BRAD FRAUNFELTER grew up in the small town of Warren, Pennsylvania, fascinated by the beauty of nature and inspired by comics and sci-fi art. Fueled by an adventurous spirit and continuous love for otherworldly realms, he spent a lot of time sketching whimsical aliens, dragons and space ships. “I still fondly recall in the sixth grade my love of comics, creatures and visions of space that I had seen in books as a kid.”
He attended State University of New York, College of Fine Arts of New Paltz, and avidly studied art and painting, ultimately receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Arts. After graduating he moved to New York City and began a career, not as a painter but as a freelance photographer's assistant in Manhattan's photo district. The skills and practical value of working with top professional advertising photographers would prove invaluable for developing an eye for light, shadow and color.
Later he worked as photo lab technician in upstate NY where he began learning traditional manual retouching techniques. Back then, nothing was digital (personal computers hadn't been invented yet). It was all painstaking brush, dye and airbrush work to retouch photos by hand. Brad's aptitude allowed him to pick up these skills quickly and become an expert at retouching. Despite a strong background in photography, he never stopped pursuing his love for illustration of science Fiction and fantasy, which had begun at a very young age.
Today, Brad has a steady flow of fantasy book cover photography and illustration work and has had several pieces published in “Imagine FX” magazine, “Advanced Photoshop” Magazine and several how-to books including as “Fantasy Art Now” by Ilex Press. Brad uses the techniques of all three areas of his expertise (painting, photography, and retouching) in the execution of his amazing artwork.
Two of Brad's early images published in ImagineFX Magazine in 2009.
Brad's "INSIGHT" artwork was chosen as Advanced Photoshop Magazine's Picture of the Week
"Although I started with traditional painting methods – canvas and oil paints — my current medium is the amazing program 'Adobe Photoshop'. I started using it back in the 90s with version 2.5, and the program has advanced enormously over the years with brush tools that simulate the look and feel of working with real paint.
"I generally start with lots of sketches to work out designs for subject matter and overall composition. Once I have a completed sketch I scan it into the computer and this serves as a template to work over. On a digital canvas I set the scan to the “Multiply” blending mode so that it has the appearance of a clear overlay.
"I work from background to foreground, building up more and more detail as I go. This gives more of a traditional painterly feel to it, much like working on a real canvas with oil paints. I have a custom brush which I created using the brush tools within Photoshop.
"I often work with many layers and keep different elements of the painting each on it’s own layer, so that they can be independently moved. Then I gradually collapse the layers as I work to simplify the piece into its final form. Lately I have also been studying the 3D program 'Z-Brush' to enhance my skills and capability for gaming work, and film."
"The FIREFLY image above was inspired by a visit to a local botanical garden and the rose trellised pathway shown in the photo at left. I find that my background in photography has been essential for reference material for real-world objects and textures, as well as for capturing subject matter for future paintings. I highly recommend at least a basic level of understanding and capability of digital photography and lighting for aspiring new artists. Digital cameras are relatively inexpensive these days, and the quality of photos quite good. As an artist it is definitely a must-have tool."
"When I am working on a painting I feel the same kind of enthusiasm I had when I was a kid, out building a treehouse or playing with my friends. It is a feeling like no other. And I try to capture this in my work! I TRY TO CREATE IMAGES WITH LIFE, VIGOR, and ENERGY. I also try to show the beauty and majesty of our natural environment."
Being an avid hiker, and photographer Brad is often found trekking up into the hills and gardens of surrounding Los Angeles. With backpack and camera in hand he has photographed thousands of landscapes, and these photos often serve as a source of inspiration for many of his works.
“In my opinion there are too many apocalyptic themes which dominate contemporary Science Fiction and Fantasy. I like to convey a sense of hope, of wonder and possibility — of adventure and life, both in worlds of the past and of the future.”
Contact Brad for your next book cover, product illustration, magazine article hero images or any other type of fine art illustration. Prints of many of Brad's pieces are available on the Buy Prints page.
He can be reached at 323-240-5744 and is available for commissioned works of all kinds.