Monday, December 10, 2007

New pictures of the Nativity

Latest picture set to be added to the 'Bible picture website' is 'Part one of the Nativity'. This picture set is in the new style and contains seven pictures that tell the story from the annunciation to the dedication of Jesus in the temple.

I will be adding some brief notes on this latest picture set shortly, (check back in a few days!) In the meantime, if you haven't already read it, check out the 'Nazareth or Egypt?' post, (link below).
'Part two of the Nativity' will be ready in the next week or so, and deals with the visit of the wise men.
This latest set takes our total Bible picture count to 702!

Related posts:
Nativity (Part two)
Nazareth or Egypt?
Pictures of the Nativity
Drawing Angels!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Did Adam and Eve have a belly button?

This is one of those questions that Bible artists hear a lot. When I first illustrated Adam & Eve many years ago, I have to admit, I hadn't really thought about it, and, like Rubens, (see picture), I did illustrate them with navels!

Looking at it logically, the navel is a type of scar left after childbirth. It was where the umbilical cord, that connected the fetus to the placenta, was attached in the womb. So, as Adam & Eve were not born but created, it makes sense that they wouldn't have a belly button.
Is the answer to this question that simple?

Nate Butler, president of 'Christian Comics International' on a recent trip to Japan had a discussion with some manga artists about how we should depict Adam & Eve in a 100% genetically correct way. I will ask Nate if he will share some of his thoughts in an article for the blog.

I would be interested in any other views on this subject.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Drawing Cherubs!

It's approaching that time of year again, when Bible artists are receiving requests for angel images. I've been working on some for our latest Nativity picture story.

Following some recent comments about illustrating cherubs, I thought that Nikolaj from Belgium might like to see a literal interpretation of cherubim based on the description given in Ezekiel ch10, by Artist Robert Forrest. This picture is from the Bible Story magazine, #11. © Look & Learn 2007. Click on the picture for a larger image.

Could this be what the cherubs looked like on the Mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant?

Related posts:
Drawing Angels!
Drawing the Devil!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nazareth or Egypt?

How well do you know the Christmas story? I thought I knew it pretty well, until I started research for our latest set of Bible pictures based on the Nativity story. I've illustrated the Nativity at least three times before, so I wasn't expecting to find anything new in it. (sound familiar?)

For some reason, I hadn't noticed before that the accounts of the Nativity given in Matthew and Luke don't quite match up. Matthew says that Mary, Joseph and baby fled south to Egypt following the birth of Jesus, (Matt 2:13), while Luke says they went north to Nazareth! (Lk 2:39). Whenever you come across what appears to be a contradiction in the Bible, you've usually discovered something that, not only isn't a contradiction, but actually ties up a lot of those loose ends that once puzzled you. At least that's been my experience, and as we will see, this case is no exception!

Luke clearly gives us the details of the first few weeks in the life of the Lord Jesus. The events of the Nativity as recorded by Luke in chapter 2 are as follows:

1). Jesus born in the stable at Bethlehem.
2). Angel appears to shepherds.
3). Shepherds visit baby Jesus in the stable, "after searching". (Amplified Bible).
4). Eight days later, Jesus is circumcised.
5). 32 days later, the family travel the 5 miles to Jerusalem for the Dedication of Jesus. According to
Lev: 12, 40 days are needed for the purification of the mother following the birth of a male child.
This includes the 8 days leading up to the circumcision. (8+32=40).
6). Dedication of Jesus at Jerusalem.
7). The family travels to Nazareth. This is a journey of 65 miles. (approximately 6 days, allowing for the difficult terrain, heat etc).

So roughly 46 days or so after the birth of Jesus, the family are back at home in Nazareth.

But, didn't the wise men visit the baby Jesus in the stable at Bethlehem? It would appear not, Matthew 2:11 clearly says "And when they had come into the house..." (not a stable). But, wasn't the house in Bethlehem? Before we try to answer that, let's take another look at the events of the Nativity as recorded this time by Matthew in chapter two.

Firstly, we don't read that the wise men followed the star all the way from the east. It seems that the star that initially appeared to the Magi in the East, didn't reappear again until the wise men left Herod's palace, (possibly up to two years later). This would explain their great joy and surprise at seeing the star in v9. The question is, why did the star appear again? The wise men were already on their way to Bethlehem, and when they got there, all they had to do was ask! The shepherds had already told everyone in Bethlehem what had happened in that now famous stable, (Lk 2:17).
Or, did the star appear because the baby Jesus was no longer in the stable, in fact, no longer in Bethlehem? Was the star now guiding them to Nazareth? Notice also that the wise men in v7 presumably told King Herod that the star first appeared two years earlier! This was the reason Herod ordered the slaughter of 14,000 male infants up to two years old.

If the star appeared at the time of the birth, according to experts it would have taken the Magi nine months to travel from Persia to Judea. Add to that the time it must have taken to interpret the meaning of the star from their ancient writings, and the time to gather the supplies and make arrangements for such an epic journey, and two years starts to sound about right!

There is another reason also why it's doubtful that the Magi arrived at the time of the actual birth:
The news of any male babies being brought into the Temple in Jerusalem for dedication, following the visit of the wise men would have aroused so much attention, Herod was sure to have been informed. Especially babies that had been born in Bethlehem! Remember that Herod was in the process of funding the building of a beautiful new Temple for the nation of Israel at this time. The chief priests and scribes had already showed themselves to be more than happy to lead Herod to the Messiah, so that he could worship Him also, (v8). The dedication of Jesus as recorded by Luke must have happened earlier for this reason alone!

There are two problems with this scenario though. Firstly, why would Joseph and his family flee from Nazareth, (which is 65 miles away), following the warning given by the angel? Well, Galilee was still in the northern part of Herod's kingdom, so Herod did have the authority to slay children there also. Could it also be possible that the chief priests and scribes made the same Messianic connection that Matthew made with Nazareth in Matt 2:23? Whatever your view is of that verse, the fact is that Matthew chose to record his interpretation in scripture, so it is possible that others came to the same conclusion regarding it. This would have been reason enough for Herod to send his soldiers north to Nazareth.

But, there's still another problem. The other question that arises is, why they would flee south to Egypt from Nazareth? A journey of over 100 miles that would take them dangerously close to Jerusalem! They would have probably taken the trade route which followed the coast, but it still went through Judea.

There is another scenario however, that does tick all the boxes.
Luke 2:41 records for us the fact that Joseph and his family returned from Nazareth to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. Luke chooses to mention this because, on this occasion, Mary & Joseph lose the twelve year old Jesus! What Luke doesn't record though is the fact that, according to Jewish law, Joseph was required to return to Jerusalem not once, but three times a year, because there were three pilgrim festivals that required the male member of the family to bring his tithes and offerings to Jerusalem. Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot), and the Feast of Booths (Sukkot).
The population of Jerusalem at these festival times swelled from around 600,000 to 2-3 million! which made accommodation hard to find. It makes sense that Joseph and his family would return to Bethlehem each time, as It is very likely that following the 'press release' given out by the shepherds, following their heavenly visitation, there would have been numerous offers of accommodation in Bethlehem for this special family. So, there would have been up to six visits made by the family to Bethlehem during the two years following the birth of Jesus. It's possible that the family made good friends in Bethlehem and stayed in the same house on each visit.

Was it during one of these visits to Bethlehem that the Magi came bearing gifts? This would explain why they came to see a 'young child' in a 'house', (Matt 2:11), opposed to a 'Babe' in a 'manger', (Luke 2:16). It also makes more sense that Joseph and family fled south to Egypt from Bethlehem which already lies south of Jerusalem. The star would almost certainly be needed too, to guide the Magi to the house where they were lodging.

