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Viktor Titov

Meet the hamster obsessed Russian artist who combines a passion for traditional landscape and epic drama in his work…

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VIKTOR TITOV
Age: 22
Country: Russia
Favourite digital artists: Linda Bergkvist, Erwin Olaf, Craig Mullins
Web:http://hamsterfly.cgsociety.org

Hamsters are always in my head. They even follow me in my sleep,” jokes Viktor Titov. It’s an odd confession, but there’s nothing untoward about the young Russian’s preoccupation with capaciously cheeked rodents. Hamsters are a recurring theme throughout Viktor’s artwork and when they’re not at its centre, they can often be found lurking in the background. “If you look at all my work you can always find one little hamster in there,” he confides.

As you might have guessed Viktor has a devious sense of humour and he brings it to the digital canvas. “There are some funny and amusing moments in life,” he says. “It’s great if you manage to perceive the humour, and if you use it in your work that is wonderful, too.”

While some of Viktor’s subjects might have a lightness of touch, it’s clear that he takes his painting seriously. Despite his age (he’s only 22) he has a mature painting style reminiscent of fantasy art master, Todd Lockwood (see page 26 for Todd’s column).

Viktor started his career at a youthful age attending a children’s art school and went on to study art at graduate level in Russia, working using traditional media, pencil and paper, and oil and canvas.

Viktor cites the work of classic Russian artists such as Fyodor Vasilyev and Isaac Levitan in addition to impressionists Degas, Monet, and Renoir as influences on his style. And you may well notice that his rendering of skies recall their romanticised pastoral scenes.

“I love all landscape painters, Vereshagin, Van Gough, John Constable, Alfred Sisley,” he explains. “These artists have affected my perception of painting. I have understood many things while examining their remarkable works. When I studied, I thought that I would only draw landscapes for the rest of my life.”

He advises that artists should be mindful of their influences. “Learn from the best,” he says. “Look, observe and notice in works of known masters what distinguishes them and what makes them unique to develop your style.”

Contrasting those tranquil scenes Viktor shows a flair for the epic drama of the fantasy genre. In images such as Dragon Crash and Final Battle, Viktor’s style exhibits some of the dynamism of contemporary digital artists such as Craig Mullins, who contrast roughly sketched areas painted with quick strokes against more considered detail work. It’s a process he describes as being something of a balancing act.

“I don’t have enough time to work over all the details,” he explains. “Sometimes I feel I have to leave vivid touches and dabs. I may spend a lot of time trying to emphasise some details and then rub them off because they’re too obsessive and they occupy the central part of the composition.”

The little flourishes, glows and bursts of light add to the dramatic effect, but Viktor tries to keep these elements to a minimum: “I like some experiments with colour palettes, but I have been concerned about too much colour in my work. I have a desire to draw something tender and not bright,” he confesses.

Viktor works predominantly in Photoshop, using a collection of his custom brushes as well as the preset tools. He also praises Ambient Design’s natural media package ArtRage, which he uses to imitate oil paints. “It’s so simple and unpretentious,” he enthuses. “But it’s the only package that can imitate real painting well.”

“Real painting” is where Viktor developed most of his core skills, the move to digital painting came relatively recently: “I took up digital painting only a year and a half ago. I was inspired by a contest held at the Russian site, cgtalk.ru,” he explains. “I won the first prize, which was a good stimulus to go on studying digital painting.”


A vivid imagination

Inspiration for Viktor’s work comes in part from a childhood spent enthusiastically reading and drawing science fiction, though he chooses now to concentrate on technical literature to sharpen his skills. He also professes to being a big cartoon fan as well and has a big collection at home, which he describes as “enriching”.

As a student Viktor worked for a games company in Russia as a character animator as part of a character development team. Although an avid gamer, he’s particularly vocal on the subject.

“Video games are EVIL,” he insists. “They take a lot of time and then you feel as if you spent a part of your life in vain. But games are sometimes useful if they make you think, understand and realise some ideas and get fresh impressions.”

In Viktor’s current job he works on 3D and broadcast graphics for advertising and music videos, a career path that has increasingly taken him away from his first passion, painting. ”I like my job, but as I enjoyed drawing from childhood I feel that my job takes a lot of time and I have less time for painting,” he moans. “Now I seriously wonder whether it’s necessary to continue the same way or to devote all my time to CG and traditional painting?”

Ideally, Viktor wants to develop his digital painting skills as part of his day job, though he recognises openings for specialised CG artists are sparse. “I’d like to try working in the book illustration sphere, illustrating fiction and fairy tales. I want to obtain new skills and learn something new, take part in the contests and create my own style.”

For Viktor, this long process of self-development is the key to achieving success in digital art. He explains things further: “Always try to learn and rise up the ladder of skill with each new piece of work. If you have aimed to become a good artist, do not stop halfway through.”

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