Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Gathering Bible references

A fellow artist once told me that "An artist is only as good as his references". After five years of illustrating the Bible, I now know that to be true!
Gathering references can be a time consuming but important task. Made all the more difficult for me as we are providing a series of 5-6 pictures on average, for each Bible story, which means that I need references of the same people/buildings from different angles!

Before you begin to illustrate a Bible story, there are many types of reference that you will need. Firstly, I would like to deal with 'figure reference'.
Figure reference is arguably the most important, as each story focuses on the characters in it.

The best form of figure reference is photographic, but finding photos of people in Bible clothing is not easy. If you can lay your hands on some good Bible clothing, invite all your bearded friends around, (the male ones anyway!), and get snapping!

It's also important for an artist to elaborate on his photographic references, otherwise a combination of a poor choice of models and Bible clothing can result in a beautiful painting of the twelve disciples that look more like twelve software engineers at a toga party!

If you have the luxury of time (and money) to do the above, that's great. But, if you're working to a deadline like me, then go for 'plan B' which is, get your references from anywhere and everywhere! Old books, old Bibles, old photos, old masters, even old comics! Cataloging your references in a filing cabinet will save you lots of time.
(I must do that one day!)

'Bible buildings and landscape reference'. (See my 'No more domes' post).
You may or may not have noticed that Bible illustrators, on the whole, avoid illustrating buildings. Why is this? I think there's a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that there's very little good reference available.
One artist who does include detailed back-grounds however was William Hole RSA RE.
Hole actually travelled to the Holy land in the early 1900's and painted his pictures on the spot!
His book 'The Life of Jesus of Nazareth' includes some really nice buildings.
When you compare Holes pictures however to photographs taken around the same period, you will notice some very similar architectural features, which means that if those features were around in Holes day, they were probably not around 2,000 years earlier. Despite this, these pictures still include some of the best 'Bible buildings' I've seen!
to be continued:

Related posts:
Bible Research
Illustrating a Bible Story
More Biblical costume reference!
Which Bible clothing colors should I use?
Easy mistakes to make!
Bible study aids

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