Critique => Pixel Art => Pixel Art Feature Chest => Topic started by: Cure on July 17, 2010, 05:42:37 am

Title: GR#031 - Consider The Lilies - Pixel Artwork
Post by: Cure on July 17, 2010, 05:42:37 am


WIP animation:

I vectorized a drawing of mine, shrunk it down, and reduced the colors. Very WIP.
Critique relating to pixel technique will probably be covered later, I haven't spent much time with the pixelling process yet.

The bottom portion of the image references the Parable of the Rich Fool, given by Jesus in Luke 13-21 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+12%3A13-21&version=NIV). The parable is about a man whose fields yield a bountiful harvest, and he builds larger barns in order to store his crops for the future, telling himself he can take life easy in the present. He dies that night however, and God asks, "Whose shall be the things you have accumulated for yourself?"

The top portion references the verses that immediately follow (Luke 22-34 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke%2012:22-34&version=NIV)). These verses contrast with the previous paragraph, using the examples of the "lilies of the field" that "neither toil nor spin", yet are clothed by God; and the ravens who "neither sow nor reap", yet are fed by God.

The middles portion is a reference not to Luke 12, as the other two, but to the well known "Render unto Caesar" quote given within Matthew 12:13-17 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+12%3A13-17&version=NIV). The border is a reference to American currency.

The piece is part of a planned series on Christianity in America, a culture that embraces the image of Christ, while operating in accordance with the ideals of a western society that often stands at odds with the teachings of their hero. This particular piece is about the the anti-materialist teachings of Jesus, and the intense materialism epitomized by America- particularly by American prosperity theology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_gospel).

Being from the Bible Belt and raised Southern Baptist, I'm often reminded of the huge cultural impact that Christianity has. I'm not Christian myself, but admire the philosophy of Jesus.

Related etching (http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2010/088/4/7/Passion_by_TheRomanEmpire.jpg), the introductory piece of the series.
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Helm on July 17, 2010, 09:56:38 am
As a person reasonably familiar with Christian symbolism I have to tell you none of the related themes you list come across to me. What I see is a slightly morose Jesus figure, and a praying skeleton surrounded by plentiful goods. So if you want your thematics to carry across, I think you'll have to be clearer in the image, not in the explanation of the image with text.

Then again, I'm not from the Bible Belt, perhaps the symbolism is clear for those that have studied the scripture directly. But shouldn't it communicate to outsiders nonetheless?
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Cure on July 17, 2010, 04:21:26 pm

Well I considered having Jesus's portrait in profile on a penny, since a coin would reference the Caesar verse better than a dollar portrait, but I felt the dollar portrait was more iconic of American currency, and the vertical format fit the composition better.
The Jesus is intentionally morose. I wanted a stern, weary guy who contrasted with the typical pretty-boy-no-blemishes Jesus usually depicted.

I agree that most of the image is slow to speak (even cryptic, a problem I'd thought about at least once), I thought the ravens/lilies were sufficiently blatant. I think if you're already familiar with the specific verses they should be obvious enough (no other part of the bible pairs lily and crow verses, that I'm aware of), but maybe I am maintaining too-high standards for bible verse-recall. I could add some sort of sowing imagery to/around one crow, and a reaping implement to/around the second ("They neither sow nor reap"). The lilies in the top right could be singed and burnt ("here today, and tomorrow are thrown into the fire"), or drape and interweave a purple cloth over them (not even Solomon was clothed as one of these"), but I don't think the cloth idea would communicate any more effectively.

Not too sure what I could do about the lower portion. The skeleton is supposed to be sleeping rather than praying, so I guess I'll have to work on the position of that hand and arm (maybe move it further from the face). I may have him grip the crops in his hands to better illustrate the theme of covetousness. The image of a sleeping skeleton surrounded by a bunch of crops (that it obviously can't eat- irony at the heart of the image as it is in the verse) is something that popped into my mind when reading the verse once, and it's what spurred this piece. So I may show some allegiance to this portion. The only visual image I can think of incorporating is the man's storehouses/barns, and I'm not sure where or how I'd work those in. That he's sleeping on/beside his goods seemed sufficient to illustrate that he's hoarding. Maybe the addition of goods beside food would help? ("store my grain and goods")

This isn't traditional Christian symbolism though, just references to specific verses that usually aren't depicted in art, so the familiarity should be with the Bible itself (mainly just Luke 12) rather than Christian symbols. I see Christianity as the best potential vehicle for getting the largest number of Americans to embrace selflessness, so my intent is to communicate to insiders, those who are already Christian, as the basic message is "Here is what he said, here is what we do- fix the dissonance".
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: zez on July 17, 2010, 05:16:26 pm
Im almost positive I have never slept with my arms raised like that, on only on very rare occasions have I slept standing or sitting up.
I think the skeleton sleeping amongst his crops would convey the message perfectly, if it was apparent he was asleep, but as helm says, he appears to be praying. That being said, I think both the crows in the lilies and Jesus in a dollar border portray the message just fine, and are about as blatant as the symbolism can/should be.

