Painting an Afterlife to Exact Specifications

When 2012 came to a close, I felt the need to look back on a year of paintings and see what I’d created. My absolute favorite from 2012 was a book cover for The World of the End by Ofir Touche Gafla.

The story follows a man who after death goes to heaven, but not in the traditional sense of the term. Heaven is a systematic 4 dimensional world where all residents live naked, all needs are provided, there is complete equality, and there are no possessions. Rather, the world consists of cities with endless rows of buildings, which are organized based on the date of your death. The main character sets out on a quest to rejoin with his also deceased wife.

I like this story because it’s more of a mystery than an adventure. The visual description is very straightforward: everything is very uniformed, and there are no description-rich environments to draw upon. Rather, there are many concepts being conveyed, and every element has a very specific meaning.

This is one of the most unusual paintings I did the past year, drawing on much more graphical and symbolic elements. While seemingly similar than the more traditional paintings I do, they are much more in depth in terms of narrative, and they provide a more intellectual challenge for both myself and the viewer.

While I had a lot of ideas, the most important thing for me was to create a scene that would convey a sense of conflict, loss and hope. I played with colors a lot in order to convey that message. I started with a very crisp blue to represent all that is happy, quiet, and peaceful, and the promise of a new future. Then I added everything that connects to the character in dark colors, with red indicative of his recent death. I created a composition that mirrored the story arc, allowing the eye to move from everything that represents his past life (the gun, the flower, and his writings), to the character himself, then to the new world.

The World at the End cover by Stephan Martiniere

The World of the End forced me to pursue a style that I enjoy but don’t have an opportunity to do very often; it allows me the opportunity to rethink my compositions, my subjects, and my approach. This piece was a part of an abstraction process I’ve been experimenting with more over the last several years, and hope to get an opportunity to do much more of this upcoming year.


Stephan Martiniere is an internationally acclaimed science fiction and fantasy artist. In the past 25 years he has become known for his talent, versatility and imagination in every entertainment fields including feature films, animation, video games, theme parks, editorial, commercial and book covers.

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