Interview with Folko Streese

My name is Folko Streese and I live in Berlin, Germany with my girlfriend and my little daughter.

Hi Folko. Please introduce yourself and tell us when and how you got started in CG?

My name is Folko Streese and I live in Berlin, Germany with my girlfriend and my little daughter.

I started out as an illustrator for an interactive media company. I had to do illustrations and animations for edutainment cd-roms. First I did a lot of stuff traditional and touched it up in ps but step by step I discovered that I could realize much more in a shorter timeframe when using the digital tools. I asked my boss for a wacom tablet and soon I did all my work digital.

Then I got my first freelance job as a texture painter  (I painted 150 face textures with the mouse because at this time I had  no wacom at home yet :)) and after that I moved from Hamburg to Berlin to work employed as a concept and 2D artist. Nowadays I am a Freelancer and very happy with it.

Click here to view big imageTell me more about the process of creation? What do you start with?

Usually I start with a more or less rough pencil sketch, scan it in and then start to paint it over. Lately I started sometimes directly in photoshop without preliminary sketches. If a high-end illustration is needed I start with little pencil thumbnails to nail down the composition.

What software do you use at every stage of work?

Sometimes I start to lay out the perspective in SketchUp. For painting I use Photoshop. It was the first painting software I got in touch with and it is still my favourite tool. I tried Painter once but I was overwhelmed by all the adjustments you could do and since Photoshop got his extended brush engine (I guess they added it in version 7.0?) I am quite happy with it. Maybe I will try painter in the future again, because I have seen a lot of amazing stuff done with it but at the moment I don’t have the time to test it intensively. It is some years ago I painted textures, at that time we first used detailer and later on deeppaint 3d in combination with the texture weapons extension. For 2d animation I use flash and if the intended use demands it I do illustrations in flash as well.

Have you any tricks and your own “know-how” in painting, if it’s not secret tell us about them?

I am not the first one to state it but that´s just the way it is: The best trick is to paint, paint, paint :). Of course over the time you develop your own way to handle your software intuitionally and you discover little tricks here and there how you can achieve certain effects. You can do a lot with custom brushes but I myself am just discovering all the possibilities custom brushes offer.  It’s definitely a timesaver. Sometimes I blend textures to make the pic more vivid. In general I don’t think there are “evil” filters or tools in Photoshop, it all depends on the way you use them.

Judging by your portfolio you are a very versatile artist. Have you got any preferences as to the sphere of your work (painting and design for games, textures creating, illustration)?

Thank you for your compliment. I like most to do fully-painted sci-fi or fantasy illustrations but also concept painting and character design. It feels great to see your work animated and in action. I guess it depends on the right mix. Sometimes I love to do a logo or a storyboard or some pixel gfx as well. I think the more artistic freedom you are given the more fun you have.

Where do you get the ideas for all of this amazing artwork?

I think inspiration is in everything that surrounds you. Besides the obvious sources like books, films, comics I am very inspired by living in a big city with all the everyday impressions. I think the key to creativity is to combine known elements to something new.

Click here to view big imageOn your website we can see that you won a few awards. Tell us more about these awards and which of your works were awarded?

Well, it’s not such a big thing, actually the referred games won the awards but since I did all the graphics in these mobile games I thought it was ok to mention them on my website. Both are titles of the “The Dark Eye”- series based on the role-playing universe of the same name. It is very successful in Germany but I don’t know how well-known it is in the rest of the world. The games are mostly text-based adventure games accompanied by about 20 illustrations each. I made these and the cover artwork for both. I am not that proud on these anymore because I developed a lot since then and I could do them much better nowadays in my opinion. But hey, I had a very tight timeframe and the german developer award is quite renowned. It is the most important award for computer games in Germany.

You work as artist in many game projects (also for such famous game as “Gothic”). What project was the most interesting and successful for you?

“Gothic” is definitely the most famous game I contributed work to. Regarding the content “A New Beginning” is the most interesting project I am involved in. It is an adventure game which is still in the production pipeline. This so-called Eco-Thriller deals with the possible consequences of the climate change, a subject which I am very interested in. Also very interesting was doing conceptual artwork for “Midgard Online” which is still in development. I could do a lot of mood paintings for it which was a lot of fun. And I learned a lot when I had to do more than 30 environment designs for “Simon the Sorcerer-Chaos happens”.

And what are your favourite computer games?

In fact I am not a big computer gamer myself (I hope my customers do not listen :)) but in general I like to play classic adventure games.

There are many fantastic characters and landscapes in your portfolio, you like to read fantastic or fantasy books, don’t you?

Yeah, of course :), but I also love to read thrillers, especially with scientific background. I love Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, Terry Pratchett., Neil Gaiman, Dean Koontz, Andreas Eschbach and a lot of others.

What are your hobbies?

Fortunately my main hobby is my profession. Besides that I am interested in movies, comics, sci-fi, future technology, gadgets, hiphop culture. I spend a lot of time with my little family, my 15-months- old daughter Yola and my beloved girlfriend Claudia.

What are your plans for the future? What next works from you will we see soon?

I am really interested in doing stuff for role-playing and board games. At the time I am working on an adequate portfolio. And I am creating a lot of illustrations and background drawings for “Panfu”, a virtual world for kids at the moment. It launches next week and features a completely different style than my fantasy or sci-fi work. Some of the background drawings already can be seen on my website.

3DM3 thanks you for interview and wishes you all the best!

I have to thank you!

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