Illustration: Whitefall ūüöĆ

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All aboard!

Hel¬≠lo my lovelies! So glad to sit in front of a key¬≠board and talk to you all again, because wow‚ÄČ‚ÄĒ‚ÄČit has been a while!
Since we last talked, I moved to a dif¬≠fer¬≠ent city and set¬≠tled in at my new house. It took some effort to get my draw¬≠ing bat¬≠tlesta¬≠tion up and work¬≠ing again, but now I am back, more rest¬≠ed than ever, sty¬≠lus poised and ready!

Let‚Äôs do this!

I imme¬≠di¬≠ate¬≠ly sprung back into action when my old pal David Cum¬≠mings of the NoSleep Pod¬≠cast asked me to illus¬≠trate the cov¬≠er art for the sea¬≠son finale of sea¬≠son 12 of the show.

As I men¬≠tioned before, I con¬≠sid¬≠er draw¬≠ing the finale art¬≠works a very spe¬≠cial hon¬≠or that I was lucky enough to have done mul¬≠ti¬≠ple times in the past (The Pub¬≠lic Domain, When the Stars Go Out and The Hid¬≠den Web¬≠page).

The script for this episode, enti¬≠tled White¬≠fall, came from C.K. Walk¬≠er and real¬≠ly took me on a fan¬≠tas¬≠tic and intru¬≠ig¬≠ing journey.

First ideas

The story‚Äôs main pro¬≠tag¬≠o¬≠nist, Kris Stykes has a fight with his girl¬≠friend and sets out on a very long bus jour¬≠ney across the US. As usu¬≠al, I‚Äôm try¬≠ing to keep this most¬≠ly spoil¬≠er free, so I won‚Äôt tell you where the good guy ends up, but I think I won‚Äôt give away any¬≠thing when I say that what looks like a bad sit¬≠u¬≠a¬≠tion quick¬≠ly becomes a bad, bad situation.

Kris spends the first few scenes of the sto¬≠ry care¬≠ful¬≠ly rationing out his remain¬≠ing cig¬≠a¬≠rettes, so the image of him light¬≠ing a smoke was the first idea that popped into my head. Even if the pro¬≠tag¬≠o¬≠nist quits his addic¬≠tion lat¬≠er on in the sto¬≠ry, he pon¬≠ders some real¬≠ly deep ques¬≠tions while smok¬≠ing, which was exact¬≠ly the light I want¬≠ed to por¬≠tray him in.

Since a lone¬≠ly fig¬≠ure stand¬≠ing in the fore¬≠ground would make for a pret¬≠ty dull pic¬≠ture, I want¬≠ed to incor¬≠po¬≠rate oth¬≠er impor¬≠tant facts from the sto¬≠ry as well. My first idea, as you can see in this sketch, was hav¬≠ing the objects‚ÄČ‚ÄĒ‚ÄČinclud¬≠ing a pop¬≠tart and a pay¬≠phone‚ÄČ‚ÄĒ‚ÄČfade into the cigarette‚Äôs smoke in the background.

Pasted-image-Fri May 17 2019 16 38 54 GMT+0200 (Central European Summer Time)

While I was still tin¬≠ker¬≠ing around with the arrange¬≠ment of the dif¬≠fer¬≠ent objects, my girl¬≠friend just hap¬≠pened to walk past my art tablet and asked: ‚Äč‚ÄúWhy don‚Äôt you just use the smoke to draw the oth¬≠er stuff?‚ÄĚ

And‚ÄČ‚ÄĒ‚ÄČof course‚ÄČ‚ÄĒ‚ÄČthat‚Äôs exact¬≠ly what I did!

Paint¬≠ing smoke

Paint¬≠ing smoke, whether from cig¬≠a¬≠rettes or camp¬≠fires, is actu¬≠al¬≠ly one of my favorite things to do! I start¬≠ed out with a tech¬≠nique sim¬≠i¬≠lar to this Pho¬≠to¬≠shop tuto¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al, rely¬≠ing heav¬≠i¬≠ly on Photoshop‚Äôs Liquify fil¬≠ter, which helps you ‚Äč‚Äúsmudge‚ÄĚ around shapes and can achieve some stun¬≠ning results if done right!

It worked well for a while, but the fad¬≠ing of the Liquify fil¬≠ter caused the image to get a lit¬≠tle ‚Äč‚Äúclut¬≠tered‚ÄĚ after a while. Espe¬≠cial¬≠ly when you‚Äôre try¬≠ing to build some¬≠thing the view¬≠er can rec¬≠og¬≠nize from the chaot¬≠ic lines, you need some more clarity.

So I decid¬≠ed to just have parts of the smoke be this play¬≠ful and chaot¬≠ic (as you can main¬≠ly see in front of Kris‚Äô face), but paint the oth¬≠er parts with a soft brush and a lot of patience.

After I sent the image off to the NoSleep team, David asked me if I could include a snow storm effect into the paint¬≠ing to hint at the fact that most of the sto¬≠ry takes place in a bliz¬≠zard. I achieved this by:

  • build¬≠ing a brush in Pho¬≠to¬≠shop which paints pseu¬≠do-ran¬≠dom dots
  • alter¬≠ing those dots by hand so they seemed more natural
  • using a com¬≠bi¬≠na¬≠tion of gauss¬≠ian blur and motion blur to give it the illu¬≠sion of motion
  • doing mul¬≠ti¬≠ple lay¬≠ers of this so it actu¬≠al¬≠ly looks like the snow is waft¬≠ing around Kris

End result

I‚Äôm pleased as punch with how the final illus¬≠tra¬≠tion came out. I think the cen¬≠tral focus on Kris and one of his last cig¬≠a¬≠rettes works well, and the smoky fig¬≠ures in the back¬≠ground hint at dif¬≠fer¬≠ent parts of the sto¬≠ry, with¬≠out giv¬≠ing too much away.

I hope you enjoy the illus¬≠tra¬≠tion as much as I enjoyed mak¬≠ing it.

All the best,