Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Drawing the Devil!

One of the Bible stories I will be illustrating soon is the 'Temptation of Christ', This will be a difficult one to illustrate as I will need to interpret the Devil in some way. When you look through different children's Bibles at the story of 'The Temptation of Christ', you realize that few Bible artists agree on what the Devil looks like.

The example shown above is just one interpretation from a children's Bible that I have.
Frank Hampson, in 'The Road of Courage' depicted Satan as a simple shepherd. Some show the devil in a female form, as did Mel Gibson in 'The Passion'. and others still as an Angel.
No doubt Satan could take on any of the above forms and more! But, I can't see any good reason why Satan would appear in any other than his natural form, when standing before Christ. After all, there was no way he was going to deceive Christ as to 'who he was!' The question is, what is the natural form of Satan?

It's safe to say that the usual images we see of Satan, like the one above, are inaccurate. The red, hoofed, fork carrying, figure with horns resembles more the mythological creature Pan.
We do know that Lucifer was a fallen Angelic being, a spirit being who was beautiful in appearance and powerful. There's a lot of debate going on as to whether Satan was a covering cherub or not, according to Ezekiel 28. Any comments on that debate might be helpful.

Because we know that Satan was an angelic being I should point readers to the 'Drawing Angels' post, as I have gone into more detail on the subject of angels there.

Norman de la Cruz had been commissioned to work on a new children's Bible for the Philippine Bible Society. Like me, Mr De la Cruz came from an animation background and so was normally able to rough out many pictures a day.
Everything was going well until he came to illustrate the book of Job! An extract follows from an interview with Mr De la Cruz on the 'Asia Pacific' website.

“And things went fairly well until I got to the Book of Job. Then I ran into trouble. I came to the part where Satan asks God to curse Job. I knew I had to illustrate this somehow, but I became stuck. I realized that for most of my life I had been illustrating evil, violence, but here, faced with the originator of all evil, I was powerless to come up with anything. I just sat and stared at my pencils.
I can draft up to 100 illustrations in a day, but I was truly stuck here, unable to lift a pencil. I wondered if I would ever be able to draw again. That was when it came to me that I needed prayer".

I would be interested to know what his final interpretation looked like. If I'm able to get a copy of this Bible from the PBS, I'll let you know! I would be interested to receive any comments on this subject before I begin work on the story.


Paul Green said...

I can first suggest how not to depict Satan Graham. Throw all stereotypes out the window that depict evil as being ugly. I've always found this simple minded and offensive. We all know beautiful people can be as ugly and evil in spirit as anyone else.
And being ugly does not make you evil.
When I think of evil I think of darkness in a person. A lack of light. Selfish, mean spirited, sadistic, malicious and manipulative all come to mind. But the outward appearance of people with these traits can be charming. Evil is at its worst when it is cloaked in a false light that gradually erodes to reveal its true nature.

The Devil as a charmer. A con man. A salesman. Trying to get you to invest in goods that will ruin you.

More thought is required.... to be continued.

Paul Green said...

Ezekiel says of Satan : "Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor."

In Corinthians Paul also says Satan was disguised as "an angel of light."

It would appear Satan's outward appearance is very attractive. If he were to appear in human form he would be called handsome and charismatic. But he would also be incredibly vain and egotistical.
Plenty of Hollywood actors come to mind.

Bible artist said...

That's an interesting point.
If Satan was disguised as an 'angel of light', does that mean that he no longer looks like one?

Paul Green said...

I believe this refers to the fact Satan is no longer an angel of light Graham. The term 'disguise' is in relation to the fact he is fooling people as to his true nature. Not his true likeness.

Satan is a fallen angel and in that respect would still appear as an angel. His physical appearance would be that of an angel. Only his inner nature has turned dark.

Paul Green said...

The major question that is relevant to you Graham is in which form did Satan appear to Jesus? We know angels appear in many guises. The same with Satan. How could Satan hope to tempt God's son? By mental anguish? By physical presence? By both? It is noticeable that angels ministered to Jesus following the temptations. This would indicate a severe level of intensity. Physically and mentally draining.

Satan's temptation of Jesus is not based on any overpowering physical presence but is calling upon Jesus' obedience to God. In other words the physicality of Satan played no part in these temptations unless you take the reference to making Jesus stand on the parapet of the temple to mean Satan forcibly made him do this. I tend to view this as part of the temptation on a mental level.

If I were to illustrate the temptation of Jesus then Satan's physical presence would not exist. Rather I would stress the temptations playing out in the mind of Jesus. Satan would be a voice. Not easy to illustrate. But more effective than a physical representation of Satan that could never hope to convey the pure evil of his character.

Bible artist said...

These are all good points Paul.
When Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri illustrated the temptation, he chose not to show Satan. There's just an indication of a swirling wind to represent him.

The case for not showing him, apart from the points you've already mentioned, is the fact that we are certain to get the image wrong, as we inevitably will with all images of angelic beings and the Lord himself.

The case for showing Satan would be to get across the actual reality of the whole Temptation story. What I mean is, that we do tend to view the 'Temptation story' as happening on a mental level, purely because that is our perception of temptation.
However the Temptation of Christ, executed by Satan himself must have been temptation on a level unknown to man!
Actually seeing Satan there would emphasize that this was not just the Lord Jesus experiencing the mental anguish of temptation, but a face to face confrontation with the very author of evil himself!

Another point worth considering here is that high on Satan's agenda is that man should not believe in him. So any representation of him as a red man with hoofs, horns, and a fork do tend to serve his purpose by fictionalizing the whole concept of Satan.

