Inspirational Hyperreal Vector Artists and Images


Hyperrealism is an art movement which requires the same level of technical ability as photorealistic illustration. To get an idea what is actually meant by that, you can take a look at some excellent examples in the post The World’s Most Photorealistic Vector Art1. While Hyperrealism brings a similar level of skill to images, this style allows the artist to creatively interpret an image. In Hyperrealism artists utilize ethereal lighting effects, depth of field techniques, and camera style perspective to depict the images. They create images that are imaginatively realistic.

Often artists that work in Hyperrealism have other interests as well. These vary by subject matter and style. Some of the artists listed below are interested in Vexel styles, Digitalization, Classic Airbrush Painting, and have been influenced by a myriad of other styles. We’ve included work that ranges from strong Hyperrealism to work that is more a stylization of reality.

This kind of artwork is often created using Illustrator’s Gradient Mesh Tool, though not always. You’ll see that some of the artists create artwork with a fantastic level of detail, using many flat shapes. Illustrator is the most popular program for creating Hyperreal Vector art. Artists also use Flash and other vector programs as well.

Hyperreal Vector Artists

Cristiano Siqueira2
Chistiano is an accomplished illustrator from Brazil. He has multiple vector stylistic influences. He has some works in vexel styles, cartoon styles, realistic styles, hyperrealistic styles, and various mixtures of these. The work depicted below has a great deal of realism, but also brings in a feeling of fantasy. Here is a link to an Interview with Cristiano Siqueira3, in case you want to learn more about the artist.

Chris Vector4

Giulia Balladore5
This illustrator is from Italy. Here is a link to an Interview with Giulia Balladore6, in case you want to learn more about the artist. In this interview the artist’s style is described, “my work has a huge hyper-realistic and fashion influence; chiefly I like to focus the human nature in each of my illustrations.”

Giulia Balladore7

Oleg Rogoznev8
This is a Russian artist with a really impressive craft when it comes to design of realistic vector images. His work takes on hyperreal qualities by focusing on extreme detail (see “The Flower” below, at the left hand side). In the “Still life” (below right) he uses subjective lighting. In the “Large eye” he captures realistic detail, while allowing some of hair and skin elements to show through as simplified vectors. You can visit his portfolio9 for further works.


Nuria Herrero11
This artist currently resides in Spain. She has a portfolio filled mostly with cartoon style realism. Though she also works in Hyperreal style on occasion, as can be seen from the selection of her work below.


Catherine Preston13
This artist is from the United Kingdom. She has a small selection of high quality vector portraiture. The top illustration is exemplary for her work. In the bottom illustration notice the choice of details in the image. Leaving out some of the texture in the iris of the eye gives a little bit of flatness to such a realistic image. Apparently, such kinds of artistic choices lead to stylistic effects.

Catherine Preston14

Chris Nielsen15
Chris is an illustrator from California, USA. He doesn’t use the Gradient Mesh tool. He prefers to create all that exquisite detail with a multitude of flat abstract vector shapes. He defines his style as “Stylized Realism.” In the motorcycle portraits below, he allows some unfilled vector lines to show through the design. They coexist with the shiny chrome details.


Joseph Ryan Nasipak17
Joseph is from Ohio, USA. He has used the Gradient Mesh Tool in some illustrations, but also uses blurs to good effect. The artist has the following to say about the top image, “This image was done with solid color fills, gradient fills, gausian blurs and opacity tints. No mesh.”


Eric Gushee19
Gushee is from West Virginia, USA. Most of his vector work is done in a flat shape gradient style. The pieces below show that he also works in a Hyperreal style. The top image and the image at the bottom left look as if they were made with gradient meshes. The image at the bottom right is more in line with his flatter style.


Patrick Kerby21
This artist is from Ontario, Canada. He has a large photography collection. Vector illustration is more of a hobby for him. He recreated Spiderman from a poster in the large image below using Gradient Meshes in Illustrator.