So, how should all the details mentioned above effect how Bible artists illustrate the Nativity story? Well, there are a number of points worth taking note of;
1). The wise men didn't visit the stable. Matt 2:11. (This is correctly shown in one of the paintings by Bible artist William Hole).
2). The star didn't appear over the stable. Which makes just about every Christmas card ever made incorrect!
3). The wise men probably didn't follow the star from the East, despite what the carols say!
4). The shepherds were not directed to the stable by a star.
5). There were probably up to 1,000 Persian soldiers accompanying the Magi, as well as those carrying supplies. This was a huge caravan of travelers, correctly shown above by Bible artist James McConnell. (© Look & 2007). Incidentally, if you are interested in purchasing this original piece of Bible art by James McConnell shown above, you can! click here for details.

Those who produce sequential Bible art, (cartoon strip), are less likely to make mistakes like those mentioned above because they move frame by frame through the story, although I did notice, in Paolo Eleuteri-Serpieri's masterpiece on the Nativity, that he shows Joseph and his family returning from Jerusalem to the stable in Bethlehem! This is more likely the mistake of the writer Etienne Dahler though.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts on the above subject. I hope you enjoyed reading this 'Christmas conundrum'!

Update 4 December 2010: One person left an interesting link in the comments which suggests that the birth took place, not in a stable, but in the lower level of a two story house. There was still a manger there as the animals were kept on the ground floor. Have a read at:

Related posts:
Pictures of the Nativity
Drawing Angels!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Christmas cards

If you're looking for Christmas cards that are a little different, check out the new range of Christmas cards on offer at 'The Nazareth Village Project'

The cards display photos of authentic looking Nativity scenes. Click here for more details.

Photo © 'Nazareth Village Project' 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

New Search Feature!

I've just added a new Google 'custom search' feature to the 'Bible illustration blog'.
This will hopefully make it a lot easier for you to find exactly what you're looking for, and improve your browsing experience.

For example, if you're searching for Bible pictures based on a particular story, you can now perform a quick search by entering the story title in the search box. All search results will be gathered from this blog, 'The Bible Picture Website' and ''.

Also, if you're interested to read about a particular Bible artist, just type in their name and search the entire blog to find any posts written about them! If you can't find any articles about your favorite Bible artist, drop me a line with some information about the artist which I can use in future posts.

At the time of writing, 58 articles have been posted on the blog over the last 12 months, mostly related to Bible illustration. If you're interested enough in the subject to want to read every post, the best way to access them is via the 'Archives' list in the right hand column.

Was Samson muscular?

This may seem like a strange question to ask, but I came across an internet article, part of which criticized Bible illustrators for depicting Samson as "a man with great muscles". A quote from the article follows...

"In the world, every comic book hero is always trying to do supernatural things with his super powers. Every hero in movies and books are always showing off their super powers. That is why even the children’s bible illustrators draw Samson as a man with great muscles. Delilah and the Philistines continually asked him where his strength lay. They could not figure it out! That means he must have looked quite ordinary, otherwise they would not have asked".

On the surface of it, it seems like a reasonable assumption to make, but the author is missing an important point; We need to remember that the acts of strength displayed by Samson were far above anything that had ever been seen before. These were feats of strength that were beyond imagination!

If Arnold Schwarzenegger fought and killed 1,000 Philistine soldiers, armed only with the jawbone of an ass, or pushed over an enormous Temple housing over 1,000 people with his bare hands, we would be in awe of his strength! We wouldn't say "He was able to do that because of his great physique!" The point is, the size of Samson's muscles, whether large or small, were no indication of his actual strength. People were amazed by his feats of 'supernatural' strength! Strength that was beyond man!

I personally think that Samson would have been well built. His hands for instance would have needed to be fairly large just to grip those huge heavy gates of the city of Gaza that he carried up the hill, and the balance needed for such a feat would have required fairly large feet too.
The fact is, Bible artists love to draw Samson the way they do! and those of us who were brought up on a diet of DC & Marvel comics take any opportunity to draw musclebound heros! I would need a lot more to go on than the quote above before I would consider drawing Samson with the physique of Woody Allen!

Incidentally, If you happen to be a movie producer about to make a 'Samson' movie, you could do a lot worse than casting French rugby player Sébastien Chabal (below) in the title role!

Sébastien Chabal with his baby daughter. photo © Daily Mail 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mad Bible Artists!

As a teenager, I was an avid reader of Mad magazine! My all time favorite 'Mad artist' was Mort Drucker.
His caricatures were superb and you can't help noticing his influence on many of the 'Mad' artists that followed.

It may surprise you to know that Mad magazine has had it's share of Bible artists too! The most recent one being Dennis Jones who illustrated the best selling 'See With Me Bible'. If you like Cartoon style Bible illustrations then this Bible is for you! His character designs really are superb, and full of humor!

Dennis Jones is not the only 'Mad' Bible artist. I recently came across an article about Basil Wolverton.
Basil Wolverton was one of the original artists at Mad magazine in the 50's. His Bible art concentrated on the 'End times' and is more apocalyptic in nature, (not for the faint hearted!) You can view his Bible art here.

If anyone knows of any other 'Mad Bible artists' please leave a comment.

above image © Mad magazine 2007

Blind Bartimaeus

The latest set of Bible pictures to be added to the 'Bible Picture website' tells the story of the healing of blind Bartimaeus. The story takes place on the outskirts of Jericho.

Jericho had the ancient title of 'City of Palm trees' referring to the abundance of palm trees in the area, so remember to add palm trees when illustrating one of the many stories that take place here. Jericho is believed to be the second oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, and has been described as a "lush green oasis in the desert". The fertile soil of Jericho, which once made it famous for its groves of balsam, spice and date palms, was apparently due to the skillful irrigation of earlier times. For this reason Josephus refers to it as the "divine district".

Just like today, those who beg chose the busiest thoroughfares to position themselves in. Many Jews met in Jericho before traveling to Jerusalem for the passover celebrations, so the road leaving Jericho became a popular spot for beggars. Bible artist William Hole, who visited the Holy land to gather references for his Bible pictures, noticed that blind beggars had their begging bowls fastened to their waist by a cord. Presumably to deter potential thieves. It's reasonable to assume that this practice was passed down from ancient times.
In his book 'The Life of Jesus of Nazareth' Hole points out that blindness in Palestine during this period was "grievously common, the proportion of those afflicted being one in every hundred of the population".

In picture 3, Bartimaeus has discarded his blanket, (Mark 10: 50), and is kneeling at the feet of Jesus. The act of discarding his cloak is very significant as it was his only possession. (He had forsaken all to follow Jesus!) This cloak would have been his only protection from the cold at night, and his only shade from the hot sun during the day. So important was a poor man's cloak that the Bible, (in Exodus 22: 26-27), sets down strict regulations regarding its use as property. It states that even if this garment has been pawned, it must be returned to its owner before sun down, for "What else will he sleep in".

I've heard, although I've not checked it out, that begging in Bible times was a recognized profession for those who were unable to support themselves, (e.g. those who were blind and lame etc), and that beggars wore a cloak that identified them as beggars, a kind of official uniform! This made the discarding of this beggars uniform an act of faith on the part of Bartimaeus, trusting that he would no longer need it. I'm not sure if Josephus mentions anything about this. I would be interested to know if there is any evidence to suggest what color a beggars cloak might have been.

In picture 4 we see Jesus walking away in the distance. the Bible says that Bartimaeus followed Him in the way. Notice that the road that Jesus took was the road to Jerusalem, and the cross! Bartimaeus was one of the few followers of Jesus who was ready to follow Him all the way to the cross.

