Symbolism in the scene – The Cypher

For this brief, we were to establish a scene in which a masked individual approaches an object or a statue. The main focus being on the symbolism and what the masked person represents as well as what the object or statue represents to him. I used the chess pieces symbols that I had chosen in an earlier brief to represent a pawn and a queen. It could be viewed in a multitude of ways, with the pawn, a piece that’s only real purpose is to die for more valuable piece, gazes upon it’s queen for the first time. It could even be that the pawn has reached the other end of the board and is being gifted the power of the queen for the first time.

In my inital drafts, I used obvious objects to represent certain things (A Q shaped scepter for Queen, and a sword for power), but my tutor put the idea in my head that the Queen’s power is less obvious and more of a reflection of the power she commands, rather than straight up martial prowess. The designs were reviewed, instead now she holds the crown and offers it forth to the pawn, who exchanges it for his expressionless mask. The sword is still relevant but less so, as it is not so clearly in view.


One of the main things I took from this was composition and camera angle. Important elements when it comes to establishing the scene and setting the characters. In both scenes, the ‘Pawn’ is in a much lower position than the ‘Queen’ to represent his station, even though he’s being promoted, it’s important to remember where he came from.

It was pointed out that the square shaped composition wasn’t well thought out. Whether the final piece is to be for a poster or film concept, the piece’s size was 1600×1600 pixels. I could change this to reflect standard 16:9 ratio quite easily, but I would have to reshape the characters to better fit the scene.

Another problem with the composition is the lacking background. The blackness is almost crushing but it doesn’t do anything to establish or set the scene. I can change this to reflect the Queen’s power perhaps, regal and rich fabrics to line the walls along with a grand doors that the pawn has pushed open.

Recommended to look at the works of Franklin Boothe and Joeseph Clements Coll.

Franklin Booth – I like this design for how daunting it is, but it makes for a beautiful portrait piece. With the figure seeming content surrounding by so many books.

Joseph Clement Coll – Has far more evocative figures in his compisitions, not just in the facial expressions but in the positioning as well.

I did a few more thumbnails in an effort to change the positioning and see about adding maybe just a bit more detail.
I like the idea that the pawn had to climb a mountain of black and white skulls to get to the crown. The idea that he’s had to witness friend and foe die. I pondered the state of the bodies around him as well. If they are recent, it implies he perhaps killed them himself. If they are old and desicated, it’s more like he came across a very old battle ground.

Symbolism in the scene – The Cypher

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