Vibrant colors of acrylic paint billow into clouds inside a water tank. © Photo by Alberto Seveso

Illustrator and photographer Alberto Seveso's paint photography is out of this world. His images – macro photos of billowing clouds of color – look like they were generated by an animation program. But as he tells DPReview, it's all very real.

The process itself, says Seveso, is quite easy: just pour varnish or acrylic colors into a water tank and take a burst of photos. Understanding exactly how to do that – what light you need, what works, and just as importantly, what doesn't work – is the time-consuming part.

'I spent a lot of time building all the stuff I use to shoot varnish into the water, and it’s still a work in progress,' Seveso tells DPReview. 'It’s very important to find the right light and, the hardest part, find the perfect mix between varnish and water and the way to pour this mix into the tank... not too fast not too slow.'

For his pictures, he uses either a Canon EOS 60D or Canon 7D Mark II with a Canon EF-S 60mm F2.8 macro lens attached. The tank is lit by either fluorescent light (personal projects) or higher quality tungsten Fresnel lights (for commercial assignments), two on either side of the tank, placed in front of either a black background or a softbox if he's shooting on white.

You can see the setup for yourself in the BTS shots below:

And here is a video Sony made to show off Seveso's paint work (and sell some phones and tablets while they're at it):

Seveso says he was inspired to create this kind of photography in 2009, when he saw 'something similar but classic,' probably ink drops in water.

'I realized there was more to explore, different materials to mix, so I started to experiment with different kinds of liquid like acrylic colors, different types of oils, sparkling water, gels, metallic colors, ice, food coloring, and other things,' he says. 'Over the years, I've tried to develop a personal approach to this technique, developing the project in a very personal way and trying to focus on the details.'

Translation: macro photography.

These close-up, colorful photographs have become Seveso's calling card. And what a gorgeous calling card they are.

Before we let Alberto go, we asked him one more question. Does he have any advice or tips for people who would like to try this kind of paint photography for themselves?

His answer?

'Practice,' he told us emphatically. 'It takes a lot of practice to understand the exact mix between liquids to get separate colors, details and color filaments - this is perhaps the hardest part.'

To see more of Alberto's work, visit his website or follow him on Behance, Facebook, and Instagram.