There are four pictures in this set which gives us a new total picture count of 695!
The next picture set I will be working on is a new version of the Nativity, which (God willing), should be ready in a couple of weeks or so. We do already have Bible picture sets of the Nativity for those who can't wait, but the new ones will be in the new (more detailed) style.

Posts on other Bible stories
The Rich Young Rular
Crucifixion part 1
Crucifixion part 2
On the road to Emmaus
The Nativity
Raising Lazarus
Woman taken in Adultery

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

For Sale, 'The Bible Story'

I've just received an email from a Sue Hammond who informs me that she has the full set of 'The Bible Story' for sale! (issues 1-29). This is the complete set and I believe that they are in the original binder.

This collection is a must have for Bible illustrators, and complete sets don't come up for sale often. The 'Bible Story' magazine was published by 'Look & Learn' in the sixties and contains some great illustrations, (especially the ones by Jack Hayes, see sample above). More about the Bible Story magazine here.

Sue is looking for £30 for the set which is very reasonable and the postage will cost £12. which I am assuming is within the U.K. So an international buyer would need to check out the international shipping costs with Sue. Buyers in the U.K. might be able to collect.
Anyone who is interested can email me, and I will pass on Sues email address. Don't leave it too long though, this will sell quickly!

above image is ©

Monday, October 15, 2007

Guest Bible Artist interview #2

Keith Neely

Being a full time Bible illustrator is probably one of the rarest, if not THE rarest occupation on the surface of the planet! Keith Neely has been doing just that for the last 4 years and has kindly agreed to do an online interview with the 'Bible illustration blog'.
Keith lives in Indiana, U.S. with his wife Roberta. They have 5 grown children and 7 grandchildren, (with 2 more on the way!)
Keith and his team have almost completed 'The Illustrated ICB Bible' for U.S. publisher Thomas Nelson.

Keith, when did you start illustrating as a career?
After receiving my BFA from Art Center College of Design in CA in1972 I worked at Disney, Christian Brothers Visual Communication, an Advertising agency in Chicago, I even taught Advertising Illustration and Advertising Design at BIOLA College, La Mirada, CA. In 1981, I pretty much settled into Free Lance Illustration.

Is 'The Illustrated ICB Bible' completed, and how long have you been working on it?
We started in December 2003 and we should be finished in the summer of 2008.There will be 7,692 full color illustrations so it’s taking a little time. The 4 Gospels, Acts, Genesis and Exodus are out in individual paperbacks and the entire New Testament is out in hard cover.

7,692 pictures, Wow! That must be some kind of world record! Do you work alone or do you share the task?
I have some great talented people working with me. Dave Miles (, and James Balkovek (, who is doing all of the drawings for the Old Testament.

There are a lot of Illustrated Bibles out there, what makes your Bible different from the rest?
All the other Illustrated Bibles are actually selected stories, re-told, from the Bible. During the 35 years I’ve been illustrating Sunday school materiel, I often wondered why the actual and complete Bible wasn’t illustrated. I suppose publishers felt that actual scripture would be over a child’s head so they simplified it for them and left out the less exciting stories, which would make a Bible storybook too heavy for a child to carry around any way. I believe The Word of God speaks to children as well as adults and that God had a purpose for including the “less exciting” stories and that I shouldn’t take the responsibility of deciding what scriptures children should not see. Don’t hear me say the other Children’s Bibles don’t have their place; in fact I know God has been talking to kids though them for years (including me) and many of them are beautiful like Jeff Anderson’s “Graphic Bible”. So, in answer to your question, “The Illustrated ICB Bible” is the ONLY illustrated Bible. Your readers can see for themselves for FREE at:

I came across 'the Gospel of John' on the web (, and I noticed that there was no way to buy the book at that site. What is the purpose of the site then?
I wanted the Gospel to be available to kids, and adults, all over the world for FREE.Thomas Nelson, the publisher of 'The Illustrated ICB Bible' series, agreed to allow us to set up the site knowing that it would cost them sales for the same reason.

How long will it have taken you to complete 'The ICB Illustrated Bible'?
About 5 years.

You've already mentioned Jeff Anderson. What other Bible illustrators have inspired you over the years?
Michael Dudash ( ) and  Ron DiCianni ( )

Does illustrating the Bible take up all your time, or are you working on other projects also?
I still do a few Sunday school jobs from time to time for old friends and I have some ideas for future projects but 95% of my time is dedicated to finishing this Bible.

Keith reads the Christmas story proof pages to the Grandkids, (below).

What do you find challenging when illustrating Bible stories?
Trying to find the balance between historic accuracy and perceived accuracy (what kids think is accurate because they have seen it in art for years). For example, Biblical people probably sat on pillows on the floor and ate at low tables (Roman style) or on the floor (eastern style) but we grew up seeing them sitting in a chair and eating at a table (Rembrandt style). So what is an Illustrator to do? You don’t want to confuse the Kids or draw attention away from what’s happening in the story and yet it should be accurate. The editor, the boss, will be happy to tell you what to do. When I’m the boss (a new experience for me) I go for perceived accuracy. After all, I’m doing the Bible not a history book. If something is going to suffer, I would rather it be Historical truth, not God’s Spiritual truth. It’s too bad there is a conflict at all.

What advice would you give to other Bible illustrators?
Hang in there! If anything should be illustrated (made more clear and understandable), it’s God’s word. A photograph of a model just doesn’t work because it doesn’t allow for your imagination to make an illustration of a person, actually that person instead of the model. So there will always be a need for Biblical Illustrators.

Keith, many thanks for your time!
Above images are © Keith Neely/ Thomas Nelson 2007

Related posts:
Interview with Jeff Anderson
Interview with Diana Shimon
Interview with Dr Leen Ritmeyer

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Happy Birthday B.I.B!

Today is the official 1st birthday of the 'Bible illustration blog'.
A total of 12,876 visitors have read 37,925 articles in the last 12 months!

I would like to give a big thanks to all the regular readers & contributors, and look forward, God willing, to posting more new articles, interviews and reviews over the coming months.

Many thanks & best wishes to all!

Update:1st Nov 2007
Readership of the blog continues to grow steadily. In the month of October just gone, we had 2,219 visitors who viewed 6,720 pages! That's roughly 550 visitors a week, and 699 more visitors than last month!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Crucifixion (Part 2)

I have just finished the second set of pictures which concludes the story of the crucifixion. Click here for more details!
In picture 7, (sample shown), we see the chief priests who went to complain to Pilate about the inscription that had been written above the cross of Jesus. He replied "What I have written, I have written!"

You will notice the phylactery or tefillin (shel yad), around the left arm of one of the chief priests, notice the way that the strap is wound around the middle finger to form the hebrew letter yod. Further knots are tied to represent other hebrew letters, (shin & dalet), which together form the hebrew word Shaddai (Almighty) one of the divine names of God.

A good friend of mine who was formally a member of the ultra orthodox group 'chabad' was telling me recently that a truly kosher tefillin can cost in excess of $2,000! There is more fascinating information about phylacteries, and how to wear them here.

I must confess that I have placed the head tefillin, (shel rosh), in the wrong place as the box which contains the scrolls should be worn above the hairline! This information may be helpful to other Bible artists.

In picture 8 we see the soldiers casting lots for the seamless garment of Jesus. There were different ways that lots were cast in Bible times, but most scholars agree that the Romans during this period would probably have used dice very similar to those that we use today. For reference, I found photos of ancient roman dice, (from this period), that were carved from soft stone.

