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:
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/.
The two-word request for this Hundred Dollar Drawing was “Little Beast,” but this is really Lil’ Beast o’ the Apocalypse.
Revelation 13: And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
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.
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.
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.
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.