Recreating Masterworks | Masterwork Illustration

There have been a few cases where my clients request a masterwork illustration from the master artists of the past. I love taking these on because it’s a challenge, and it gives me the opportunity to study their techniques and stylings.

The Last Supper Masterwork Illustration

The first of these assignments was from a major publishing house that was putting together a catalog of their religious book offerings. The story I was told was that they wanted an Albrecht Durer print reproduced for the cover of the catalog. I believe they were dealing with the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Well, the museum was not interested in helping them out, so the publisher turned to me. Could I illustrate the print, Durer’s “Last Supper”, for this project? I told them I would be happy to do so.

This all took place in the time before widespread computer usage, and pre-internet. Lucky for me, I had in my library a book of Albrecht Durer’s work, and this book contained the very image they were looking for.

I knew which print they wanted as soon as they described it, and told them I had it in my library. Now, I had to desecrate a good book, but I snipped the small reproduction from its pages and placed it in my projector to produce the contour drawing, or map, of the art on my working artboard at the size I required. I tried staying true to the original’s linework to make a close copy. Here it is:

The Last Supper

The Last Supper | Masterwork Illustration

Mad Santa Masterwork Illustration

After this experience, I went back to that same book and harvested another print to imitate. I took a dour-faced individual of Durer’s acquaintance and turned him into an angry Santa for a Christmas card design. The inside of the card read: “You’d Better Not Pout, You’d Better Not Cry, You’d Better Watch Out!” Here is the purloined portrait…

Mad Santa

Mad Santa | Masterwork Illustration

Risen Christ Masterwork Illustration

Finally, my musician friend, Richard McGraw, was getting ready to drop his new album, “Burying the Dead”. Richard reached out to me for an album cover illustration. He wanted an engraved-look rendition of Grunewald’s “Risen Christ” from his altarpiece triptych. I knew this piece also, from the art books I had studied. It stood out in my mind as an incredibly sophisticated and stunning painting for its period.

I secured a good source photo of the painting and went to work. Here is how the original painting looks, and how I interpreted it…


Grunewald | Masterwork

Risen Christ

Risen Christ | Masterwork Illustration

Richard had the inspiration to get this illustration printed in gold ink. It turned out to be an impressive album cover:

Richard McGraw CD Cover

Richard McGraw CD Cover

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