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Hello. My name is Samuel Zimmerman.
I started drawing at the age of six when my mother introduced me to colored pencils and markers. At ten, my father bought me my first oil and acrylic paint sets. Through my teens and twenties I studied classical painting methods on my own and assimilated many “old master” techniques into a personal style that is also influenced by expressionism, surrealism and Art Nouveau. During my thirties until now, I've created a broad variety of personal works and commissions including portraits, landscapes, fantasy art and science fiction related themes. Though I've experimented with various mediums such as graphite, water color, acrylic and tempera, my favorite has always been, and remains, oil.
In my mid forties, I began my journey into the world of digital art when an old friend introduced me to Photoshop. I spent about a year and a half familiarizing myself with the software and developing my own approach, first to reworking photos of paintings I'd done, then to collaborations including website design, book covers and works involving other artists and authors photos and text.
The collection you see here is what I call my “Extrasolar_Sam” series. It began in 2014 when I was looking for a gratifying, relatively quick way of creating quality artwork that incorporated two things I've always loved — landscapes and science fiction. The idea was to use my photos of clouds and various random objects and textures to produce unique images I could never have created from scratch. That same year, I began using Gimp, which is free, open-source photo editing and painting software I use more than Photoshop these days because of some of its distinct features.
I also began looking for 3D terrain software to help develop the vision farther when I came across Project Dogwaffle. I currently use Howler 10. A unique feature of its 3D designer is you're not limited to just using plasma noise to build a height map. If I want something a bit more exotic, I'll use various Dogwaffle filters, photos of wood textures, tree bark, a piece of chewing gum on the sidewalk, whatever gets an interesting, alien look. Anything can be a height map!
Center of Worship
For example, "Center of Worship" began with Filter / Render / Zrings combined with the spherize tool, then transferred to 3D designer. I was playing around and came up with this organic looking, alien cityscape. The process of just exploring Dogwaffle can produce some fascinating and unexpected results! The trees were each created individually using a preset from the foliage menu, then modifying it in Particle settings / Foliage, to create the appropriate look. I love that every feature of this program can be customized!
In "The Conversation", and the foreground of "Air port", I flipped the height map upside down to add to the effect.
I used plasma noise to create the mountains in "Spirit of Outreach", and "Sanctuary". The base of the structure in "Spirit of Outreach" started out as a tree from the foliage menu. The temple in "Sanctuary" was created using a circular gradient in 3D designer.
Spirit of Outreach
"Solitary tree" is an example of a flatter, desert-like environment made in 3D designer. Plants and tree were from the foliage menu and modified in Particle settings. Each was created as a separate file to be assembled later. The sky is from one of my photos.
The source material for the terrain in "Home Away From Home" was a close-up photo of a piece of ply wood. The "home" was created in Dogwaffle using Filter / Render / Wood texture / Spherize, with some additional effects created in Gimp. The sky was another of my photos.
Once I have the components for a picture, I assemble them in Gimp. I like to create multiple color, value, texture and other layers I can modify individually. Recently, I started using Topaz for Photoshop to add additional dimension and detail.
Many thanks to Philip and Dan for a program I will be exploring for many years to come!
Other examples in this series can be found at