Krisztián Tejfel: traditional painter interview



The extremely talented Hungarian painter and photographer Krisztián Tejfel shares his portfolio, inspirations and words of wisdom for fellow artists...

Channelling the passion for art that he has held since childhood, Krisztián Tejfel has explored many avenues in the art world, from drawing to traditional painting, from photography to tattoo art. The wealth of technical experience he has gained from creating art in so many different ways has informed Krisztián's stunning digital portraiture. His portraits are mostly of women, with the subject often looking directly at the viewer, drawing the viewer into his mesmerizing works. Today, Krisztián talks to 3dtotal about his work and his plans for future projects...

Krisztián likes to create digital artwork with textures and visible brushstrokes

The direct gaze of the subject to the viewer is common in Krisztián's work

Hello Krisztián! Thanks for talking to 2dartist. First off, could you introduce yourself with a bit about your background and projects?

Hey, thank you for the opportunity! My name is Krisztián Tejfel, I was born in 1979, in a town called Zalaegerszeg, Hungary. It turned out very soon, in my early childhood, that I was interested in anything that was art, but I liked drawing the best. Later I tried several branches of the arts, from painting to tattooing, but I also dealt with airbrush techniques. Later, when I was involved in photography, I learned a lot about lighting, composition and conveying emotions, which I think is the most important element of a good portrait. Since I never had any formal arts training, I had to figure everything out for myself, so all that knowledge burned into me very deeply. Currently I am working mostly on my own projects, which I really enjoy!

Krisztián simulates oil and watercolour effects in his digital work

A slightly more surreal work

You have created some incredible portraits which have quite a traditional style to them. How did you develop this style?

I'm glad if you see it like that. The truth is I never liked the kinds of digital painting which are too sterile, with no texture and brushstrokes. I have always tried to imitate traditional painting techniques. At first I thought that this is only possible by using custom brushes. Now I know I can do almost anything with a basic chalk brush. Of course, a custom brush often comes in handy, but the ‘secret' lies more in the handling and the settings of the brush.

Krisztián's past explorations of other art forms, including tattoo art, can be seen in his digital work

A dark color palette reflects the mood of the subject

What caused you to start learning digital art techniques?

Sometime in the 90s, I was at an exhibition where there was a stand which dealt with computers. There I saw someone drawings – in Paint, I think. Of course I tried it and I was completely impressed by drawing with the mouse. I remember I did quite well, because my drawing got printed and pinned on the wall of the stand! Then I felt that I really wanted to draw and paint by computer, too. Later I was taken over by the world of matte painting and concept art, where I learned a lot about digital painting and understood that it can certainly be practiced at artistic levels.

Delicate brushstrokes around the hairline soften the silhouette of the hat

Small splashes of color add contrast against a muted palette

Which software do you prefer to use? Do you have any favorite techniques or brushes?

I've been using Photoshop for a very long time, so my answer is clearly Photoshop. From time to time I use Painter, too – it's excellent when you want to simulate watercolor. As I've mentioned, I usually use a basic chalk brush, but of course, a lot of custom brushes can also be found in my ‘toolbox'. I really like Photoshop's mixer brush: colors can be washed together with it very nicely, just like in oil painting.

A painting in greyscale draws attention to the differences between the detailed face and the sketchy body of the subject

Touches of bright color and a lightly drawn tattoo give this portrait a more contemporary feel

Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital? Can you tell us why you like their work?

This is quite difficult to answer, because you're inspired by so many people. Some of them I like because of their technique, some of them because of the way they can express emotions. If you want me to say names, I would say István Sándorfi who is a traditional painter. He is able to convey emotions in an amazing way, not to mention his brilliant technique. I love his abandoned or later ‘spoiled' works! I can spend hours watching interviews with him. Watch them, they're worth it!
I love Gottfried Helnwein's works, too!

It's more difficult for me to bring examples from the digital world, but I really like the works of Nicponim. He creates wonderful characters paired with an amazing technique. Maciej Kuciara's works are fantastic as well.

The shine of the glass lenses contrasts with the matte skin of the subject

The elongated neck of the subject adds to the surrealism of this portrait of a girl and a dove

And finally, what have you got planned for your artwork in the future?

I definitely want an exhibition of my paintings, but only in a professional environment. I want to issue more of my limited edition giclee prints which will soon be available in my shop.

I would like my work to appear in as many places as possible, so it can reach the people who may like what I do. I have plenty of ideas which are waiting to be implemented in addition to works I do for order.

The oval frame of this portrait is reminiscent of traditional miniatures and early photographs

Related links

Head over to Krisztián Tejfel's personal site
Take a look at Krisztián Tejfel's shop
Buy a copy of Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop: Characters

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