It's a lonely life...that of the necromancer, er freelancer

A blog by a designer and illustrator, for designers and illustrators which may contain musings on art, movies and random weirdness.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lent Devotional Art

Back in December of 2013, Brynn Harrington, one of the pastors at Highrock Northshore, (the church my wife and I attend), contacted several artists and members of the Art Group at the church about the possibility of illustrating a lent devotional booklet. We all thought it was a very interesting idea. Brynn sent us the 40 days of devotionals, a passage for each day of lent. Kerrie James, one of the Art Group leaders and Brynn, divided up the devotionals among the 6 artists: Solomon Kong, Rachel Neikirk, Kerrie James, Ben Ober, Kirsten Borne, and myself.  I was assigned 7 different passages from day 15 to day 21. My passages were all from the book of Matthew. I took a look at the passages, re-reading them and researching representations of what other artists had done with these specific passages. I wanted the images to be familiar and recognizable, without being cliché. I will focus on the first passage which was Matthew 16:21-28. I decided to focus on verse 24:
24 Jesus then said to his disciples, If any man will follow me, let him forsake himself: and take up his cross, and follow me. 
Most of the images I found were similar to the one below. It is a fairly iconic image, but how to make it my own?
We were encouraged to do these in any style and medium we wanted, so that the final variety was visually rich and varied. Because the final illustrations in the devotional book were going to be small , (about 2 inches square), and also because I procrastinated on the project until the week before the deadline, I decided to do mine as small, very loose colored-pencil drawings. I wanted them to be as direct and simple as I could make them. I drew them all on one sheet of Bristol board at about a 1 inch by 1 inch size. I sketched in non-photo blue pencil and then inked and colored them with colored pencil.

As you can see from this detai, they are pretty rough.

I scanned the images individually so that they were 300 ppi at 3.5 inches, or about twice the size they would be when finished. I liked the texture and the energy of the sketches, but I also realized that they would need to be refined a bit for reproduction, so I brought the scans into Photoshop, and started to digital "clean-up". In most cases I was deleting the sketch lines, and saturating the color. Sometimes redrawing or clarifying parts of the image, (such as the face). The trick was to clean it up without going too far and losing the gesture and energy of the original sketch. Here is the final version of "Take up your cross".

Here are the final versions of all the artwork. You can see that they  have achieved various levels of success. The least successful is probably #2 "The Transfiguration"and the most,  #7 "the Greatest Commandment", but overall, i was pretty happy with the results.

 The final digital files were sent off to the church office to be placed into the book design.
This is what the illustration looked like printed.

The artwork was also projected as a background image for the  Good Friday service, and prints of the artwork were displayed at the Easter service.

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