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Visual Arts: Images and the Screen

Where does one begin when planning visuals for projection? Google searching images for a service can be daunting task with so much stuff to sift through.

This showcase gives you a place to begin.

Creating your own

Ideally you may have someone in your congregation with basic knowledge of software such as Photoshop or Illustrator. This would allow you to create simple but effective slides that complement the interior of your worship space. The first example (for lent) takes banners from the space and incorporates them into the slide design. The second uses drawing tools and allows for any color tone of purple to be chosen for your space during Lent.

Lent screen bkgr option 1.jpg

Lent screen bkgr option 2.jpg

With greater knowledge more complex slides can be created. Most of the time simplicity not only has stronger impact but is easier to read when text is added.  These examples of more complex designs require some learning but would allow you to continue working with the colors of your space (to complement or contrast the tones). Here are greens for Ordinary Time and a Lenten series slide for Maundy Thursday:

The Lenten series designer, Jason Christ, explains his work on his blog and links to a Photoshop tutorial which helped him through it.

Images available on the web

My preference for most projection in worship is to incorporate quality works of art.  Most often I use one art piece that captures the theme of the service. This is projected in full as people gather and disperse. For the slides where text is added I show only a portion of the work. For different elements of the service you can chose different close-ups of the piece and place them differently on the slides, as you see in these examples:

Screen image using one art work 1.jpg

Screen image using one art work 2.jpg

Screen image using one art work 3.jpg

Art option 1.jpg

Art option 2.jpg

Art option 3.jpg

It is wonderful to see churches gathering an image library, just as they would music.  Here are some excellent sites and resources to begin your collection:

Art Resource

This is the site to find almost any historical work you are looking for. Museum quality allows for close-ups without pixelization of image.

Christians in the Visual Arts

Today artists are making their pieces more readily available in jpeg format.  Just email them!


Individual jpegs available of contemporary work as well as collections of CDs designed with worship materials in mind (see below).

Many artists’ sites are making it easier for people to order digital copies of their work. Here is just one great example:

Jan Richardson Images

Images available for $15 or an annual subscription for unlimited downloads. Site is arranged by seasons of year for ease of searching.

Photography options are limitless. I think this is why so many churches fall back on nature scenes for the majority of their visuals. It will have greater impact if these are used more sparingly and connected in unique ways to scripture. Create your own “favorite” list to visit regularly. These are some from my list:

Nature                Steven Huyser-Honig

People/Places     Ryan Spencer Reed

Public Domain   Wikimedia Commons

Make sure you check with your local artists!


CD_Art+Psalms_L.jpg CD_Art-for-Advent_John-Swanson.jpg CD_Mystery-Revealed_James-Fissel.jpg CD-Visual-Prayers_Quinn_A_w.jpg Tim-Botts-CD_Go-Tell-It-On-The-Mountain.jpg
Check out these CDs: Biblical Stations of The Cross (black and white images for Lent); Cross-Shattered Christ (woodcut images for Lent);  Art + Psalms (30 works paired with a psalm); and The Father & His Two Sons (work inspired by the Prodigal Son).
Saint johns bible.jpg
St. Johns Bible - Seeing the Word: Illuminations and Music Volume I and Volume II
Just completed in 2011 this illuminated Bible ignites the imagination and illuminates the Word. Two CDs are available with 10 illuminations on each disk specially formatted for projection.
Visuals for Worship 
CD contains linoleum prints of based on metaphors and imagery around the seasons of the year and elements of worship. Permission is given to edit images in Photoshop and incorporate into own designs.
Some clip art is also available on CD. I have found it helpful to have some in my image library even if they are used infrequently or in parts. 

Web Resources

Eight Projection Basics 
by Dean R. Heetderks
A list of reminders for anyone projecting visuals in worship.

Portals, Icons, Thresholds, and the Internet: Using Visuals in Worship  
by Ruth Everhart
In this article a screen designer gives examples and tips from her experience of choosing images for worship.

How to Use Visual Communication in Worship  
by Andre Daley
In this article a screen designer for CentrePointe Church gives examples and tips from his experience using images and videos in worship. Included is a good book list and links to other churches using visuals.

If your visual projection team has found other resources similar to these, please share them with us. Email Betsy Steele Halstead at CICW and we will add them to this list.