The Design and Illustration tutorial blog has a very nice article on how to use graphic software like Photoshop to convert your own photograph of an urban street scene into a realistic post-apocalyptic vista, like the image on the right. Follow the tutorial here.
The Last of Us is a PlayStation 3 adventure game, set in a post-apocalpytic world (see the Games article for more information). The concept art for this computer game is some of the finest post-apocalyptic artwork out there. Follow to this io9 article for the full set of images.
The ‘Course of Empire’ is a series of five paintings (a pentaptych) by Thomas Cole over the years 1833–36. Each of the paintings shows a river valley from the same vantage point, and over the sequence a great civilisation rises then falls. The scenes are named: The Savage State, The Arcadian or Pastoral State, The Consummation of Empire, Destruction, and Desolation.
If you live in the UK and can get into London, I would heartily recommend the Ruin Lust exhibition at the Tate Britain gallery. The collection includes the classic apocalyptic paintings of John Martin, watercolours of ruined abbeys, as well as more modern photography of derelict buildings. The exhibition runs until Sunday 18th May 2014.
There is an alluring, dark aesthetic in pictures of ruins and urban decay, as we’ve explored in the ruin photography post. But there is something especially thrilling about contemplating views of well-known landmarks or even entire modern cityscapes in an advanced state of degradation and ruin, and it is this particular appetite that post-apocalyptic art often caters to.
Indeed, that’s one of the subtle but important differences between disaster movies and post-apocalyptic films. The money shots in a catastrophe movie are always the gleeful demolition of famous buildings monuments – indulging in the frisson of destruction. But in a narrative set after a civilisation-toppling catastrophe you need the recognisable features still visible in the background to provide viewers with context to the scene. The goal of the visuals is to deliver an uncomfortable feeling from the incongruity of the familiar landmark and the new world order around it. This means that in apocalyptic films the familiar landmarks are the first to be destroyed; but in post-apocalptic movies they are all that remains. (With perhaps Planet of the Apes being the pinnacle example of this: only the hand of the statue endures).
As Chapter 2 of The Knowledge explores, once our technological civilisation collapses, the machinery and buildings we leave behind will begin inexorably to corrode and decay and nature will seize its opportunity to reclaim our urban areas. The huge body of ruin photography and images of derelict and abandoned places today offers us a glimpse of what this post-apocalyptic future will look like for the survivors.