Apocalypse Animated

I’ve revived my temporarily-abandoned Apocalypse project, which now lives at apocalypseanimated.com. Instead of a movie, I’m illustrating the Book of Revelation with animated gif loops, in the tradition of Medieval and post-Medieval Apocalypses. Except instead of being hand-lettered and painted on parchment, it’s all digital. Still, the gif is the 21st Century’s equivalent of the woodcut, as I discussed 6 years ago:

…the advent of the printing press led to the explosion of a unique kind of illustration: the wood-cut. Since…the internet is in many ways analogous to the printing press, I saw a parallel in its own new kind of illustration: the animated gif.

I am currently up to Chapter 8, out of 22 chapters total. Here are some of my favorites so far:

Revelation 1:11 “What thou seest, write in a book….”
Revelation 4:2 “…behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.”
Revelation 6:13 “And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.”
Revelation 7:3 “Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”
Revelation 8:4 “And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.”
Revelation 8:7 “The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.”
Revelation 8:11 “And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”

Ultimately I’d like the whole thing to be available for download as an eBook. Some of the gifs are heavy, weighing in at over 4MB, although many are under 2. With up to 17 gifs per page (each chapter is one page), that can make it unwieldy to download on-the-fly in a phone’s browser. That said, it looks freaking great on phones, thanks to the “dynamic” WordPress template I was willing to wrestle with. As an eBook it could be downloaded in a single package and viewed at will on any device. But get this – there aren’t any eBook publishing programs that support animated gifs in this way! A few e-Readers support animated gifs, so such an eBook is at least possible, but it will take some custom coding for it to happen. Meanwhile, if you have a proper Internet connection, view the work-in-progress at apocalypseanimated.com/.

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“Little Beast” for Andrew

The two-word request for this Hundred Dollar Drawing was “Little Beast,” but this is really Lil’ Beast o’ the Apocalypse.

2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

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Nina Bunjevac’s Tarot

This summer I was surprised by several out-of-the blue, generous gifts. One of them was from illustrator Nina Bunjevac, with whom I communicate occasionally on social media – we have a little Mutual Admiration Society going. She sent me a set of beautiful French tarot cards, which I received last week and promptly stared at for several hours.

Although we share a first name, I promise that doesn’t bias me. Bunjevac’s line art epitomizes what I’ve always thought line art should be. She’s a direct creative heir to one of my all-time favorite illustrators, Virgil Finlay, and maybe a more distant cousin of Gustave Doré. Her lines go all the right ways, in intricate, mesmerizing patterns, without getting “busy.” Meanwhile she has a brilliant sense of overall design, so her drawings satisfy my eyes on both macro and micro views.

On a long bike ride recently, I contemplated animating one of her cards. I chose the Wheel of Fortune, La Roue, because it looked like Nina had already animated the eyes opening and closing, and I wanted to see them blink.

The animation itself is pretty simple, a 16-frame cycle at 12 fps. On the other hand, cutting pieces of illustration out of their backgrounds in GIMP is a time-consuming PITA, but sometimes I just gotta see what it’ll look like.

Speaking of the Tarot, many of its images derive from the Apocalypse (the Book of Revelation). The Wheel card, for example, depicts the 4 Heavenly Beasts or Living Creatures, which are also essentially the Seraphim of Ezekiel. Here’s my version from my stalled Apocalypse project:

It’s stalled because I’m just not feeling apocalyptic right now. The weather’s still decent, and I’m healthy and biking in the beautiful outdoors and getting swell gifts like Nina’s tarot cards. Life is good! Of course, this can and will change; the wheel of fortune keeps on turning. When it does, I’ll be back to animating the End of the World.

An 18-frame version that allows the eyes to rotate in the opposite direction of the rest of the wheel. I added movement to the clouds too.

 

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Angel o’ the Lord

There are a lot of angels in the Book o’ Revelation, and I’ve been dithering about how to depict them. But they mostly seem like they can be represented like this, except for the one that has legs of fire (I’ll figure out what to do about him/her/it/them/zir later). Flying-hands-with-eyes should be able to handle most apocalyptic angel duties, such as hurling fiery censers, dumping bowls of plagues, blowing horns, and whatnot.

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Gimme a Hand

I don’t want to have to animate a hand by hand. So I made this articulated “bone” model. Problem is, it’s a little stiff, and there’s no way to make the white outlines smooth and even. It seems like a nice smooth hand would be easy enough; the problem is when the fingers go in front of each other, as in the making of a fist. Then you need layers, where each part of a digit that obscures any other part is on another layer. This model has 16 layers: one for each “bone” of the fingers, plus a palm that is also warped by the “bones,” albeit not enough.

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