Batsford Prize

For this competition  project the theme is interpreting nature. As such I decided to start out by looking at the definition of nature for inspiration:

noun: nature; plural noun: natures
  1. 1.
    the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations.
    “the breathtaking beauty of nature”
    synonyms: the natural world, the living world, Mother Nature, creation, the world, the environment, the earth, Mother Earth, the universe, the cosmos, natural forces;More

    • the physical force regarded as causing and regulating the phenomena of the world.
      “it is impossible to change the laws of nature”
  2. 2.
    the basic or inherent features, character, or qualities of something.
    “helping them to realize the nature of their problems”
    synonyms: essence, inherent/basic/essential characteristics, inherent/basic/essential qualities, inherent/basic/essential attributes, inherent/basic/essential features, sum and substance, character, identity, complexionMore
    1. the innate or essential qualities or character of a person or animal.
      “it’s not in her nature to listen to advice”
      synonyms: character, personality, disposition, temperament, temper, humour, make-up, cast/turn of mind, persona, psyche, constitution, fibre

      “it was not in Daisy’s nature to be bitchy”
    2. inborn or hereditary characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality.

    The first idea that I was really interested by was the idea of looking at the history of the earth. As such I did a lot of reading into the subject matter which I found very interesting and wrote down a list of the major earth events that happened in each eon. From here a produced a series of sketches depicting the major events to get a sense of how it would look visually. An initial thought is that this could work well as an animation however when I brought it up in class there were doubts over whether an animation was allowed as the brief wasn’t very specific towards it. As such I decided to email the people behind the Batsford prize to ask them if an animation was acceptable. They replied and said that animations were welcome so this is an option I can explore.

    Another idea that I had for this project was to look at seasons, with the idea that I could make a poster split into quarters with a scene depicting each season. Another idea was that I could show the same scene being affected by each season. However I felt that this idea lacks in scope and is too obvious, and would therefor blend in with all the other similar ideas. A better idea that I had in this vain was to look at extreme weather as it could create some interesting visuals.

    However I feel that my first idea of looking at the history of the earth is a lot more interesting and striking, as it is really surprising how old the earth is and how young human history really is. My way of exemplifying this is to create an animation where each million or 10 million years is represented by the same timeframe, ie 1 second. Through this it will lend perspective to to how short humanity has inhabited spaceship earth, and both how fast and how slow evolution is. Another non animation way to give this affect would be to create a very wide image where instead of time denoting the timeline it is instead represented through each cm of the image. In this case the emphasis of the youth of humanity would come from a few millimetres on the far right of the image, whereas the far left would be empty pre earth space, with some space debris ready to come together.

    After doing calculations I realised that this idea would be impossible, with the section representing human life being far too small to see. As such I reworked the ideas whilst keeping the theme intact. I decided to work on the same ideas though making it a bit more abstract with the interpretation, allowing me more leeway in depicting how long certain time periods would last. After working through a number of designs and not feeling especially inspired by any of them, I decided to look at compositions used in famous paintings. One of the compositions I liked was from a Caravaggio, I which this composition had a fat around on top that spiralled and tapered down to the bottom. After doing some sketches based on this composition I started to see an image that I liked. With this swirling shape representing the history of the earth as it moves in our solar system. Along the spiralling shape I decided to depict the geography of the different periods of the earth, with one end having skyscrapers and the other trailing off into nothingness as the earth hadn’t formed yet.



    After this design was finished I started creating it in pixel art, on the largest pixel art canvas I have yet made. During the working process I added more planets in areas I felt needed something extra to fill the empty space. One issue that I struggled with is where I placed the city I liked as it made the design resemble a dragon however I couldn’t get it to work well. To remedy this I decided to instead make it a literal dragon of time and implement the design for the city on the underside of the dragon. I felt like this worked better also because now the empty road that stretches of into the stars represents humanities future rather than just empty space. To further solidify the dragon metaphor I added fins made of stars along the dragons back.

    I am really pleased with how this project came out. I feel like it works very well as an image both visually and symbolically. A minor problem though when viewed in small scale it can look blurry as the canvas size sits in the range between a smooth image and an obviously pixel work. However this is only the case on small scale. When produced larger it is much more apparent that it is intended to be a work of pixel art. Similarly I am pleased with this image as it is my first attempt at creating a work with multiple different  pixel sizes which helps create a sense of depth in the foreground. I am also very pleased with how fun and easy it is to get planets to look really interesting. So much so that I reproduced this process during the greeting cards competition. One issue that may be improved upon perhaps is some of the colour choices, particularly the blue hue of the dragon. Maybe another colour could have been more impactful however with my current knowledge, none of the other options I tried looked as effective as what I eventually chose.

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