It's worth bearing in mind that the garment that the soldiers were casting lots for would have been dirty, sweaty, and soaked in the blood of Jesus, as it was put back onto Him just after the scourging. Despite this, the garment was still valuable in the eyes of these roman soldiers. Some suggest that the fact that Jesus owned this seamless garment shows that He was very wealthy! I don't believe that the seamless garment speaks of the wealth of the Lord Jesus, but rather His office as High priest. The seamless garment, (woven throughout), was exactly the same type worn by the high priest in the Old testament, made in exactly the same way! The Lord Jesus is the great 'High Priest' after the order of Melchisadec, (Heb 5:6). He will not lay down this office like those of the Aaronic priesthood had to, by way of death, because "He ever liveth, to make intercession for us" (Heb 7:25).

The Lord Jesus can be seen talking to Mary & John from the cross in picture 9. I'm always amazed when I read the words in John 19:26. "When Jesus therefore saw...." Here is Jesus, beaten to near death, and nailed to a cross! Surely now, his ministry of caring was over! Yet we find Him looking down on a crowd, and in that crowd He sees a need! "When Jesus therefore saw His mother..." He then graciously answered that need, "behold your son!" Amazing love!

This is also the point where the Lord says "I thirst", and takes of the soured wine vinegar offered by the soldiers. This was a cheap wine that soldiers and labourers liked to drink. This should not be confused with the wine mingled with gall offered to Jesus before the crucifixion, (Matthew & Mark), which He refused. The wine & gall acted as a pain-killing narcotic, and was offered to those who were about to be crucified to take the edge off the excruciating pain.

In the back-ground of picture 9 you can also see two soldiers fastening a sponge to a branch of hyssop and pouring on the wine from a small flask.

In picture 10 we see the centurion stopping a soldier from breaking the legs of Jesus. As we read in part 1, the breaking of the legs of a crucified victim was a way of speeding up death. There was no need to break the legs of Jesus, as He was already dead.
The Lord Jesus is a type of the Passover lamb. In Exodus 12:46 we read that the pascal lamb was to have none of its bones broken. It is also interesting to note that at the exact time of the crucifixion, (noon, on the day of preparation), thousands of passover lambs were being slaughtered in the temple at Jerusalem.

In picture 11 we see Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who were both respected members of the Sanhedrin asking permission from Pontius Pilate to take down the body of Jesus from the cross. So strong was their love for Jesus that they willingly became ceremonially unclean by their contact with a dead body, (see Numbers 5:1-3, Leviticus 21:1,11). Consequently, they would have been unable to celebrate the Passover Sedar with family and friends the following day.

In picture 12 we see the limp body of Jesus being placed in the tomb.
The first persons to see this picture asked the question "Wouldn't rigor mortis have set in by now?" I had thought about this when I was drawing this scene. The process of rigor mortis begins 2-4 hours after death. The first signs are visible in the jaw and neck of the victim. It then progresses in a head to foot direction, the whole process taking 8-12 hours to complete.
Let's say that it took an hour for Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea to ask permission from pilate to take down the body of Jesus from the cross following His death. Then, let's say it took a further hour to take down the body of Jesus and lay it in the nearby tomb. That would mean that the early signs of rigor mortis would only just be showing. So the answer to the question is "No, the body of Jesus would still be limp at this point!"

It was a few hours before sundown when the body of Jesus was buried. You can see that the sun is low in the sky from the angle of the suns rays that are shining into the tomb entrance.

It would be wrong when writing a post about the crucifixion, not to include the Gospel message, so please take the time to read it here!

There are six pictures in this set, which brings our total Bible picture count to 691.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Can you help?

It's almost a year since the 'Bible illustration blog' was launched. Over 12,000 visitors have viewed almost 36.000 pages since it began.

The 'Bible picture website' now has almost 900 registered customers in over 30 countries worldwide! From Greenland to Guatemala, and from Hong Kong to Haiti. Although this sounds healthy, In internet terms, we are still relatively unknown. The 'Bible picture website' won't become self financing until we at least double our present customer base. This is where you can help!

There are two ways that you can help us to make the site more widely known:
1). If you have a website, no matter how small, you could link to

As a thank-you, I will be adding a section for reciprocal links titled 'Sites that link to us'. This will appear below the blogroll in the right hand column. (It should be noted that the 'Bible illustration blog' may not agree with the views expressed in these sites).

2). If you click on the above poster, you can download a larger version which shows samples of our Bible pictures. This poster can be printed out and displayed on either a Church notice board, in a Christian coffee shop, a Christian bookshop, or perhaps on a school staff notice board.

If you can help us by completing either of the above requests, please let us know via email so that we can say thanks! I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our regular customers for their custom and support over the years.

There are some who have emailed me, who would like to support us, but they are not involved in running a children's club or Sunday school. We have been thinking about producing sets of notelets using the Bible pictures, and possibly jigsaws or calendars using our images. This would be a way for those, who are not involved in youth work, to show their support by buying such products from our website. Let us know if this would appeal to you.

The Bible picture website is not only striving to produce high quality, Biblically accurate pictures for those involved in presenting the Bible message to children, we are also producing Bible Exhibitions that tour schools across the U.K and Germany. If you would like to support this work, or would like more information click here.
Many thanks again & God bless.

Friday, August 31, 2007

'ICC Competition' Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the second 'International Christian Comics Competition'! Especially to Kevin Dzuban, (USA), who won first prize for his entry "An Adventure of Faith".
''Cranky Bob's Sheep Parable'' by Matt Baker, (Australia), came in second, and
"Safe Landing" by Ben Hartnett, (Australia), took the third prize.

Congratulations also to Fernando (Gade) de Souza, winner of the 'Amateur' section for his entry "Book of Solutions"

There's still time, (If you're quick), to vote for your favorite in both the Professional and Amateur sections for the 'Peoples Choice Award'. Click here. to view the exhibition.
Well done to Nate for organizing such a great competition!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Guest Bible Artist interview #1

Jeff Anderson
Jeff is our first 'Guest Bible Artist' to be interviewed on the Bible illustration blog.
Jeff is based in the U.K. and illustrated the 'Lion Graphic Bible' back in 1998. I asked if I could do an online interview with him, and he kindly agreed.

When did you start illustrating as a career?
I attended Art Collage in the late seventies and started working as an illustrator around 1980, first of all in a Greeting card studio, then as a freelance. At first I did any thing that came along from educational books to pub signs. But my real love was always comic and I started working for Marvel and Fleetway around 1984/85.

How long did it take you to illustrate the 'Lion Graphic Bible'?
Well, I was working on a couple of books for Lion called ‘Shadows Edge’ and we talked about doing the Bible a couple of times but it seemed too big a project. After a while we decided to give it a go, and I started working on roughs in February 1994 and I finished in August 1998. There were others things going on at the same time, but the Bible was my main interest and focus.

What advice would you give to an artist about to illustrate the Bible?
Think long and hard.

What's your next Biblical illustration project?
I’ve just completed a Theology degree and as part of my work I produced a treatment of The Gospel of Luke, I only got about half way through the rough stage. At some point in the near future I’ll get back to working on it.

What other Bible artists have influenced or inspired you?
I’m a massive Frank Bellamy fan and love the King David series he did for Eagle; and I like the Frank Hampson version of the life of Jesus as well, though it has become a little dated! But what both Mike Maddox and myself wanted to do was just produce something that would stand up to any thing else in the market.

What difficulties did you experience finding Biblical references?
When I was working on the Graphic Bible it was a case of going to the library and looking around bookshops for books that would be helpful. There is also a good resource center here in Durham so I joined that and used that a lot. Lion also provided photocopies and refs as well. I remember spending ages looking for a good ref for the particular type of sheep found in the middle east, nowadays I would just Google it!

