painting from North Rhine-Westphalia area. Since the age of sixteen I have been taking photographs. I discovered Photoshop around 2004. Self-taught, I started decided to teach myself the ins and outs of digital painting and compositing in Photoshop. When I went freelance in 2006, I decided that this was my passion. I work worldwide since then for publishing companies, agencies, magazines and doing stuff for heavy metal bands.

photo credit: Michael Schünemann

I have several resources to find inspiration but simply browsing for photo references can trigger inspiration. I'm already surfing on the internet for many years, I read many books - and there still so much amazing stuff to be found there! Often it’s just a little detail that starts this chain reaction of ideas.

There are so many exciting people out there doing a great job of pushing illustration and design. I follow many artists through social media and so it’s part of an inspiration loop as well. Movies are a strong source of inspiration too, so very often I draw some thumbnails on my sketchbook when I see a cool keyframe when watching a movie. Then my sketchbook becomes my own inspiration database.

Music influences my work a lot as well. I barely work without any music playing. I like a lot of music. Not too much into Billboard stuff though. It goes from metal music, rock music, blues, ballads and classical music. I find myself playing music depending on the speed I need to work. If there’s a good amount of time before the deadline, it’s often a chilled out, relaxing sound. However, if it’s close to deadline, then it can get pretty fast and heavy!

I don’t know if I do really have a style but if so I would say my style turns towards photorealistic environments with depth and attention to detail.

I have often taken stock photos in the past. I am both a matte painter and a photographer. The requirements for stock photos are very high and if I do have time I still enjoy taking stock photos. I feel that a lot of commercial work wouldn’t even be possible without stock photos – hiring photographers and models, renting all the gear/studio or paying people to travel across the globe just to get few photos would be so expensive, that a lot of companies and entrepreneurs could never afford it. Even in more creative work stock photos are essential for resources in matte painting, photo manipulations or even just for textures.

Today is my main technique to use photographs I have taken, sketches made, pictures collected and stock photos to achieve this kind of result. I really like to start from sketch painting, then to speed up the process, photobash with some textures and stocks and then paint over to blend everything together. Using stock images it’s a technique like many others. Some would use 3D instead.

screenshot: creating a matte painting

I try to avoid trends as much as possible that would influence my work. Silence and solitude are things that appear to be a luxury these days, and I do savour the quiet time when it occurs. I feel that visual silence is a very powerful tool in illustration and can dramatise a sense of vastness or emptiness. A subject set in a silent or empty space can have a far greater presence.

The biggest challenge as an artist is to manage yourself and be your own critic. Often working alone, it is difficult to critique or assess your work in the early stages, and in that sense, you have to trust your eyes and your creative gut!




© 2006 - 2018 Ursula Deja
All Rights Reserved.