Mark Westberg23
This artist is from Minnesota, USA. He has an interest in motorcycles, airplanes, and nudes. They are all created in vector, but have an airbrushed painted quality applied to them. Especially the airplane images below. They have a hyperreal detail, while using depth of field, and blur techniques to simulate motion. Look at the blur on the propeller at the bottom right. The artist also creates atmospheric lighting with the sunset backgrounds. The motorcycle is made from flat shapes. If you look at the left rim you can see where some noticeable shapes were left.


This artist is from Poland. Her portfolio displays a range of work including Vexel stylization, Vector Cartoon, and Hyperreal. She mixes these styles in her work. Each image has areas of different stylization. In the large image, you can see how the flat vector jacket contrasts the realism of the woman depicted in the image.


Todd Mac27
This artist resides in Norway. He has a mixed style, which combines realism and flat vector graphics. The top image is titled Copertone Girl. The lighting and detail in this image have Hyperreal qualities. The face in the image is done with the Gradient Mesh Tool in Illustrator. Of course, the artist also mixes some flat vector graphics as well, like in the strands of hair and background.



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Sean Hodge is the creative mind behind AiBURN, a weblog about design, creativity, inspiration and graphics.


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  1. 1

    This is one awesome piece of artwork! Thanks Smashing Magazine for another great post.
    I hope you’ll be able to post some tutorials on how to accomplish these kind of vector artworks. Also, for the avid readers of Smashing Magazine, is there anyone here who knows of a good tutorial on perspectives, shadow, highlights, lighting? If ever you have please post it here. Thanks!!!!

  2. 2

    nice :-)

  3. 3

    Amazing!! What beautiful work, these guys got talent, thanks for a great post as always Smashing Magazine.

  4. 4

    This work is amazing!

  5. 5
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    Fred | HeavyChef

    April 27, 2008 8:21 am

    Kitch, beautiful, retro… call it what you want, no one can deny that these guys are seriously talented.

    Great post. It makes me think that we need more art direction in mainstream websites.

  7. 7

    are u stupid people?

  8. 8

    I just cannot imagine how to obtain that O__O Amazing

  9. 9

    An expert 3D artist could do any of that, and in about 1/100th the time. I’m really getting into 3D with Blender, and even from my novice standpoint I can say that you just can’t beat the practicality of using 3D when trying to achieve such results, even for ultra-high resolution images. I’d sooner work 20 hours to model, texture, and rig a scene, and wait 100 hours for the ultra-high resolution render to finish, then having to spend many hundreds of hours (i.e. several weeks) trying to achieve the same result in vector. And don’t give me that “scale to any size” crap – 3D will render as high a resolution as you tell it to, provided your textures are big enough so they don’t stretch. So no matter how you look at it, trying to get such results with vector is just plain impractical. Vector artists should stick to illustration and avoid “trying to make a photo,” and 3D artists should stick to rendering art and avoid “trying to make a logo.”

    But none-the-less, those are some incredible pieces.

  10. 10


    Meh, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. Although I do understand that it’s more practical to get realistic results utilizing 3-Dimensional techniques and software, one shouldn’t disregard other works or mediums because they are completed in a longer span of time. For example, I could say that painting is a useless art form now, because rather than painting a realistic picture (which could take a very long time), I could just render it any sort of faster medium. Practicality does not triumph over artistic merit, although you do agree that these are incredible pieces.

    Plus, working with the Gradient Mesh tool is a major bee-yatch.

  11. 11

    How about Yukio Miyamoto ( Not all portraits, but definitely amazing with the meshes. Chris Vector’s stuff just blows me away anytime I look at it.

  12. 12

    well i’m really impressed. nice work.

  13. 13

    That’s a very cool post! Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. 14

    Aside from Cristiano Siqueira this list is a gathering of semipro airbrushy vector craftsmen.
    I’m sorry this is dead boring and very uninspiring.