I believe that you've had a change of profession? Tell us more.
Yes, I was ordained in July ’07, a journey that has taken about six years.

Did illustrating the Bible lead you toward this choice?
Yes it did, working on something like that certainly makes you think about how you want to work out your faith and life as a Christian. Over a time of working out where I went next it became clear that I was being called towards working full time as an ordained minister.

Did your talent come in handy when training for the ministry?
Insofar as it allowed me to work on an adaptation of Luke, and get out of a few essays!

Will you be using your art in your new parish?
We use a lot of computer presentations for services so I’m able to do bits and pieces for that and I as I said I’m hoping to get back to the Luke adaptation sometime.

I noticed that you took the bold decision to move away from the traditional choice of clothing for the Lord Jesus. What led to that decision?
What we wanted to do was give some sort of impression of the progression of time, rather than just have a people wearing tea towels on their head. With Jesus we thought we should keep to some sort of classic portrayal with the treatment of facial features and such. But we wanted to make him different from those around him in some way, other than that I can’t remember how we arrived at the colour of clothes and such. One thing we did want to do is make him look as though he could get up on to your roof and fix it. Can’t imagine Robert Powell do that.

Your pictures have been well researched. I noticed the dark blue stripes on the prayer shawls, the authentic carpentry tools in Joseph's workshop, and no domes on your buildings! What source of research did you find most helpful?
Again it was just a case of trawling around the library and bookshops for the right thing.

Jeff, Thank you very much.
If you are a Bible illustrator, and would be happy to give an interview on the Bible illustration blog, please drop me an email.
All illustrations above are © Jeff Anderson 2007

Related links:
Interview with Keith Neely
Interview with Diana Shimon
Interview with Dr Leen Ritmeyer

More Biblical costume reference!

I know it's hard to believe, but I've finally got around to adding more Bible costume reference photos to
The delay has not entirely been my fault! (I've had to wait for photo's).

The latest set have been sent in by David Scott from CMJ. (Thanks David). David also recommended the 'Nazareth Village project,' which I hadn't come across before. It's worth a visit, and has some really nice photos.

If anyone else has some good photo's of Biblical type clothing, please get in contact, or leave a comment!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Crucifixion (part 1)

My apologies for the delay since my last blog entry, but things have been hectic!
One of my daughters is getting married soon, and there's been lots to organize!

The latest set of pictures to be added to the 'Bible picture website' is part one of the 'Crucifixion'.
There are six pictures that cover the story from the scourging to the crucifixion itself. Part two is almost finished.
For some reason it's really been a battle to get this set done! I've never quite felt as much spiritual opposition as I have while working on this particular set.

Below are a few notes on the pictures themselves.
In picture 1 we see the scourging. The condemned prisoner would have been bound to a post and whipped 39 times, sometimes more, using a roman flagrum or flagellum which was a short leather whip which divided into several throngs at the end. Each throng was weighted with lead balls and sharpened pieces of sheep bone or metal. This was designed to rip through the flesh and cause severe blood loss. Many victims died from the scourging alone.

In picture 3 we see the Lord Jesus stood before Pilate wearing the purple robe and crown of thorns.
When you read the account in John, the divine authority of Jesus over the whole situation is very clear.
Pilate, rather than being in charge, was utterly powerless before Christ! The Lord Jesus, although badly beaten, was in total control!
For this reason I've drawn the Lord Jesus silhouetted in an archway. The backlit figure dressed in a robe and crown of thorns looks powerful! I added a slight glow over His eyes also, but one of my daughters said that it made Him look too scary!, so I removed it. I was trying to capture the awesome power and nobility of Christ that willingly lay dormant in the now badly beaten Jesus.

Picture 4 shows Pilate now seated outside the judgement hall in the area called 'Gabbatha' which can be translated 'the pavement' or 'mosaic'. According to William Hole, "access was obtained by a flight of steps. In the centre of this pavement was a slightly-raised platform, upon which was placed the curule chair of the procurator, with seats to the right and left for the assessors; other officers occupying benches on the lower level."
(The Life of Jesus of Nazareth)

I recreated a mosaic floor from an actual roman mosaic for this picture, unfortunately, it can't be seen for the crowds-!!

In picture 5 we see the Lord Jesus carrying the patibulum, or crossbar of the cross, which was up to six feet in length and weighed up to 125 pounds! (the entire cross being too heavy to carry). A tablet listing the crimes of the person was hung around the neck for all to read, and then later nailed to the cross. The crime of Jesus being the 'King of the Jews'. Some Bible artists show the Lord Jesus at this point just wearing the loincloth. I almost did the same thing until I read all the gospel accounts. Only Matthew and Mark mention that they put His own clothes back on Him just prior to this event.
I chose not to use any of the available references for the 'Via Dolorosa' as the original route to the cross, apart from being unknown, is also likely to be under several feet of rubble!

The Cross
The final picture in this set shows the crucifixion. One of the problems of researching anything on the internet is that you can read many conflicting expert accounts. The crucifixion is no exception!
Many Bible artists have chosen to depict the mode of crucifixion in several different ways depending on the particular article they happen to have read. For instance back in the 1930's, Dr Pierre Barbet, (one of the most widely quoted scientists in crucifixion research), performed many experiments which consisted of him actually crucifying dead corpses in order to see which method of crucifixion was most likely.

He concluded that the area known as 'Destot's space' which is the space between the bones of the wrist, would have been the most likely location of the nails to effectively support a crucified body. This led many Bible artists to move the location of the nails on their pictures from the palms to the wrists. However, more recent research shows, (in great detail), that Barbet's work was flawed in certain areas. Many experts in 'crucifixion science' have now gone back to favoring a particular area of the palms as the most likely location for the nails. There are very many scholarly articles written by forensic scientists and surgeons on this subject that are well worth reading.

There is also evidence that the method of crucifixion varied in different parts of the Roman empire, (e.g. There were 5 different variations of the roman cross), but in order to ascertain the particular method used in the gospels, it's important to pay attention to what the scriptures say.
For instance, there is evidence that some crucified victims had their knees bent up to waist level, their hips turned side-wards, and the nail entering the side of the heal and exiting the side of the other heal, effectively pinning the feet side by side. This has led to some Bible illustrators choosing to depict this mode of crucifixion for the Lord Jesus.

There are two problems with this. One, we know from scripture that the roman soldiers wanted to brake the legs of the crucified victims in order to speed up their death. We also know that the reason the roman soldiers broke the victims legs, (below the knee), was to stop them from lifting themselves up, which a crucified person needed to do in order to breath! If the legs were already bent up to the waist, there would be no reason to brake the legs!
Secondly, when you view the skeletal remains of a victim crucified in this way, the iron nail clearly shatters the bones of the heal, yet scripture makes it clear that no bones of the Lord Jesus were broken.

These are the reasons that I have chosen to portray the crucifixion in what would probably be considered the traditional method. Your comments are always welcome!

In closing, I've just heard that these pictures have been used for the first time last week in a childrens holiday club.
The club was well attended by over 100 children every day.
When it came to the crucifixion, a small boy burst into tears and gave his heart to the Lord! Please pray for him.

This picture set brings the total Bible picture count to 685!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wrong Email Address!

For some time now, people have been experiencing problems emailing me direct.
I've only just realized that the email address in my profile was wrong!
It's now been corrected. My apologies.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Latest V.I.R. News Update!

