Belgian Artist Steps into His Own Incredible 3D Drawings

Ben Heine, a 30-year-old Belgian artist, creates amazing life-size 3D sketches. He then takes pictures of himself stepping into his own drawings. So he creates incredible images of his real-life self walking a black-and-white tiger, being held at gunpoint, and staring at a hand-drawn self-portrait.

Ben makes use of a very interesting technique called anamorphosis. It requires the viewer to look at the sketches from a very specific angle, to see the complete effect. From a different perspective, these ‘illusions’ look slightly distorted. “It was very exciting to create these works because I like new challenges and I like to surprise,” Ben said. What’s amazing is that he sketches freehand, in just a single take, using a mixture of charcoal sticks and graphite pencils. The works are re-touched in post-production. It takes him a week to complete each drawing.

The sketches begin as pencil drawings and the shading is added using charcoal sticks. For large dark areas in the composition, Ben uses as many as 15 pencils and three charcoal sticks. “I’m actually using a mix of charcoal sticks for the large shadows and thick dark lines and graphite pencils for the smallest details and soft shadows,” he said. “Both materials are carbon based so they still belong to the same medium.

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Ben’s 3D sketches are a part of his Pencil vs Camera series, which he started in 2010. All the works in this series feature photographs of sketches held up against real-life backgrounds. I looked up some of his smaller drawings on his website. The pictures replaced a part of reality, giving it a cartoonish feel.

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As the series evolved, Ben began to make larger and larger drawings. Most of his current sketches measure 13.5 feet by 10 feet. “I wanted to have my sketches large enough to pose with them and become part of the whole composition – to have my full body replacing my hand,” he said.

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