Building Noahs Ark

by Peter Kotsinadelis

Rob Burman

January 01, 20111. CONCEPT
The first step in creating the Ark image was to come up with the concept. Once I had the concept I began to lay it out. I had to determine the elements I wanted to add to the image, and started searching the Internet and all the references I had on hand. In some cases I had to scan and shoot the images I needed. In other cases I was able to simply download them.

For this particular project I wanted a stormy look, therefore I needed to find just the right sky. What I looked for was a background that provided a desolate look. However, I also needed one that had distance so the image had a feeling of depth. This can be a bit tricky and you have to be careful that the background does not take away from the foreground.

When I started to create the foreground for my base, I began by adding some colorful grass and wild flowers to make the image more interesting. I also wanted to add the tree for composition to give weight to the left side for balance and to frame the image. I added extra color to the sky to make it look ominous, and added some lightning to give the look of a storm moving in as if it were just before the rain that lasted 40 days and 40 nights.  

At this point, I started to create the middle ground composed of the ark and ramp. I look for references that I could work from and begin to illustrate these items from wood and board. The long gangplank ramp the animals were crossing to board the Ark was a colored board of wood. Each board on the top of the gangplank was painted and reproduced over again to fill the board. The side of the ark was an image of an old boat that that was modified to look like more like an old wooden ark.  

At this point, I began searching for any shots or reference that I could use. I needed to find the right angles for each animal so it looked like they all belonged in the same image. I even took a trip to the zoo with my camera so I could get images of the animals I needed. I was searching for profiles of the animals so I could use them on the gangplank boarding the Ark and some filling space in a waiting mode.  
Then each animal had to be colored and adjusted so they had the right light and shadow to fit their surroundings. You have to take time with this so they do not look cut out.  The edges of all the elements were softened so they are not too sharp. What this does is make them look more natural and the image more believable.  

The last step is to add cast shadows underneath the side of the planks on the gangplank and to each animal. This provides the needed dimension to the image and makes it far more lifelike.

Peter Kotsinadelis is a writer/photographer living in Pleasanton, CA. He may be reached at

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