Florian Heron || Playful 3D Illustrations Borne Out of Curiosity

Florian Heron || Playful 3D Illustrations Borne Out of Curiosity

What if?

These are the words that spring up in Florian’s mind when he sees an artwork with elements that inspire him. What if this 2D illustration was rendered in 3D? How would that look like. It’s these spurts of creativity and curiosity that acts as a springboard for his creations, where he takes existing works by different artists one step further, developing a new look and feel and items that are original and captivating.

We invited Florian to share their artistic career path with us, and it shows that one can create great artworks even without formal training in their craft; a lot of it is trial and error and a pure devotion to simply wanting to get better at what you do. Read on for our conversation with Florian.

P: Pendulum Magazine

F: Florian Heron

P: What’s your story? How did you arrive to where you are today?

F: Before answering this, let me start with explaining that Florian Heron is not my real name, it is a pseudonym, or to be precise the surname part of it. I picked Heron because of the wonderful patience these animals have in order to obtain their food, and patience is the very thing I need in order to create my work so I thought it was a perfect fit. Every day I can see from my balcony a blue heron landing in the lawn of my apartment building, which is a great sight.  

I was born in Rotterdam, where I spent my first 9+ years of childhood. My family and I then moved to The Hague where I finished high school. During class I was always drawing, not very skilled, but totally absorbed by it. Come to think of it, for as long as I can remember, I was interested in anything involving art or design. Perhaps my mom is part to blame since she always took my siblings and I to all sorts of museums. But she always showed us classical art, never ever modern art. In fact, she would go out of her way to hide it from us and this is the reason I developed an intense hunger for anything to do with contemporary art. I would give myself the title illustrator by day and artist by night.

After high school, I applied to an art academy in Amsterdam and The Hague. I got accepted into both and picked Amsterdam where I, after the first mandatory general year, started in the direction of graphic design. After my time at the art academy, I started making animations with a friend whom I met at the art academy, we tried to sell to small businesses, but this never really picked up so after a while we both went our separate ways. Now I work as a freelance illustrator, and when time allows, I would also work on weird art projects that serve no other purpose than themselves - that’s pretty much how I ended up where I am today.

P: How did you become interested in 3D modelling? Did you have to go through any formal education/training or are you self-taught?

F: Self-taught I would say. The 3D modelling happened gradually after all those years doing 2D illustrations and design work. I always had this ambition to try it but the fear of it being too technical always stopped me. Until one day I just started playing with it using 3ds Max, and somehow I got a grasp of it and I never stopped, mind you that my skills are pathetic compared to most 3D illustrators out there, but I get a bit better each year and for me it is also more about the subject as opposed to how technically brilliant it is. But 3D did not take away my joy in 2D, this is why so many times I jump in between Illustrator, Photoshop and 3dsmax!

P: Can you briefly tell us about the "What's on the other side Ray?" project? Guide us through the creative process including the techniques/technologies you employed in realizing the project.

F: "What's on the other side Ray?" For those paying close attention, it's actually already given away in the title. This work is an homage to one of the works by Italian artist Ray Oranges. When I first saw this 2D illustration I immediately thought it would be nice to model this in 3D and explore what could be lying inside such a world. I started a couple of years ago and then abandoned it for a long time due to working all sorts of jobs in order to pay the bills. Not long ago, I finally picked up where I left off and had to make all sorts of decisions on how to finish the project, for example the people, trees and cars should look like. For the whole overall look I chose as inspiration a brief design movement in the 80's called "Memphis", which I believe consists mostly of furniture. For the cars, I initially had a way more complex 3D execution in mind, but then decided on bare minimum abstraction, and applied this to the trees as well. For the people I had a sort of cubism graphic style in mind. When I finally finished it and posted it on my Behance page it unexpectedly got great results due to Behance featuring it in their illustration gallery.

P: Is there a particular aspect within the creative process of this project that appeals to you the most?

F: The most fun part of this project was placing the cameras. It's a great way to explore the dimensions of the world you created and brings them all together. Sure, some shots do not work as well and others are way better than you ever could have hoped for. I decided only after placing the camera to put in the guy on the fixed gear bike with the dog, also I admit he is way more naturalistic than the other characters; somehow I always have a style war going on in my work, I just do not want to commit to one style only, maybe its weak, but whatever it may be, it’s a great feeling of freedom.

P: Why did you decide to integrate 2D elements (e.g. the people) into this project? What was the significance of that?

F: The integration of 2D and 3D had much to do with the fact that the inspiration of this project is a 2D image. Also, I’ve been mixing 2D and 3D modelling since they bring about a playful feel.

P: Where do you find inspiration for your work?

F: Most of my inspiration comes from just bumping into an interesting photo, or as in this case, the work of another illustrator; many times, when seeing the works of another artist, or a detail component of it, I get the deep urge to go ahead and try it for myself and I get on a journey to the unknown. My computer is filled with half finished or abandoned project waiting to get finished, or to be forgotten.

P: What’s your favourite or most memorable project you have worked on so far?

F: The most fun I had with a job so far was creating a corporate identity for a small lounge bar in Germany. It was so rewarding to make all the elements fit and work and to leverage my knowledge in illustration and graphic design. For those who are curious, you can view it here on my Behance page.

P: Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations you would like to share with us?

F: At the moment, I've got nothing cooking, but I’ve always dreamed of working for a huge brand, a big company or institution. It must be so unbelievable to make a key illustration or whole set of illustrations and characters that define the look and feel of their activities.

Florian’s playful style and mixing of 2D and 3D elements will eventually catch the eyes of the big brands he aspires to working with. We look forward to seeing more of Florian’s explorative and curiosity-driven works!

To learn more about Florian Heron’s work, visit his website here.