  15. 15

    Excellent! I have to disagree with any comment bagging these artists

  16. 16

    Fun With War Crimes

    April 27, 2008 6:14 pm

    WOW! Those are amazing!!!
    My stuff isn’t as good but entertainimng. Wow really cool.
    -Fun With War Crimes

  17. 17

    @ pizzabox, I think we can agree to respectfully disagree. If you want to throw painting into the equation, fine. I’m a novice digital painter too (Intuos 6×11), and like vector and 3D, it has it’s own weaknesses, and strengths. I paint all of my textures, and I always do post-work painting on my renders. They each have their place in the [digital] art world. Vector is a great thing, but it’s not practical for “hyperrealism.” When I look at those wonderful pieces of work, I can’t help but ask myself “why?” – it just doesn’t make sense to do that kind of thing in Illustrator or Flash, mesh tool or not. I also know how a few million polygons in Blender can be, but I’d hate to see what working with those vectors would be like.

    @ atype, I’m not bagging the artists. Like I said, those are some incredible pieces of work. I just don’t see the point in trying that kind of thing with vector.

  18. 18

    this is really awesome..
    i though the Angelina jolly was real :P

  19. 19

    Yup! this is reallly great and m very much inspired from this. :)

  20. 20

    These artists are amazing! So detailed! But, with the greatest respect, I wonder what drives them to create such detailed gradient meshes, when they could have easily used a photograph to achieve the same effect, or better. In fact I’m certain that most have these have used a direct photo reference. I mean I can admire the huge amount of skill it takes to create these pieces, but what is the real point? Why strive for hyper-realism when the camera does a much better job?

  21. 21

    Sorry but these are all tacky. Each and every one.

  22. 22

    You can think what you want about this method, but it’s an awesome way to receive a better understanding about the body, shadows – how they work and where to apply them. Just to mention a few benefits.

    If you keep on pursuing it, you’ll one day wind up being incredibly talented and maybe in the same leauge as Cristiano Siqueira.

    – and oh god, please stop comparing it to 3D animation. You make me hurl. Trashing it because it takes time, is just plain ignorant.

  23. 23

    Have you ever seen those gaudy fairground rides where to tart them up a bit they call them things like “THE TERMINATOR” and badly airbrush pictures of Arnie on the side? That’s what these examples remind me off.

  24. 24

    awesome artworks! and good to see pinoy blog here.

    “PROUD to be PINOY”

  25. 25

    Friend. Not any of that is hyperrealistic, nor even quasi-realistic. You have got to be kidding. It’s all pretty — but it is far from digital photo detail.

  26. 26

    Thank you so much for featuring me among these fantastic artists. Great article :)

  27. 27

    Eric Ferraiuolo

    April 28, 2008 8:28 am

    There’s an awesome website that let’s you create your own vector images from bitmaps, Vector Magic!

  28. 28

    Who ever said it took several weeks to create these?

  29. 29

    Look at the work of this french man:

  30. 30

    wow..what a work..nicely done..:D

  31. 31

    have a look at some airbrush illustrations of late 70s and 80s and it’s that same tacky feel. It might be hours of hard work to make vectors look like pixels but the resulting look is a retro kitschy look (although I do think that it’s not intended as such and tries to pass as “art”)

  32. 32

    so much hate over art & design that’s simply meant to be aesthetic, if not simple personal excersises and practice to work over techniques and maintain skill levels.

    lots of great work here; deserves a lot more kudos then the sour grapes all over this board.

    as for Henri’s comment comparing this to 3d; much of the point of utilizing a vector format has little to do with the scalability. unless you’re creating your own textures (all of them) for those 3d renders, then you’re not comitting a realistic timeline for your own work.

    when i do vector based work at this level of detail, my average time to product is about 22 hours of billable work; not 100s, and i know many artists who can top me in pushing for realism of details (which i purposefully fall short of for a more animated appearance) and turn in similar timelines, if not often shorter.

    a thorough knowledge of how to use the tools really cuts the timeline down.

  33. 33

    excellent stuff..

  34. 34

    Awesome! Some of them are incredibly realistic. What a hard work.

  35. 35

    what in the world…
    you post this and you don’t link LifeInVector

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    Oh my GOD!
    Talk about talent…. The guys or gals who made them are truly extra-ordinary artists….
    Bravo, Bravo….

  38. 38

    lovely illustrations!

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    angkana jivaphaiboolsak

    May 2, 2008 7:51 am

    Wowwwwwwwww……very nice……..i like illustrations

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    Hey Coltrane,

    Post a link to your website so we can see what an expert you are… if it is really that easy to do.