We had a call last week from C.E.F. Europe, with a view to us producing Bible pictures for them! C.E.F. Europe run over 3,000 children's clubs across Europe reaching 400,000 children each year, and their resources are produced in 29 languages!
A chap from C.E.F. is flying to the U.K. to meet us in a few days. We are hoping that we can work together with C.E.F. in the future.

United Beach Mission are using our resources on a national scale this year.
Their teams will be out in force around the coasts of the u.k. during the summer months, (that's if we get a summer this year, it's like the monsoon season at the moment!) Please pray for the U.B.M. teams.

'New Tribes' continue to use our resources, in fact our very first internet sale was to a missionary in Greenland! Here's a photo of our pictures being used by missionaries in Thailand.

Free Bible coloring pictures!
We were asked a while ago if we could help out some missionaries in Guatemala by supplying them with coloring pictures to go with their Bible lessons for children:
"Aventura a través de La Biblia"
This is something that I am trying to do in my 'downtime' (which I don't have much of!)
Each picture has a Bible memory verse in Spanish and will also be made available for free download via the 'Sermons4kids' site in the U.S. Watch this space!
2,500 children in Guatemala will be using these pictures every week! So it's a worthwhile project.

'Judging the Competition'
I have been asked by Nate Butler, (President of ICC) if I would take part as a judge in the second 'International Christian Comics Competition'. There will be a judge from each continent so it's truly an 'International' event.
I'm really looking forward to viewing the competition entries.
You can view all the entries to the competition here. Enjoy!

'New 3D Books!'
We have four new 3D books in the pipeline! The new 3D conversions of our latest Bible pictures look really stunning! (Thanks Jim). Can't wait for these new books to come out!
That will give V.I.R. ten titles in all, and 60,000 books in print! 'Small fry' in publishing terms, but we're pleased that the books are continuing to sell well! I'll let you know when we have a publishing date for the new titles.

We would appreciate your prayers for all the above projects.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

'The Bible Story'

Some of you may remember me asking about 3 weeks ago,
"if anyone has any back issues of 'The Bible Story' I'd be very interested", Well, it just so happens that Gill Donaldson from Edinburgh had been clearing out her mothers attic, and came across a complete set of them still in the red and gold binder from when she was a child.

Gill then went onto the internet to search for more information about the magazine, and came across my 'Look & Learn' post!
To cut a long story short, she very kindly allowed me to purchase them, and they are now in my possession!
The collection is in the original binder holding the complete set of 29 issues in mint condition from 1964! And they are superb! The binders were only made to hold 26 issues so the last 3 are loose.
In issue 29, on page 11 there's a full page ad which announces:
"The Editors of The Bible Story announce that as from next week's issue The Bible Story will be incorporated in Look & Learn"

So, issues of 'Look & Learn' dated around 26th September 1964 onwards would have included the continuation of 'The Bible Story' series. Does anyone know how many combined issues followed? If anyone has some of these combined issues, I'd be very interested! (It worked the first time!) :0)
Presumably, the publishers were not selling as many copies of 'The Bible Story' as they had hoped to, and therefore decided to incorporate it into 'Look and Learn'. This would also explain the 3 loose copies!

Thanks to the index that Gill enclosed, (which names almost every artist in the collection), I can now put a name to just about every Bible Artist that I know of! It seems like almost every children's Bible for the last 30 years has included some artwork that appeared in 'The Bible Story' collection!

There are two artists in-particular that stand out. One is Jack Hayes, and the other, Paul Rainer. (Rainer seemed to work in black & white pastel). Above is a sample of Rainer's work. (Image © 'Look & Learn' Magazine Ltd).
Other good artists who contributed include:
James E McConnell (Who did many of the covers).
Don Lawrence
Fortunino Matania
John Millar Watt
Henry Seabright
Selby Donnison, and many more! Sadly, some of the excellent artwork listed in the index remains anonymous.

My only criticism of 'The Bible Story' magazine was the print quality. When you compare the Jack Hayes cover art #22 'The Death of John the Baptist' with the scan of the original artwork displayed on the Look & Learn website, there is really no comparison. Other than that, this collection is still a 'must have' for any Bible artist. It's not just the artwork that is excellent, There are weekly articles on animals of the Bible, everyday life in Bible times, who's who in the Bible etc, etc. It really is packed with info!
A big thanks to Gill Donaldson, and to her son who so carefully parceled the book!

Posts on other helpful books:
The Great Bible Discovery series
Finding Harold Copping
The World Jesus knew
The Splendor of the Temple

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Techailet Tzitzit's and Tallitot!

Following the comments by 'Horseman' on the 'Zacchaeus' post I decided to do a brief study on the 'Jewish prayer shawl' to try and find out if there were stripes on prayer shawls in New Testament times. The information below is from various sources including a few 'online chats' with Rabbis!

It will be helpful if I explain first of all that the word "Techailet" is Hebrew for blue, "Tzitzits" are the tassels that hang from the four corners of the Tallit, (Numbers 15:38), and the "Tallit" is the Jewish prayer shawl itself.

Rabbi Schochet, (, told me that stripes had always been on the Tallit, and that he was not aware of any significance attached to the number, or width of the stripes, (which surprised me). Rabbi Simmons however, said that "there is no halachic legal requirement to have any stripes on the tallit" So lets look first of all at the origins of this custom.

The 'techailet' dye, (which was a dark greenish-blue in color, not unlike the background color of this blog page), was obtained from the fluid of a sea creature called the 'Chilazon' which was found on the coast of Northern Israel.
There is disagreement among scholars regarding what the 'chilazon' actually was. Some say that it was a snail, while others say it was a mollusk or squid. Whatever it was, the dye was incredibly expensive to produce! So much so, that when the Romans conquered Israel in 63 BC, they seized control of this lucrative industry, which forced the remaining Jewish dyers to go underground!
According to Rabbi Shraga Simmons, by the time of the Arab conquest in 639 AD the secret of 'Techailet' was lost altogether! Apparently, dark blue stripes were added to the tallit to commemorate the use of 'Techailet'. Nowadays, because most Jewish authorities are unsure of the chilazon's identity, they would rather not dye any of the strings of the tzitzit.
Some Jewish scholars believe that the true identity of the chilazon will not be rediscovered until the coming of the Messiah.

The use of techailet dye was very important to Judaism, as not only was it used to dye one of the four strings on each of the tzitzits of the tallit, (Numbers 15:38), but it was also used on the priestly garments, (Exodus 25:4).

There are two points I'd like to make with regard to the stripes on the tallit, firstly;
Although there is archeological evidence that Indigo dye, (which was cheaper), was being used as early as 131-135 AD, (40 years or so after the New Testament was completed), It would be unreasonable to suggest that techailet ceased to be used until much later, as only three generations of Jewish dyers could pass on it's secrets until 305AD!

Secondly, would you commemorate something that you still had, or something that you had lost? If the stripes were added to the tallit to commemorate the use of 'Techailet', presumably the secret of techailet had been lost. This would mean that the stripes wouldn't have appeared on the tallit until much later than the 'New Testament' period, (possibly as late as 639AD!).

Personally, I would leave the decision up to each individual Bible artist as to whether or not they use stripes on the tallit. The arguments above are far from conclusive.
If you do use stripes however, they would almost certainly have been dark blue, as they were there to remember the Techialet!
These dark blue stripes later morphed into the black stripes that we see today. Those who use black stripes would rather not imply that they are using techailet on their tallit.
As Rabbi Schochet said "if we had techailet, we would use it to dye the tzitzit strings with, not the tallit garment".

