Christian Artist

ncient Ruins and Arise Arise by Jennifer Phillips

ancient ruins

Step by step showing how this was created for the CGTalk The Journey Begins 2D challenge.
(This link is no longer active)


For me making an art work is a like a journey. Sometimes I begin with a completed image in my mind and have all the required skills to execute it. I didn't for this work. My art doesn't normally include characters so for the 2006 CGSociety 2D challenge I had to "gather information" about body parts and clothes and learn how to represent them using Photoshop. In the beginning I was strongly influenced by the type of images the CGS community were making. I presumed from the instructions that an illustrative, narrative style was required.

I started with two background images I'd made in Terragen. I'd drawn the pyramid map in Terra Painter and used it as the Terrain. I used photos I had taken of concrete for the surface texture. 

This image fitted my idea of the "get rich quick" journey that is so pervasive in internet advertising. An allegorical story leapt into my mind and I visioned an image filled with symbolism; a C.S. Lewis, Pilgrims Progress kind of image ... coming down the mountain and heading to "Babylon."


I took photos to use as models for the main character. I filled the outline with gradients of colour and used the pen tool on top. This wasn't that satisfactory as I couldn't blend them very well. I tried using more layers to add the tone and changed the opacity of the tools and layers. This improved the blending. Through experimentation I found the dodge and burn tool easier and more effective in showing shape and light. I used this technique in the clothing of the "adversary" I drew for the scene, thinking that every epic journey had at least one of these. I created a custom brush to make his strands of hair and used a few layers of the groups of these, rotating and changing the colour. 

creating hair fro Arise Arise by Phillips

The story was growing in my mind and I started the second character. Drawing her was so much easier with the skills I had gained doing the first two. I used 48 layers for her hair and an overlay instead of a normal blending mode for the top layer.


I began to think more about the composition. I wanted to make it more dramatic and interesting so I played with the warp tool changing the rocks. I did some research about hieroglyphics and used these for the text "find the ancient path" on the first shiny object I think I have ever coloured. 

I began thinking about ancient paths and did some research about Roman roads. This led me to thinking about a path I had been wanting to explore visually involving my present preoccupation with curlings and peelings. I had begun a mural with a mildly distorted piano and had regretted that I hadn't drawn it with more curves. I decided to try out a scene that seemed to fit the journey idea better using the piano keys ... the idea of a journey as a learning curve. This new direction was prompted by some comments that the pyramid image was fairly predictable. 

I began thinking about the concept of journey and what it meant to be epic with an "elevated narrative style." I placed the girl from my first image in this new environment, with her sleeping bag and water bottle ... two essentials for this kind of journey. They fitted in well with the new concept - sleeping bag/lullaby and thirst quenching/wetting the appetite ... both can be refreshing ... music for the soul! 

It was suggested that the girl should be looking over her shoulder. So I created a new face and placed my character sitting down on the edge of the keyboard. 

The beginning of a journey is sometimes approached from the perspective of doing something different and new. New ways of doing things, new beginnings can produce fear and anxiety in some people. It can make them feel very insecure, like being on the edge of a cliff or on a swing bridge over a deep gorge. Taking the first step is difficult. 

Anxiety and fear distort the countenance so I distorted her face. Music can lure, coax and grab your soul lifting, "elevating" you. So I added hands to the music score, which I had created in Band in a Box and Noteworthy Composer, called "Come and sing a song with me." However learning an instrument is not always so easy. Sometimes it can seem out of reach, even dangerous. Sometimes it requires leaving the comfort of the known or acceptable ways (modes of expression). I drew a metronome without the timing piece or numbers and distorted it because in the beginning learning the timing is a major sometimes dominating experience - it is difficult to keep in time. I added a few filters to get the shinny curved look and the wood texture. 

After finishing the image I sought comments and I was influenced by these to change the girls face to make it "more normal." 

The concept of journey is an ancient path even if it looks new like piano keys. At first I represented the beginning of the keyboard only, repeating the 1 2 3 pattern of the first black keys to symbolize the beginning of a journey. 

The background made no significant contribution to the journey idea so I drew some notes in Photoshop and used them as a surface map in Terragen. A landscape filled with notes like seeds and rocks (currant buns and musical streams - currents), food for thought but not so easy to dig up I thought of strands (currents) of music appealing from a distance but not so easy to put together in the music making journey! I changed the colour of the water as well as I wanted it to be crystal clean and clear.

I redid the front keys adding more highlights and the normal 2, 3 pattern of the black keys, leaving the "different" pattern in the distance.

I changed the face again hiding the ear, which is often missing from a beginning musician and made her expression more querying and less fearful. I also changed the piece of music that the girl was looking at to one I had created in Corel Draw called "Arise! Arise!" because it had a lot more lines and on first impression looks more difficult to read. I added another layer of colour on top of the music, changed the blending mode and colour balance. I then warped it and added shadow and highlights using the dodge and burn tools.

But what constitutes an epic journey, a poetic image reflecting heroic events in an elevated style? I thought it must be more than just a long journey. I though hands were a good symbol for "heroics." I made the keyboard go up into the sky; into an elevated position towards the sun. I used the dodge tool to accentuate the sun rays, the viewing of which tends to elevate the soul. I thought that epic journeys are like streams flowing from the sun ... so my stream flows towards the front of the image, towards the girl. Even in epic journeys the end, initiation of, or reasons for a journey are not always understood in the beginning but the journey is contemplated for varying lengths of time depending on the situation. Contemplation is a characteristic of the beginning of this epic journey. 

Arise Arise: My character is being lured by the music to travel an unfamiliar path that has the potential for great events.

This art work was featured on the Absolutely Digital Gallery

"He is enticing you from the mouth of distress, to a broad place with no constraint" Job:36:16.


In 2013 I used this image as the base for the cover of a Christian novel and in the novel trailer.

Cover of Christian Novel by Phillips 

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