Thursday, 28 March 2019

Christian book covers

Recently I've been reading a great site where self publishers submit their book cover designs, so that people can critique them and they can make them better - and not end up with a cover that screams 'self published'.

One of the books recently was a Christian book, and everyone seemed concerned that it didn't look 'Christian' enough. Which puzzled me, as there are so many genres of Christian books that I would expect them all to look different. And I certainly wouldn't expect any explicitly Christian imagery on them.

Anyway, I thought I'd check it out. So I did a quick survey of Christian book covers - ones on display on my church bookstall, and ones from my own shelf that have new-ish covers (after 2000).

Photos below, with captions which are not really relevant to the question :-)

Conclusion: Out of 37 books, only two had explicit Christian imagery (a Bible and a small cross).
Typographic covers with no imagery at all are very common.

Of course, a selection of books from a different church (or even the same church in a diffeerent month), and from another individual's book case might look completely different.

The point is that what matters is not that it 'looks Christian', but that it looks like the kind of Christian book the ideal reader likes to read (because all Christians do not like all Christian books, obviously).

[Edit: I was looking at imagery only, someone pointed out that the titles of most of those books do make it clear it's a Christian book. The problem is if nothing does.]

*I really like the 'FOR  YOU' series of book covers. This is one of the less interesting ones.
*Some of these covers are terribly boring.
*My church is not unhealthily obsessed with Revelation - we just happen to be doing a preaching series on it just now!

*Could the cover for The Historical Reliability of the Gospels be any more boring?
*A Biblical History of Israel has typical commentary design - brown, with a historical painting.
*True Friendship looks like a book on homosexuality, which it isn't. Adding another figure to one group would have solved that.
*The CS Lewis covers look nice, but don't reflect the content at all. Miracles gives the impression it's about seeing life as a miracle with childlike wonder or something. It's not. It is about do real supernatural miracles happen?
*I would never have chosen God knows your name based on the cover. But as it was a present I read it, and it's good. And not the kind of book suggested by the cover at all (but maybe the kind of cover the target audience likes?)

*These fiction books have more saturated, warmer colour scemes in general.
*The ones written by women all have a large photo of a face. The ones written by men either have no face or a small one.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

DIY tips

In the absence of a rubber mallet, a large broom makes a suitable - if unwieldy - subsitute.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

An evening dress - with pockets!

I've been watching Madam Secretary as a wee change from Stargate.

This is a sensible evening dress. Elegant and practical.

Thought I needed a completely frivolous blog post for a change!

Tuesday, 19 March 2019


A captcha consisting of fluorescent green numbers scattered on a white background, heavily scored through with random black lines, may well be unreadable by evil robots.

It's certainly unreadable by humans.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Biblical geekery (patriarchs' ages)

As I pointed out previously, when you do the maths, Jacob was 77 when when ran away. BUT the patriarchs lived a really long time, so maybe they didn't age as quickly?

This affects how I draw them. Jacob and Abraham were more or less ages with each other when they left home, yet we think of - and draw - Jacob as a young man and Abraham as an old man. Which makes no sense.

So, I made a graph.

I set three points:
  • I made 17 the same on both, because I can't imagine Jacob sending his treasured son 50 miles on his own when he was a little kid.
  • I made Sarah's age at the birth of Isaac the equivalent of 60. This made her definitely too old to have a baby. I didn't want to make her much younger, as Abraham also doubted that he could father a child.
  • The oldest to die were Isaac and Abraham - and they were a lot older than the others. So I set the upper limit at 120, the oldest age that people live in modern times.
Then I made a curve, and drew lines.

Grey shaded bit = 'old' but not necessarily very old.

What I like about this is that all the age equivalents (except the ones that are meant to be laughable) seem sensible. People die at sensible ages. Jacob gets married late, but not ridiculously old (George Clooney, not Hugh Hefner 😀).

Now I'm going back over my other patriarchs PowerPoints to make greyness of hair a bit more consistent - though of course people vary widely.

Here's a list if you prefer. Equivalents in brackets.

Joe sold - 17 (17)
Esau married  - 40 (34)
Isaac married - 40 (34)

Isaac when J&E born - 60 (46)
Sarah leaves - 65 (48)

Abraham leaves - 75 (53)
Jacob runs away - 77 (54)
Jacob gets married - 84 (57)
Abraham has Ishmael - 86 (58)

Sarah has Isaac - 90 (60)
Jacob has Joseph - 91 (61)
Abraham has Isaac - 100 (65)
Jacob when Joe sold - 108 (68)
Joe dies - 110 (69)

Sarah dies - 127 (77)
Jacob goes to Egypt - 130 (78)

Isaac blind - 137 (82)
Jacob dies - 147 (88)

Abraham dies - 175 (113)
Isaac dies - 180 (120)

Did you know?

If all of the American presidents stood on each other's shoulders, they would be slightly taller than the leaning tower of Pisa, but shorter than an unrolled toilet roll.
(Info from Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe)

Monday, 11 March 2019

Fixing angel

I wasn't happy with the angel's clothes, so I redid them in clip studio (I'm not yet comfortable doing a lot of inking in it, but it's fine for small amounts.)

Much better!

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Biblical geekery (Jacob)

This is some stuff I worked out ages ago.

Sometimes we can get the completely wrong idea about how old people in the Bible were, or how long stuff took. But sometimes all it needs is careful reading and simple maths.

Here's some working for Jacob.

  • Jacob runs away
  • Works 7 years, then marries Rachel & Leah
  • Works 7 more years, during which time he has 12 children - it is possible! (see below) Joseph is born near the end of this time. (Gen 30v25)
  • Works 6 years to gain his flocks. (Gen 31v41)
  • After 20 years with Laban, he leaves. (Gen 31v38,41)
  • Joseph was 17 when he was sold (Gen 37v2)
  • He became Prime Minister of Egypt at the age of 30 (Gen 41v46)
  • There were 7 good years 
  • Two years into the famine, (Gen 45v11) Joseph sent for Jacob - Jacob was 130 (Gen 47v9)
If Jacob came to Egypt when he was 130, and Joseph was 39 (30 +7+2), Joseph was born when Jacob was 91.

Here's a chart showing how you can fit the birth of 12 children into 7 years.


This means that what we are often told - Joseph was much younger than his brothers - is wrong.

And here's a table showing how old Jacob and each of his children was at each point in the story.


Jacob seems very old - but presumably, since they lived so long, they also got older slower. We could perhaps imagine Jacob as being the equivalent of in his 30s/40s when he leaves? I need to do more work on this. [Edit - I have now done so, and he's in his mid 50's!]

Which also has implications for how we imagine Abraham - he was 75 when he left Harran. And if Jacob wasn't yet old at 77, Abraham wasn't yet old either. And all it says about Sarah at this point (aged 65) is that she was unable to have children - not yet that she was too old.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

John Wesley

"He liked church; he liked doing churchy things; he was very well behaved - but he wasn't Jesus' friend. One day he found out from the Bible that he could be Jesus' friend - not because he liked church, churchy things and being good, but because Jesus died on the cross for him"
~ Claire Heath-Whyte (Everyone a child should know)
Such an important thing for church kids to learn.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Inking video

Another video - inking the same illustration as the previous pencil video.
Real time - inking is much quicker than pencils, if I do the pencils properly.