The Unreal Realism Of Tullius Heuer
Brazilian digital artist-illustrator Tullius Heuer blends simulated pencil art with photography to create dramatic 3D-esque masterpieces
By Robin Jay
In the sugar-sand port shores of Maceió, Brazil, it’s fitting that the 19th-century city launched with the installation of sugar, spice and tobacco mills and that its Portuguese name illustrates the spontaneous course of water flowing from its soil into the sea.
With its rich exporting history, it’s also fitting that one of Maceió’s modern-day natives, artist-illustrator Tullius Heurer (who, incidentally, shares the regal name of a Roman king and the chiseled profile of a Greek god) has touched the lives of thousands with his surrealistic three-dimensional computer-generated fantasy illusions that have circumnavigated the globe via the phenomenon of viral social media.
International Opulence happened upon the compelling artworks of 27-year-old Tullius Heuer in a search to find an artist who could create something out-of-this-world to symbolize the artistic, larger-than-life culinary genius of Chicago’s Chef Curtis Duffy – the three-Michelin-star, James Beard Best-Chef-awarded kitchen whiz at Grace. I sought an artist whose work would “pop off the page.” Quite literally and unexpectedly, I discovered that precise talent in the portfolio of Tullius Heuer. His pencil-art simulations, blended with manipulated photography, create the amazing illusion that his sketches are coming to life – and reaching off the page. On first sight, it was eerie – but also compellingly fantastic.
Tullius graciously agreed to collaborate with International Opulence and the co-founder and photographer of Grace, Michael Muser. You’ll find his resulting masterpiece on the cover of this issue.
Getting To Know Tullius
I sat down with this gentle giant of humanity for an interview to find out what makes him tick. Tullius has a degree in computer networking and spent several years working at an ad agency before venturing into his true passion as a full-time freelance artist.
“I started focusing on art when I noticed I could represent my thoughts in an image, that’s pretty important to me – it’s what I want for my life,” Tullius said. “I’m a very empathic and patient person. I try to never get angry. I’m also really emotional (I cry easily when I’m overcome with passion about something). My main influences are really simple, nothing more than life and its feelings. I can feel inspired by music, by waking up and staring at my dogs playing, by a homeless child asking for a piece of bread, movies and everything that surrounds me.
“Sometimes I get myself into deep meditation about existence and it makes me think about things I can do to change myself to be a better person. I want to make art that has a positive impact on someone’s life. It doesn’t matter how many people have seen it, if just one person was touched by that, it’s worth the effort.”
Evolving Genres And 3D
Tullius’ works are dreamlike, mixing surrealism with somber expression. “I’m a huge fan of melancholic things and also dark themed artworks with a deep meaning,” he said. “But I’ve realized that’s no longer what I want to show to the world, so I try to show different feelings from different points of view. It’s amazing how something can be happy and sad at the same time. That’s what I try to do.”
To achieve the illusion of three-dimensions on a flat surface, Tullius has developed many self-taught techniques.
“I start with an in-depth search for photos with a specific angle and perspective that allows me to work with shadows, giving the sensation of something transitioning from the paper to reality,” Tullius explained. “These shadows aren’t necessarily realistic, but they need to be really soft, giving the look of volume to the picture and providing a subtle transition. Elements, like a pencil or a hand, can be placed strategically to give the appearance that parts of the body are coming out to enhance the ‘3D’ impression.”
One of Tullius’ first three-dimension-esque artworks is called ‘Don’t Leave Me’. “Seeing a woman reaching out from the paper with a desperate expression [as if she were falling or drowning] and a broken tip pencil by her side made people freak out. It had the “WOW” factor that made it go viral,” Tullius said.
Tullius’ favorite piece is one titled ‘As I Wish’. “It has a deep meaning and was featured in Granada City in 2013 at the European Women’s Center Mariana Pineda in an exhibit called, ‘A Look At Gender Violence.’ This was one of my very first Photoshop works and I still love the intense mood of it. It was a strong motivation against violence toward women and is something that makes me proud because that’s something I consider intolerable,” Tullius said.
The Future For Tullius
Currently, Tullius lives with his parents in Maceió and looks forward to marrying his girlfriend Léa, who’s studying publicity and works with makeup and photography. Their dream is to work together in a studio. He wants to create a series of artworks honoring people with severe diseases and deficiencies.
In closing, I asked Tullius if there was anything else on his mind that he wished to share with our readers.
“Yes,” he said adamantly but humbly. “I’ve seen there’s still a prejudice against people who work with art full time. Sometimes it’s easy to think we just come up with an idea and put it onto paper (or a “song,” or a “movie” or even a food dish), but I want people to understand it’s hard work as any other. Working creatively is really terrifying sometimes, so it’s important that people care about art and what artists go through to create it. My greatest dream is to be a reference for future artists.”
To view additional artworks of Tullius Heuer, go to tulliusheuer.com