Artist creates mind-blowing 3D paintings with illusive depth

Some artists paint abstract, some paint realistic, but this Hamburg-based artist creates mind-blowing optical illusions. The dazzling portfolio of portrait artist Stefan Pabst looks so realistic it’s hard to believe our eyes.

Stefan is a self-taught artist who was born in Russia and raised in Germany, where he honed his skills and built an international clientele. When he’s not completing hyperrealistic renditions of celebrities and other famous figures, the artist creates jarring 3D paintings that appear to leap off the page. From Darth Vader to hairy tarantulas to a glass of water, Stefan’s masterful skill makes his subjects appear to be just a few inches away from his paintbrush.

Optical illusion Darth Vader painting

“I use an oil dry-brush technique on special paper to create most of my work.”

A typical 3D painting can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several days to create. Stefan not only renders the figures in perfect detail but also adds purposeful shadows and highlights to forge a 3D presence. Then, to complete the illusion, the artist photographs the artwork with his hand and brush in the frame. His “real” shadows mix with the painted ones, thereby adding to the deception of the realistic figures.

Additionally, what makes many of the artist’s 3D subjects so eye-catching is that they appear to extend past the edge of his canvas, which Stefan does through practiced skill and clever staging. He often places other objects in the frame of the photograph to confuse the viewer as to what is drawn and what is not.

3D painting photographed to confuse the viewer

“I began drawing at the age of five, and early in school, I received portrait requests from my classmates, who were impressed with my work. I became a full-time artist after drawing a portrait for a friend.”

Everyone from sports stars to politicians has been captivated by Stefan’s mind-blowing illusions. The artist says that even advertising companies have reached out to him to acquire 3D paintings for their product packaging. It’s a testament to the artist’s skill that the answer is often not so easy to say.

That’s why Stefan wants to teach younger artists what he has learned over the many years of drawing; he wants to inspire them to not give up their passion and create amazing art. You can visit his YouTube channel and learn many of his techniques and professional secrets with others. Scroll down to see more of Stefan’s 3D paintings and follow the artist on Instagram to keep up to date with his latest creations.

3D painting of a spider
Optical illusion paint tubes by Stefan Pabst
Amazing 3d drawings appear to rise from the page
3D painting of a camera by Stefan Pabst