Rabbi Schochet explains below a little more about the significance of the tallit stripes today:
"The Zohar explains that white represents chesed (Divine Benevolence) and the dark blue (or black), stripe represents gevurah (G-d’s severity)". Accordingly, the Tallit is mainly white, with a few stripes of black, showing that G-d is primarily kind. "Furthermore, the mitzvah of reciting the morning Shema begins when it is light enough for one to distinguish between white and techailet. Since we no longer have the techailet, the black stripe in the cloth of the tallit can be used to ascertain whether the time for reading the Shema has yet arrived".

Some scholars don't agree with the last comment as the say that it's still possible to distinguish between techailet & white, even in pitch blackness! but it would be far too dark to read the morning Shema!
Feel free to comment on the above.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The 'Rich Young Ruler'

Our latest Bible picture story is the 'Rich young ruler' taken from Luke 18:18-25.

in picture one, I've illustrated mothers with their children gathered around the Lord Jesus, as this story directly follows the story of 'Jesus blessing the Children' in Luke 18.
The story takes place in an unnamed village somewhere between Galilee, (Lk 17:11), & Jericho (Lk 18:35).

You will notice that I have added techailet stripes to the tallit of the Lord Jesus, and if you look very closely, you can see one techailet thread in each tzitzit on the tallit!
If you're confused, then you need to read my next post on the Jewish prayer shawl!

In picture 3, There is a look of astonishment on the faces of some, as the Lord Jesus allows such a sincere enquirer to walk away!

There are three pictures in this story which brings our total 'Bible picture count' to 679!

Posts on other Bible stories
Blind Bartimaeus
Crucifixion part 1
Crucifixion part 2
On the road to Emmaus
The Nativity
Raising Lazarus
Woman taken in Adultery

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bible study aids

Had an email this last week from Dr Andrew Jackson from with a list of websites which he thought would be helpful to Bible Artists. Some of the sites are already in my link list, such as the excellent '' (pictured above), but you may find the other sites very helpful also.
I pass on his email & links for your files:

"I have a passion for the lands of the Bible. I studied for a year in Israel during my undergraduate degree, and since 1989, I have been traveling through Turkey (the other Holy Land). Below are a few of the key links from that will help you study the Bible in its historical-geographical context".








  • Thanks Andy!

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    My favorite Bible artists #4

    Cicely Mary Barker 1895-1973

    Cicely Mary Barker is better known for her 'Flower Fairies', but she also illustrated some wonderful Bible pictures. She obviously loved to draw children and flowers, and both found their way into her Bible pictures.

    It is well known that her sister Dorothy set up her own school to help earn money for the family, and Cicely used the children as models to draw from, in both her flower fairy, and Bible pictures.

    I love her delicate style, she manages to capture the innocence and wonder in the children's faces as they watched the Saviour. She was also another Bible artist who, like Frank Hampson, thrived on detail. The plants and flowers that she illustrated were observed with complete botanical accuracy. Her figure work was also anatomically perfect!
    It wasn't only her color work that was impressive, her pen & ink work was superb also.

    Cicely was a delicate child, who suffered from epilepsy, and because of this was educated at her Croydon home. After the early death of her father, she helped to earn money for the family by selling her pictures and poetry. In her later years she was described as a humble, modest lady. She had a strong Christian faith, and was an active member of St Andrews church in Croydon.

    More about Cicely Mary Barker here.

    Favorite Bible Artist #1 Frank Hampson
    Favorite Bible Artist #2 Nestor Redondo
    Favorite Bible Artist #3 Clive Uptton

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Look & Learn

    Thanks to Paul Green for reminding me about the 'Look & Learn' magazine.
    I had forgotten how amazing the artwork was!

    'Look & Learn' was an educational magazine for children produced in the sixties.
    We collected every issue as kids, and kept them in the special binders provided.

    'The Bible Story' was produced by the same publisher although I don't recall it. (If anyone has any back issues, I'd be very interested).
    You can see from the sample above, (from, that the Bible illustrations were superb. The above picture was by an artist called Hayes, (image © 'Look & Learn' Magazine Ltd). Does anyone have any info about this artist? Clive Uptton was also one of the Look & Learn artists.

    The artwork in Look & Learn was provided by the cream of British illustrators, and can be viewed at . I also include a link to the Look & Learn blog in my newly started 'Blogroll' below. Enjoy!


    Just finished the latest set of Bible pictures. It's a new version of the 'Zacchaeus' story. Click here for more details.

    On the website I was not only able to find a photo of a sycamore tree for reference, but a sycamore tree in Jericho! (Thanks Todd).

    We are not told Zacchaeus' age, but I've pictured him around his late thirties. Old enough to have accumulated some wealth, but still young enough to climb a tree!

    There are four pictures in this set which brings our total Bible picture count to 676! This story almost completes the first of our 'Bible Exhibition' stands. There will be six in total.

    Posts on other Bible stories
    Blind Bartimaeus
    The Rich Young Rular
    Crucifixion part 1
    Crucifixion part 2
    On the road to Emmaus
    The Nativity
    Raising Lazarus
    Woman taken in Adultery

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Drawing the Devil!

    One of the Bible stories I will be illustrating soon is the 'Temptation of Christ', This will be a difficult one to illustrate as I will need to interpret the Devil in some way. When you look through different children's Bibles at the story of 'The Temptation of Christ', you realize that few Bible artists agree on what the Devil looks like.

    The example shown above is just one interpretation from a children's Bible that I have.
    Frank Hampson, in 'The Road of Courage' depicted Satan as a simple shepherd. Some show the devil in a female form, as did Mel Gibson in 'The Passion'. and others still as an Angel.
    No doubt Satan could take on any of the above forms and more! But, I can't see any good reason why Satan would appear in any other than his natural form, when standing before Christ. After all, there was no way he was going to deceive Christ as to 'who he was!' The question is, what is the natural form of Satan?

    It's safe to say that the usual images we see of Satan, like the one above, are inaccurate. The red, hoofed, fork carrying, figure with horns resembles more the mythological creature Pan.
    We do know that Lucifer was a fallen Angelic being, a spirit being who was beautiful in appearance and powerful. There's a lot of debate going on as to whether Satan was a covering cherub or not, according to Ezekiel 28. Any comments on that debate might be helpful.

    Because we know that Satan was an angelic being I should point readers to the 'Drawing Angels' post, as I have gone into more detail on the subject of angels there.

    Norman de la Cruz had been commissioned to work on a new children's Bible for the Philippine Bible Society. Like me, Mr De la Cruz came from an animation background and so was normally able to rough out many pictures a day.
    Everything was going well until he came to illustrate the book of Job! An extract follows from an interview with Mr De la Cruz on the 'Asia Pacific' website.

    “And things went fairly well until I got to the Book of Job. Then I ran into trouble. I came to the part where Satan asks God to curse Job. I knew I had to illustrate this somehow, but I became stuck. I realized that for most of my life I had been illustrating evil, violence, but here, faced with the originator of all evil, I was powerless to come up with anything. I just sat and stared at my pencils.
    I can draft up to 100 illustrations in a day, but I was truly stuck here, unable to lift a pencil. I wondered if I would ever be able to draw again. That was when it came to me that I needed prayer".

    I would be interested to know what his final interpretation looked like. If I'm able to get a copy of this Bible from the PBS, I'll let you know! I would be interested to receive any comments on this subject before I begin work on the story.

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    My favorite Bible artists #3

    Clive Uptton 1911-2006
    Clive Uptton was a Wartime political cartoonist for the Daily Sketch between 1940-1942. He was a left handed artist like myself, but wrote with his right hand!
    You can actually tell he was left handed from his Bible pictures! (left handed artists draw the shine in peoples eyes on the left hand side! Right handed artists draw it on the right.)
    As well as his pen and ink drawings he liked to work in watercolors, oils and acrylics, Following the war he became an internationally successful illustrator, poster artist and painter, painting both landscapes and portraits. In 1930 Clive Uptton added an extra 't' to his name to avoid confusion with another illustrator of the time named Upton.

