Ben Heine is a magician.
Like David Blaine and Criss Angel before him, he has a special talent for blurring the line between reality and fiction. But instead of utilizing sleight of hand or his indomitable will to delight his audience, Heine keeps it simple by using just a pencil and camera to create his illusions.
Heine’s incredible art series Pencil vs Camera combines gorgeous landscapes and city scenes with hand-sketched drawings. The otherworldly images that result are both whimsical and intriguing, with a bit of mind-bending magic thrown in for perspective.
“I always try to express what I’m feeling,” Heine told Cult of Mac, noting that most of his inspiration for drawings come “mainly from people around me — friends, family, even strangers — and from every experience I live.”
The 30-year-old artist creates most of his works at his studio in Belgium, using charcoal sticks and graphite pencils to lay the foundational work before going out to snap a picture — though most of the time he has to do some edits to line up shots in post-production.
Burning koalas, horny bunny rabbits and even bland subway stations have fueled the imagination of this Ivory Coast-born artist.
“I’m always trying to find a nice location,” Heine said. “Then if there is a great subject — for instance a funny animal or human doing something unusual — this is nice, but it is not always needed because the drawing will bring a special, original and creative touch most of the time.”
Pencil vs Camera isn’t Heine’s only popular series: His Digital Circlism project caught our eye two years ago, thanks to this creepy portrait of Steve Jobs. But Heine says the Pencil vs Camera series stretched him as an artist by getting him to learn new ways to enhance his art.
The 3-D drawings, in particular, weren’t the easiest to master. “I had to change the way I’m working,” Heine said. “I had to learn new tools to create the 3-D effects.”
He created more than 70 images during a three-year period for the series, with the final and most challenging pieces swapping photos for huge swaths of canvas drawings to create optical illusions that seem to place the artist inside his anamorphic drawings.
For now, Heine says he’s done with the pencil sketches, but he’s already hard at work on a new project that’s different from anything he’s done before — music. (You can check it out below.)
“I let my inspiration talk and I don’t ask myself too many questions,” Heine said. “Simple ideas and messages are always the best ones.”