Cornelius Dämmrich is a well-known 3D artist, who produces mind-blowing still images, full of details, with a care for light and composition. You’ve probably seen some of his works like 52 Hz or Haze, otherwise stop everything and discover his works now 🙂
Through this interview, you will have a deeper understanding of what it takes to create world-class images as a digital artist.
I deeply thanks Cornelius Dämmrich for his honest answers and his generosity. Now enjoy!
Cornelius Dämmrich – Digital portrait of a 3D artist
Hello Cornelius! Hope you’re doing well. I’m very excited to have you here, I truly love your works! Can you please describe yourself to the readers?
My name is Cornelius Dämmrich, I’m 29 years old and I live in Cologne, Germany. I currently work as a freelance 3D Artist but I am very soon about to work for a design studio in Cologne.
The first artwork I saw from you was “Haze”. My first thought was : OMG this guy is crazy! so many details everywhere!! Was it a challenge? Can you talk about this one and the story behind?
I started working on this one in the beginning of 2013 and it took me around 7 months to complete. I was stuck in an unhealthy work environment back then, and tried to keep up my motivation for Digital Art and maintained the remaining bits of youthful rebellion in it as much as I could. It reflects my agressions towards everything structural and clean I had to do at my day job. It sure was challenging, but since I didn’t had a real deadline and could just go at it asset by asset, it only became hard within the final steps of completion. With steady income and no time limits at all, work can be very relaxing…. If I don’t felt like working for a day, that was completely fine and sometimes I just made a single asset a day and wasted the rest of the time with weed and movies. There were pieces before “Haze” that were a lot more challenging, since they didn’t had that much of a clear concept. With “Haze”, I knew what I wanted to achieve right from the beginning. I made a little sketch and that basically was it…. The rest was just execution.
What I found amazing in your works is the amount of details, the realism, but also how you use lights to create very immersive ambiances. Do you have references (movies, other artists) about that lights? How do you process?
I try to mimic actual, physical properties with lights and limit the tools I use to that concept. The setups aren’t really complex, I rarely use that many lights or cheat with complex spots or softboxes. Since my environments are typically set in “real” places, there’s no real trick involved and I just use basic square inverse area lights, IBL or physical sun environments. Designwise I like darker settings and the play with complementary colors (a lot of my images contain blue / orange light). I can’t name any direct inspiration for that though, maybe it’s a David Fincher thing, since he’s one of my favorite directors. I usually don’t look for light references, it’s more an overall tone and atmosphere that goes into the inspiration process.
” The title “52hz” is a reference to a whale that sings
in the unique frequence of 52 hertz “
“52 Hz” is another great artwork you did, full of details. It’s all about an astronaut, a phone booth and an empty car park. What is the connection between those three elements ? What is the message behind this work ?
I don’t really put anything too deep in there. This might sound strange but the meaning of anything I make develops a lot during the process…. It’s like a timeframe that captures everything I connect with during the process. There might be an overall theme of the project and there’s a meaning behind the name “52hz”, but nothing that has a clear, direct message that I want to put out there. It’s a mixture of thoughts, feelings, motives and metaphors, mixed into a theme. But it’s never a question like “I wanna say this and that, how can I put this into an image?”… I just thought it would be cool to make a wet parkinglot with an astronaut floating above it. It was a 100% visual idea with nothing attached to it, and this “thing” grows with every polygon you put into it. The title “52hz” is a reference to a whale that sings in the unique frequence of 52 hertz. They never found the actual whale, but it appears on different, independent sonars around the world and scientists believe that it’s a deaf blue or fin whale. It’s also called “the worlds loneliest whale” and I thought it was a fitting metaphor for that astronaut.
“6088AD” is your last work. You are selling a tutorial about how you made it. Is it important for you to talk about your art and your technic ?
It sure is fun to talk about art and technique, but the main reason for the tutorial was to pay rent and food with it. A single piece usually takes around 3 months to make, which is a long time. If I work on it everyday, without breaks, I have to pay for my rent somehow and I rarely get clients that want a single image that takes 3 months to make. It’s art, it’s fun but making a living from it is hard. I started this 3D thing when I was 15 years old and I never thought of it becoming my day to day job. I only do jobs for clients because that gives me the ability to make what I really love, and as of late, this is spending months on a still image. If I could, I would only do this. But I can’t, and if making a tutorial is combining my love for these images and being able to pay for food and rent, why not?
Do you have a regular workflow ? Which tools do you daily use and why ?
I use a lot of tools. My main 3D package is Cinema 4D in combination with Octane Render. I use C4D because it works good for me and I know it quite well. I use Octane because it’s really fast for a pathtracer and I can produce really great looking content without having to spend much time on tweaking parameters for it to work.
“Just watch the things that interest you
and move in that direction”
Where does your inspiration come from ? Do you have any tips to stay inspired?
I never had the problem of not being inspired enough but I guess you should watch movies or art in general and consume it as much as you’re able to. I don’t think you can be an artist without enjoying art, and if you enjoy art, you naturally consume and look at it. I draw inspiration from photos, movies, fashion, music and a lot of other artists… Just watch the things that interest you and move in that direction. And never force it… if you don’t feel like being “creative” for a day, so be it. It’s okay.
What cool tricks could you share to 3D beginners illustrators?
There’s no object with a perfectly sharp edge, everything has fresnel, only use point lights if you know the difference between a point light and an area light, don’t use 100% black or white colored objects with G… Not sure if these are tricks though.
Are there any great references like artists you love that you could share with us ?
What so special about astronauts ?
The job itself is special in that regard and they’re what comes closest to an explorer than anything else these days. A couple hundred years ago we still had white spots on our maps and this frontier transitioned from exploring unknown parts of our planet to unknown parts of our universe.
Thanks again Cornelius Dämmrich for this interview!
You can find the works of 3D artist Cornelius Dämmrich here:
If you want to get to know better how he achieves his outstanding still images (and help him in his one million babys challenge), you can buy his tutorials here :
And as always, if you are a digital artist with cool content, and want to discuss about it, please send me an email (top right icon).