Maybe make the skeleton lay down, arms around the harvest? Or use some of the harvest border as a pillow?
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Tourist on July 17, 2010, 06:01:49 pm
I see some minor issues with the lines in the flowers, they could be cleaned up.  The combination of dark outline and white flower makes it stand out a bit.
Jesus has a strongly defined lower eyelid which makes his face look tired and a red nose.  The overall effect makes him look like a drunk or an alcoholic.  Maybe replace the red spot with a normal highlight, or pull the highlight from the forehead all the way down the length of the nose?

The composition is bugging me a bit.  It doesn't quite work for me.

I thought that the lily was close to the ground rather than high up (wikipedia suggests that 1 meter or less is typical for common species), and it's odd that they would support the weight of a raven.  

I'm not sure if it's the same corner emphasized shapes, or the spacing around the center face, or what, but the ravens/flowers seem to complement the crops/skeleton rather than contrast with them.

Flowery plants in the upper half, emphasis on the corners, a center face in a frame, looking like a poster, the drunk Jesus, all make this remind me of a vintage beer poster, like something by Alphonse Mucha.  Maybe that's what you were going for.  Or maybe it's just me.

Alphonse Mucha :
http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artist.php?artistid=598 (http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artist.php?artistid=598) and http://www.popartuk.com/art/alphonse-marie-mucha/ (http://www.popartuk.com/art/alphonse-marie-mucha/)

What if the crops/skeleton were lower left, and the ravens/flowers were lower right, with one transitioning to the other and Jesus in the center, floating above the landscape, looking over to the right?  With the whole image wider/horizontal rather than taller/vertical.  Would that work better?

Edit: like this (zoom to 2x)


Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Dielas on July 17, 2010, 06:42:04 pm
Just to let you all know. Jesus was an arab.

So give him some bags under his eyes, and some black/grey hair :P

Just wanted to add that, but lovin the work cure :)
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Mathias on July 17, 2010, 07:01:25 pm
Lovely, thanks for posting!
What was the means of creation here? It's current state features a very odd pixeled style. So rough and nonchalant. Yet it's very interesting to look at. The colors are so subdued.

I agree with the contradiction seen in Christendom, in general. Interesting that it compels you so much that you'd create an actual "series" based on it. It's fun to weave meaning into our work isn't it? Seems to elevate it.

Your composition bugs me. Interesting imagery but there seems a lack of unity, multiple elements lacking cohesion. I vote for more connective illumination-y decoration.

Tourist's 2nd link to art nouveau works is an interesting suggestion, I adore art nouveau, but I don't think it a good style for what you're doing here. Has too many connotations to the wrong era, would seem fundamentally confused.

And perhaps off topic, yet relevant still - your depiction of Jesus there, and pretty much all of Christendom's actually, the way he's illustrated as looking. It's all wrong. The man was a carpenter back in a day when only manual tools existed. Felling trees, hand planing wood, assembling wooden objects all manually, probably a lot of dowel fastening and dove-tailed joints since hardware like seen today did not exist, let alone corded drills, saws, etc. That's a physically demanding job! And he even grew up a carpenter's son, so he'd been doing carpentry all his life, up until 30 when he finally set out on his 3.5 year ministry, during which he walked hundreds of miles. Does he sound like a small guy?
Yet he's always shown as this wimpy little emaciated twirp of a man, all skinny and pathetic hanging helplessly on a cross, when in reality he could probably have arm-wrestled all of us at the same time and put it over the top like Stallone did. hehe point made, leaving now . . .

Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Cure on July 17, 2010, 07:51:47 pm
Good call on the arms, working on repositioning them now. As far as sleeping standing up goes, the figure is just presented vertically, it isn't standing. The various elements of the image don't necessarily correlate in size and angle.

The lines on the flowers are just leftover from the conversion processes, I definitely intend on making them much lighter. You're probably right about the red nose and highlighting, I'll see what I can do about that. I personally like the composition, however, and plan on keeping it. I do agree that the elements could be integrated better, however. The upper and lower sections do complement each other visually, they only contrast in their meaning, which I feel is aided rather than hurt by the visual similarity. The lilies here are neither high nor low, and have no relation to any ground, they're just there. They would never support a raven of course, but I wanted to combine the two elements and didn't feel like throwing in a huge branch or something.

I made a large drawing of this image for class, then took a mediocre quality photograph (http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2010/187/a/d/Consider_The_Lilies_by_TheRomanEmpire.jpg). I then ran this through vectormagic.com to vectorize the image. Still on this site, I reduced the colors to 12. I then took this image and removing the AA it added by changing the color count to an actual 12. The subdued colors are primarily due to the vectorization site's choice of colors (It chose the colors presented, I narrowed it down to 12, then I adjusted the colors manually later). And I'm not sure what you mean by "illumination-y" (perhaps (http://www.wga.hu/art/zgothic/miniatur/1201-250/01e_1200.jpg) like (http://www.wga.hu/art/zgothic/miniatur/1201-250/02e_1200.jpg) these (http://www.wga.hu/art/zgothic/miniatur/1201-250/06e_1200.jpg) illuminated (http://www.wga.hu/art/zgothic/miniatur/1201-250/11g_1200.jpg) manuscripts (http://evergreen.loyola.edu/fbauerschmidt/www/images/CIVDEI.JPG)?), but would love any ideas on how to unify the various elements.

