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Historical visualization in the art of Manuel Krommenacker

Olivier Rieter

Diadocchi wars

Frenchman Manuel Krommenacker is a digital illustrator. He specializes in historical military subjects. Krommenacker describes himself as fully self taught. But he has been practicing drawing all kinds of topics all his life: buildings, animals, landscapes and military topics. He studied history and geography at university, but didn’t want to become a teacher, so he went career wise for his passion: historical illustration. He taught himself the digital way of creating by experimenting a lot: ‘It’s just a matter of how familiar you are with the software you’re using, really’ he says. ‘If you got the will, you don’t need expensive classes and schools.’ He adds that in this line of work: ‘noboby cares what school you went through as long as you deliver the result!’

Krommenacker is as proper historian interested in many periods in history, e.g. ancient Rome and classical Greece, but also the Dark Ages and the early modern era.

He describes his research process this way: ’I always start by opening some books (be it physical or digital), research pictures or descriptions from the time if they exist, or even contact reenactment groups, as I did a couple of times. I know some people involved in reenactment from my years at the university as well.’ But he also contacts people he doesn’t know personally: ’ these guys are generally eager to share what they know and are moved by this will to portray history in an accurate manner. They send pictures of their own gear with little details even a museum couldn’t. If I had to mention only one important reference in warfare related topics, it would be Osprey publishing books. Their collection is huge and covers pretty much all eras.’ He adds; ‘Finally, I am always keeping myself updated with archeological finds and experimental archeology. I had the privilege to follow some of these experimentations with my own eyes at university’ He also watches Youtube: ’There are several exceptional content creators out there (historical warfare related, but not only) and reenactors are doing incredible work to reconstruct lost knowledge and practices. They relearn how ancient people used to do stuff. In a word, with the modern means of communication, we have access to so much knowledge and it is easy to research and learn something.’

Battle of Kolin

Krommenacker always tries to get himself in the appropriate mood for the setting, e.g. by listening music, collecting pictures, watching documentaries, basically impregnating himself with these sources. He also researches the proper color palette of the topic at hand.

Krommenacker mentions about the relevance of visualization of the past that it adds to the archeological or written material and ‘directly helps the building of historical knowledge, and is also key whenever content based upon historical themes has to be made, be it in movies, TV shows or video games, in which historical accuracy takes more and more importance.’

18th century, British navy

Samnite wars


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