The Fabled Pyramid
June 30, 2008 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Jesse van Dijk paints fantasy and science-fiction scenes. Some of these paintings include a little shot of narrative about the astonishing imagined worlds they depict. His work has appeared in a mediocre PSP game and won a Gnoman Workshop challenge. Mr. van Dijik does his thing with Photoshop, and this is how he does it.
posted by EatTheWeak (23 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I wish I had half of his artistic talent.
posted by fusinski at 7:10 AM on June 30, 2008

These are awesome.
posted by DU at 7:13 AM on June 30, 2008

That Project Indigo is very cool.
posted by Vindaloo at 7:27 AM on June 30, 2008

Absolutely stunning work. The style reminds me of Craig Mullins.

Oh and seconding the coolness of Project Indigo.
posted by panboi at 7:36 AM on June 30, 2008

(Craig Mullins personal site:
posted by device55 at 8:02 AM on June 30, 2008

That's fascinating, thanks! Loved his description of how he works.
posted by jacalata at 8:12 AM on June 30, 2008

I wish I had half of his artistic talent.

I'll take the other half...!
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 8:36 AM on June 30, 2008

The "narrative" link bugs me. This labyrinth could be solved pretty easily by pulling yourself up on top and walking along the walls. Even if the walls /were/ "twice the height of a man" it seems like you could just ask somebody for a boost. If there's some narrative device to prevent that, it doesn't come through in the artwork, which makes the artwork seem pretty silly....
posted by gurple at 9:27 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wow. What this guy needs is a great writer.. can you imagine the stories they could do together?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:34 AM on June 30, 2008

Yeah, the whole "I grab a pic" thing bugged me too. Let me just run out and cut and paste my way to stardom...
posted by tadellin at 9:34 AM on June 30, 2008

The "narrative" link bugs me.

I know, I had the same objection. Although that only works if the maze is small enough that you can see most of it from where you stand. Still, it would be easier than being inside.
posted by DU at 11:45 AM on June 30, 2008

Would the photo-sourcing thing be less of a problem if it was a picture he had taken himself?
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:01 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

"Yeah, the whole "I grab a pic" thing bugged me too. Let me just run out and cut and paste my way to stardom..."

Ehh. Practically all artwork copies or outright steals to some extent; Picasso famously condoned it, and Shakespeare was notorious for it. Van Dijk's picture is good in a completely different way than the original photograph is, and in this day and age I don't see anything inherently more corrupt about massaging in a piece of stock photography than just using it as a reference, which happens and happened all the time. The fact that he cut-and-pasted (and then skilfully painted over it) doesn't make the picture any less visually impressive. That's leaving aside the fact that it was done because of time contraints.

So nyuh.
posted by Drexen at 12:08 PM on June 30, 2008

While I liked his description of how he worked, I was expecting something much more tutorial in nature. This was more of a "here's me an hour in, this is what I did." not a "this is how you do this too."

It's sort of like asking a musician how to play music, and having them just play songs and scales for you.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:27 PM on June 30, 2008

The world-building in the SF/F art is quite good - something an author could build a substantial story from. And the temptation to use some of these for wallpaper is overwhelming.
posted by Ber at 4:55 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't sweat the "grab a pic" thing, guys. He had taken the time to gather a library of images, and organize them, and that probably took a very long time. He knew which image to use, and what to do to it to make it his. It's not anywhere close to intellectually dishonest. Even if he had literally just copied a picture of a fishhead from a fish-and-chip ad and pasted it on without working it over, the end result would still be his. We all stand on the shoulders of our predecessors, whether we know it or not.

The thing that I love about these images is the suggestion of form, mass, scale, and texture. Purists might accuse him of being more of an "illustrator" than an "artist", but the work he produces is exquisite.

I love his narrative muse - and I did have the same reaction about the maze - duh, just hop on top. Nevertheless, I think I understand that the narrative simply occurs to him and he expresses it as it comes, without having to parse every possibility looking for holes.
posted by Xoebe at 5:26 PM on June 30, 2008

Well I love this, but I, too, am bugged by the "grab a reference pic" bit. Nothing you can say to strip me of that. Just something I have to muse over a little while.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:10 PM on June 30, 2008

This guy makes it look easy, a sure sign of talent. Great stuff.
posted by zardoz at 7:26 PM on June 30, 2008

gurple, the 'narrative' makes it pretty clear that the guy is being sent inside the labyrinth on his own. You think there's a random stranger waiting inside to give him a boost onto the walls? Maybe it is possible to climb on top of the wall ("in one location, the wall has started crumbling...") but I think you underestimate the difficulty of climbing onto something twice your own height - even with a boost. And unless he managed to pick a wall that led in the correct direction, he'd have to keep jumping up and down on new walls. With convenient friendly strangers everywhere.
posted by jacalata at 7:31 PM on June 30, 2008

Wonderful stuff!
posted by ktrey at 8:38 PM on June 30, 2008

Art school focuses on observational skills, perspective, and anatomy for a reason. He's an illustrator, he should be rendering instead of copy/pasting. If he pulled that trick for a client's assignment for publication, it's the client's name who would be associated with the ripoff. Not cool, and art directors tend to care about that sort of thing. Pasting in is ok for roughs as a sort of "you get the idea" placeholder, but if he didn't shoot the reference pic himself (or get assigned to draw from it specifically) he's using it inappropriately. This is not how you use reference, you use it to refer to, to check your accuracy when creating by hand. "how many nostrils does this species of fish have? oh yeah, five. Did I draw the eyes too far apart? Nah they're close enough." He didn't manipulate it other than a flip and a transparency change, and I'd say the fish's face is a pretty significant focus of the composition, wouldn't you? It's not like it's a tiny detail hidden in a cluttered scene. And it's not like he did it as a clever homage to a revered artist who makes deep sea fish collages. Rather a poor sport to paste in a photo when it's apparently an illustration contest with a prize. If I was in a contest where everyone else drew freehand and lost to a photo manip I'd feel like a chump.

Time constraints really aren't an excuse. Deadlines are universal.

I guess it galls me because he's got the skills, he does nice landscape and tech, but I was keen to see how he was with biological stuff. I guess he feels it's his shortcoming cos the fish is the most prominently featured life-form I see in his work. Anyhow he's good enough that he ought to be more professional than that. Even if he only did it for a contest, it calls all the rest of his realistic imagery into question. Pity too cos I really liked his tower city.
posted by Lou Stuells at 8:45 PM on June 30, 2008

The first linked image looks like a scene from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, while the third one looks like a scene from Stargate. If they were intended as illustrations of the movies, I might admire their technical proficiency, but as original artwork, they are anything but original.
posted by frankchess at 12:03 PM on July 1, 2008

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