How Luke Brookes turned The Tree of Life into an illustration

Reinterpreting a beautiful and ethereal film as a single image is quite a design challenge; Luke Brookes managed it by focusing on one stand-out scene.

As part of its 50th issue celebrations, Little White Lies magazine challenged artist Luke Brookes to illustrate an essay on American fantasy drama film, The Tree of Life. Brookes responded, capturing the mood and beauty in an atmospheric, ethereal design.

What was your brief from LWL?

This particular piece was for Little White Lies' 50th issue. I was asked to create a piece of artwork based on the 2011 movie The Tree of Life. I was given a short essay about the movie, wonderfully written by David Jenkins, and asked to provide my own interpretation of the movie. As far as content was concerned, I had pretty much free reign.

What inspired your illustration?

I wanted to capture the beauty of the movie. There are long periods in the film that show parts of nature, our place in the universe and how our stories mirror the way the universe works. I wanted to show how beautiful this is, but also how personal it is to each individual.

How did you decide which elements of the movie to focus on?

After watching the movie I compared my notes to the article, and we seemed to pick up on the same parts. The whole movie is just beautiful - the story focuses on a family in America but is interlaced with amazing shots of nature and the universe itself. There was one scene that really got to me - there's a part where Jessica Chastain's character levitates and floats around. This scene embodied what I thought of the movie as a whole.

Any tricks for finding inspiration?

I always seem to be inspired right when I'm about to fall asleep at night. I'll be working on ideas for a project all day and will come up with a few okay ones, but just as I'm about to sleep, one will pop up and I'll be like, 'How on Earth didn't I see that before?' I think when you stop looking at and thinking about something, and relax, the best ideas seem to appear out of all the noise and imagery you've surrounded yourself with all day.

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 222.

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