Francois Veraart Experiments with Blending 3D Effects and Photography

You might have to do a double take when you first see Francois Veraart’s 3D creations. Veraart joins a modern wave of creatives whose work harkens back to the trompe l’oeil style painting of the 17th century masters. Those artists created still life paintings with detail and depth so astonishing, you wanted to reach out and touch them.

Veraart is a freelance designer in the Netherlands who has spent the last twenty years as an illustrator in the advertising world. He began his career hand-drawing his designs and over time adopted a digital workflow. More recently, he’s been exploring new creative avenues, blending 3D effects with photography to achieve a realistic effect. As more and more clients request this type of treatment, he’s able to play with 3D in ways that feed his own personal fascination with depth, light, texture and realism.

It’s always fun for us to hear about artists’ evolving mediums. We just had the privilege of speaking with Veraart about his work and felt the deep-seated passion he has for creating new realities. He feels 3D modeling has boosted his 2D designs and taken the overall quality to a whole new level.

Where do you draw inspiration from?**
**Francois:_ I’m inspired by a variety of artists and art forms. I particularly like the work of the old Dutch painting masters, as well as modern art—it’s the use of light and atmosphere in those paintings that’s fascinating. Additionally, the work of Alphonse Mucha, Leonardo Da Vinci, Antoni Tapies, and Gottfried Helnwein really move me._

When I began as an illustrator I used Air Brush and was a great fan of Japanese artists like Masao Saito. I’m also inspired by SyFy movies (the latest Star Trek, Oblivion) and the Marvel Movies (The Avengers and Thor), as well as Lord of the Rings and Sucker Punch—I like the animation style of these types of movies, hand drawn as computer-generated images. I’m very inspired by those sketches or drawings.

And of course, I gain inspiration from other artists. That’s why I surf sites like Behance and a lot. I look at other people’s work and think, ‘I want to make the same stuff they do.’ There are a lot of artists producing better work than me, but that doesn’t matter. It keeps me sharp. They push me further to experiment with 3D and Photoshop. For me 3D has to live. It’s not just making an illustration; it’s creating a feeling.

As an illustrator, Veraart also wasn’t particularly familiar with 3D tools and it proved to be a journey of learning and discovery. Veraart made the leap by watching tutorials to ease into the process and felt his long-standing familiarity with Photoshop (since version 3.0!) played a role in helping him get comfortable approaching the 3D tools in Photoshop. Now, he’s using 3D to push the limits of his art form.

**What’s your creative process?
****Francois: **Normally I start with a sketch on paper or I browse the Internet for examples and photographs I want to start playing with in 3D. I’m old school, so first I start drawing and when I have a raw sketch I go into Illustrator and create the first lines. I discovered that when you’re working with shapes in 3D a lot of times they aren’t perfect. When you’re using a path you get really nice, smooth lines. When I’m finished with Illustrator, I bring my work into Photoshop and then start working in 3D…so I approach it one step at a time.

My favorite feature is the use of the shape preset – embossing, angles and strength. You can experiment with these and create interesting things— more natural looking shapes. I created a small dolphin on the bow of the submarine! It is also big fun to experiment with materials, reflections, and so on. At the end I put my image through post-production to create a photorealistic look and feel using various filters.

How does your 3D work challenge reality?**
**Francois:In the past, car companies would have their agencies shoot images of new car models in an actual location. Now, you can combine a photograph of the location with a computer-generated image of the vehicle. Similarly, my model of ‘The Dolphin’ was made using handmade drawings, 3D and photography. The pen and submarine were completely digital creations. Working with photos, and making adjustments to them the way I do…it’s what you’ll be seeing more and more in the future.

To see more of Veraart’s inspirational work, visit

To learn about the 3D tools available in Photoshop, visit