Christian is already a big name in the online communities having been creating stunning science fiction vistas for a number of years now. Illuminate VI is also his 11th release with The Luminarium, throughout his time here he has constantly produced great artwork and insightful critique for our other artists.

Lum: First off Christian, congratulations on the feature! Do you tend to enjoy the Illuminate exhibits more than the themed ones, or do you enjoy having a guideline to follow?

Christian: For me the themed Exhibits could be seen as a good exercise for commissioned work. If you are trying to get your feet on the ground, aiming for work in a professional field, it's certainly never wrong to have a topic that narrows the guidelines a bit. Sometimes the results may not be as good as if it were an open topic (that allows you to do what you want) but it will surely help you to get somewhere. I personally enjoy both, the open and themed ones. The open topics can be plain fun and you can experiment a lot. The themed ones require you to focus a little more and think about how to efficiently approach the idea that eventually takes shape in your head.

Lum: Let's get started with a little bit about you. What do you do outside of art? Any hobbies?

Christian: I'm a very very big movies fan. Have you seen 'Snowpiercer'? Fantastic movie and unbelievable that it didn't get a wide release in theaters! Now it's became this sorta insider tip. Which is maybe even better. Movies build a lot of inspirational background for my pictures. Photography is also a side project of mine. Especially macro-photography.

Lum: You've been producing art since before the Luminarium even existed, and most of us probably know of your art from your DeviantArt under the moniker "Tigaer". What originally got you into the scene? What hooked you into it/made you stay?

Christian: I have always been a creative guy. What held me back was that I didn't know how to really channel it. My drawing/painting skills are rather limited (even to this day) and so it came that I got my first PC in the mid 90s. It came with a tool called 'Corel Photopaint', which was similar to Photoshop. There I learned and began to understand what this computer could do for me. It still took a long time before I seriously started to invest time into the learning process. Around 2000 I met someone who knew Photoshop and told me to try it. So I did and fell in love. Somehow I'm feeling really old right now! At the end of 2001 I joined DeviantArt. At first I was playing with very basic Photomanipulation stuff and wanted to read some feedback on it. DeviantArt wasn't as crowded as it is today and feedback was fairly easy to get. Soon after that I discovered 3d tools like Bryce and Terragen. Both tools helped me create some nice landscape stuff which I always touched up in Photoshop. I was very active in the Terragen community on DeviantArt back then. Sure enough Terragen had its limitations and I wanted to do more than just landscapes. Terragen 2 was still in development and so I did go for Vue. Since then Vue made it into my permanent arsenal and I wouldn't trade it for something else. While I admire all the digital painters and concept artists that are able to create great stuff in a rather short time... I try to optimize my far too complicated workflow. Try to get better. Love the feedback. Enjoy and get inspired by work from other people. Also... there's rarely a better feeling than to finish a commission and the client is thankful and happy with the result.

Lum: You're one of the most prolific and well-known Luminarium members; what originally drew you to the group in the first place?

Christian: I knew the group a long time before I joined. I followed some of the artists and their fantastic work and often noticed the logo. Every now and then I thought about asking if I could join. Then again, I'm not a very active person when it comes to forum centric things. That always held me back a little. One day I got invited and was very surprised. I felt very honoured but still took me some days to think about it. Ultimately there was nothing that spoke against joining the group. I made clear that I might not be the most active guy on the forums and once that was out of the way... all was fine.

Lum: Let's switch gears and talk a little about your artistic process. How do you typically attack a project?

Christian: I guess it comes down to the topic. Normally you would start with sketches and some rough concept drawings to find the creative spark. I handle this stage a little different. Vue plays a big role in the creation of my pictures and normally I open it up and start to play around with it. Since it's a 3d tool I have a lot of freedom when it comes to composition and how to set up a scene. I recently had to create a mountain canyon with a fantasy city on the edge/top of the canyon walls. I started by creating a landscape that sort of matched the request. Worldmachine played a big role in that part. Once the landscape worked, I refined it with help of Photoshop and then import it into Vue. There I find a good camera angle and start to play with atmospheres. In case of the fantasy pic, it was a darker and foggy atmosphere. Then I would start to build a city. I often use models bought from the DAZ catalogue and had some medieval ones in my archive. Last but not least I render the image and apply some Postwork through Photoshop. Refining textures, overpainting and fixing elements. For that scene I added two waterfalls as well. Once the main elements are done I go deeper into the image and check for things that need detail. I often render several passes of the scene, along with multipass layers that give me masks of hero objects. That allows replacing elements very efficiently. It’s a back and forth between Vue and Photoshop... until I'm happy.

Lum: What's your personal favorite piece out of your own works? What do you like about it?

Christian: That's not easy to answer. In some strange way it's almost always the picture you're currently working on. That is at least when it comes to the bigger projects that fully demand your attention. Looking at what I've done so far I couldn't pinpoint one single piece. Right now my favourites are "Room With A View", "From Here I Can Almost See The Stars", and "Claim New Worlds". RWAV, because it was the first one where I tried myself on some interior work. I had to find new techniques and it turned out surprisingly good. FHICASTS because I really enjoy the colour palette, detail and depth. When it comes to CNW I seem to really be in a minority for liking it. It feels as if I'm constantly defending it when friends and family comment on it. I really enjoy the mood and that completely otherworldly look. It leaves a lot of room for interpretation of what this place actually is. I heard some cool theories that the weird formations could be bones from ancient gigantic creatures or that it's even part of a city. I love it when people speculate and form their own ideas about what they see.

Lum: Any advice for those who are just starting out into the digital art field?

Christian: I think everyone here at Lum will tell you that the key elements are patience and drive. Especially if you're self-taught. A while ago I read an interview with someone who worked for some big productions. For young people he gave the advice to stay at home as long as you can. Practice and try to reach a certain level before you think about going further. I understand that this isn't always possible for everyone but I have to agree. Take your time (if you can) and use it well. Once you got your skillset and enough talent that allows you to create some outstanding work... everything else will come automatically.

Lum: Do you have a favorite artist within the Luminarium you typically look up to?

Christian: I think everyone in the group is able to bring something great to the table. When it comes to my specific field of scifi/fantasy environments then there's a Bobby Myers, Kuldar Leement and Sebastien Hue. All three are kind of in the same field but all three of them have different looks in their work. In the abstract 3d area I really enjoy Maxime Des Touches work a lot.

Lum: You have a massive range of subject material within your works, all rooted fairly firmly in epic sci-fi scenes. Where do you usually get your inspiration from?

Christian: Thanks for the compliment! I always feel though that I need to branch out much more and become more versatile. I'm not where I want to be when it comes to that. But that's a neverending story, right? Well, my inspiration comes from a lot of sources. Movies, Games, Books and work from other artists. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and suddenly some idea/image appears in my head. If it's strong enough I'll try to do it.

Lum: Onward to better things, I'm afraid it's time to close. Any parting words for the readers?

Christian: I applaud you if you made it this far and thank you for reading!

Lum: Cheers mate, thanks for everything. It's been fun. Here's to many more successful exhibits with you as an integral part of the team.

Christian: Absolutely and thank you very much!