The Messenger - Part I
This is the project that started an art direction that I still carry throughout my work today! It’s for a Christmas video I helped put together called “The Messenger (Part I)” for Valley Creek Church. Huge shout-out to Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack), Don Clark (Invisible Creature), Lou Romano (Pixar), et al for inspiring me to “steal like an artist”, to VCC for the awesome opportunity, and to my Good Father for the vision. Enjoy!
"The Messenger" is the story of Jesus’ birth, going all the way back to The Garden of Eden (shown below in a panoramic composition), told from the angel Gabriel’s perspective. Key words from his narration are highlighted throughout the piece.
These are illustrations depicting The Fall, brought on by the lurking serpent's offer of "a greater life". This offer was actually death in disguise...ultimately causing separation between man and God, fear replacing freedom. So despite it's super heavy subject matter, I wanted the illustrations to be fun to look at anyway to draw the viewer deeper into the story (and so far as not to scare away any kids in the audience)!
"Don't be afraid."
I wanted to create a moodier atmosphere with the rain and the cool nighttime color palette, but allowing the red cross on Gabriel's chest scream off the artwork - leaving no question about who he represents. Also had a blast coming up with a more unconventional character design for the angel as well!
I wanted these shots to be all about unique perspective. The hope was to draw the viewer in - especially in a smash zoom from a super-wide panoramic scene right into Gabriel's eye - as he gives the Good News of Great Joy.
"He will calm the storms, He will feed the hungry, He will restore sight to the blind, He will release prisoners, He will bring grace and truth, He will be the love of God on display for all to see."
GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY
For the closing shot, I felt challenged to turn the Nativity/Manger scene into the VCC logo (which is very close to the heart of the church)! So with a little slight of hand, I managed to arrange an illustration that worked out nicely - and it was very well received. I'm so thankful for this project and the impact it's had on so many people - myself included.
Thanks for looking!
The Messenger - Part II
"What was lost in the First Garden, was taken back in the Second."
We were tasked with carrying onward the original art direction and design from the Christmas story of "Part I", this time telling the story of Easter (once again through the angel Gabriel's eyes). But as some sequels go, the story welcomed a much broader scope. So I was fortunate enough to be able to partner with Ian Moss (another solid illustrator at VCC) as we worked in tandem on tackling each illustration shot by shot. The only way this was able to work well was for me to effectively lead the project by clearly communicating the art direction to Ian, while working on select scenes myself, so it appeared as though the entire video came from the same illustrator! It was a major stretching opportunity for the both of us, but I'm pleased to say that it was worth the effort. Above is one of my first contributions to the piece - an illustration depicting Gabriel comforting and strengthening Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Fully God, Fully Man
In the illustration above, I had always envisioned a depiction of Jesus as a teenager/young adult creating the very table that He sat at for "The Last Supper". In the shots below, it was another fun "magic trick" to figure out how to transform the Jordan River of Jesus' baptism into a powerful dove as Gabriel continues to tell us Jesus' story.
This panoramic was the first shot I illustrated for this short! I wanted the character design of satan to be a combination of the wolves and the serpent that were used to symbolize him in the Part I. It was also fun to bounce back and forth between "low detail" characters to focus on the atmosphere, then to "high detail" - showing facial features and the like.
Like the above illustration, I also wanted to keep the viewer engaged by working with different on-screen compositions (thank you "Samurai Jack" for the direct influence!). This "cinescope" illustration is probably one of my favorites for the video.
This illustration was by far the most challenging of the project. I wanted a direct link to Part I - so I thought our version of "The Pieta" would be a powerful and effective place to do so. Creating an illustration that was true to the iconic Pieta scene, while lining it up with the Nativity scene of Pt. I (to symbolically tie together the birth and death of Christ), and the VCC icon was tough! But well worth it.
In the third and final act, Gabriel goes on to tell the audience about the life of freedom that Jesus offers. And for the closing shot, it's become an awesome symbol of the collaboration between Ian and I (as we gave a few late nights to this piece), because I illustrated Gabriel and the Empty Tomb on the lower half of the composition, and he knocked out the "Wide Life" scene at the top - causing our creative efforts to literally fuse together.
The best is yet to come
I'm well beyond grateful for the impact that "The Messenger" has had on my creative career - but moreover for it's impact it's had in those who watched and experienced it with an open heart. I couldn't have done this, or anything else on this site without God empowering and encouraging me along the way. If you have any inquiries or feedback about this or any other project, please feel free to reach out. Thanks!
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