    In the late 1960's Clive Uptton was commissioned to produce 121 full-color Bible illustrations for 'Egermeier's Bible Story Book. I first came across Upttons Bible pictures in the Ladybird Bible stories series, (606A). In my humble opinion he was the best artist in this series. I'm not sure if these pictures were reprints from the 'Egermeier's Bible as I don't have one to compare them with.
    It's easy to spot a Bible illustration by Clive Uptton, as all his characters seem to have big brown eyes! I particularly like the facial expressions he manages to capture.

    Uptton died shortly before his 95th birthday.

    Favorite Bible Artist #1 Frank Hampson
    Favorite Bible Artist #2 Nestor Redondo
    Favorite Bible Artist #4 Cicely Mary Barker

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    Bible Exhibitions

    Just finished the latest Bible picture story which covers John 18:13-40.
    The story includes the 'Trial of Jesus' before Caiaphas and Pilate, and 'Peter's denial'.
    There are 8 pictures in this set, and the story is available in powerpoint, or A3 poster form. Click here for details.
    This brings our total Bible picture count to 672!

    We are temporarily pulling off illustrating the Gospel of John to complete some urgent Bible exhibition work, but don't worry! All the stories that we complete for the Bible exhibitions will be available as normal in powerpoint or poster form from the Bible picture website.

    Some of the new stories, (to be completed in the new style), will include:
    Birth of Christ
    Early years of Jesus,
    Temptation of Christ,
    Parables of Jesus including:
    The lost coin,
    The good samaritan,
    The prodigal son,
    The lost sheep.
    Blind Bartimaeus,
    The rich young ruler,
    Healing of the 10 lepers,
    The Transfiguration,
    The Ascension, and many more!

    If you would like more information about our Bible exhibitions, or would like to host one, contact Jem Hudson at:
    The new Bible exhibitions will be touring schools in the UK and Germany.

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Biblical theme parks

    This post is not really on the subject of Bible illustration, but I thought this off-topic item might be of interest to some.

    I recently came across Bruce Barry's website, 'Wacky World Studios' based in the U.S.
    Wacky World Studios specialize in producing themed environments for children's churches. Bruce explains his mission here, I think basically the idea is to make children's church more of a stimulating environment for children to be in.
    Dave Walkers cartoon above suggests that some youth groups might want to take the concept a step further! To see more of Dave's cartoons visit

    I was reminded when viewing the 'wacky world' site of a similar type of work that I used to be involved in. Many years ago, before I started illustrating the Bible, part of my work was to produce concept art for theme parks worldwide. The two samples below were done for a proposed 'Bible theme' visitors centre.
    The first one depicts the 'Parting of the Red Sea'. Visitors walk between two gigantic water screens that have movie images of pharaohs chariots and soldiers projected onto them. A larger than life model of Moses is stood on the rocks behind with the pillar of fire by his side.

    The second picture shows a full scale model of Goliath that children try to knock down with a carefully aimed stone! There's a touch sensitive pad on Goliath's forehead which, when hit by a stone, causes the model to fall backwards onto the ground!. A boy can also be seen trying to lift Goliath's shield, (bottom right).
    Unfortunately, both these ideas never got past the concept stage.

    Bruce Barry's site also provides ready done Bible murals for church walls. (see 'Bible murals' in the link list). Speaking of murals, check out the mural that the children in our church worked on here.

    Also recently found a link to some 'Biblical theme park' concept art for sale from the early 60's.
    'Bible Storyland' was conceived by Disney Promoter Nat Winecoff and should have been built in California around 1960. Check out this early concept art here.

    Update: 9 June 08
    I've just come across another article about a new proposed Bible theme park for Tennessee here. I think you'll agree that the artists rendering of the 'Exodus experience' looks strangely familiar-!!
    And before you ask, No! They never asked me if they could use the idea!

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Biblical costume photos

    The very first Bible costume photo references have gone up on
    With more photos to follow shortly!
    The photos were kindly supplied by LEGIO SECVNDA AVGVSTA, The Roman Living History Society based in Winchester, UK. Check out their site here.

    The copyright owners have kindly given permission for the photos to be used for reference by Bible artists in their illustrations.
    If you have any photos of people in Biblical costume, contact

    Friday, April 27, 2007

    DC comics 'Stories from the Bible'

    Had a reply recently to an email I sent to Joe Kubert.

    For anyone who doesn't know who Joe Kubert is, he is one of the great American comic book artists who worked during the 'Golden and Silver age' of comics for DC. Famous for his work on 'Sgt Rock' and 'Hawkman' amongst others.

    I had asked him if any more issues had been printed from the DC Comics 'Stories from the Bible' series which he edited, and Carmine Infantino had published back in the mid 70's.

    Mr Kubert told me that although he was Jewish and proud of it, he had fully intended producing the entire Bible, including both Old and New Testament stories in the 'Stories from the Bible' series. Unfortunately, because the workload on him at the time was so great, the series never passed issue one!
    Issue one, for those who haven't seen it, covered from 'Creation' to 'Sodom & Gomorrah', and was illustrated by the late Nestor Redondo.

    This is one of those 'what if' projects, where we are left to wonder about the amazing artwork that might have been!
    Sadly, I can't imagine DC comics or Marvel ever attempting to do a project like this again.
    More about Joe Kubert here.

    Saturday, April 21, 2007

    Which Bible clothing colors should I use?

    When you come to adding color to your Bible characters, do you ever wonder which colors you should be using on clothing for authenticity?

    I've just read a very interesting 40 page booklet titled 'Drawing Bible Pictures'. It was written by W H Whanslaw, and was first published in 1943. (twelve further editions followed).
    It's basically a 'How to draw' book for Sunday school teachers, encouraging them to produce their own Bible posters. This booklet has all the usual contents found in a 'How to draw' book such as 'How to draw Heads, Hands, Feet, Animals, Birds, Landscapes, Perspectives', etc, etc. But it also includes some quite in-depth articles on 'Hand/eye coordination', 'How clothing folds', 'Light and shade' and 'Pictorial Composition' which goes into great detail on how the Dutch Masters composed their paintings!

    The section that I would like to share with you is about the suggested choice of colors for Bible clothing.

    Bible Costume
    The upper classes should be shown dressed in long, roomy clothing with borders and fringes to emphasise the social strata. If color is being used purple must be avoided, since only one person - the Roman Emperor - was entitled to wear this color. Bright reds for cloaks should be used sparingly, for red was generally a woman's color; deep red and rich brown-reds may be used, as well as greens, especially emerald green for decorations. Almost any kind and variety of blue may be used to good advantage, either in solid masses or in the form of stripes of various widths.

    The lower classes favored browns and blues, pale greens, and all shades of yellow. Women would wear either blue or white dresses, with red and yellow decorative stripes and ornamentation.

    A Centurion would wear bronze armour, a red skirt, red at the shoulders, and a scarlet cloak; this cloak was worn only by the officers. The three feathers in the helmet were red with black tips, and showed that he was in the colonial army; the sword was bronze, the breeches dark blue or black, the boots of black or brown leather.

    The common soldier wore steel armour with a bronze helmet, chestnut-brown vest and skirt, dark blue breeches and black leather sandals, and carried a shield in bright colors.

    I'm not sure how accurate the above notes are, or where W H Whanslaw got his research, but it is interesting reading. If anyone has anything they would like to add on the above subject, please add a comment.