I think any representation of Satan or other angelic beings should be as obscure as the descriptions found in scripture.

Paul Green said...

We have all been so brainwashed by Hollywood it's difficult not to think of Satan in terms terms of spewing vomit and vile language coming from an adolescent child. However this does demonstrate it's easier to show Satan working through a possessed person than it is to show him face to face.

Satan could be illustrated as the absence of light. God is light. Satan is the angel of darkness. Therefore placing Jesus in an environment where he is surrounded by darkness might be one example of a representation of Satan attempting to extinguish the light of God.

Bible artist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bible artist said...

That could work Paul. I might try something along those lines.

It is interesting how film always portrays evil in the form of a grotesque beast!
Some form of brain washing may well be at work here!!
It could well serve Satan's purpose to have man view evil in this way.

Horseman said...

I could say very, very much on this subject, for I searched the scriptures and prayed about this very subject when making my comic - Tempt the Messiah. But I hesitate to say too much. Maybe the Lord will show you different things. I primarily used Genesis (about the serpent,) Ezekial (about Lucifer before his fall) and Revelation (about the Dragon) for my references - I think these speak on Satan's true form. It is my opinion that you SHOULD put a "face" (or form) to this evil being. It is what artists do. In doing this thing, stay in the "Word" and pray much - be careful brother.

Email me if you want -

If I said all that I would like to say here, it would likely result in many comments and questions. Then, the topic of Satan becomes the subject that has more comments than any other at this site. I do not want to give Satan that kind of public attention.

To my King (the one we call Jesus Christ) be the honor and glory, forever and ever.

Paul Green said...

As a professional artist and writer I really don't understand your statement, "It is what artists do." An artist can choose to represent evil by suggestion rather than pictorial representation. There are no black and white rules about this. A reaction on a person's face can represent evil in a more effective way than actually showing the source of that reaction.

The Bearded Belgian said...

Ez 28:13-14 quite seem to give a description.

A cherub, now without precious jewels, but still burning. (Cherub means burning one)

Illustrating him as a cherub will certainly be new. (4 heads, full of eyes, hooves, 4 wings, ...) I don't think I've seen that before.

On the other hand, revelation calls him the old snake. The dragon, that is cast out of the sky. So perhaps now his form is a dragon. Or a snake.

tough question. I would pray aswell should I have to depict it.

Bible artist said...

I have only ever seen one artist attempt a picture of a Cherub that literally follows the description in Ezekiel Nikolaj.
I will post it on the blog soon. It's very interesting!

The Bearded Belgian said...

I think the dragon would be most appropriate.

About Cherubim, check these few out! (click the images for enlargement)

Those are three of them I've found that are accurate. I'd found other cool ones, but can't seem to know where they are!

Knowing myself I probably didn't keep them because they were inaccurate.

As a sidenote, the words for demon or spirit (but not satan) refers to a sort of goat-man, even in strong's concordance. It's a word that's even proounced 'sa`iyr'. Now we don't need to wonder where the 'sater' comes from.

interresting, no?
It's strange how I can use the things I'm learning these last weeks here on a regular basis. Praise God for it.

Bible artist said...

Thanks for the 'Cherub Art' links Nikolaj!

Caanan White shows the cherub using two of it's wings to cover itself. The Seraphim uses four of it's six wings to do the same in the presence of God.

Seraphim must be amazing flyers with six wings, but instead they use most of their wings not to fly with, but to hide themselves in the presence of God. Another reminder to us that whatever our abilities are, in the presence of God, we should cease from them, and hide ourselves in quiet adoration.

Cherubs are depicted over the Ark of the Covenant with the tips of their wings touching. Because they had four wings each, this would surely shield human eyes from looking onto the mercy seat.

We always assume that wings were given for angels to fly with!

The Bearded Belgian said...


And the cherubim might teach us about unity, being one in spirit. The wings are joined, they have one spirit (which is also in the wheels) and need not to turn to change direction.

They are one, and in them (or on them?) is manifested "the likeness of the glory of the Lord"

although I think I saw one separate one in prayer once. But then again I saw a lot of evil too. So it might have been satan I saw, but I'm not sure of that. I do know we had victory over the devil that night through prayer! Praise be to God!

Anonymous said...

I found these very interesting:
I especially liked sorakairi1014's depiction of the Galgallim. If course, we will never exactly know what the K'ruvim, S'rafim, Galgallim, and Malachim look like unless we recieve some divine vision like John and the other men who witnessed Heavenly Sights.
Yah, I awlays drew Satan being very beautiful, alot of my friends couldn't tell which one was Jesus(He's the dark one!!!! DON'T YOU RECOGNIZE HIM?!?!?!) Yes the book of Job is VERY interesting!!!! I wonder how one would illustrate that one. God's throneroom is hard enough!(A River of fire, Flaming eye-ball Wheels, 24 mysterious elders, and a sea of glass to name a few, ^_^)
Someone else already published this one but I LOVE THIS ONE:

Keruv(Cherub) means "to be near", S'rafim(Seraphim) is the word than means "burning ones".

When I was younger, I used this character as a reference for drawing Satan(Mithos Yggdrasill, never played the game):

Lisa Hutchinson drew Satan in her manga "Shelter of Wings", you can go to her site( and go to manga, and look at pages 24-30 on chapter one.

Anonymous said...

Please can you tell me the name of the children bible the picture of the devil came from. I had the same bible as a child, but forgot the author name and tilte.


Bible artist said...

The Children's Bible in colour published by Hamlyn, more commonly called the 'Golden Children's Bible'.

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