I'd imagine ceasing the manual labor and taking up constant walking-off of calories would make him a bit thinner. I also wonder how much of his life was spent in the carpentry business before his focus was more directly given to his spiritual journey. Maybe the last decade of his pre-ministry years was spent living with various religious communities like the Essenes or John the Baptist- or even spending time alone in the wild.
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: EvilEye on July 17, 2010, 08:43:19 pm
Oh this is Christian symbolism? I didn't read the original post. I was thinking Rob Zombie and Guns and Roses :lol:

Love the style, nice watercolor look, almost reminds me of Ogre Battle style graphics. Skeleton needs to have his head slumped down or something to look like he's sleeping.
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Cure on July 18, 2010, 12:52:10 am
any of these skeletons seem to be on the right path? Just trying to figure out the pose right now, not worried about rendering.
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Cure on July 18, 2010, 04:52:03 am
doublepost with update

Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: EvilEye on July 18, 2010, 06:27:51 am
any of these skeletons seem to be on the right path? Just trying to figure out the pose right now, not worried about rendering.

By slumped over I meant torso erect but the head is looking down but in a relaxed sort of way. I don't think you're ever going to get a sleeping look with a skeleton, it will always look dead :)
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: crab2selout.png on July 18, 2010, 07:27:29 am
most of your skeletons still look in prayer. The only way I can think of the skeleton looking like it's sleeping would be to have it assume a more horizontal pose. I 'm finding it hard to imagine it sleeping no matter the position of the hands. Also if that top most bone attached to hte rib cage is the clavicle, that should be meeting up with the scapula above the humerus. It seems a little high up at the moment.

I really like what you've got so far. Looking forward to seeing this finished.
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Cure on July 23, 2010, 07:13:44 pm

no major structural changes, mostly just cleaning things up and refining the pixel work. the skeleton and crops in the lower right (as well as a few smaller areas) still need a lot of work and are obviously a bit more WIP than the rest.
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Tourist on July 23, 2010, 10:02:13 pm
Looking at this latest version, I have to retract my earlier crits of the composition.  The additional background element and the shadows really pull the whole thing together.  This is looking really good.

Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Tuna Unleashed on July 23, 2010, 10:34:10 pm
the whole thing is great so far. the new skeleton pose is better than the last one, but he looks really comfortable, it doesn't really help the symbolism
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Draco9898 on July 31, 2010, 11:23:34 pm
The entire thing is very nice and my favorite part is the crows. I dig the un-saturated look. I second helm's comment about the subject matter.
Edgar Allan Poe would be a better fit in my opinion.
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Cure on August 01, 2010, 04:55:31 pm
@Tuna: Well he's meant to be sleeping, so comfortable is more or less what I'm going for. The symbolism doesn't call for anguish or anything. Unless you mean that he looks comfortable in a distinctly non-sleeping way.
@Draco: Not sure what you mean about seconding Helm- that the image is cryptic? The bottom portion is the only part I really feel doesn't communicate the verse immediately, but I can't think of another way to illustrate it that works with the current image. Open to suggestions, but won't be making any major changes. Realistically, the image isn't for didactic purposes so I'm not overly concerned with any ineffective communication. Also, I felt the contrast between a dead guy and food he can't eat would get the point across to an extent, even without knowledge of the  parable behind it.

Thanks for the feedback. Haven't abandoned this, but my art energy is currently being diverted towards a commission and a ceramics class, so I'll resume this project in about a week.

Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Randommonkies on August 04, 2010, 06:20:35 pm
interesting piece! in regards to some of the imagery discussion earlier, the skeleton was actually a pretty popular image tied to Christianity back in the 'ole days.
It was called a Memento Mori, 'death reminder'- skulls and skeletons were found pretty frequently in churches and paintings as a reminder that everyone is mortal and something to do with the end times etc. 
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: SuperPander on August 07, 2010, 12:03:02 am
This is off topic of pixel art. But i found it cool someone did a painting about that verse about the Lilies. I happened to be inspired to write a poem about that verse before I saw this. Maybe the poem I wrote can inspire your work? I don't know. But very cool art. =)

Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Cure on August 12, 2010, 09:49:42 pm
mostly just rendering. probably the last update till i'm finished, unless there are any major crits

Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: EvilEye on August 13, 2010, 09:54:01 pm
I'm EvilEye and I approve this picture :y:

I would have to mention one crit about the crows though. They don't look well referenced. On the left the crows wings don't seem to be resting naturally, and on the right the crow's tail feathers are a real mess. The beaks don't look right either.
Title: Re: Consider The Lilies
Post by: Cure on August 14, 2010, 01:13:02 am
good point
fixed hopefully: