24 Styles: REALISTIC

hyperreal | 3d graphics | collage | fotomelt



Combine the Hyperreal and 3D graphics styles to provide useful technical info as in some of the samples. The result is clearer than a photo.  Use them together or singly, to entertain, explain, or promote.

Collage comprises pictures from creative commons sites or my photos. It conveys mood well, in poems and stories for language studies in schoolbooks.

The last style in this family is Fotomelt. Like Collage, it’s made up of many photos jigsawed together to form a completely new picture. But here, the aim is more to depict a completely new scene or situation than to convey a mood.  

illustrates stories using imagery that newly literate people can ‘read’ easily, with more info than simple flat colours can give. One also often captures detail important to indigenous people, that the artist may be unaware of. Finally, the image is pulled together with a decorative, painterly effect.





Hyperreal  – a valuable style for any illustrator.


It’s brilliant for fantasy subjects, ‘artist’s impressions’ or visualisations. For example, in technical drawings, convincing cutaway views are only possible with realistically drawn detail. These can be from various sources to compose a whole new perspective, far more accessible to the viewer.

Also, light effects not possible in nature are easy with this technique. One can pick out what needs to be focused on, and either light just one individual in a crowd or add other special effects.

For instance, one makes images generated in 3d programs more interesting by adding a sparkle to draw the attention, or darkening or blurring unimportant detail.

Therefore, fantasy art is where this style particularly comes into its own, with unworldly light and impossible feats. Fantastical worlds, creatures and characters can build amazing stories. Hyperrealism helps your dreams and the world containing them, to be utterly believable.  

Apart from all that, this style can also create painterly effects and soften the cold perfection of 3D graphics.  All in all, there are moods that is possible only with this style.




3D graphics are just part of everyday life by now…

Combine 3D Graphics with Hyperreal to add highlights to machinery or other details like a blurred, darker, or brighter area.

3D graphics are of course, very useful to animate stories. The software has come so far over the years with faces and gestures able to express so much more, now. Back in the day, if you wanted to express emotion, 2D was the way to go. Thankfully, while 2D still has its charms, we now have a choice. There is even a way of making a 3D movie look like a 2D movie, and retaining the advantages of each. I would collaborate with a 3D animator for any work coming my way that isn’t possible with Reallusion software, which I used for the explainer video. There I combined photographic backgrounds and figures generated with the help of Reallusion iClone.

I no longer do 3D graphics using 3DSMAX, and merely show them here to demonstrate prior knowledge of what’s involved with 3D software. For instance, I had help with the Bruce Ketta coffee station, and my part was to add the details. However, the basic design was mine. (I made sure to add a chair, for instance…)

I may return to doing 3D animation, it is deeply fascinating and a very useful skill to have.

With 3D graphics, we can:
  • Entertain, by telling animated stories.
  • Explain a complex process simply so that most people can take it in because of its realism. One can also add detailed info with an exploded diagram.
  • Promote an existing 2D character as a brand by making her/him/it more life-like, upmarket and lovable.
  • Create fly-through previews of buildings, whether the structure has still to be built or exists already. One can even offer options and swap out windows, decor, all colours, etc.
  • Bring extra glamour to logos by adding the third dimension, combined with textures, cool lighting and movement.
  • With fantasy subjects, there are no limits. Lighting via a 3D program can act in a way Nature cannot allow. So. In an audience of hundreds, a single light beam can shine on one person, with the others still shrouded in darkness. People and objects can acquire an eerie glow, lit from within. Scriptwriters never tire of ‘force of nature’ weather effects, where vortexes of blue light come spiralling down from the sky to change a character in a movie. Or remove the evil villain altogether, usually with much blue light snaking up and down them, in a most satisfying way.
  • Promote your brand: As seen in the explainer video samples, it is now possible to put your face onto a 3D character and use this medium to announce what your company does. The entire slideshow will be up soon, and a video is being planned. 





Collage may seem rather vague, but like the beer ad, it reaches the parts other (styles) cannot reach.

In educational textbooks and almost always for English, this style lends itself to illustrating poems.

We all react differently to various images. That’s because we bring our own heritage, upbringing and culture, to anything we look at. And these are only some of the filters through which we see the world. In this way, we bring ourselves to anything we look at.


Having said that, there are some things that are universal in that they are a hotline to our emotions. The way we react to colours, to a certain way lines are arranged, to shape and mood in a picture is fairly standard. So collage tends to go to the right brain, to the emotional side. The creative part of us likes to connect one part of a collection of objects with another. Next, we try to find relationships between them and find a meaning and relevance. And thus a story happens. Things that seem out of place start to make us curious. And a mood that reflects the feeling of the poem, can be born.


In my collages I look for relationships of line.  In other words, the background ‘line’ running through the pictures from one to the other, can form a unifying shape that pulls it all together. Sometimes, making a collage can take a long time to make it work together without looking chaotic. Therefore, removing things is the other half of the work. But then suddenly it all comes together and the magic happens.

Collages are also great to make for a birthday or anniversary card to celebrate someone’s life. Photos of people or objects that are/were dear to the person can be combined into something beautiful.

For the beginner, making the overall image cohesive can be a problem. Try using only one colour or concentrating mainly on one colour with odd contrasting bits to heighten the interest. Or use a strong underlying shape, like a spiral, an S-curve or a U curve.

See also my blog post with more work in this style… (Opens in new window)

Poems illustrated here come from books by Cambridge University Press and Shuters.




Fotomelt is easily ‘read’ by a more conservative audience.

In South Africa there are many cultures. Books in the local African languages are usually written and drawn for that specific culture.

So the little details need to be correct. This is where photos (often inadvertently) capture the details that one may miss when simply drawing a picture. Children especially, like to see familiar details from their own homes and towns, in the pictures. We all like to be reassured with the familiar when entering the new.

Fotomelt is a great way to illustrate stories with a degree of realism while adding some creative flair. One can include well-known faces and places drawn from manipulated photographs.  Once the necessary elements have been put into a background, (again, this can be drawn from many sources and combined) the main characters can be added too. These can also be in the Fotomelt style or in a different one, e.g  Zen Zany as happens in  Chicken Pox and Honey Baby. There are also Fotomelt backgrounds in a book by a North American author, Lisa Suhay: ‘The Mermaid who came in on the Tide.’ I’m even adding it to an animation background on a current project. (2020/06)

The only thing with Fotomelt is to make sure the light source comes from the same side onto every object and every person. If it doesn’t, I flip the element so that it ‘works’ convincingly. People do notice this subconsciously. Often, shadows have to be added too.

Once everything looks like a convincing photograph of an actual event, I add lines. Then the entire thing is knitted together with a few more processes. Thus the picture is seen as a whole, a painterly drawing of a moment in time, not a pastiche or conglomerate form of collage.

Clients who commissioned work shown here, include Cambridge University Press and Shuter and Shooter Publishers (Pty) Ltd