    We’re waiting…

  42. 42

    nice vector

  43. 43

    Chris Nielson is a cool guy. He teaches at Orange Coast College, and I was a student of his for half a semester in his Illustrator class. I found his projects so much more engaging than most of my other professors’, actually allowing us to create things of our own instead of just following steps in a textbook.

  44. 44

    nice work of art… i’m a starting vector artist and these pictures are inspires me more to do well! I getting concepts yipeee!!! can give me a better program besides from ADOBECS3?? tnx guys! :)

  45. 45

    it’s amazing what some people can do with a computer!
    some of the more realistic portrait-like illustrations could be processed thru photoshop with some hi-quality grain filters, etc, and probably make a good front cover on a fashion magazine.

  46. 46

    it’s amazing what some people can do with a computer!
    some of the more realistic portrait-like illustrations could be processed thru photoshop with some hi-quality grain filters, etc, and probably make it to a page in some fashion magazine – one of them perhaps even a front cover.

  47. 47

    Klein George Kamau

    July 11, 2008 11:42 pm

    wow wow!!! men it’s been only 3days and i already love this site… great work guys.
    it’s been a pleasure.

  48. 48

    ok before you sound like any more of an idiot than you already do maybe you should do some home work there are different applications for different mediums of art for example 3D photo realistic images can be achieved on tshirts and other cloth like items today than ever was capable in the past even just as far back as 5 years ago screen printing technology has evolved greatly in this time period, and if you give a 3d rendering in cad or maya or any other 3d modeling program to a screen printer its as useless to him as your comment on vector artist! he cannot use it because a screen printer must be able to seperate the colors onto plates or screens which ever you want to call it in order to get that image onto a shirt. and you slopy 3d rendering isnt going to import into a seperation program unless he exports it as a jpg and whoop there gose all the detail down tha drain. a jepg is never as crips and sharp as a vector this is why vector illustration are needed they do not server the 3d demands of the world and 3d modeling dose not solve the problems of the screen printing world. thats why they have 3d renders and vector artist.

    word of advise dont be hating on vector artist because they have a higher level of talent than you do. I create 3d rendering and maya and i have the tallent to do vector are as well as anyone listed here, and i can tell you that there is a difference a person can create a 3d renderd model in say maya and in 10/100 th of the time there is a reason for this! its because the 3d program is creating all your highlights and shadows and reflections as well as perspective and depth, NOT YOU! you may minipulat the textures and skins of the 3d object and wire frame but its the program that complils and in the end makes you look good not you! while on the other hand vectorization requires the skill and patience and talent only seen in some of the greatest artist that ever lived. and 4th grader can render a very nice looking object in a good 3d program that dosent make them an artist so dont be hateing on vector artist and say were no good and impractical just cause you werebnt blessed with our talents.

  49. 49

    oh yea i forgot to leave link and yes i am james mosier

  50. 50

    wow!!!! very nice………

  51. 51

    Unbelievable! What is wrong with people who see beautiful works like this and all they can do is trash it and carry on like kids in a schoolyard. Heavens above! If you like making your 3D doohickeys all power to you. Knock yourself out and all that. But what YOU prefer to do is completely irrelevant to this post and doesnt make this art work any better or worse anyway. For the record – I loved some of those images!!! Thanks for posting this.

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  53. 53

    Hmm.. great..

  54. 54

    kapan ya saya bisa bikin kayak gtu? :)

  55. 55

    Three words: (A tutorial please);

    Fab work; I’d love to be shown how to do this!!!!! :)

  56. 56

    gr8 article.

  57. 57

    This art simply blows me away every time!

  58. 58

    does anyone no any info on Mark Westberg its for a project help would be nice!!! thanks

  59. 59

    hi folks the above photo-realistic effects are awe-inspiring. adding 3rd dimension for
    2d. iam also a budding artist but can’t achieve photorealism. can some one suggest me
    how to learn techniques and how is the future for illustrations

  60. 60

    This was a great article for us Adobe Illustrator newcomers. Its amazing to see such detail on a digital canvas.

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