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Classics re-born

Four of our most talented artists re-imagine a classical painting for ImagineFX...

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1. The Last Kiss.
Loïc Zimmermann tells us what it was like to bring Klimt’s masterpiece, The Kiss, into the 21st century.

Renowned 3D artist Loïc Zimmermann was given the challenge of reimagining Gustav Klimt’s beautiful, symbolic and timeless painting The Kiss. The result is a stunning reworking of the piece, demonstrating Loïc’s incredible talent for storytelling as well as 3D modelling and painting. We caught up with Loïc to see what he thought of the process.

How much did you know about the artist before you started your reworking?
We studied him at school, of course, but I think I crossed this guy’s universe earlier. Klimt was very modern in his approach, the way he deals with space, anatomy and skin treatment, his sense of motives and so on.

Has studying this artist influenced your own work in any way?
It has, for sure, but years and years ago, so I was really happy to be the ‘chosen one’ for the reworking of this particular painting.

What were the biggest challenges in re-imagining The Kiss?
I really wanted to capture the grace there is; the very soft and gentle attitude of the male character toward the lady. The hand gesture is awesome too – I think it’s the first thing I started thinking about. Then I focused on the neck area and realised that it was tricky. In 3D, it’s completely weird and off, but once flattened out it works.
The real challenge was to deal with the gold colour that fits so well in Klimt’s work but that I hate so much in the real world. ImagineFX’s art editor, Paul, suggested I use gold for the armour and gun, to keep track of the original colour scheme. That was a very good idea but in the end I devised the ‘Vote Gold’ thing to bring things together in a more theoretical way. There’s a cool story behind it. You want to hear it? Look at the picture and make up your own…
Briefly outline the techniques involved in creating this image.
Since I wanted to keep the same pose and almost the same angle, I started focusing on the characters. Because I wanted to go into a detailed picture, I knew I’d use 3D for the basis. So, first, quick modelling using my regular homemade Poser-like app within Maya. Then some crazy ZBrushing – no textures, just modelling. Basic renders, then hours in Photoshop to overpaint, replace, integrate pictures and so on.
Original painting - The Kiss

2. Terror.
Andrew Jones takes on the unenviable task of reworking one of the most famous images in art – Edvard Munch’s The Scream
When we were choosing artists to re-imagine our four chosen masters, there was only one name put forward to take on the abstract nature of The Scream – Andrew Jones. Co-founder of Conceptart.org and senior concept artist at Massive Black, we thought that Andrew’s style of painting would be a perfect match up with Munch. Here he talks about his process…

How much did you know about the artist before you started your reworking? Is Munch an artist you admire? 
I was familiar with Munch. Reinterpreting his art did give me the opportunity to venture deeper into his history and some of the interpretations of the painting. I have a respect for his contribution to the lineage of fine art, and with all the over-produced mouse mats, it’s impossible to ignore the impact his work has had on the collective human consciousness.

Has studying this artist influenced your own work in any way?
Yes, there’s something very visceral and energetic about his painting style. It has more emotion and movement than realism and detail, and I’m attracted to that quality.
In art school, I remember one of my art history teachers describing that this painting was a symbol of the harbinger of World War 2. It would appear that the figure in the centre is screaming, but one of the interpretations is that he’s actually covering his ears from the scream of nature around him.

What were the biggest challenges in re-imagining The Scream?  
I think the main artistic challenges were creating an image that was of the energetic essence and reminiscent of the original composition, while still having the freedom and opportunity to feel like I was creating a piece of art for myself instead of a commissioned illustration.

Briefly outline the techniques involved in creating this image.

I used Painter X. I began with a loose sketch and primarily took advantage of custom patterns and papers to achieve the many abstract and complex shapes that I engineered into a recognisable image. I rendered out shapes and forms, weaving them into a recognisable and tangible illusion of form and space.
Original painting - The Scream

3. Vers les Rivages Eternels

Melanie Delon talks us through her interpretation of The Rapture of the Psyche, a painting by one her favourite artists…
We gave French artist Melanie Delon the task
of creating a 2007 update of the 1895 painting The Rapture of the Psyche by William Bouguereau. Melanie’s beautiful art will be familiar to regular readers of ImagineFX and we thought her ethereal and almost dream-like style of painting would be perfect to tease out a unique twist on a true French classic. We spoke to Melanie to see how she took on this challenge.

How much did you know about the artist before you started your reworking?
A lot. In fact, Bouguereau is one of my favourite painters, so I have almost all of his masterpieces on my computer. He’s a real old master, his technique is breathtaking, and he’s French so it was truly an honour for me to do this ‘remix’.

Has studying this artist influenced your own work in any way?
It’s hard to say. I don’t try to paint like him, but maybe for certain pieces I have been inspired a lot by his works, mostly for the light and colour.

What were the biggest challenges in reimagining The Rapture of the Psyche?
Trying not to do a poor copy, or a kind of plagiary. I tried to bring my own world and style to the concept. I also changed the colours and tried a different light. I wanted this piece to be really colourful, something very rich with a lot of details.

Briefly outline the techniques involved in creating this image.
I spent a lot of time on it. I used Photoshop CS2 and Painter. I started it with a completely different colour scheme, something more violet and pink, very desaturated/pale colours. It was awful. Then I decided to scrap the whole thing and restarted it with colours that were more saturated and rich.
Original painting - Le ravissement de Psyché

4. Birth on Venus

Jason Chan is no stranger to ImagineFX covers – his art graced the front of issue four. A graduate of illustration from San Francisco Academy of Art, he now works at Massive Black, and while incredibly busy, he found some time to put his spin on Botticelli’s beautiful painting The Birth of Venus. Below, Jason reveals his thoughts on reworking this artistic masterpiece.

How much did you know about the artist before you started your reworking?
I was familiar with the artist and his work, but my knowledge was limited. Once I knew what image I’d be reworking, the first thing
I did was look it up and study both the image and the various icons within it. I wanted to know who the people were and what significance they had in the image.

Has studying this artist influenced your own work in any way?
It definitely influenced this particular image. It may not be a visual difference that most people can see, but it was present within my mind while I was working. Of course, I deviated quite a bit from Botticelli’s original piece and gave it a modern sci-fi twist, but I kept his image in my thoughts.

What were the biggest challenges in reimagining The Birth of Venus?
The biggest challenge was attempting to totally change the image, yet still make it recognisable as a remix of the original. As I began changing more and more elements,
it became increasingly difficult to recognise that this was a reinterpretation of Botticelli’s piece. In the end, I had to weigh the necessity of changes either in favour of making the image more my own or like the original. I decided that the most important thing was to make a beautiful image, whether it was recognisable or not.

Briefly outline the techniques involved in creating this image.
First, I quickly drew out my composition to try to place all of the elements pleasingly
on the page while accommodating the magazine layout. Once I knew where things would go, I did a slightly more refined sketch (though nothing too detailed or tight). After that, I blocked in my major colours and shadows to get a better sense of the mood and impact the image would have. Finally, I spent a good amount of time just refining it until it was finished.
Original painting - The Birth of Venus
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