Film Art & Analysis- James Cameron’s Avatar

The very first time I watched Avatar, it was in Japan, which made the experience even more special. The fact that I was watching it overseas allowed me to sympathise with the crew, who were flying away from Earth into a completely different world full of exciting new rules and possibilities. I’m a huge fan of the sci-fi genre, so naturally I enjoyed how the film was set in outer space and was all about exploring an alien culture. Overall, I found the plot to be pretty strong, but not as gripping as I would have liked: the acting was believable, Jake’s back story of how he came to take his twin brother’s place was bittersweet, and the ethical dilemma that came with disturbing the Na’vi way of life all for the sake of acquiring a highly coveted unobtainium deposit certainly kept me intrigued. But despite all that, I still felt like a stronger emotional connection was needed. The ending of the film, while a mixture of triumph and loss, also left me a little bit unsettled because of the question it raised. If you equate Jake’s avatar with an online avatar in a game, does the film suggest that sacrificing your true identity in favour of a fantasy or virtual identity is a good solution to one’s problems? I am aware that Jake was a paralysed marine, and that the loss of his legs would have severely impacted his human life, so his choice to embrace a life where he could move again was very important for him. But at the same time, his choice made me wonder about how viewers would receive the underlying message, and how they would translate it to fit their own lives. What impressed me most about Avatar was without a doubt its visuals. Pandora’s forests are amazing, as are all the creatures that inhabit it, and I love the neon colour scheme just as much as the floating islands. It truly is a place of wonder and great beauty, so of course, I had to try and recreate it.


Rule number one for doing any sort of Avatar related art: you must have the Avatar OST playing in the background. I See You by Leona Lewis is also acceptable. If you are the type of person that gets hungry easily, then I recommend having some snacks nearby. I don’t think it’s possible to replicate the traditional Na’vi diet, but you can certainly try if you want to.

jake sully

Jake Sully, Pencil on Paper (2014)

The above drawing is of Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington in the film) and was done using those fabulous plastic golf pencils. I have a whole pack-they’re lightweight and have comfortable grip.

avatar art jake and neytiri

Jake Sully and Neytiri, Pencil on Paper (2014)

This next drawing is Jake Sully in his avatar form standing with Neytiri. Although I am pretty happy with how Neytiri turned out, Jake looks like he lost ten kilograms running through the forests of Pandora. His face definitely needs to be a bit wider, like the first image, and the markings on his forehead should be more pronounced, but other than that I’m pleased with the eyes and the shading.


Pandora, Acrylic on Canvas (2014)

I love dark, fantasy worlds with neon colours. That was my main drive to paint Pandora at night. This painting is actually based on the Disney World Avatar Attraction that is set to open in 2017. Personally, I think it would have been great if its opening coincided with Avatar 2’s 2016 release = double the fun. I modified the picture by including a giant rock in the front-centre of the painting instead of having people riding a boat. I have been told that this actually resembles a human head gazing at the scene, which was certainly an interesting view, so I therefore leave the interpretation up to you. I enjoyed trying to create the reflections on the surface of the water. The most difficult part was trying to recreate the neon purple colour of the jellyfish-flowers, something I will keep working on in future.

toruk makto

Toruk Makto, Acrylic on Canvas (2014)

Have you ever wanted to know what it feels like to soar through the skies on the back of the Toruk? So have I. And since that dream probably won’t ever happen, I decided to paint about it instead. The picture you see above shows Jake Sully in his na’vi form flying over the top of the lush canopies down below as he prepares to jump aboard the Toruk. I used acrylic paints to do this, and modified the picture slightly by including a sun in the top right hand corner. I wanted there to be more light in the picture instead of shadow, which you can see in the original still from the film.


Forest, Acrylic on Canvas (2014)

I really loved painting the image of the Pandoran forest above. Forests just have this magical ability to calm you-I think it’s because people are naturally soothed by cool colours like blue, and green. This painting was loosely based on this film still, but I chose to leave out the na’vi and the other animals and just focus on nature itself. I hope that whenever you gaze at this, you feel a sense of peace, and are transported to the beautiful forests of Pandora.

pandora at night

Pandora at night, Acrylic on Canvas (2014)

I’m really pleased with how the flying neon jellyfish turned out in this painting. After a bit of mixing around, I was finally able to get that pink/magenta colour and then apply it. I chose this scene because I liked the way the figures-dark and utterly alone-contrast against the bright, resplendent background of nature.

Avatar 2 is scheduled for a 2016 release, and I’m really excited to see how the writers and producers will orchestrate it. Are you excited for Avatar 2? What do you think about the Avatar inspired attraction?


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