Shane Rebenschied creates photo-illustrations for commissions including science-fiction and fantasy book covers.

Where did you train, and what did you specialise in?

I studied Illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. While there, I tried to take as many computer-related classes as possible.

What’s your favourite tool?

For me, it’s Photoshop. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without it, and it’s the tool that allows me to combine so many different bits of media together.

What techniques to do you use most?

For my commercial work, the technique I use most often involves overlaying textures on top of photo-manipulated compositions. This helps to give the final illustration a more ‘painted’ look, and pulls it away from being entirely photo realistic.

When it comes to personal pieces, I enjoy creating a minimal composition in Photoshop, printing it out and affixing that to a board. I then paint over it with acrylics and oil washes, scan that into my computer and manipulate the original photos back into the painting. This is how Raven King was produced.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve created?

That’s another tough one. If forced to choose, I’d say it’s a tie between Raven King and The Hallowed Ones. I love the effect that the mixing of media brings to Raven King, but I also like the dark, textured treatment that is in The Hallowed Ones.

Which clients have you worked for?

I’ve worked for a wide range of clients, including Bloomsbury, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House and Simon & Schuster.

It would be easy to write off this year’s nominees for the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year as, well, a bit dull – but taken as a whole there are some interesting trends.

The exhibition's 76 projects include some brilliant design work bit everything seems to fit neatly into boxes we’ve seen before from an app hipsters adore (this year: Monument Valley – last year: Citymapper) to 3D printed prosthetic limbs (this year’s Project Daniel following on from 2013’s Magic Arms). The coolest, most futuristic stuff turns out to be just that: as Google’s autonomous car (shown here) and human-organs-on-chips are still in the early stages of their development.

What appears to be missing is anything with a sense of permanence. It’s difficult to find things that we’ll still be using or talking about in even a year’s time – aside from some of the architecture and cars, which by their nature of their size and cost mean that even if everyone hates them in a year’s time, they’re probably not going anywhere. There’s also little that will have the widespread impact of last year’s audience favourite Dumb Ways To Die (which has almost a 100 million views to date on YouTube) or 2013’s winner, Gov.uk – which is little-by-little subsuming all of the other UK government websites.

Look across the spectrum of entries from the fields Digital Arts focusses on – digital, graphic and product design –  and intriguing patterns emerge though. Many of them are forms that are unique to the user – whether having random differences creating through process of being hand-made physical products or procedurally generated, or being is personalised or tailored to the user’s needs or physical form.

Even Google’s autonomous car’s could be said to be personalised, as it goes where you tell it to – though that’s probably, ok ‘is', stretching the point.

So here I’ve picked out some projects that are indicative of this trend – plus some graphics pieces that, while not of major importance, are very pleasing to look at. The descriptions have been supplied by the nominees.

The Designs of the Year 2015 is at the Design Museum near Tower Bridge in London until August 23.