advanced photoshop

Interview with art director Rolf Jensen

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General, by Anna-lisa Saywell

We speak to this inspiring art director about some of his leading projects and the way he likes to work with Photoshop

Working with big names in the movie and videogame industries is no new thing for Norwegian art director Rolf Jensen. We spoke to the artist about some his most creatively demanding projects, including an interactive website for My Soul To Take.

Interview with art director Rolf Jensen

Artist: Rolf Jensen /

AP: Tell us about your project My Soul To Take. How did it come about?

Rolf Jensen: The project is an interactive experience based on the story of My Soul To Take. The film focuses on the sleepy little town of Riverton, a place made famous for a serial killer dubbed the Riverton Ripper who, 16 years prior to the film’s events, roamed the town, eluding the police and viciously hunting down townspeople.

For this project I focused on the cold and scary imagery while creating the main layout for the website; using the cast’s character expressions and personalities to dominate the front page. The original idea was to create each page down as a piece of paper like in a print ad where each interior page would get sliced across the middle to transform into the next interior. Each interior page is also unique with video renders burning into the brightness that represents death or the afterlife.

I’ve also worked on the Fair Game official theatrical site. This film, directed by Doug Liman is based on the work of real life CIA agent Valerie Plame (played by Naomi Watts). I created an interactive EPK timeline that follows Valerie Plame’s trail and links out to real footage found on sources such as CNN, The Sun and The New York Times. The website layout is dark blended with some green to reflect war, drama, injustice and fear.

Interview with art director Rolf Jensen

Interview with art director Rolf Jensen

AP: What techniques do you use to create your finished artwork?

Rolf Jensen: Depending on the brand, the client’s vision and the format (print, web, video), I choose carefully to meet everyone’s wishes. From there, I always try to use new techniques and technology to get a good-looking final product. Working on theatrical sites, I often focus on telling a story and give a tease of the environmental feeling of the movie and its characters without giving too much of the plot away. I would normally start to brush out locations and sets, creating the mood of whatever the film director has in mind from a commercial perspective. Using this as a main core of the layout, I later blend in characters, elements and video taken from the editors to make the site come alive.

Working on print ads, I normally enjoy working closely with photographers on location for a more successful transition between the photoshoot and my Photoshop screen. It helps to avoid unwanted hassle, as lots of photographers don’t necessarily think about the process that applies afterwards.

Interview with art director Rolf Jensen

Starting out by creating the overall palette, environment look and feel between the model/product and the surroundings, I then normally work my way up, comping all the elements into place. From there I apply lights and light sources, defining all shadows and shades/reflections on every object in the scene. I finish by colouring the overall picture with adjustments – something that also gives it the last punch and final mood.

AP: What’s your favourite Photoshop tool and why?

Rolf Jensen: There are a bunch of them. I look at Photoshop as a tool in itself, but there are some tools such as Smart Objects, blending modes and adjustment layers that make my day easier. Something newer and exciting are the 3D functions which let you create 3D logos and objects for example. The tools also allow you to apply rich materials like chrome, glass and cork to explore different looks. You can now take your designs even further by leveraging the Adobe 3D Forge engine for advanced editing of your 3D models. There is also the Mixer Brush, which lets you blend your paint with imagery as if the photo were rendered in wet oils.

Interview with art director Rolf Jensen

AP: Do you work with anyone else on your projects?

Rolf Jensen: Yes, all the time. I normally have a group of people I enjoy collaborating with if I’m doing independent contract work. Everything from photographers, animators and editors to other creative minds. However, I used to do solo work, but quickly ended up getting swamped. Right now I’m chilling out with the guys at Good Morning, working in teams with other designers, developers and producers, which has been a great experience so far.